Forbes – Artists Should Work For Free Continued – My Comment

OK here’s my comment just published in Forbes in response to an article by Tim Worstall titled Arts Majors Can’t Make Good Livings So We Should Subsidise Arts Majors From Taxation –

“Very interesting article – but somewhat mean! Consider this part of what you said; “As Adam Smith pointed out, when you consider the joy and interest of a job you expect those that are interesting and joyful to be lower paid than those that are less so. Precisely and exactly because the joy and interest is part of the pay for the job. Thus less cash needs to be handed over to get the job done. So, if arts graduates love writing or painting then it’s entirely obvious that they should get a pittance for doing it: precisely and exactly because they love doing it.”.

Eh, so what are you going to do about many of the richest in society who just love what they do – take away their money? Easy examples of some of these rich are top entertainers/sports stars/business mavens of all sorts… And why aren’t ‘menial’ jobs in particular paid better? Are you going to argue for that?

If someone enjoys their job you shouldn’t just take away their money. Although I guess the tax system in many countries provides for that.

As an English artist in Miami I’m extremely peeved about how many, as you say, don’t value art and want people like me to work for free. They don’t work for free, but somehow artists should. Crazy, crazy idea. See more about this at my website

That said, there is an awful lot of ‘art’ out there that I think is crap and yes I wouldn’t think it should be funded. Including some of the richest artists in the world – and what would you do about them, take away their money because they may enjoy their work?

Actually, they may not. A lot of artists and writers (I’m both) have histrionics about the labors of creation. Some people like me find it very easy.

Also how/why would a government decide who to fund? A lot of artists are free spirits and working with governments, museums or any other kind of institution is, well, a stretch.

Art is part of life and as a commentator on my website ( pointed out, art is everywhere and is a very vital part of life – from your toothbrush to your car to architecture. Etc.

Views like yours that artists should work for free are deletorius to the human spirit – both that of artists and consumers. You wouldn’t even go to a grocery store and expect a worker there to work for free, why would you expect an artist to?

Art Basel is fast approaching here in Miami and I note with horror that not only are artists being exploited by large fees to show their work in many places (and no it’s not just to cover expenses of shows), but people are being asked by hotels and fairs to work for free.

Art takes work to produce, any way you cut it, and it’s high time that that labor is respected. Whether you like the ‘art’ or not.”


Artists Should Work for Free – Not

It’s been in my mind for a while to write an article about this garbage idea that abounds and that I’ve been insulted with occasionally – that artists should work for free.

Maria Brophy has written an article on the subject on her excellent blog, see it here –