A few months ago I was involved with a project that left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. It wasn’t the project itself, or the committee I was on, they were both fabulous. It was the reaction of the artists that were involved.
Charity Begins in the Heart
One of the best things about being an artist is knowing that my work can impact the world. It may only be in a small way, with just one person, but even just one drop of water can make a ripple across a lake. So when I see the opportunity to donate some of my work in support of a good cause, I typically jump at it.
What goes through my head in a situation like that is from an attitude of service. How can I help them? What kind of work will bring the greatest good?
What doesn’t go through my head is, “How much commission am I getting?”
A Fundraiser By Definition
When someone puts out an open call for submissions for a fundraiser, in my opinion, all of the money should go to the fundraiser. I don’t ask for money from it. That defeats the purpose to me. It is especially true if the fundraiser is for an organization that I belong to that supports my needs in some way. If I am not the one running it and it earns me money personally – it’s not a fundraiser, it’s a sale.
If I am offered commission, I tell them that I would like to donate it back into the fundraiser; that’s what fundraisers are for, raising funds. I don’t ask for more. I was appalled when I’d heard that the artists the call went out to had refused to be involved, in support of their own arts organization, because they weren’t getting enough commission and had asked for 50%.
I don’t get it and I am happy to say that I do not think like that.
The Economy Made Me Do It
If I, by current financial situation, cannot afford to create something because of a lack of supplies – i.e. canvas or watercolor paper – I usually don’t let that stop me. I’ll recycle cereal and food boxes into canvas, whatever it takes. There is always something I can use and art is, by its very nature, invention.
Professional artist or not, I cannot look at an opportunity to help someone and say no because I put too much work into a piece to not make money off of it. My brain doesn’t work like that. I’m an artist. Creating is, thankfully, not a finite thing.
If I run out of canvas, I use paper.
If I run out of paper, I recycle boxes.
If I have no more food boxes, I’ll recycle plastic bags into plarn and knit something.
I’ll draw, paint with nail polish, make dye from plants, whatever I can get my hands on.
But I will NEVER allow money to dictate my creativity. Never.
Money, or a lack thereof, controls everything else in my life. I’ll be damned if I am going to let it keep me from doing what I love.
I think what it all comes down to is that I apparently have a different outlook on my art and being an artist. I love what I do. I don’t do it for money. If I get money out of it, WOOT. Bonus. If I can bring in enough money to help support my family, DOUBLE WOOT. But money doesn’t motivate my creativity. It just isn’t why I do it.
What about logos and other gigs that are paid work? That’s different. I do get paid for my time, when I’m lucky, but that is contract work and a whole different kind of animal.
Work that I make out of love, I do that to make people smile and maybe brighten a little corner of their world.
Create with Abandon
One of the things that I love to do, and am doing more of lately, is abandoning my art.
I joined a group recently on Facebook created by Michael DeMeng called Art Abandonment. The group’s members have been incredibly inspiring and I am proud to be a part of it. I have abandoned art out in the wild before, leaving inchies and art cards in random places or our favorite hang outs. This group has displayed a kind of compassion for others and a passion for their work, though, that I want to help nurture and am looking forward to being involved with.
And making art to give it away to the happiness of others is, in my opinion, by far the greatest payment in itself.