There is a common misconception that anyone will be willing to work, donate or volunteer their services....for free or for exposure. Because, "I really appreciate your work and thought you could add to the atmosphere". Because they are a creative. Because, "I'm your friend". Because, "This will be awesome exposure!", or because the consumer thinks that they are doing you a favor because they see you struggling to put your work out there. I don't want to begin to talk about how much the price tag is for creatives to make their art. Anyone willing to take the time to appreciate those numbers is to be commended.
Here is why I'm covering this subject right now. One thing I've been working on in the last few years has been appreciating myself, my efforts, and my successes. I've worked hard. I've struggled. I've overcome a lot of things. And yet, my focus has always been on just getting the next thing done. I've never taken the time to sit back and appreciate much of what I've done. Society, inner voices, some less than stellar people push this notion that no matter what you do, you'll never be enough. Those things make it easy to bypass feeling good about your work and your efforts. It's important to appreciate our successes, though. Even the little ones. How we see ourselves, how we value ourselves and our work radiates out from ourselves. So if I see value in my work and appreciate the value in my struggle whether it is in making or creating something, or whether it is a personal and private struggle, then likely others will see the value in it as well. How we present ourselves tells others how to value us and our work. If they choose to devalue or not appreciate the value in what I've done or who I am...well that is their choice. But I believe it is right and just to appreciate people and appreciate how they value themselves and their work. My time, my effort, my expenses for my work...others will not appreciate their value if I don't first set a standard for it. It's important to set a standard for how you want to be valued.
It is also equally important to appreciate the standards that others set for themselves and for the value of their work.
Teachers come to mind when I think of artists. Teachers are oftentimes expected to work for little and put in their own money to pay for school supplies, etc. The teachers that I'm friends with have spoken about the lack of appreciation for their work, and have shown frustration with how their work is viewed. Undervalued. Does the general public not understand all the extra time and effort and money that the teacher puts into the care of their students? Likewise...Is the artist/musician/photographer/graphic designer expected to put in the time, effort, and cost of supplies...only to be reimbursed for only part of what they've invested? Or no reimbursement at all? You would see it as incredibly rude to say to a teacher, or a musician, or any other number of creative people that you'd have them donate what costs them money... We all need to survive. Our arts need to be appreciated.
Our time, our experience, our art has value.
What I'd like to propose is the Art of Appreciation. We need to see the value in the other and we need to appreciate it. Would we walk into the Louvre and proclaim that those artists didn't need to be paid? Or the Sistine Chapel? People who have spent their life invested in something greater than themselves deserve to be valued. Their value is higher than any dollar amount we can place on their work and yet....They only have value now, many years later because we decide that now it has value? Everyone needs to make a living and be appreciated. The Creative makes their living with what many consider something that isn't really able to be practically priced. To that I say, "What about the supplies? The time? The talent? Electricity?" Before we go and devalue someone and their art, we need to pause and appreciate what we are asking of this person. Let's practice lifting one another up in each of our chosen areas of expertise, valuing one anothers time and talents.