Good Karma Brings Me Eagles in the City

The instructors in my college music course were right: get out there, be visible, meet people in the industry, give your art away, and good karma will reward you. Wait, what was that one about giving your art away? Artists already have a tough time supporting themselves. Unless you have a job in another area, or a partner or parents to support you, the image of the starving artist can be all too true. For some reason people often think that art is not worth paying for. As Greg Blue recently pointed out to me, why do people think they can take an artist’s photograph off of Flickr to use in a publication without reimbursing the artist, yet we can’t walk into a store, take a car, and tell the salesperson “Oh, we’d love to use your car but you know, we’re just not paying anyone. Someone else gave us a couch for free, so we’re taking this car for free too.” As you drove away the security guard would be running to catch you. I did have a photo taken off of my Flickr site. I found out by googling my name one day. At the time I was so surprised that a Manitoba city publication had done this I didn’t fight for payment when they replied that no artist had been paid. Well maybe the other artists agreed to give their photographs for free. I was never given that choice.

Here’s the key point: it must be left up to the artist whether they want to give their art away for free, or they wish to be compensated for their skill, knowledge and time. Art is a great way to raise funds for other causes, just don’t forget to acknowledge that artists have bills to pay too, and deserve a decent wage.

Artist Cleo Pawson and Stephen Miller from the BC Lions Society

Stephen Miller from the BC Lions Society and artist Cleo Pawson at the Oct. 29, 2008 unveiling of 3 eagles in front of Vancouver City Hall.

I made the choice to make artist trading cards because I believed they would give me things that money can’t buy, like meeting other artists to share techniques and stories. Now, my involvement in the Richmond Art Gallery show of trading cards has lead to a wonderful opportunity to participate in the BC Lions Society fund-raiser Eagles in the City. Check out their website to learn more.
I will be working with children at James Whiteside Elementary to paint a 7′ eagle sculpture that will be displayed from April 2009 to April 2010 when it will be auctioned off to raise funds in support of the BC Lions Society’s Easter Seal Services and the Canucks for Kids Fund. I will be receiving an honorarium, and hope that the project will bring me more good karma. See, it does pay to give things away for free.
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One Comment on “Good Karma Brings Me Eagles in the City”

  1. a Cagey Bee Says:

    Congrats! The eagle project is so exciting. I think it would be amazing to have my art displayed in public for the whole city to see (& hopefully enjoy!).

    I’m not surprised about *people* taking photos off Flickr to use on their own websites or to make avatars etc., but I’m shocked that a *city* publication would be so clueless. If they hadn’t credited your name, you never would’ve known! Brutal. You’d think anyone who’s worked in the government for any length of time would know that you can’t just cut through red tape & use content without written permission.

    Oh & nice to meet you!
    Kris


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