This is going to be a momentary rant.
Artists are asked by governments, churches and business people to make art at little to no fee often. There is this promise of "good exposure" used as the exchange. Some of the people who make this offer actually believe it is true. That they are offering with their graciousness, an opportunity for a struggling artist to make a name for themselves.
What they have actually done, is diminish the value of the artist and art.
The same people who will pay $40,000 or more for a car, wear a Movado watch, buy organic foods at Whole Paycheck, and expect to be paid for their skills put art and artists at the same level of value as their child's stick figure sketch on a refrigerator wall and are ultimately looking for get something of great value for nothing.
If it is a government agency on a local level doing this, they fail to realize that art not only contributes to the social equity of a community, but the economic equity of a community. You see the art every day on every storefront and in every advertisement and catalog and website. Someone studied a craft for years. Sometimes they were self taught at great expense and investment of time. Sometimes, like me, they were apprentices working under a master or three learning the craft. Then there are the ones who got a degree in their craft and studied in art schools that are often more expensive and gave a higher level of education than the CPA telling you that it is acceptable on a balance sheet to devalue art and artists.
I have lost count how many times I see someone go online and just grab a piece of art or music for their own purposes and give no thought to it and incorporate it to their website or literature or event and they would be the first to call the police and cry foul if someone were to refuse payment for their services our grab a widget from their store and place it in their pocket and walk away.
Here is an interesting fact for you. Of the 25 top rated museums in the world, the following are among those.
The Art Institute of Chicago
The Van Gogh Museum
Many of the other museums on the list such as the Smithsonian also have priceless works of art that are featured.
If you are willing to spend $30 or more to see these wonderful treasures, I have good news for you.
In almost every town in America and in many villages and small cities around the world, there are galleries featuring the work of local artists still creating beauty, making statements, reflecting the best and the worst of us. In many of these galleries you can walk in at no charge, and if you see something that moves you, you can take it home and make it a part of your life, your family and your heritage.
It has value. So does the artist.
Please, buy art. Do not steal it. Please, be willing to value the artisan and not try to make them your slave and pretend to be doing them a favor.
The value of the artist is priceless, the value of their time and art should come with a fair price.