In our society today it could reasonably be argued that art has become the disposable commodity. Artists, with rare exception, are almost universally under-appreciated. There are less jobs, we are paid less and we are given less respect than our suited counter-parts and these days, our programmer counter-parts.

Even people we know as legends these days, like Jack Kirby, Joe Shuster, Steve Ditko etc. were disrespected and taken advantage of. They didn’t “deserve” to get their artwork back, they didn’t “deserve” credit for the things they created, they could easily be replaced. The message was clear – They were seen as an unnecessary piece of a puzzle. A “tool” to use and discard. A necessary evil. Replaceable.

stans_lee-_jack_kirby_1964These few artists who actually HAVE risen to a place of admiration and respect are few and far between and this change came about ONLY because the fans, those who are not so blind that they cannot see the importance of the artist in any creation, stood up and DEMANDED they receive this respect. Once the public outcry became loud enough (small) changes were made, concessions given and, of course, the standard back-peddling and re-invention of history.“I’ve ALWAYS loved Jack and respected his immense talent.” What’s NOT said are those little pieces of truth that don’t make it into the official biographies. Things like, “Sure. I’ve always loved Jack. Of course I also stole from him, abused and dis-respected him. I took his ideas, his work, the pages he created and I tossed them away. I saw them as worthless as I see him and every artist. I drove him away because HE did not matter.” These are the words unsaid. The words no-one wants to discuss. Abuse is uncomfortable. In the business word, it is the status quo.

As artists, we see this constantly. People who think work should be free. It’s not hard after all. It’s not REALLY work. Our skills, talent and the years of practice and training are invisible and don’t exist. I get this in my job as well. I am a well-paid graphic designer working for a software company. I am well-paid but not so well-paid as any of the room-full of programmers that sit across from me. While programmers can be, and are casually replaced, put on different jobs and moved about I am the ONLY one who can do what I do, the way I do it. Still, I am the less valued one. Programmers are gods. So too marketing and sales – They bring in the money, after all. What is an artist? They just make things look nicer but is that really important? NOT to owners, sales, marketers and the like. Money. That is ALL that matters. If they cannot trace, dot-by-dot, color-by-numbers how you are bringing money into their pockets, you do not matter. You are insignificant and replaceable. “Anyone can create art. My nephew is a great artist. He could do this.” This is what we deal with. Every day. Just because you can play a video game, this does not make you a game programmer. In the same way, just because you can move a pencil across a page, this does not make you an artist.

Just because you can sing doesn’t mean you are a singer.

This will not change. It will NEVER change. Not until the FANS MAKE them change. Until then, we remain the disposable commodity.