The development of the internet has been a wonderful thing. My career as an Illustrator wouldn’t be what it is now without it.
Illustrators, designers, artists, musicians, everyone can get their creations out to an audience in more ways than I can count and everyday a new avenue opens. As creators we have a desire for validation in the form of blog comments, retweets, “likes” and +1’s.
We build audiences that will hopefully be willing to support us monetarily in the future by purchasing some form of our work, either digitally or physically.
We often put out free content as a way to grow these audiences and it works.
Unfortunately, there is a large segment of our audiences that will take all the free content you can produce and disappear as soon as they run into content that they are asked to pay for.
This is a completely understandable reaction. We are all guilty of gobbling up free content but thinking twice (or three times) before we would pay for that same content.
Changing this will take time, but I do believe it will happen. As more and more content moves to primarily web- or device-based delivery we will see more and more instances of required payment.
We have the power to speed up this process for the better. Start paying for content.
How can we complain about the lack of monetization of our own content if we aren’t willing to pay for similar content somewhere else? I’m not just talking about the issue of artists selling to artists. Do you visit newspaper websites and read content for free? Do you read industry journals or blogs for free? Do you listen to public radio? If you think about what went in to providing that content it starts to seem a bit ridiculous to complain about being asked to support it.
I’m not suggesting that we should have to pay for everything, but I am suggesting that we start financially supporting the things we place value on. Otherwise, prepare to see every extra inch of your favorite websites crammed with advertising.
You may not always be in a position to donate to podcasts you enjoy or to buy books and prints from artists you love, but please be open to doing so when you are in that position.
Artists, journalists, public radio hosts, cartoonists, etc… we all put a lot of time, energy and passion into what we do and most of us do it because we couldn’t imagine not doing it.
So if your favorite cartoonist starts a subscription based web comic or your favorite illustrator is selling desktop wallpapers for a small donation, please think hard about how much they’ve put into it before balking at spending a few dollars on their work.
**Illustration courtesy of my participating in 30 Days of Comics