In ancient human history, art was highly respected as it contributed the well being of the community. It used to bring change to everyday life, inspire development of science and technology; it literally led us, step by step, to civilization as we know it. Artists are the first to recognize the challenge. And they are the first to offer a visionary solution, which then the rest of society follows.
Today though, we cannot say that the society has high respect for artists, nor that artists are reaching their capacities as change-makers. The way that economy disciplined us into a consumerist society is that we are used to paying for what pleases us in a way that we can measure (or what has enough addictive substance). How do we measure the contribution of art in our life? Going to the theater or having an original painting - turned out to be a status symbol, more than anything else.
Hey, well, you are an artist, living and creating in the real world, today. If you came this far without hearing repetitive "yeah, that's a nice hobby, but when are you gonna find a real job?", you really are in luck. On the art planet, it's a jungle in struggling to make a living of your passion. But, hey, you do get something, don't you? What is that they pay artists with? Ah, yes, with exposure. And that's all right cuz you live out of thin air?? I don't think so.
So, how do artists get paid?
First thing you need to realize it that everything you do and you support yourself with, is a job. YOUR ARTISTIC PRACTICE IS YOUR JOB. And you deserve to be paid for what you create and what you provide. You're already doing it better than anyone else - you actually enjoy working. Yay!
But, as in any other job, you have to work really hard to get somewhere. And by working hard I don't mean creating more, I mean selling more. I know, not everyone can afford to hire a manager... It's 21st century! It's possible to learn any skill. Be your own manager. If you believe in your work and you love your work - let other people appreciate and love what you do as well!
Your audience is out there, and it ain't gonna reach itself.
About the author
Nina Petrov is an activist, poet, performer and mathematician. She communicates with the world mostly through words, movement and equations, but sometimes also by speaking very loudly. The only truth she could say about herself is that she keeps changing every day, never stops learning and interacting with her surroundings.