It always seems tragicomic to me how, if a young person says out loud that he wants to become a doctor, lawyer or engineer, everybody supports and congratulates him. Noble crafts, indeed! And yet, when a young, maybe extremely talented person says: “I want to become an artist. I want to live from my art, from what I create!”, then it’s a big boom! Mom, I want to become an artist!
Well, sir, ’cause it’s hard, ’cause it can’t provide an income, ’cause it takes a lot of work (a metric ton of work)! Well…yes! That’s common knowledge. But being a lawyer isn’t easy peasy either. Or a doctor. Hmm?
It is different, to be fair. Without a fixed schedule, without routine, without anything else that’s required in a “nine to five job”. But I can’t understand why we are rejecting so vehemently the idea that people want to live out of their art, because it’s their work, after all. The difference between a carpenter and an artist it’s just about the substrate and meaning. Their work, sir.
I think, probably, the first step to understanding, let’s call it, “living from your art”, is to understand what is, after all, this human art. No matter the way, the shape or its significance, it’s, and I repeat, a human’s work. No, they didn’t get calluses, they didn’t physically craft it. They used their mind, imagination, creativity. To put it simply, they used their talent!
They used something that has been given to their entity by the Universe.
And behind every masterpiece are tens and tens and tens of hours of work, of review and of overthinking, of doubt, of “it’s not good at all, it has to be done differently, in a different way”.
To get to understand what these people can and deserve to live on what they do – you need to understand that, mostly at first, they have invested enormously without having a profit. Maybe they’re lucky and they’ve got money from their parents, maybe they’ve got a sponsorship. Or maybe they had to work months to publish their first book, to buy some certain gear. Pompously said, it involves sacrifices, loss. And it’s frustrating, it’s damn frustrating. Especially if you don’t have an ounce of luck. Take my word on that, you begin to believe that you’re losing your mind.
Obviously, a generalization like the one above won’t open your mind to what all those sacrifices and losses truly mean. But now you know that they exist. You know that these people, after all, work for something and it’s normal to claim something in return.
We arrive at what I think is the most important part. Asking for free stuff.
“Give me one book autographed for free.”
“Can you work some way to let my friends go to the concert for free?”
Two examples. Obviously, these gestures can be seen as, and forgive me, shit and the aforementioned artist can feel awful, and awfully offended. It’s important to understand that all this asking for free stuff doesn’t come from perverse malice or from damage taken to the extreme.
Most of the time it either has its root in the simple lack of information or knowledge. And then, naturally, appears a feeling of pride: “I got this book for free, right from the author! And I even got them to sign it!” It’s like a prize, an award, a trophy. About the money, we all agree that we’d like to spend that entry fee on something else.
And, obviously, at that moment, you don’t want to think that people go on stage, sing, entertain you and they deserve to be paid for this.
And you can’t think of it because no one is showing to you this. They don’t explain to you. You don’t know, you can’t know. I want to fix this!
The question is simple: if you’d pay 40 bucks to see a band from a foreign country, a band who has been singing for twenty years and they are consecrated, then why wouldn’t you pay 15 bucks to support your friend and their band? If you paid over 30-40 bucks to order something from “A Song of Ice and Fire”, why wouldn’t you pay 20 bucks to support your friend, who published his first lyrical volume?
“Well, those people are famous, they deserve to be paid” – extremely correct. You pay a sum, small or expensive because you know that they’re good, you know you will like it. You pay for you, for your pleasure, The difference is that, for the popular artists, you don’t make a big difference, the fact that you are paying that sum is almost irrelevant for them. They’re consecrated, thy do this for a very long time, and they are probably feeling good in riches that they couldn’t even dream of when they started. Do you know how they became who they are? Do you know how they got to such a high level that you to buy their stuff for you?
Someone supported them from the beginning, folks.
Someone paid 15 bucks, for that entry, for that book. Then, in time, they proved themselves. They grew. But they were unknown at some point! Everybody starts somewhere inferior, absolutely everybody. And no one knows exactly what they do, especially in these fields.
So then, why wouldn’t you pay those 15 bucks? What do they mean to you? You give up on a packet of cigarettes, two beers, and two sodas. What do 15 dollars mean to them?
It means that one extra person supported them. It means fifteen bucks that they can put aside for the next album, for the next book, for a guitar. Or, to hell, it means two beers for them! You are consuming their art, after all. I think they deserve that, from you.
Of course, I’m not telling you to do the impossible and attend all your friend’s concerts, to make who knows what sacrifices to buy their books or so on. I’m just saying that, whenever you can, help them, Give them 20 bucks, not 15. If you can’t do 20, give them 15. If you don’t want to or you can’t give them 15, give them 10!
They will surely understand and will appreciate it. If you can’t go to their concert, give it a share on Facebook, a shoutout, tell the world about them. It doesn’t matter that you have 5000 or 50 friends in your list. Maybe one of them will attend, and they’ll like it. And they will tell someone else. Word of mouth. And this way they will grow and will become famous.
Support the people who express themselves through art. Support your friend if they’re an artist. I repeat, however you can, how much you can. Any share, photo and Instagram story or commercial matters, not just material things.
Believe me, for you it takes only a few seconds…but that persons’ smile will last at least a day. You can change their mood and can help them feel appreciated. You can make them believe in themselves, you can fuel their fire. If we, the young generation, aren’t supporting the artists among us, then who else will?
I hope, after you read this, you’ll think twice before asking for free stuff.
And, dear parents, listen to your kids! If you want to know more about how to talk to your kids, how to help them with their decisions, we have something for you here! Just in case you’re a parent and you discovered this article!