Discussing art as labor, as a craft and as self-care is something that I have done for years in many spaces and within some of my eBooks. Back in May during one of my third shift work periods (ever since undergrad 15+ years ago, I have found that I feel my most creative and work the best in the middle of the night, with 1:00am-4:00am being especially sharp and 5:00am-6:00am being my favorite hour of the day), I created one of those quickie Twitter surveys to ask some questions about how people perceive indie art and independent creators/artists. Obviously some of the reasoning for this survey was just in the name of self-interest; I am an independent creator and even when I worked in mainstream jobs—most of those years being in the horrid halls of corporate cacophony—I did creative work on the side for pay at times or for pleasure at times. Some of the reasoning for the survey was just to see who among the hourly boundary-testing type people on Twitter could simply participate in a quick survey (multiple choice) without tweeting me endless replies solely because my primary Twitter account is hypervisible and they want to be seen.
Ultimately though, I just wanted to see what a few people think about independent creators because most of what I deal with online is resentment at best and exploitation at worst. Do not get me wrong, there are wonderful people who enjoy and support my work, or who do not enjoy my work, but at least ignore me and do not harass or exploit me. I am good with both of the latter types of people. Anyway, the screencaps below reflect the results of the survey questions that I asked. Obviously this is not a scientific survey, but it does reflect some interesting opinions.
I do wonder how many of the people who participated in the survey chose what they think are the "right" answers (ones leaning towards payment and respect for indie artists) versus how they actually engage. This is not me being jaded; from using social media for over 10 years now and specifically using Twitter since 2009, I know that people engage indie artists poorly and many of those people do not evaluate how they consume or engage, with any real insight or introspection. Sure, there are some people who are deliberately harmful as well, but most people—even when they intend to be "nice"—are hyperconsumptive without boundaries or restraint, regularly mistreat indie artists, and expect all creative labor to be free. They think that unsolicited production requests are "compliments," that consumption is the same as compassion, and that shared consumption is the same as community; these things are not the same. In other words, some of the "nicest" people still engage indie artists as people who "owe" them, or they do not engage indie artists with any respect at all. (I mean, just recently I saw some people on Twitter suggest that indie creators and small business owners should indulge online abuse lest we lose "potential" customers. Yuck.)
I fantasize about what it would be like if for example 73% of the people who consume and use my work (especially Gradient Lair) financially contributed to it, if 98% of the people that I encounter actually engage my work as "work" and not as labor that is "owed" them, and if 87% of the people I encounter understood that it costs money (as well as safety for some artists, and of course the big one, time) to make art. In other words, I wish this survey was representative of my actual experiences as an indie artist. It is not.
Related Series: Artists Make Art
Related Posts: Abusing/Exploiting Independent Creators Is Not "Fighting Capitalism", People Who Minimize Hobbyists and Exploit Professional Artists, Social Media: "Fans," Supporters, Hypervisibility and Survival