There was an article in The Age today about how poor artists are. It’s great that the issue’s being highlighted – and good god yes, bring on more funding.
But also…I kind of wanted to get out of there and disassociate myself with the pity-fest. I think the sentiment in that first line:
the pursuit of an artistic vision, rather than a bankable salary, characterises the true artist
has so much to answer for.
Art is a kind of compulsion for people – a passion that goes beyond the pursuit of money. But I suspect that if you ran that line by any artist committed to creating and maintaining a profession and a sustainable career in their field, they would be offended by the assumption that a “bankable salary” isn’t an important part of what they do.
See, I’m committed to being the breadwinner in my family by my 30th birthday – and I fully intend to be a professional writer. I want to support my husband to go back to uni, and to give us the security we need to start thinking about kids.
And the thing is that this commitment adds motivation and dedication to my artistic craft, rather than detracting in any way from it. The idea that art is allergic to money is absolutely ridiculous. Writing doesn’t need a solitary garret and an enlightenment of spirit to be great art.
I think most artists committed to being professionals wouldn’t agree with this article. Its ideas seem so outdated to me that it’s almost a surprise to see someone writing it. My fear is that the more this idea of art is reinforced the more people – including artists themselves – will accept that this is the way it is.
I’m not saying it’s not hard, because it really is. It takes a lot. But the idea that art is separate to worldly things is a defunct and offensive one.