|Motley at Rest, 11 x 11" mixed media on cotton rag paper|
Meanwhile, there's a discussion I'm following about a well-known musician, Amanda Palmer, who has landed in the middle of a controversy for asking professional musicians to come play in her band, on her tour, for free. Except, she's going to pay the ones in NYC because the show there has to be top-notch. Some musicians (and visual artists like myself) are deeply bothered by this.
Here's Amanda's blog post defending herself, and another person's take on the situation.
When and why to work for free is a constant question in the lives of professional artists. My experience is that if everything's about the money, about survival, it kills me; and so I do give out of my art to support causes I believe in. I have donated art to:
Northern Lights Greyhound Adoption
Arts for ACT
The Bridge for Youth
Home for Life
and there are more, but you get the gist.
But Amanda Palmer is not a charity, and work donated by artists is not "free" for the artists. It is time, materials, and study. It is an opportunity cost.
I've lost track of how many people I have shocked by telling them I had to work for my gift. An innate aptitude for art was only the beginning, and the rest has been decades of study and practice, a constant quest to gain new skills. This shocks people who assume that if you have talent, it all comes easily.
Amanda Palmer, an artist herself, knows how hard it is for artists. She of all people ought to be finding ways to make it better, instead of perpetuating the same old toxic ideas we already have. I totally understand the reasons people will play for her for free, but it breaks my heart that she'd ask them to.