A few days ago I received a response to my July post about “The Price of Art,” which I welcome because that’s the point of some of my rants—to get folks discussing (when I’m not just ranting for the sake of ranting). The commenter (to whom I say thank you for reading the post and responding) summed up well why art is a hard sell nowadays: regardless of the time, effort, or love an artist puts into a creation, it’s ultimately up to the consumer to judge the work’s value as art is subjective. To quote, “the buyer should not be asked to subsidize the art just ‘because.’”
Art is not exactly a necessity, in comparison to food, the bills, or medical expenses—and even when it comes to necessities, people will always look for the least expensive route even if there are more “higher quality” options. So I understand this view; we no longer live in an age where painters, musicians and sculptors can hope to win the favor of an aristocratic benefactor to help pay for their artistic pursuits (although, I suppose there are a rare few who do, if you can get a record label or a movie studio to notice you).
And I suppose, no matter how you slice it, it’s not as if we’re ever going to have a shortage of art. It does last a long, long time, after all.
What I ask for, ultimately, is empathic understanding. Art is how artists—writers, musicians, actors, filmmakers, dancers, poets, painters—define ourselves. It is an embodiment of our self-worth, what we consider gives us our purpose and value. And yes, the consumer may not know the artist personally, and doesn't care about the artist’s self-worth, only his/her own.
But if you agree my work is fantastic, agree my price is fair, but then tell me, “but I’m only going to pay you half of that,” or “never mind, this other person is cheaper despite his/her work not being as good,” you have essentially said I’m worthless. Not my art, me. Because the art is the extension of the artist. We are one in the same.
Again, the consumer does not know me. There’s no reason for the consumer to care. Not until the same thing is done to the consumer in their own passionate pursuits—and still, probably won’t remember the time they brushed me off.
So no, no one can be forced or be expected to value art the way the artist does. And I won’t lie, there are some artists who may put a higher price tag on their art than might be feasible or logical.
But most of the time, people are worth what they do. You are all worth what you do, whatever your work may be. Before you write art off, before you scoff at “all those zeros” on the end of a price tag, think of the value of what you do. As much as you believe your work should be recognized and appreciated, so do we all. Maybe if you take time to get to know the artist and study their work, then you might see why those zeros may be justified.
Think of how your life has been impacted by art—because, even if you’re not the artsy type, I guarantee some facet of your life was influenced by it, especially pop culture. And be kind to artists. Treat them and their art with respect. Even if you don’t support a particular artist, support people’s art even if it is just through word of mouth or social media. Then maybe, you will see the value.
Thank you for reading.