Florian Cramer on Mon, 21 Jul 2014 08:17:21 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> More Crisis in the Information Society

Hello David,

> And ask whether the generally low pay and insecure conditions for
> practitioners of what have become known as the creative economy really
> is such a new phenomenon?
> Are the average earnings enjoyed/endured by commercial photographers
> (and designers/illustrators/animators/writers) that Florian identifies
> as $20,000/year really that much worse than average earnings for these
> sectors during other historical periods?

I should have been more concrete in my posting. The $20,000/year figure
came from a market research study on Dutch professional photographers - in
other words, a demography where photographers who identify themselves as
visual artists are a small minority, and the bulk of the profession is
represent by photojournalists, commercial portrait and wedding
photographers and the like. The same study also said that the $20,000
figure represents an income loss of 20% in comparison to statistics
gathered three years earlier.

Colleagues working in advertising tell me that today's production budgets
for commercials have more than halved in comparison to the "golden age" in
the 80s and 90s. In graphic design, hardly any of the big bureaus still
exist anymore, and freelancers working at home have taken their place.

Aside from anecdotal evidence, my colleague Paul Rutten has compiled hard
figures and statistics for the creative industries in the Netherlands that
clearly show shrinkage [https://hro.app.box.com/s/gz6vf5hkn99ndsta2psz]
along with the rest of the economy since 2008. (For the U.S., the Salon.com
article "The Creative Class is a Lie" drew similar conclusions in 2011:
"The dream of a laptop-powered 'knowledge class' is dead. The media is
melting. Blame the economy - and the Web",
http://www.salon.com/2011/10/01/creative_class_is_a_lie/.) Intuitively,
this makes sense, but it sharply contradicts the run-of-the-mill rhetoric
that the creative industries are the area of biggest growth within the
overall economy.

> I guess what I am saying is that the arts (including the commercial
> sector) have always been riskier than most and the rewards of a life
> of expressive creative engagement has always had to be balanced
> against  greater risk and sacrifice.

I wouldn't argue with that!

> We may aspire to change this reality but is it really a new set of
> conditions ?

What seems to have changed is the fully commercial sector of the arts.
Large parts of it have economically collapsed and therefore no longer
provide alternative income opportunities. In other words, wedding
photography no longer pays the bills for experimental photographers,
copywriting no longer the bills of starving writers, etc.etc.


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