Visual artists, poets– NPR thinks you do it for the love, because as its new series on how artists make a living reveals, you’re not doing it for the money. Revelation, huh?
What the articles explore is the myriad ways artists support themselves while pursuing their craft. While it is mildly interesting to hear about how different people make money (teaching is a big one), nowhere does it question how difficult it is to make a living in the arts. I believe artists create something of great value for the world, and yet that value is less than often paid back to the artist in dollars that amount to a good living. Partly it’s difficult to assign a dollar value to a work of art.
But we also have a value system in which the arts seem expendable, like dessert. It’s pleasant, but it’s not meat and potatoes. And the stereotypical ‘starving artist’ doesn’t even get potatoes. While its true you can’t eat a painting or a novel, I rather think- to continue an overextended metaphor- we eat too much, and look and read too little. This leaves artists in rather a tough situation, like this one…
On the other hand, you can’t eat a painting. What do you think?