J. Dianne Dotson
2 min readNov 14, 2021

*wafts sage about*

Right, so it’s time for me to go on a bit of a tirade about the creative life. I must point out that what we artists and artisans do for a living is not free, and we deserve to be paid.

If you work, you should be paid for the work, unless you are a volunteer. That is a different kind of work in which you give back to a cause. For artists and creatives, our art IS our work. We should be paid for our work.

There is a high price for artists to do work, that we ultimately pay with our bodies and minds. But let me break down costs that are both apparent and hidden. First, supplies for art. These can be pens, paper, computers, tablets, ink, paint, cameras, lenses, lighting etc.

Factor in software and related subscriptions and promotional materials. These add up each month. Who pays for this? We do, out of our own pockets. So that is one reason we deserve to be paid: we are paying to MAKE our art with our money most of the time.

Hidden costs include exhaustion, posture challenges, outright injuries related to sitting or constantly writing and holding things in place for hours. There is also the hidden cost of mental fatigue. Many of us are caregivers yet we are still expected to work on top of that.

We artists and creatives are not automatons. We have lives, we have health demands, we have emotional and physical needs. Treating us like mills and factories is abuse, particularly when we aren’t paid for what we do.

When someone approaches us with the siren call of “How about you do X, and at some point Y I will pay you Z.” No. Take your promises of algebraic and mythical payments elsewhere if you can’t give us a contract and a deposit or advance.

We creatives are expected to be on, always, and always producing. Always! But that’s not how we survive. And to survive, we need money to feed and clothe ourselves and our families. Don’t make promises of payment and then not deliver.

Clout does not put food on the table. Money does. So pay creatives. We are making life more beautiful and interesting and yet we are making sacrifices to do so. Something has to give. Pay creatives, and you’ll get more and better work because we will have our needs met.

Without artists, writers, & other creatives, we would not have games, TV, film, fashion, home & furniture design, great education, photos to retain memories, etc. We light the lanterns of the world, but we cannot burn out. Pay creatives. And creatives: don’t work for free.

J. Dianne Dotson

J. Dianne Dotson is a science fiction/fantasy/horror author, science writer, and artist. Repped by Laura Bennett. Visit @jdiannedotson