Blog Post #5
When I began to research the topic of fair reimbursement for artistic work, my peers and I had one question: why are artists not paid enough? We all invest in art in some way, whether it is through art galleries, video games or fashion. So why is it that so many working artists are struggling to be paid? I have found that some of the main reasons that artists don’t make a lot of money are getting paid in exposure, trouble with receiving profits from art organizations, and the highly competitive art market.
A problem that many working artists struggle with is getting paid in exposure. What this means is that a popular company or publication will feature an artist, yet not provide compensation for their contributions. The idea is that being featured in an ad for a well-known company or an article in a popular magazine will expose the artist to a new audience, and help with their career. Of course, exposure is good to some extent, because it certainly helps artists become more well-known. Unfortunately, no one can pay their rent and buy groceries with exposure. Exposure will help an artist’s future, but they still need to receive money to support themselves while they promote their work.
Another reason artists do not make enough money is that they receive little to no payment from the non-profit organizations that exhibit their work. In 2012, Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E) released their 2010 survey of payments given to artists who worked with non-profit art institutions. 58% of the artists questioned did not receive any payment. Of course, there is still the idea that the artist will receive compensation later, through sales in the art market. But when exactly will the artist receive payment for their work? It could take many years for their work to gain recognition from buyers, which doesn’t help when they have bills to pay.
Finally, artists have trouble with making enough money because of the competitive art market. Art wasn’t thought of as an investment until taxi tycoon Robert Scull sold his pop art collection for $100,000, which was unheard of at the time. Scull commissioned works from artists such as Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg, and helped them make a living off their art. People began to invest in art since the art market can’t be regulated and only those who work within the market really understand how it works. There are 600,000 mid to high level art collectors in the world. It is essentially a market based on taste and it is difficult for the average artist to compete against someone who is well-known and has the support from investors.
In conclusion, there are many reasons why artists do not make a lot of money. Publications, companies, and organizations do not pay the artists that they feature, and it is difficult for an artist to enter the market if investors aren’t interested in their work. Many of us invest in art in some form, so the creatives behind this art need to receive the proper reimbursement for their work.