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Why Are Artists So Expensive???!!!

Updated: May 8

Why Artists Should Get Paid Fairly: Let’s Make a Change

Check out the Eastside ArtHouse Show "Not Made For Exposure" a show that explains visually what we mean in this talk today. My piece at that show: "Births You and Drowns You"

As an art center owner and artist, I've heard that phrase time and time again. Recently I, along with a group of selected artists, had to explain why we could not be paid $500 for a 1100 sq ft mural for which even a 5lb bucket of paint would cost an average of $150. So here it is, my two cents and that of millions of artists around the globe. I'll tell you in a few simple words why we should pay artists, and then I'll give you the breakdown of a basic art budget... just for fun. Disclaimer, this is just a simplistic example, these budgets are highly variable, based on location, supplies needed, expertise, timeline, available equipment, politics and policies in the city and a host of other reasons.

Everyone loves art. Whether it’s music, paintings, or movies, art makes our lives better. But there’s a big problem: many artists are not getting paid enough, or undervalue their work just to fit people who criticize their prices in order to survive. Today I want to chat with you about why we need to pay artists fairly, just like any other job.

The Myth of the Starving Artist

Some people think that being a "starving artist" is normal or even cool. They think it shows that an artist is serious about their work. But this idea is harmful. It makes it seem okay for artists to struggle to make ends meet. Why should someone who creates beautiful things have to worry about paying rent, buying food, or even supplies, insurance for their safety up those ladders or even transportation from one job to the next?

Art is Real Work

Making art is not a hobby. Artists train hard and spend decades training at their craft. So, just like doctors or engineers, they deserve to be paid for their hard work and skills. Just because someone’s job is to create doesn’t mean they shouldn’t earn a good and decent living from it. Artists often have no benefits, no medical insurance. They cannot be paid the same as regular employees. They’re often part of the gig economy and cannot be compared to regular workers. We may think their work is too expensive, but their incurred costs are very high, both financially and physically.

Art Helps the Economy

Art isn’t just about looking nice. It also helps the economy. Cities with lots of artists and cultural activities are often more successful and make more money. When artists aren’t paid well, it doesn’t just hurt them—it can make the whole community weaker. When artists put on shows they pay printing companies, they cause people to pay for parking in the city and take transportations, hotels, restaurants; artists pay taxes, they bring in people from outside like tourists, and other companies. They create local collaborations between businesses, government, school districts and more. They rent equipment and buy supplies in local stores… and the list goes on. Artists make their city go and their neighborhoods thrive! 

How We Can Help

We all can help artists earn what they deserve. We can buy art from local artists, go to shows, or support them online. We can also speak up about how important it is for artists to get fair pay. We can watch for grants and share to show them where resources are. By doing this, we help artists and make our communities better places to live.

It’s Time for Change

We need to work together to make sure artists are treated fairly. This means supporting laws that protect artists’ rights and making sure they get paid well for their work. Their art is not for exposure, it's for the love of art, for transforming people's lives and make them happy, it's for speaking up for a cause, and it's for straight up living.

Stand Up for Artists

Art makes our lives richer and happier. Let’s make sure the people who create art can live well and keep making the world a beautiful place. Let’s pay artists fairly and show them we value what they do.

Join Us

If you believe art is important, join us in making sure artists are paid fairly. Support your local artists and spread the word. #FairPayForArtists #SupportLocalArt @lxp_studio @almatreb


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