Recently, I read an interview by Francis Ford Coppola that I found very interesting.
In the interview, he says, "...as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money? "
As many of you no doubt know, I do a reasonable amount of artwork for heavy metal bands and seeing as he is referencing the music industry here, I feel that I should comment on his opinion. If you read the interview, basically what he is saying is that all artists (whether that be musicians, filmmakers, painters, whatever), should make art independently and without pay and use other ventures to fund their project themselves. While I certainly don't disagree with doing things independently, there are cases such as album covers where a band may not be able to make that themselves. So that is why they HIRE an artist. As a filmmaker, he has to HIRE artists to do make-up or props or sets. Are the people that are not the decision-makers expected to make free things as well? Why would they make your movie when they could possibly make their own?
This isn't about greed. This isn't even necessarily about "putting food on the table" as everyone always says. This is about someone giving me a reason to not work on my own artistic ventures. I have thousands of ideas in my head at any given point. These could be paintings, comic strips, comic books, drawings, characters, sculptures, installations, anything! All of these things I have sitting in my brain waiting to be unleashed on the world and I am not doing them right this second. But why is that? Because I am accepting your offer to compensate me to do something for you. You paying me is not making me rich like Metallica. You paying me is jumping you ahead of my own imagination's queue to do your idea above mine.
Your idea is likely very cool, too, of course. And that is why I love making album covers for people. It's challenging to realize what someone else has in their head. But the fact still remains, nothing will ever be as personal as a pet project.
So Mr. Coppola, I do agree that trying to be an artist for the sole reason of becoming a millionaire is a bit silly. Unfortunately, I think your notion that "all art should be free" is completely ridiculous. If it wasn't, we wouldn't have entertainment as no true artist would do someone else's idea over their own without a reason.