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Many [artists], in fact, are effectively entrepreneurs, but have little of the regard of the lavishly paid, mythically potent CEO. A working artist is seen neither as the salt of the earth by the left, nor as a “job creator” by the right — but as a kind of self-indulgent parasite by both sides. Why the disconnect?
— Scott Timberg, writing for The Salon about the lack of sympathy creators of art receive from society at large. His article is especially timely considering the current conversation about creators’ rights going on in the comics industry.
Timberg has a lot of thoughts on the subject. He asks what it means to be a successful artist in the U.S., and talks to freelance creators who are seeing less and less paying work as traditional patrons are going out of business or looking for cheaper artists. He talks about the popular ideas that the creation of art is a leisure activity (as opposed to actual work) and that artists are supposed to struggle. It’s an excellent, thought-provoking piece.
Part of what makes it thought-provoking from a comics standpoint is how it meshes with the attitudes of many comics fans toward the people who make these things we love so much. Or even the attitudes of some current creators about the treatment of creators in the past. It’s not industry-wide, of course, but there’s still a startling lack of respect or understanding, or something, for how tough the creative life can be. It’s a truism that “no one goes into comics to get rich,” but is that the same as saying that creators should expect to get screwed because that’s just the way it is?