How can we, as professional illustrators and designers, expect anybody to see our work as having true monetary value, if we continue to give it away in hopes of getting more eyeballs on said work? And let’s take it a step further and discuss the sharing of knowledge acquired over the years - this knowledge (about process, technique, tools, software, etc.) has just as much value as the finished work, itself - and yet, we are happy to post lengthy ‘behind-the-scenes’ tutorials about how we produce the work for the whole world to see, and for no charge. I know that we live in a creative culture that promotes sharing, sharing, sharing and this all stems from the greater ‘free’ culture of the online community. But, there is nothing wrong with accepting a payment for sharing this knowledge. Look at Skillshare - a great artist like Yuko Shimizu is happy to share some of her fantastic inking techniques, but at a cost. Shouldn’t this be the norm? Why on earth would she or should she give away this information? She is an artist with years and years of experience under her belt - her class is worth ten times the fee offered by Skillshare for the course. I believe we should all follow Yuko’s example. And still, there are just as many working artists posting similar content on their blogs or on other sites and not charging a dime. Would a master craftsperson in any other industry do the same? I don’t know, but I doubt it. What is it about illustrators and designers that makes us so eager to give people more than a peek behind the curtain and reveal everything, down to the nuts and bolts? Our fellow creatives can be a source of income for all of us, and without complaints. We all wish to support one another - I doubt the true professionals out there would balk at ponying up a little cash to learn some things from the best of us, but the smart way to do this is not to freely share everything we know, but to create our own little economy that drives us to produce higher quality informational materials / media and have these ‘products,’ if you like, grow into new revenue streams. Creating content and selling it - this is nothing new and it has been promoted for a long time by artists like Brad Holland, etc. - but it is still a more rare thing than it should be, because the definition of the ‘content’ has not changed with the times. Information is content. We all have learned incredibly valuable things about how to sustain a career in this strange industry - why do we so readily dump that knowledge onto a blog page, instead of assigning to it some real value?
Please do not mistake this as my proposing that we NOT help one another to learn and to succeed. I propose that we help each other MORE, in fact, by generating income for those that deserve to be paid for their knowledge and are willing to share it with the rest of us. People pay to attend universities, conferences like ICON, etc. - this is no different. We are working artists who have an opportunity to create new revenue streams that will not only help our businesses grow, but will grow our own mini economy, help our clients better understand the worth of our art, and keep us all afloat and thriving as other markets change or disappear.