Robot 6

Quote of the Day | Creators are supposed to struggle

Poor Superman

 

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?

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11 Comments

i came here for hobo superman

Without art in all its forms (visual, written, music, etc…) life would be an extremely dull place. Remove ALL music, illustration, painting, sculpture, television and movies, and what do you have? A whole lot of sitting around between work shifts, meals and sleep periods.

“i came here for hobo superman”

He welcomes you. Just don’t use his spoon. He’ll offer…but just don’t.

Based on conversations with “regular” people (ie, people who don’t work in the arts or media), I agree that there’s a common misperception that just because the act of consuming a movie, comic book, pop song, etc. is relatively effortless and enjoyable, the act of creating that work must be as well; therefore, the people behind them are just “lucky bums” who get to live in a state of perpetual escapist bliss, when the reality is very far from that.

@BradRz: To be followed up immediately by the false equivalence between asking for money and being a hack who is not motivated by creativity.

(Just last week somebody on the CA comments section literally told me that any writer who asks for compensation of any kind is “money-hungry”.)

Are murals as public works projects “leisure”? Are statues being comissioned for parks “lesiure”?

Didn’t think so.

You want the public at large to percieve artists as more than what is assumed about them, you have to MAKE THEM.

@Thad: Sadly, I wouldn’t be surprised if that individual also went on, in the same breath, to defend the right of corporations to profit off of that hypothetical “money hungry” writer’s work.

I once got into an argument with a Superman “fan” who denounced the entire idea of inherited money/property, claiming that not only the Sigels, but NO individual, had a right to come into so much as a dime that they hadn’t directly earned through their own labor. This was part of a larger argument defending the “right” of Time-Warner/DC to profit off of the character in perpetuity. They saw no conflict/blind spot there.

On the flip side to “it’s easy/fun to consume, it must be easy/fun to make”, I think there’s also an element of straight-up resentment and jealousy involved. Many Americans have embraced the myth that no matter who they are, with enough hard work, they can become a successful business person or entrepreneur, possibly even a millionaire. With the arts, there is (often quite extreme) inborn talent involved/required; for example, no matter how hard most people work, they will never play the guitar as well as Eric Clapton, or draw as well as J.H. Williams.

Personally, I think that it takes as much, if not more, inborn talent (as well as luck) to be a successful businessman or entrepreneurial visionary, but the public perception/myth is that it’s (hypothetically) possible for anyone to achieve in that world, while only a select, gifted elite will ever achieve success in the arts. This could explain the dichotomy in loving the work while having disdain for the creator, as well as the tendancy to indentify more with/side with the business entities that profit off of the creator’s work. Kind of a “which one is more like us, who are we more likely to be” scenario. Just throwing that out there.

You’re out of your mind. It doesn’t take some mysterious talent to be good at business. You just have to be willing to learn finance and basic social skills and practice them to get good. Talent carries more weight in the creative fields, but go ask a pro musician and they’ll also tell you practice (i.e. hard work) is more important than talent in their field too.

“This could explain the dichotomy in loving the work while having disdain for the creator, as well as the tendancy to indentify more with/side with the business entities that profit off of the creator’s work. Kind of a “which one is more like us, who are we more likely to be” scenario.”

That’s a really interesting point. I’m going to be thinking about that for a while.

@RedComet: I said I’m just throwing that out there, and I’m talking about public perceptions, not objective reality. It may not take much talent beyond basic people skills and an education to be a successful middle-manager, but I personally think that to be a Steve Jobs or a Warren Buffet takes more than just hard work and luck (although it includes tremendous amounts of that, as well.) As far as art, talent without hard work is absolutely useless, but if you don’t have that raw talent to begin with, no amount of hard work is going to make you the next Hendrix or Yo-Yo Ma. Also, reread my post. I’m talking about people at the top of their fields, how they -may be- PERCEIVED by the general public, and how those PERCEPTIONS -may- influence their opinions towards those people and their tendancy to indentify/side with one rather than the other. The PERCEPTION being that it only takes hard work and perserverance to make it in one field, but that you have to be born “special” to make it in the other. It’s an off-the-cuff hypothosis, meant to be considered and discussed, not dogma.

Additonally, I personally think that many people have more innate artistic ability than they think, but they rarely try because they’ve internalized the idea that “I’m not creative”, or that you have to have been a child prodigy or something.

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