In an ideal world, it would be a point of pride to support an artist. Artists are making something out of nothing, and that “something” is nothing short of magical. Art can evoke emotions, change minds, inspire, or simply provide comfort. Yet, there is a trend of thought that “art should be free,” which is false. Art is the spark that drives a culture and if it is not supported, the culture stagnates and dies a death of a thousand cuts.
The remarkable thing about people is that they always find ways to create art, even in the most oppressive environments, like the flower breaking though the concrete. Those that say that art is not important, not valuable, not worth supporting, and not worth paying for are rooting for the concrete.
Artists, struggling to find an audience, are willing to give their work away. They will put their music on Spotify or YouTube, and expect to receive pennies despite the countless hours of struggle and practice that went into that work. They put their photography, paintings, or drawings on image sharing sites in order to gain exposure and a reputation. This is perfectly understandable, but it also unfortunately lessens the art’s value. Quite often, something given for nothing is viewed as not being worth anything.
It is no small tragedy that art requires money to survive. Art requires artists and artists require food and shelter. The artist should not feel ashamed to ask for support for his/her efforts. Likewise, if you (as part of the audience) are inspired, it is only fitting that you reward the artist for doing so. It is no point of pride to say that you don’t pay for music or photography or art. The artist gave you something; perhaps it was a gift but still it made your life just a little bit better than it was before. A perfect stranger opened up a new world for you; someone halfway across the world inspired you to action. Give back. Even if there was no price on the art, it had value. Acknowledge its value and reciprocate so that the artist can survive to create better days.