OK? Good. Now.
I have a whole lot of thoughts about this, not all of them potentially coherent, but I’ll try and be as sensical (you know, the opposite of nonsensical) as I can be.
I love Amanda’s talk, I find it incredibly inspirational, but I don’t think it’s all that revolutionary or new. (And I suspect she’d agree with me on this.) People have been giving their art and craft away–or exchanging it for things other than money, or just asking for handouts for support–for a long, long time. Charging money for art and craft, based on that art and craft being labor, isn’t something inherent to art and craft. It might be inherent to capitalism, but capitalism is really fucking weird, and I’m not really capitalism’s biggest fan. As Hank Green said in response to Amanda’s talk, “Why is it weird to get rich off of gifts, but normal to get rich off of exploitation of need?” Although I’ve wrestled with my own embarrassment over asking people for money, I don’t think there’s anything shameful in asking for money. There’s nothing shameful in begging. Hell, every advertisement you see on TV, every tweet an author posts that links to their book on Amazon, is a form of begging. Why is one form of begging better than another? Why is one more shameful?
Personally, I’d rather give my art and craft away, even if it means I can’t make a living solely from doing it. I’d rather find ways to let people give me money rather than find ways to make them give me money. Or as Cory Doctorow put it, I’d rather think like a dandelion. But then, the idea that my art and craft were labor that needed to be valued by money has never really appealed to me.
But of course, we live in a huge, complicated society, and if you want to go the commercial route, there’s nothing stopping you from doing that (and plenty of ways in which that path is supported and encouraged). And happily, as Amanda says in her talk, the ways in which we can exchange art and craft differently are expanding. Change is good. Variety is good.
That’s all, folks!