There’s more than one meme going round the Social Media world on this theme at the moment… the latest one that I’ve received is this:
(Just for clarity, this meme should also be followed by this link – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-36286624)
There’s also this one that pops up quite frequently (or at least a version of it) –
Both of them cover more or less the same topic; the fact that creatives have to eat. No matter whether you’re a writer, an artist, a sculptor, a crafter… you need money to eat and to produce whatever it is that you produce.
I suspect the reason that people (who aren’t a creative of some sort) don’t understand why things such as e-books, paintings, hand knitted jumpers etc have to cost so much is because they are disconnected from the process that leads from idea to product. So they resist paying more for something creatively made than they would spend on something that has been mass produced.
Now I’m going to drop from general to personal – so that I can explain something that often bothers me when I see these memes.
I’m not annoyed by them; they aren’t aimed at me. They’re aimed at the people I mentioned before… but they don’t seem to get out beyond the social media circles that I run in. For example, I have 900-ish “friends” on my personal facebook profile and 300-ish likes on my FB author page (200-ish of those are from my “friends” list).
My friends list contains a large number of Writers from various genres (everything from Erotica to SF, Fantasy and beyond to extreme horror), more than a smattering of Artists (writers need book covers, many Artists do cover art as a way of supporting their own individual work) and rather a few Crafters – some of which are also Artists or Writers. I also have quite a few friends who are either Teachers or Librarians… because well, Librarians like books and authors, as do Teachers who also like Artists and Crafters, and some of those Teachers and Librarians are actually Writers / Artists / Crafters themselves.
Confused yet? Maybe this will help you visualise it –
I should imagine that this is how most people’s social media contacts would look – just with different job titles.
Anyway… most of the people on my list are creative or supporting of creatives. (I didn’t include Readers on there because all of these people can be readers as well.) So when one of the “Starving Artist / Writer” memes go round and I share it, it gets spread out around these people, so I see the same thing over and over again…
…but as far as I can tell, they don’t go any further. For example, If I go peep at the walls of those people who share public contact with my “parents” sector, I never see any of the “Starving Artist / Writer” memes. So if they don’t get out beyond the Creative Community, what good do they do?
The world appears to have a problem – it wants the products that Writers / Artists / Crafters etc produce, but it doesn’t want to pay any more that it would cost to buy the product from a company that mass produces them.
A Crafter that spends 100 hours+ on a hand knitted jumper can’t just sell it for £30 like a supermarket can, they HAVE to sell it for at least twice that – not in the least because their time is worth that much.
Starving Creatives are going to continue to be starving creatives unless the general public realise that they have to be paid appropriately for their products.
I’ll leave you with this question:
What would happen if EVERY Creative in the West went on strike?
(If you fancy discussing it, please do use the comments)
4 thoughts on “The Starving Creative Problem”
I think if creatives went on strike it would be like students going on strike. Unless it’s young doctors, nobody really cares, or would notice. We are largely invisible. Price our work at zero and are glad to give it away, as your blog -and mine- shows. Amazon is packed full of people giving their work away. Millions of writers priced at less than a packet of biscuits. And I’m sure if we did have a strike there’d be blacklegs, crossing the lines, creating havoc.
True – it would take the whole Creative Community from Product Designers downwards to make a difference.
The point is, that the world relies on the creative community far more than it realises.
I only have a few things on the blog for free and they’re things that I can’t sell; fan fiction for most part. The blog posts themselves actually for part of one of Amazon’s “Subscribe to a blog ” for your kindle things – so if someone signs up, I do get paid for them.
I’ve stopped doing freebies on amazon etc, the lowest I’ll price my work for even a discounted period is 0.99p.
The trouble is, because creativity comes out of your brain, and brains don’t cost anything (everyone’s got one right? Or at least half of one), people can’t get their heads around paying for it.
Coffee needs ingredients and instruments, all of which have a tangible value. Imagination doesn’t.
But the world would be a bloody miserable place without it.
Ah, but it’s not just the story (the author’s time etc) that needs to be paid for, it’s the Editor’s hours of graft, the Cover Artist’s back bending hours trying to sum the book up in a single image…
I sometimes think that “some” readers think that these things all come free…
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