I consider myself an artist. My canvas is the page, my paint is my words. I dabble in painting with actual paint as well and occasionally like to draw. I have friends who are incredible artists. From digital paintings to poetry, there are crazy talented people in this world who want to live off what they love to do.

Unfortunately, most people don’t want to pay them. At least, they don’t want to pay them what their work is worth. 

Good art takes time. Not just to make it but to learn how to make it. Paintings take years of training and perfecting individual style. Truly writing well takes time and energy then more time and energy to finish a 40,000 word book. People can spend their entire lifetime building the skills necessary to create something beautifully breathtaking. But when it comes time to sell it, to make the money necessary to survive and make more art, no one will buy it.

“$25 for a digital painting? I mean, the computer probably did a lot of that for you.”

“Why so much for a simple sketch on canvas? Can’t you use cheaper materials?”

“Isn’t that a lot for just a 200 page novel? It’s just one story.”

See, these things undervalue all the skill that is developed behind the scenes. You’re not paying for what a “computer did”, you’re paying for hours of intense and grueling work that the artist has put in over years of training. That sketch on canvas wouldn’t look nearly as good with cheap materials and why would you pay for someone to use subpar tools to make something you want to be proud of? And if it’s ‘just’ a story then why haven’t you written a novel yet? Oh yeah, because that’s actually a lot of work and it’s difficult.

Art is too expensive in that I, and many people I know, cannot afford to buy art that we really enjoy because the financial cost is too great. But it’s not expensive enough because, let’s face it, spending 46 hours on a painting and getting $150 for it isn’t even close to fair. Yet many people scoff at paying such an exorbitant price for something like that.

I think it comes down to living in a society where what matters most is the product. No one cares how it got there, just that it is there now. That’s why people hear about companies with sweatshops overseas and still buy product from those companies. Because we all don’t really care how it was made, it’s all about what we’re holding in our hands right now.

I guess if, as a whole, we could start caring about how the products are made and consider paying for ‘how’ and not ‘what’ then we could start moving past more than just underpaying artists.

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