Francis Ford Coppola and Artists

I’m really just sharing this gem that I saw on The Atlantic Wire this morning, courtesy of a full interview/article with Mr. Coppola himself on 99%. Either way, the quote is:

Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.

This idea of Metallica or some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?”

See I believe that artists should make money from their art. After all, it is their work. If an artist is trying to make a living, then their art should be sold. What I don’t agree with is when the middle men–the representatives of the artist take a huge cut, leaving the artist to survive on the scraps and the fans/buyers/community spend an outrageous amount of money just to view the art. At the end of the day, people become artists so that they can do what they love, but because they also hope to survive on doing what they love. It’s not a hard concept at all.

As an artist, I buy my music and movies out of a respect to the artist. A great example is a band that I happen to LOVE. The band is These United States, they’re getting bigger and better with time, but in the five years or so that I’ve known them, they have grown exponentially. I remember when I started attending their concerts, it was a romping good time. As they released more albums and toured more, I did my very best to be there–as a friend, as a fan, as an artist and as a human being whose life is impacted by their music. That is the beauty of music, isn’t it? That it moves you, gives you an alternate perspective. Then again, that’s maybe the beauty of words.

As my artistry in print and design developed (and continues to develop), I realized that I needed to share this bands words. I know I’ve discussed this before on this blog, but I made an artists pact with the band, with the lead singer–let me make cards with your words and you will receive a percentage of the sales. The cards haven’t taken off as much as I’d like, and they are currently under redesign, so they aren’t for sale at this time, but the willingness of Jesse and Co to let me produce art based on their art only encouraged me more. It made me happy and presented a challenge as an artist. Naturally, I’d love to make sales so that I can benefit, but the reality is that I want them to benefit too. It’s hard being an artist-following a dream, a desire that others may not agree with or appreciate, but then you realize that you’re not doing it for them, you’re doing it for yourself; in the hopes that every little bit that you’re doing is helping the greater good of humanity. My goals with the lyrics of These United States is for more exposure for them and the hopes that someone else will feel like I do when I hear their words. We’ve a very fair agreement between us, but I’m hardly out to make money on a band that I have too much respect for, unlike others.

Yes, there will be people who don’t agree with your designs, thoughts, words, philosophy, music, what have you, but there will be countless others. The goal for me as an artist is not to milk my customers dry, but to give them another perspective, show them the beauty in words and the power of words and writing and learning. However, I would be lying if I said I don’t want to make money from what I love doing. I do! I want to be able to live an awesome life, not a rich life, but a good, awesome life by sharing my energy as an artist.

I doubt that I will ever have a patron, but I do think I can have a lot of people out there sharing my message and my love because they believe in the same thing. That’s what we truly want as artists–the chance to connect and in that desire, we pursue it to great lengths not just with our time, or lack of time, but with other immeasurable risks–we miss opportunities in the day-to-day because we become focused, we don’t have healthy relationships (well, someone of us don’t) because we become too focused, we rack up debt trying to attain this goal-buying supplies, buying coffee, etc. We sit in hope that our work will have a meaning to someone, not just ourselves.

I, too, like Mr. Coppola, have another job, but it’s at the expense of my creativity, time and sometimes morals. It’s something that I’m working to escape. That hope I mentioned above, is a real, true hope because I am hoping for it as I work my butt off to make it a reality.

The point I’m trying to make is that I have no problem paying an actual artist for his thoughts, efforts, passion when it’s the artist that benefits. When someone else makes a profit from the artists work and leaves the artist questioning his efforts, then I have a problem with that and I can see why piracy takes off, especially in an economy when art can seem a bit of an extravagance. However the reality is that art is never an extravagance, or luxury, it’s something that keeps us sane and reminds us that there are pretty things that people do in a world that can other times seem lacking, bleak and unfriendly.


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s2 stationery & designs

A rule-breaking designer, artist & entrepreneur who's passionate about paper and handcrafting stationery. I also write, travel, and focus on eco + social good.

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