A few weeks ago, I had a really interesting conversation with artist Sally Wakelin about traditional Japanese woodblock printing and how it was a very complex process which involved many skilled people for each of the steps of the printmaking. You could say that classical Japanese prints are a collaborative effort and, obviously, their making had a direct impact on the local economy. But, we don't have to go too far back in time to see how creatives contribute to our economies. I wrote about artists and the economy in a recent post of mine titled Our Economies Need More Artists. While having this conversation with Sally, I couldn't help but think about how many other businesses benefit from my practice. Surprisingly, as a freelance photographer, I put food on a lot of tables.
We seem to live in times when people don't seem to care about art. For art detractors, art just doesn't make sense. David Lynch allegedly said on this matter: "I don't know why people expect art to make sense when they accept the fact that life doesn't make sense." Maybe the problem is that we haven't taken the time to properly explain art. Or maybe, the real issue is that those who do art don't know how to talk about art. Painter Carmen Herrera said: "If I could describe what my art was about with words, I wouldn't have to paint it (...) You can't talk about art, you have to art to art."
I think that when people think of artists and creatives in general, they only think about classical art in museums or about pieces sold in auctions for millions of pounds which prompt the question "who'd pay that much money for something like that?!" But, perhaps, a more digestible way of understanding art is looking at creatives as important pieces in our economies because, even if they don't like being called themselves businesses or entrepreneurs, they do their part in keeping other businesses alive.
When I thought about writing this post, I took my time to go through the list of suppliers from whom I regularly buy products or services in order to keep my practice running. Apart from buying from some global brands every now and then (Apple, Nikon, Profoto, Ilford, Synology, etc.), and from others with regularity (Adobe, Google, MailerLite, Squarespace, PurplePort, Amazon, FrootVPN, CDMon, Hiscox, among others), I also spend a lot of money on products and services from local businesses in all shapes and sizes (TFL, Hyperoptics, AOP, Three, 123Reg, The Printspace, Uber, Moo, photography studios, production crew, and so on) and I pay my taxes in due time.
And yes, you could say that about any type of business in any industry, but that's not the point. The point is that the work of creatives from any discipline should be respected because, as shown before, we are also job generators and we also keep the economy running. So, please, even if our industry doesn't make much sense to you, show us a little respect and don't question our rates or expect us to work for free. We also have families to feed.
Photo credit: messy me, June 1977.
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