Nothing is Free

Posted: February 9, 2021 in Uncategorized

Yesterday we talked about working for exposure. Today, let’s talk about working for free. I’ll start with a bold statement. Nothing is free. About now, someone might want to go all Christian on me and say “Salvation is free.” Nothing could be further from the truth, salvation is free to you and me because someone else (Jesus Christ) paid for it and that’s how it goes with everything that is free. If I give you something for free, it’s free to you, because I paid for it. I bought the supplies and did the work. That work took time, time away from my family, which means my family paid for it, not to mention the resources I used to get all that I needed to create what I created came out of something I could have done for someone else, so in a way they paid too, and so again, nothing is free.

So am I saying you should never give any of your work away? Not at all, I simply want you to take the biblical advice to “count the cost.” As a Christian, your first step in doing anything, should be prayer. Ask God what you should do and if you should give the work away. If you feel led to do so, by all means, do it. Sometimes I create things for no other reason than because I feel like I want to create, and I often put that out for the world to see. That is me offering my gift. If someone buys it, great, but for the most part, I am just creating for the love of creating and reaping two benefits. 1. I am growing in my skills and 2. I am finding my audience. Every artist needs an audience. They need to find those people who will love their work enough to pay for it, funding the creation of the next piece and the resources necessary to sustain life. In this I am creating what I want (or feel led) to create and offering it to the world, which is the very definition of a gift.

Are there other times to give your work away? Yes. If you are a young artist and need to prove yourself, you need to build a body of work you can show to get jobs or commissions. We call this a portfolio and most of the time you don’t get paid for it. A lot of times this starts with student work, but a lot of people care more about what you can do than your degree, especially in the free lance world. One of the things I recommend, is find a non-profit or a cause you believe in and ask how you can contribute with your talents. They will often have something they could not afford to commission that will look great in your portfolio. Look for businesses that are just getting started and do work for them and bless them. Do some work for your church. Real world experience is huge and while you may not be getting paid (because you gave your work as a gift) you still benefit, it’s almost like a free education! You will also be serving others and that is a very good thing.

What we need to remember in all of this is that art is a business. Supplies and everything else have costs and if you can’t cover those costs, you won’t be in business very long. When you do decide to give your work away, you need to remember it still costs and judge accordingly. One of the hardest things for most of us is setting the price for our work, but remember your work has value. If you don’t value it, no one else will. Giving it away is a great gift. Just remember you need to pay for the gifts you give away so you have to have something coming in, which means sooner or later, you need to make money.

Nothing is free.

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