Iggy Pop can’t make a living off his art and apparently neither can I

So if you haven’t read Iggy Pop’s recent speech, and you are an artist, you should. It’s a bleak but true analysis of the current world for musicians, but not just for musicians, its true for artists.

This weekend, my friend and I packed out bags for a local comic book convention. It was our first time as vendors. And after eight hours of selling our hand made goods, I have a mixed feeling about the whole experience.


Not because we didn’t sell as much as we would have liked, which we didn’t, but because of how we were treated by the consumer who bartered and belittled our prices again and again.  I understand that a little good-natured bartering is a part of every con, but there become a point at which it is, well, insulting.

People offering you half and even less of the price you are selling at. What was worse, some of these people were fellow artist, fellow vendors.

And worse, if I rejected the price, there was an indignant rage? Why wouldn’t I take it? Wouldn’t I want to sell something at any cost?

No, honestly, if it means I’m going to lose half my cost, I’ll save my art for later, thank you.

Yes I  understand that Walmart and china cheapies exist.

But why and how do they exist? Because other countries have awful labor laws. They exploit people, children, ect.

It saves you money. I get that. As someone who has been dirt poor, I understand limited funds. But if that is the case. If you don’t have that much money to spend at my both, just come over, say hi, and admire my work. Don’t try to barter and then get annoyed when I say, “no I can’t do that.”

No I don’t do this to make a living. And it’s a good thing because if I did I would be hosed.But I put money and time into making each of these crafts, and I find it ridiculous that people expect to pay cents on the dollar for crafts.

9 comments on “Iggy Pop can’t make a living off his art and apparently neither can I

  1. I know right, the price is never right, no matter what the game show said.
    Hell, have a boot sale and if you ask 1 dollar for a life sized stuffed animal they still would only give you 20 cents.

    And serious, limited funds at a comic convention, If you go there you know you need money and lots of it. Or else it will just be torture if you can’t buy anything.

    We lost sight of the true value on craftsmanship.
    Keep your head held high and smile.

  2. Thank you for posting the Iggy link. It’s sad really. But as a musician myself, it takes away the pressure of expectation. I record for personal reasons and only the songs that I write. So, for me with the removal of the compensation component, I write to my my hearts content without concern of the blessings of a corporate office trying to make me pump out commercial junk.

  3. Thanks for your honest blog post Rachael! It is tough. I make $ off my hand painted ornaments but not so much off my handmade plushies or abstract paintings. Handmade one of a kind by an Artist people! Hello! Hang in there.

  4. A lot of it is wealthy white marketing types who say that free is a good marketing tool. It is, if you’re not needing to pay rent. The intern culture has created a lot of dilletantes and starved out artists. Every free book is another door being closed. Art matters and good art is worth paying for. What’s galling is that a lot of businesses who make billions do so off the free work of writers and artists in return for exposure. To me, exposure is what kills unfortunate drunks and old people when the snows come. Yet TypePad and the Huffington Post have coders and marketing departments but not the liquidity to pay for the content.

  5. Nicely put. As a small publisher I am constantly asked to sell for less. I used to offer ‘sale’ books or end of Con sales. No more. It devalues the product and the people who produce it. Good for you for standing your ground.

  6. Yeah, I was asked to speak at a university to the senior writing class about technical writing. I started out with a quote from a Liz Phair song: “It’s nice to be liked, but it’s better by far to be paid.” I encouraged them to look for a way to support themselves writing while they work on creative stuff, otherwise, they may be in for a rude awakening.

  7. I enjoyed reading your post. It’s funny how people will look at something and think they can tell us a price they think it’s worth without knowing what was involved in making it. The feeling is not one of pleasure to be certain. I recall making a wire sculpture that met with rave reviews from my peers only to have a passer-by say what he thought it was worth. Mind you, he liked what he saw which made his price comment sting even more. It was difficult to not respond when he mentioned a one hundred dollar selling price that would have set my hourly rate at one dollar an hour. I’ve heard of low minimum wages but that’s ridiculous. It seems to be a hazard of our trade when even someone as recognizable as Iggy Pop is struggling.

  8. I feel you. I get offers to write for other people’s blogs, and I will — for the right price. I’ve always got some hack asking me churn out pages of content for $6. Bye Felicia. I even have other bloggers offer me advice, pointing me to places that pay 15% of what I would consider an acceptable price. Those people, like that artists that haggled with you, either don’t know their own value or aren’t very good at their work.
    You ever notice how someone can post on Facebook that got a raise or promotion and people care, but if a blogger posts they had a million views or a painters says they made their first sale, it’s bragging?

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