I belong to a community of artists who often discuss the relationship of the artist with their community and with commerce. There has been a lot of discussion of what it means to support an artist, to give them money to produce work, and what that will mean for the artist and the work itself.
There is an argument that money can give an artist the time and space to work on their art. That money towards art will give an artist time. Without that time, an artist might have to engage in other pursuits to support themselves.
While I think this is accurate, there is another dimension I’d like to explore, which is the cost of the art itself.
Different mediums have different overhead. Some mediums are more expensive than others, and the amount of money going into that medium can make a huge difference with the result.
I don’t think people like this idea. Art is supposed to be somehow disconnected from commerce, materials generating from the will of the artist, leftover from other projects, or just. . .swirling around the artist like a storm.
A budget makes a difference. I’m often hired by amazing creators who want photographs for their projects. I know how to trade photoshoots with fashion designers so they will lend their clothing, where to shoot for free, what locations are willing to let me use them for small donations or trade for photos, how to get models who will work in trade for the photos, how to treat makeup artists so that they enjoy working with me and will sometimes do so at a discount.
All this knowledge, and still, money makes a huge difference in the end result of the shoot. Being able to pay and feed people, being able to rent a truly excellent space, being able to rent or purchase costumes and makeup – this makes a huge difference.
Most of my photos were created with zero budget, but they just don’t compare to the photos that have dollars behind them. This year, I want to create work where I can unleash my creativity, employ other artists, and make what I see in my head happen in real life. I know what I can do with a budget of zero. Now I want to see what I can do with more.