I have had to explain to several people that art is a skill and not just a talent. I am often asked "what is the difference between the two?" from people that can't draw a simple stick figure. I tell them that you are born with "talent" however talent will only get you so far in the art field. If you have passion for art it becomes a "skill" through training, practice and determination. You have to better your "skills" just like any other job out there. Be it lawyer, teacher, doctor etc.
Reasons and stems from this thought:
1) The main problem is that some artists refuse to take their "talent" to the next level, low balling (asking for little to no money) on jobs and only help in preventing mental growth in our society. These same people use art as a "hobby" but venture in to professional jobs to supplement income. An example would be a person buys a camera and calls them selves a photographer or a person that downloads Photoshop and calls themselves a digital painter. You wouldn't buy a course book on health care and buy some knifes and call your self a surgeon. I learned very much from college and no amount of self teaching would have gotten me this far. Yes college only takes you so far and you must push your self to go beyond the material. However with out this basic material I would not be where I am today. Plus most jobs in art require a BA for good reason. If you are going to ask for money meet the industry pay standards or at least learn them so as not to low ball.
2) The art industry is full of people that hire artists that thinks that art is a "talent" only and they feel that they shouldn't have to pay due to their lack of natural born talents. They may also know nothing about the industry in which they are hiring and just looking to cash in on the next big game/animation. I heard over and over "this better be the next angry birds or I will have to let you go!" Resulting in low pay and unreasonable deadlines making for poor quality games that I am embarrassed to take ownership of. Beware working with these companies! Most claim to be startups, but they are only considered startups within the first 2 years not until they hit it big in game sales. It seems like a large part of our industry are made up of these founders that don't know any thing about the industry they are competing in. Another example of this is the restaurant business, watch an episode of "Kitchen nightmares" that will give you a good idea of what I am attempting to explain.
3) Unpaided Internships or Portfolio builders are a big issue in our industry. Beware the chronic internship companies, startups and or joe shome off the street. Companies that are enrolled in college internship fairs, often hire college students for free work and have no intention of hiring them later. As soon as one quits they hire the next intern to replace them. Startups usually produce low quality work and you learn little to no studio practices. They are disorganized and not all employees take work experience seriously when the company has no credentials. Joe Shome is looking for some thing for free aswell "I am in a band / writer and if you make a music video / comic book for us it will benefit us both." Sadly these are more common then any of the others. All for different reasons but all resulting in free work done by you. I have fallen for this sadly when I thought it would "Benefit my Portfolio". In the end it results in issues regarding ownership, copy right, limiting your rights and even with contracts they can be disrespectful and demanding as if they were a paid client instead of a partner. More heart ache than it is worth in my opinion. Its best if you do portfolio builders on your own.
4) Desperate artists and workers over seas. We have all been there we are needing to pay the bills and are willing to take a low ball job or low ball our selves in order to get any income. Sadly this is a horrible cycle as there is always some one willing to low ball due to this reason. So clients expect to get jobs done for little to no money as a standard. Over seas workers is a very large issue in our industry and can be seen more clearly on sites such as Odesk.com. Artists are asking for hourly rates of $2.00 for a job that a person that went to college here in the USA was taught to ask for $15 to $25 an hour starting. I would say about 95% of clients care more about budget and in result sacrifice quality of work. However the ones that do pay are the studios that produce great work and benefit the most.
5) There is a growing cycle in our society that teaches our youth that art should be free not only in visual art but in music as well. This goes far beyond downloading. Even as I was working as a caricature artist I had a Father of a young boy try to guilt trip me in to creating one of his son under the premiss that artwork should be free. He believed his every word and was teaching his son the same fundamental. Here is a current example of this belief: The Chicago SunTimes just fired their entire photo department advising their writers to take photos with their iphones, or "Life of Pi"where VFX artists (Rhythm & Hues) went bankrupt even after the movie grossed over billions of dollars.
If we don't change the way our society thinks I am unsure where art will be going. There will always be a desperate artist needing to make ends meet. A college student that needs an internship for experience and college credit. But I challenge all artists to do your best to educate your selves and others around you to stop the cycle. I worry it maybe to late.
I have added this long winded rant to my news feed as I hope that people can learn from my mistakes and make good choices as not to hurt our industry further. You are an artist don't low ball your self no matter if you are a hobbyist, college student, new graduate, experienced professional, or a studio owner.