Making Money from Creativity


The discussion regarding Amanda Palmer’s choice to ask for musicians to donate their time and talents to her recent tour has elicited a wide ranging discussion about the arts, labour and payment for services.

For Amanda Palmer’s own words, drop in here:

For commentary go here:

and here:

and a recent post from Amanda in response to the lengthy discourse, to understand where she is coming from and what she is doing about it:

Click your linky way around the threads of argument. Well worth your time. I am not intending to pour fuel onto sparking match heads, but simply help raise some questions for creative people to think about.

There is no single way of doing things; flame wars and vitriolic comments achieve nothing. Discussion, when informed by reading and research, is the preferred method we should all follow.

Disclaimer done. On with my perspective.

The breadth of the argument can be divided into two lines of thinking:

  1. It is about an artist’s choice to volunteer their time and talents.
  2. It is about an artist’s choice to receive payment for services rendered.

Within the artistic community, I am sure there are times when people will volunteer their time and talents for free, while at other times they will opt for payment for services rendered.

It is still the artist’s choice, but I think there is something else behind it, and it stems from those who are perhaps not within the artistic community. I am a firm believer that each individual can, and should be creative, in whatever media is appropriate.

But those from outside the artistic community see art not as an occupation, but as a hobby, a pastime, something to fill in the lazy Saturday afternoons. Art is considered a fringe activity, not a focal point of a person’s existence.

The arts should never be considered a fringe activity of society; it should be embraced as the heart, soul and mind of society. Just as science, philosophy, religion, capitalism are other aspects that make up our society and community, so too is the artistic circle. These different paradigms give meaning to the individual, a way of seeing and understanding the world around them.

Art (writing, painting, film making, theatre, performance poetry etc) is not play, it’s work. It’s fun work, but work nonetheless.

And work requires recompense. Art can be monetised, as with any occupation. It is worth someone’s financial investment whether it’s a painting, a novel, CD, film.

While some people become teachers, nurses, train drivers, others pursue artistic endeavours as their work, their life style and primary source of income.

Creative arts will always be about an individual’s expression and definition of themselves as some define themselves by their occupation as a designer, IT programmer or business owner.

How do you support the arts?


4 responses to “Making Money from Creativity

  1. I often have this problem – people see my writing as something I do in my spare time, or my photography as something “anyone can do”, therefore they think it’s perfectly alright to ask for free copies of my books, or photo prints. Creativity IS available to all, true, but if you would happily hand over money for something designed by someone you don’t know…then why would you expect the same for free just because it was made by someone you do? Artists and creatives have the same rights to profit from their abilities as everyone else.

    • I feel at the heart of it all is society’s perspective on the role of arts in society. It should be fundamental to all, a recreation or hobby to enhance their life. For others like yourself, it should be a way of earning a living, because they work at it. Their art reflects the time and effort required and should be recompensed. I happily support the arts to the best of my financial ability.

  2. “people see my writing as something I do in my spare time, or my photography as something “anyone can do”, therefore they think it’s perfectly alright to ask for free copies of my books, or photo prints.”

    That’s exactly the thinking that destroyed my fledgling photography career – that and most people in Northland don’t have the self esteem for a portrait.

    I have over 20 years invested in what I do, and still people think that the fact I know them gives them the right to ask for a freebie for their charity, their church or their [insert thing they don’t want to spend money on, but will benefit them]

    I have found an export business (online sales) that lets me bypass most, if not all, of the locals. I sell to businesses who understand you pay for things, add value ad on sell them.

    Is what I’m selling art – absolutely. It can be done.

    Do I get paid for all of my art? No. An audience is reward enough for me – and that is my greatest weakness, that it’s more important that the message be sent, than payment. But it is also my greatest strength, because I can ignore the money and say anything, with no thought to pleasing people’s wallets – only challenging their thinking.

  3. Pingback: The Message or The Money | A Fullness in Brevity – Adam Byatt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s