Artwork by Monica Gunderson

Artist Thoughts

Why Should Artists Be Paid?

December 01, 2015 at 7:21 PM

Artists Should Be Paid

Sunset at Sutro Baths and Quote © 2015 Monica Gunderson - All Rights Reserved; Unauthorized Reproduction Prohibited


Seriously, does this question even have to be asked? Do we balk at how much we have to pay when we order a pizza and it is baked and delivered to our doorstep, do we fret and moan when we have to pay the contractor to lay down carpet or fix our toilets, do we stomp our feet and throw a fit when we have to pay the doctor or any other professional for their services? No, because there is an understanding that these people work and that people who work in order to survive get paid. Why is it that artists get shafted in this weird spot that they are not considered as "professionals" or a part of the work force? Perhaps instead of asking why artists are not considered as professional business workers, what makes an artist a professional? What does it mean to be a professional, entrepreneur?

According to the dictionary, "profession" is defined as a "vocation requiring knowledge of some department of learning or science; any vocation or business". If we look up the word "artist" it is defined as "a person whose profession requires knowledge of design, drawing, painting, etc". Now wait a minute, within the definition of "artist" it clearly mentions that art is a profession. Then a professional is defined as "following an occupation as mean as a livelihood or gain". Do artists need to survive as a means of existence or livelihood? Are they a competent human being? Yes. Are they a magical being with awesome powers that does not need to eat, sleep, drink, or other concepts of survival or livelihood? No.  Therefore art or being in the artist profession is an occupation, work, job, or whatever you want to call it. I know that some artists work part time jobs in order to get their art business going or a float, but there are also those artists who solely create and sell their artwork to survive and make ends meet. Either way, whether an artist is working two jobs one being an artist and other part time job, that person deserves to be paid for both jobs. How about figuring if being an artist is a entrepreneur? When looking at the definition for entrepreneur, it is defined as "a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk." Does an artist organize and manage their work and treat it like a business? Yes. Does a working artist face considerable initiative and risk? Yes. Therefore if it is the artists' full intention on making a living or some sort of profit off of their artwork, learn more about their work whether that be taking art, business, or other classes and other forms of knowledge to run their business, yes, artists are professionals who should be paid for their work and services.

Never have I heard of going to an auto shop and having them work on your car for free or having to wait to be paid for weeks, or months on end. Nor do I ever hear about doctors being excited to do surgery for free to get exposure. In fact, operating a free surgery sounds downright scary! Wouldn't you rather pay the professional because you have the confidence that they are going to provide their services professionally? If an artist is paid accordingly, they will shine and produce some of the most amazing work. Not only that, their art is not the only thing an artist does, they promote themselves and their art, they do accounting, geometry, inventory, writing, speaking, advertising, installation, etcetera. Being an artist is not all about painting happy trees all day, it is about hard work and continuously learning in order to improve and earn a livable income while loving what they do.  Artists work hard, and take their profession seriously, so please take that in consideration and pay for their hard work. It should be no different from any other occupation. You work, you get paid, period.


Artist Monica Gunderson *~

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Monica Gunderson Fine Artist

Modesto CA