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Calligrapher's blotting sheet

Starving. Now why would that be?

Less than 10 percent of artists make their income from their art. (Less than that if an artist is female or nonwhite or a combination of the two.)

The secondary market is where the money is. What an artist is paid at the first transaction is a fraction of what that piece may be worth in the future. Dead or alive, the artist will never see a return on that higher price point.

Debbie Downer, right?

So, why do artists do what they do?

They're called to it. Ever hear someone talk about being called to the ministry? They say they tried to ignore it, went off in another direction and somehow ended up with that call ringing in their ears. It's like that. For many of us it isn't a choice at all.

It's like having the Universe constantly pouring color, images, sounds, and ideas into your head. It has to pour out somehow, sometime. When you aren't creating--if nothing is being let out--the pressure just increases.

Choose art and sanity or reject art and start seeing a therapist. Seriously.

But to follow the artistic life 100%, without any security or promise that you will be able to provide for yourself (or a family): Isn't that a type of madness?

Here's the other thing I've been thinking about lately.

People talk about art not being a necessity and while I will agree that it's not food, water, clothing, shelter, or health care (debatable), yet, nearly everything we purchase or covet has been painstakingly designed, decorated, and packaged. Designers. Illustrators. Writers. Photographers. Draftsmen. Filmmakers. The business world calls them Creatives. These are artists. Artists.

The Graphic Artists Guild recently conducted a poll to assess which group of creatives is asked to work for free the most. I wasn't surprised to learn that graphic designers are the second most likely group to be asked to work for free (photographers are number one). All creatives deal with the same problem. People want what we create but they don't want to pay for it.

We aren't the problem. It's our culture. Or a lack of support for culture, I should say.

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