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The best way to get paid for your art is to provide a tangible product or experience which can’t be digitally replicated for free. This protects you with the natural cycle of supply and demand.
If you want to release art that can be realistically copied for free, you should do it with the understanding that humans enjoy sharing and they might decide to share if they like your art enough. And this in no way should merit payment, because it requires no extra effort or materials from anyone.
By “should” I don’t mean that someone doesn’t “deserve” payment or anything like that. I only mean that products with infinite supplies “should” follow the same basic rules of economics that every other product in existence follows. I hope no one misunderstands this or thinks that I’m somehow saying that people “should” give their art away for free. I’m just explaining the reality of our current economy in the modern technological age.
That being said, just because something doesn’t inherently merit payment doesn’t mean that no one should pay or will pay. In fact, donations will likely be the primary income for many creators as we transition into this new art economy. But modern technology has left the choice of payment for free digital goods up to the consumer. They will support products at their discretion and leave the rest behind.
Artists will still create free works out of passion or a desire for expression/communication (ask one, we’ve been happily doing this since long before we got paid), and hopefully they will get paid some for that, but their “demanded” profits will generally need to come from real and tangible works based on the flow of our modern economy. Everything else is entirely voluntary, whether we like it or not.
Finally!!! I mean... there are people who are well paid Graphic designers and set designers and tattoo artists, architects and interior designers, animators and illustrators, art teachers and professors... I’m an art teacher and I get paid to help kids learn to paint and make things with clay. But there are lots of art jobs out there!
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