• Christopher Lutterodt-Quarcoo
  • Charisse Chikwiri

Identifying the value in your practice is also seeing its value to other people, organisations and sectors.

Image — Lost Time, 2016 (Glithero) ​Soundtrack — Daydreaming, Radiohead
In a recent discussion with Ytasha Womack, (Author of Afrofuturism : The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture), we discussed Emerging Journal as a project that blurs the line between industry commentary and critical writing about personal creative practice. I had never thought of it in those terms but I completely agree. As we continued, she clarified that art and entertainment are separate things and not to be treated as the same. Prying deeper, she explains that art ( in its most encompassing definition) is from the artists themselves and it’s for the managers/agents to procure an audience for it. Meanwhile entertainment is formulated for a specific audience — signed, sealed and delivered.
For many practitioners this translates into a detachment between the work and the creator. It’s not their preference that is paramount but a client. I find myself questioning whether a relationship between art and entertainment can not only co-exist but become one in the same.
Blasphemy! …but why?
I can’t help but think that separating creative exploration and commercial viability hinders our evolution.
Anonymous : You’ve got to think commercially! CL-Q : The word ‘Commercial’ has always been described to me as the equivalent to selling your soul to the devil.  Anonymous: So is financial success and international recognition his calling card? CL-Q : Some would say so…
If watching ‘Californication’ has taught us anything, the irresistible romanticism of a struggling creative is somewhat addictive and at times willed into existence. However at its core, I was jolted back to a short lived conversation had whilst I was completing my bachelors degree.
Anonymous : So where is the value in your work, beyond your personal satisfaction? CL-Q : … the value is your enlightenment and the remedy to your ignorance.
Despite my slick response, I was momentarily speechless. He had a valid point (is it ironic that all my sceptics have thus far been men?) how are we defining value? Impact or financial gain? Can they come hand in hand? Let’s start with the basics, how is value dictated within industrial practice? Friend and former colleague Alice Ceresole, (Producer extraordinaire) schooled me in the valuation of freelancer day rates:
Interns : £0 & expenses (No Experience)* Junior : £50 — £100 (Minimal Experience)* Mid-Level : £125 — £150 (Moderate Experience)* Senior : £250 — £350 (Experienced)* Director : £500+ (Bonafide)*
*Not including the typically padded bill for commercial clients, doubling rates but not pay.
So when a commercial client approaches you with a project and a budget, consider their typical budgets and how much they are valuing your work and capabilities.
In the case of independent creatives, it’s proven difficult to enforce the same financial structure on the basis that expenses and fee, strangely seem one in the same. True, creatives whose work seem to dwell in cultural institutions seem to be penalised for their autonomy, however when considered within the context as a business, tolerance for low budgets with no other pay off are swiftly rejected. It’s proven undeniable to say that financial viability can sway intention and focus and the regularity of new work, but i ask which is the lesser of two evils? Grasping as many offered as possible and complaining at the lack of resources, or waiting for a reasonable payment?
I was recently informed that if I am to pursue the approach of viewing my practice as a business, its important to ensure its financial versatility. Translation, find five ways you can make money from what you do. That’s the avenue to clarifying the potential of your idea in sustaining itself and then you. Before authenticity and moral grey areas are flagged, what’s for sale is not always the final product, but possibly the process. Identifying the value in your practice is also seeing it’s value to other people, organisations and sectors.
Case and point : The Adv__™
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In partnership w/ Shades of Noir