Inside the Studio
Behind the scenes, resources, and thoughts
Artist or Capitalist?
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Since coming out as (dare I say it) an artist, the question of money is on more minds than just mine. It seems that this topic inevitably comes up when discussing my work with friends and acquaintances.
The topic of time tracking, strict contracts, excel spreadsheets, competitively priced services, and negotiations - these are all terms that have haunted me since starting Studio Wednesday. When does a service end and a piece of art begin? How do I, as an artistic freelancer, value my art in the “free market”? How do others value it? Does my art equal my time? Perhaps one is greater in value than the other? How do I justify to those around me that there’s more to this than just making money?
Unfortunately, I have no answer. I have no philosophical breakthrough to enlighten other artists and freelancers around me to find the balance. But what I do have, is the ethos I live by.
Always put the art first
This is a rule that I only consciously realized I have been doing based on a conversation with a friend about a low-budget job I was helping him with.
A job is more than “a job” for me. It’s a chance to make art and push that art to be the best it’s ever been. Whether the budget is €5 for one line of text or €5,000 for a whole story, my heart goes into every word (spoken or written). I’m a bad capitalist because I live by this rule with almost everything I do with Studio Wednesday. And, genuinely, have a tough time turning this mindset off.
Time is not always equal to the final product
“How do you track time”? Enough, please, shhhh.
When charging for voice-over or narration work, the biggest question is not how much time is spent but where and how it will be used and distributed. Job A and B have the same length script, but job B pays triple the amount. Why? Job A’s voice-over will be used for e-learning at one specific company. Job B’s voice-over will be used commercially across multiple media channels.
Creative writing can be placed in a similar category (use and distribution). However, by far, the biggest reason I don’t charge hourly is because a good story knows no boundary of time. I am almost always thinking about that story in one way or another. If my imagination is really working, I can crank it out in one sitting. Does that mean my art, the story written “quickly,” is less valuable than one that takes longer?
Reputation over paycheck
Similarly to how I treat my art, I treat those I make the art for. As someone working for herself, I am also creating a name and reputation. I receive many jobs through an existing network of those I have worked with previously. Outside of my writing style and tone of voice being right for the job, I need to be easy to work with.
I focus on setting expectations, meeting deadlines, responding to feedback quickly and accurately, and above all, just being kind. After successfully bringing someone’s story to life, the best compliment I can receive is, “Working with you has been a joy.”
There are times when I wish my capitalist brain worked better or more evenly with my artist brain. Though, on good days, days like today, I resign myself to the fact that I am proud of the choices I make with Studio Wednesday. That, someday in the near future, I can toe the line more closely between the two, or perhaps, art will be valued a bit differently. I know that doing this full-time is a privilege, and this work’s hidden struggles and nuances are glanced over when those “but, money!” conversations come up.
But for now, I smile, opening the curtains of my studio to see the sun shining and think, yeah, I was always meant to be an artist.
That’s all for now. Chat soon.
Caitie from Studio Wednesday