Editorial: The Underappreciation of Art

Zayn Roohi / Photo Editor

Talk to any artist, whether they’re a filmmaker, photographer, painter or knitter, and you’ll find they all have something in common with each other: they get asked by almost everyone to do work for free. Whether they’re told that it’s for exposure, family, friends or fun, artists are expected to do their jobs for free.

No legitimate company would be able to keep business if they told everyone that they were going to make money off of a scientist’s work without paying them. It wouldn’t be accepted by society as a reasonable thing to do.

Artists are expected to do this very thing to advance their career.

I just spent two days in Anchorage filming a advertisement for a clothing line. From the time I started planning the shoot to the time I’ll be done editing them, I will have put in more than 100 hours of work. No one in their right mind would be expect someone else to do this much work for nothing.

And yet just a few weeks ago I was asked to fly down, film and edit a commercial, all for free. I was told that I would be given exposure, and this would help me get more business.

This is like going to Fred Meyers and taking food without paying because you’ll tell all your friends how good their food is.

This trend isn’t a very complicated one, and it wouldn’t be particularly hard to stop. At its core, it’s greed; companies know they can get away with exploiting artists. On the surface it’s society judging artists as being worth less than everyone else. People think that art is just something that happens, and that no one has to work for it.

Against my better judgement, I decided to film a promo piece for the UAF athletic department for free three weeks ago. My only requirement was that the athletic department sign my contract, a simple contract that stated that I had created the work, and would be given credit for it.

My contract was rejected. Everyone I talked to was surprised that I expected to receive credit for my work, and I was once even asked why UAF didn’t own the piece. After numerous emails and rewrites of my contract, I was finally ignored and nothing ever came of the promo.

I’ve been in numerous situations like this, and the fact is that people don’t respect artists, and people don’t respect their art. In an age of iPhones and iPads, people think that because they can be an artist with just a cell phone, then anyone can be.

But this simply isn’t true. Artists contribute something unique to our society: science and math are not emotional, economics and politics aren’t beautiful. Art is, and the artists who did the work to create masterpieces spent more then 2 minutes playing with their iPhone. Becoming a great artist takes thousands of hours of hard work, and not many people can do it.

An college athlete spends 22 years training to be great, an engineering student spends this time studying. An artist is no different.

So no, I will not take pictures of your baby, your wife, promote your brand or help you with you homework project. I’ve spent 19 years learning my trade, and I deserve more than nothing for my work.

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