High up on my list of things that upset me is the phrase often used by creatives “I don’t do this for the money.”
I’m not sure exactly when art went from being seen as the work of a highly skilled paid craftsperson, to being a quasi spiritual pilgrimage to be endured only by destitute geniuses with wicked cool hair. But somewhere along the line, that happened, and the creative community has never recovered.
It’s really the most insidious idea that we’ve all embraced without question. One that we’ve been fed by a patriarchal capitalist society that actively feeds off of the unpaid and underpaid labour of it’s creatives. That to truly be an artist of substance, we should do it entirely for free. And on an even deeper level, that artistic work, just isn’t worth money.
There are so many consequences of this. For example, why are most children’s books made by white women? A huge part is that writers and illustrators of most children’s books make almost no money from it, so generally the only people who can afford to devote their lives to it, are white ladies who are already financially secure. To be able to say “I don’t do it for the money” is a privilege and by perpetuating this as acceptable, we are complicit in shutting people who cannot work for free out of the arts.
So if you’re someone who likes to proudly say “I don’t do this for the money” especially when receiving a negative review, I would kindly ask you to please cease and desist for the well being of the entire creative community. Encouraging each other to value our time, and our work, is necessary if we ever want the rest of society to value us as well. By pushing for a shift in values, we work towards change and better conditions for artists in the future.
And if you’re someone who unfollows and abandons creators who monetize their work; rather than getting angry about them “selling out,” maybe closely examine why you feel this anger? And consider supporting their efforts to make a living.