Column is a monthly feature that explores the world
of creativity and aesthetics.
Money and the
de Sousa, Director, AbleStable
The act of being creative is part of human
nature. It is not confined to those who
exhibit talent or virtuosity in a given
artistic medium. Creativity is a profound force
in all our lives, although many fail to acknowledge
its personal manifestations.
our common creativity, there are also those more
rare whose intense desire to explore and
their creativity and ideas, whose need to articulate,
whose life's focus is the achievement of their
creative vision, despite
economic disadvantage that may occur in following
from the ego centric
self-absorbed art practitioner is at times
difficult. The vocational artist need not be
poor though they are often unwealthy for they
place the importance
of their vocation above commercial gain. In this
column I set out why supporting
artist is crucial to society,
and how one might judge the genuine vocational
artist from the pretender.
Than A Job
job is a specific piece of work required to be
done as a duty or for a specific fee. Commercial
artists, commissioned composers, and sponsored
authors create within the context of the marketplace.
In contrast, the vocational artist carries out
occupation more for its altruistic and aesthetic
than for income.
holds that the interests of
rather than of the self, can motivate an individual.
Aesthetics pertains to understanding
that incorporates intellectual, sensory, and
and responses to the arts. Aesthetics is
the experience and study of beauty, of what is
pleasing or "artistic".
artists can be seen as fulfilling a psychological
need, and usually implies
that the creative has a form of "calling" for
Assistance for Creatives
are paid for their services or fund their creative
work by one of the following means:
The vast majority of vocational artists
enjoy no financial support for their work. They must
be either economically comfortable, or have
a day or part-time job which supports their
passion. While their job
pays for their daily essentials they are often
tired and de-motivated by the demands of what they
as their "ordinary
life". Maintaining their vision of their "extraordinary
existence" is a constant struggle as
are few vocational artists who achieve their
creative potential as most succumb to the day
to day demands and distractions of the world. Only
those with a generous helping of luck or an iron
determination and overwhelming need for completion
Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege and often financial aid
given by a person or an organization. Art
patronage arose historically wherever a royal
or imperial system and an aristocracy dominated
a society and controlled a significant share
of resources. Rulers, nobles, and very wealthy people
used patronage of the arts to endorse their political
ambitions, social positions, and prestige.
modern patron is often on a more modest scale
and may be a partner, family member, or person
and wishes to support them in their
quest to achieve their potential. The patron can make the crucial
difference in bringing works of art to fruition
through their generous support of the artist.
benefactor is a person or other entity who provides money or other benefits
to the creative. The person receiving them is called a beneficiary. In contrast
with the patron, the benefactor will likely not have a long term commitment
to the creative person, but rather provides an injection of money and/or
Arts grants are provided by organizations
and give monitory aid
certain creative activities. The grant body usually
has strict criteria about
kind of activity which is to be supported, and
there is considerable competition when applying
for grants. Grant bodies may require continuous
reporting on the way grant money is being spent,
and also analyze the effectiveness of the use of
to the grant
process of applying for a grant is not well suited
to the instinctive and unconventional temperament
of the vocational artist as the mind-set required
is one of the marketplace. The successful grant
applicant requires good administrative and communication
skills in presenting their case for support.
are generally awarded to established
who move within the world of the artistic
elite rather than the independent vocational
artist. The majority of arts grants are provided
by arts administrators. Arts
have considerable influence over those who are
successful with their grant applications as they
guide their preferred choices behind the scenes
and before the public application process begins.
When the grant application is submitted the decisions
about successful applicants and the allocation
of budgets have largely already been made.
A sponsor is the individual or group that provides support in exchange
for the right to associate their name, products, or
services with the sponsored individual's work in return for negotiated benefits.
The sponsor may for example wish their products to be endorsed by the sponsored
sponsorship often places considerable qualifications
on the work that is being produced, and is therefore appropriate to
the creative professional rather than the vocational artist where freedom
of expression is paramount.
commission is when payment is given to a creative
professional as remuneration for an original creative
work (for example, a piece of music, a painting,
a photograph). As
the client, the commissioner may make specific
requests about the content of the work, and the
creative professional's responsibility
should primarily be in the service of the commissioner.
The vast majority of creatives work as freelance creative professionals,
for a company that has a creative department, or a small to mid-sized
studio specializing in a particular area (for example, a design
studio). In all three contexts creatives must deliver work
according to the requirements of their clients.
in this column the "vocational artist" has a "calling".
I believe that is what sets the vocational artist apart from those who
their personal satisfaction or as a commercial activity. The difference
between the vocational artist and other practitioners is not in the medium
they use (paint, words, music etc.), but rather in
and vision. They do not merely wish to create, they have no choice but
As the vocational
artist works independently of the confines of the marketplace
(including the contemporary art market), they have the opportunity to focus
their creative efforts. They make aesthetic decisions without having to
justify them to a client, they challenge artistic convention
without concern for the criticisms of the arts elite, they
seek and explore without the requirement to qualify their creative actions
to a third party. Simply put, they are free,
and freedom for them is essential.
creative can assess whether they are a vocational artist by asking themselves
whether they are happy
to share the products of their creative labors freely. Money for art makes
it no more important nor affective. Art stands or falls on its own
merits once it has the
Only if the creative is truly happy to gift their work can
the potential patron
supporter confirm they are at heart a vocational artist.
of course no guarantee a vocational artist will create a work which is
powerful, enriching, or connects with its audience, however the need of
them is crucial to society's well being. The works they produce are
a reflection of the human condition, they are testament to the importance
we place on
outside of the
marketplace, and they can bring great pleasure and insight as they expand
our understanding and experience of the world.
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