This image is making the rounds on Facebook:[link]
Of course, it touches a nerve. So here's my mini-rant:
I often hear "If I had your talent, I'd [insert get-rich-quick scheme here]." My response: "If The Universe truly needed or wanted more of [that], I suppose you'd have been given the talent instead of me. So, since I have 'it,' I'll decide what to do with it."
The corollary is "Why are you working [at my current job] when you could be making a living off your art?" My response: "Because people keep expecting me to give them art for free. It makes me wonder how much free work is routinely done by doctors, lawyers, accountants, plumbers, teachers, policemen, firefighters, electricians, architects, models, musical groups, clerks, janitors, trash collectors, wedding cake specialists, tailors, editors and so on. Because no employer I've ever had has demanded that I work for free to 'prove myself.' Try to get married without paying EVERYBODY--in full AND in advance--for their respective services. But when it comes to an artist, why is payment optional?"
[And, no lie: I did a commissioned picture for a *friend* over two years ago, and that person STILL has not paid me, despite frequent requests.]