Exposure Is Not Payment.

By Jessica Golich

You did it. You have spent years upon years fiercely practicing your craft and chose to experience the so-called pain of discipline over the excruciating pain of regret. You’ve reached a staggering point of self-confidence within your abilities in which you perceive you are ready to create a broader platform to showcase your artistic gifts for human beings to soak up and lay their eyes upon. You send out your extraordinary and worthy portfolio to multiple sources and clients that are eager to aid in the distribution of your work. And then the almighty and seemingly uncomfortable moment sprouts to life in which financial negotiations must be discussed. The client and/or source offers you not a single penny, and emphasizes that their unique platform and global reach will aid in your artwork and/or service gaining exposure all across the board. You fall for it. You continue to justify whatever mumbo gumbo that you feel is holding you back from asking to negotiate by spitting out excuse after excuse. Your client gets their cake and eats it too from your time, precious energy and passion that you embedded into your artwork while you sit back and watch them enjoy their view. Sigh.

Trust me, I’ve had plenty of practice making feebleminded excuses when it comes to accepting shortchange and/or lack of compensation for my artwork. I know the excruciating pain of not engaging in or wholeheartedly plunging into an ambitious pursuit because I had a creative excuse. I recall spending days writing drawn out journal entries to myself expressing my unconscious beliefs that I was not good enough or slightly capable of sharing my estimable gift with the world, let alone receiving monetary compensation for doing so. I spent years denying my gift, copping out and ignoring the inner call to gain exactly what I deserved from every rise and fall. I did not believe in myself. I did not believe in my art and I sure as hell did not have a strong will or heart to shield myself from the arrows flung my way by internet trolls and cynical, misanthropic foes. I was gruelingly attached to a negative outcome and scenario I created in my mind of my life drowning akin to a massive cargo ship colliding with a container ship thirty miles east of shore rather than investing in my wellbeing and developing the habit of creating every single day and being compensated generously for doing so.

I firmly state that by no means am I creating an imaginary authoritative pedestal attempting to arrogantly hand out my perception and knowledge as if you are somehow lacking. On the contrary, I am enthusiastically eager to see your greatness come to life and eager to see you shamelessly claim your fiscal piece of the puzzle. I am eager to watch that greatness transform your world. You can do this. Yes, you; the human being that stands in front of the mirror every single day while you dose yourself down continuously in a downward spiral of negative self-talk, limiting beliefs and self-destruction. You can choose to start walking down the long, tedious and at times wearisome road that will end up with you as a full-time artist, making a living doing what you love to do creating whatever you choose to create out there in this ever-changing and maddening world. Whether you’re a writer, photographer, painter, stripper, singer, 3D foam artist, musician, sculptor, mixed media artist, gardener, potter, knitter, iron worker, quilter, sculptor, pizza delivery driver, human being, or builder, the world is waiting with emboldened breath for you to display your gifts. What keeps you from receiving substantial fiscal compensation for sharing your treasured gift? Here’s a new flash, Mr. or Miss. lackadaisical……You.

I perceive money as a supplementation that creates time and space. Realistically, we live in a society where the dollar bill leads the way and human beings would die rather than pave their way without maintaining their well being every day. You have to eat and drink water, both of those necessities cost money. No, I cannot pay my bills or eat with “the unique platform and global reach” that your exposure provides. Yes, I understand that you indeed will be receiving a substantial slice of pie if I were to succumb and allow this pure lunacy subside. Except in exceptional circumstances such as charities, accepting peanuts and downright crumbs for your valuable service rendered undermines the value of artists and illustrators as an integral and key component of our society. You deserve compensation for your work. Period.

If you are naively unsure of the value of your gifts and are under the assumption that you have nothing unique to offer to this world, your task requires more cunningness. Keep in mind that not knowing is just as exciting as knowing, as you have created an opportunity to embark on a wonderful adventure full of wonder, pain (real talk) and discovery. Fuck plan B; you’re on the A team. Respect yourself and your gifts, time and services. Don’t fall for the tricks that phoniesys with a lot of nerve attempt to serve; earn what you deserve.