Monday, May 14, 2012

I Am An Artist

Thank you for contacting me. I'm flattered you liked one of my works and would like to use it for an e-book cover project. You said the only compensation I would receive is an attribution in the book for the use of my work. You stated the author is only going "to make pennies" so receiving payment is out of the question. However, I must decline your offer.

You see, I am an artist. My work is not my hobby. Art is my work. I earn my bread and butter from pen, ink, and paint. I have bills to pay. I'm sure you have bills to pay. The bank will not accept an attribution as payment for my mortgage. The electric company, telephone company, insurance, credit card and other companies I do business with will not accept an attribution in lieu of payment.

To give my work away without compensation not only devalues art, but more importantly, devalues and demeans myself. Other people get paid for goods or services they make or provide. You stated your author will be receiving pennies for her writing. The amount aside, she's still being compensated for her work. To do work for free implies that I am not worthy to receive a wage.

Now, from time to time, I do work for charitable causes. When I choose to donate my work, it is for a cause or an organization, church, or school that resonates with me. I get to choose. I also get to choose style, suitable decoration, and deadline. And paying clients come first. Always.

You wouldn't consider asking a "professional" (, lawyer) to provide services to you for free. Somehow artists and craftsmen, especially if they work from home, are not accorded the same respect. The public perception is we just slap paint on canvas or whip out a pen. That what we do is nothing so we deserve nothing for our skill or time. I, and my colleagues, have spent years, and thousands of dollars, studying and honing skills. I have been blessed to have been able to study with nationally and internationally respected artists in my field. To give away work for free, disrespects them for the knowledge they have passed to me.

I do want to thank you for asking my permission to use my work. You could have just stolen the image, and you didn't. Thank you for respecting copyright.


  1. Hurrah...Very well said.
    Maybe we should have something like this printed out to hand to folks who don't see art as real work.
    Is it because we enjoy what we do and therefore shouldn't expect payment?

  2. Lesley, you can find a tee-shirt with the sentiment at

  3. Amen, sistah! I even have new rules for friends & family. People devalue what we do so much they don't realize that doing their invitation suite is probably the most expensive gift they'll get (outside of parents, of course.)I'd MUCH rather go to Macy's and check their registry :-)

  4. Check out Harlan Elison's PAY THE WRITER on Youtube- and kudos CJ I have this conversation once a month.