I discovered a great article on the Guardian newspaper website last week that really is a positive step towards supporting the value of an art education. From lots of research that I do on my day to day business in bringing Portfolio Oomph to you I come across many opinions that art college is just a doss for people with their head in the clouds. One particular blog post's comments really saddened me…..
But when you think about all the things that you buy, wear, sit on, eat off, decorate your home with, live in etc.etc. then you have to thank many skilled designers and artists who have a creative vision and can visualise its CREATION. Going to art college is a wonderful experience, never will you experience such a holistic approach to learning. Yes you will explore yourself, your dreams, your fears, your passions and a whole host of other issues that are meaningful to you. But this is not all self absorbed nonsense that is indulgent and of little use to society. By having the space, time and facilities to explore these notions the most amazing ground breaking design and art can take place. And therefore there must be fair pay for artists.
I feel that society is so quick to judge the value of things in financial terms. You make art, show it in a gallery but it doesn't sell because it's a video installation therefore what use is it? But let's look at the value to those viewers who have really had quite a life changing experience by watching it? A student that I mentored last year experienced this very thing. Having seen an exhibition of Jeremy Deller he realised that a degree in Social Politics was not what he wanted to pursue. This exhibition he described to me as being an epiphany, really – and he felt quite embarrassed about using this word but he really felt that strongly about. We worked hard together for 9 months to ensure that he achieved his goal of going to art college and that became reality last September. Read his full story and his parents viewpoint. Art can have profound affects on individuals.
The career path for a student who studies Textiles or Graphic Design for example is perhaps much easier to visualise being perhaps a smoother route. However this is not to say it's a better or more worthy route. a-n The Artists Information Company are campaigning for artists who show in publicly-funded galleries to receive a fee from the gallery. On reading this back to myself this seems non-sensical. THIS DOESN'T HAPPEN??? No, it doesn't in this country. So you might ask then 'How does a fine artist make a living if they don't make work that sells?' You might well ask this as it's very difficult, involving lots of grant application proposals, commission proposals, doing teaching jobs and all manner of other jobs to support the making of art. Also wrongly or rightly sometimes claiming state benefits. Now there's a point. Read more on this topic in the Guardian. You can also support this cause by signing up to the campaign.
This topic has been discussed in all media over the past few weeks. The Scottish Artists Union has been lobbying Creative Scotland to secure fairer pay for artists in its membership for more than 18 months.
But in Europe there are many more opportunities for artists, the lifestyle and work of artists seems to be much more understood and valued. I have a friend and artist in Switzerland who pays for his dental care with exchange of his artwork.
So seeing this article has warmed my heart a little when there has been a lot happening on this subject of supporting fair pay for artists.