They are in every city. They may work at a local (or chain) grocery store or are sitting in the cubical next to you. Maybe they are part of the educational bustle and grind working as a substitute teacher or an adjunct.
They are also in the suburbs. They take their kids to school in the mornings and drop off forgotten homework or lunches at 10 am. They attend Parent-Teacher Meetings. And they also work at the mall or Wal-Mart.
They volunteer in the arts hoping someday they can get back to making money from their art. For now, all anyone is willing to pay this mid-level experienced artist is, well, nothing. It’s a win for the art community because it can rely on the artist and his or her contacts to further their cause without having to pay a dime.
The artist takes what free moments they have and sit, staring into space. One might think they are “having a moment”. But they are thinking of the times when they were starting out, it seemed they could’ve had their choice of jobs. Everyone wanted the newly minted artist. A plus is if the artist came in with a small fan base.
Now, after a few years, the artist has more fans and more experience. That’s a bad thing because now, the company has to pay this artist more. The fans aren’t too numerous to cause a dent in the company’s wallet, so a boycott doesn’t amount to much. Also, the company finds a person in, say, El Salvador, who can mimic said mid-level artist’s style and is willing to be paid less than half of the salary the artist generated.
This is creating a new endangered species because all these talented mid-level artists are losing their creative jobs and are turning to something to pay the bills. Sure, every now and then, they might get asked to do a commission for someone, but those are far, few, and in between.
Artists who still need to grow and mature in their craft are being tossed into minimum wage jobs because they are too expensive to keep around in the art world and they aren’t a big enough name to pull in revenue. Since it’s all about the bottom line (and not about loyalty), it’s cheaper to find a knock off than to pay for the brand name.
And this isn’t happening only in the publishing world, this is happening in all aspects of creative endeavors.
When will we stop outsourcing our mid-level artists and allow them to grow to be top selling artists?