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Home > Letters to CR

Iestyn Pettigrew On The Sponsored By Spouse Article
posted January 28, 2015
 

I think that the article doesn't equate financial reward with a discussion about art and its benefits.

I think, specifically, the article is trying to discuss how people have the opportunity to produce art and calling for an open discussion of that. What I took away is that a lot of people are being led to believe that they will have free time to produce their great opus' because their art will fund them.

That it is possible to produce art and fund living from it. I think that the writer is making a valid point -- generally it isn't unless you have other means. I think that this is one of those facts that rarely gets discussed about art ever and is the shock that generally ends the careers of many. Art is rarely going to give you enough, by itself, to live. Either you are well off, live with someone well off or you must be happy to scape through life with low aspirations for your level of comfort.

Or you compromise and fit art in your spare time, essentially as a hobby. I think that there are a lot of us who find it deeply saddening to find that living from your art is a dream for the privileged or the lucky. If there were more honesty out there the shock might not be so deep and not so many might drop out.

Tom Spurgeon: I appreciate the letter, but I respectfully reject the majority of your constructions. I don't think these are the only options. There are plenty of cartoonists -- Seth, Katie Skelly, Lisa Hanawalt, David Mazzucchelli, James Sturm, Wilfred Santiago, Carol Tyler -- that work other jobs and continue to make compelling comics art. Many of them work their asses off; they're not privileged or lucky except in the broadest sense. I do agree that if you expect your art to pay for a specific lifestyle, if you need to move from the top six percent of the world into the top three percent, you're probably going to be disappointed.

Where I question that article isn't in its asserted call for more realistic dialogue about the likelihood of making money, or even a criticism of the culture that doesn't pay its artists maximally, its just that I would love such articles to be open to the possibility that the joy and I would suggest the value of art is nearly always distinct from any issue at all of commercial success or failure. It's a construction about which a lot of folks have a huge hang-up.