I was doing a little reading the other day on a horror legend, actress Maila Nurmi. Most will know her better as her other persona, Vampira, the hour-glass silhouette drifting down the hallways giving life to all that was macabre and ethereal. She's always been a major inspiration in my life, and I'm very sure there are a large number of we spooky chicks who could say the same. Her life was rich and interesting and she was a fascinating woman. She is also the reason that as an artist I like to demand fair pay for my work.
One of the perks to honing my craft year after year is alongside experience comes the gift of Not Giving A Fuck. This is there was a blight on my crop of fucks, and there was none, so that I, in fact, have no fucks to give any longer. This is useful at this time in my professional career as an artist. In my younger days I would be fearful to ask for fair payment or to negotiate a fee. I'd fret my work wasn't good enough, or that my act wasn't worth the price I was asking for it. Fear and self doubt weighed me heavy. But I unburdened myself as I got older, and now I feel confident in asking for what I want, and I have Maila Nurmi to thank for it.
It is widely accepted in pop culture that Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space is one of the worst, if not the most worse motion pictures ever made. It was in the depths of obscurity until two authors, Michael and and Harry Medved dubbed it the 'worst film of all time', which immediately brought it into the light and made it a cult classic. However, before it was welcomed into the hallowed halls of kitsch, it was a low budget opus for Mr.Wood. It is also notable for being the last film that screen legend Bela Lugosi did before he passed away, who was at the time in great decline, both physically and in his career. It was with this film that Paul Marco recruited Ms. Nurmi to be in the film.
I bring this up because Maila Nurmi accepted the work - one day on set - for $200 in 1959. I'm not terribly good with numbers, but I'm very certain that since 1959 what was worth $200 then would be considerable by comparison by today's standards.The average yearly income was $5,016, so I'll let you do the facts and figures on that one, but you get the idea... $200 back then would be quite impressive if converted to today's standards. Also it's worth mentioning that this was for what is considered to be the the worst movie of all time. I think of that and I think, 'wow, that's a lot of money', but the sad thing is, it isn't.
The problem is that because people consistently try and underpay artists, when we see something like that, we think, 'Wow! I hope I can make that kind of money with my art one day!', as if it's an impossible dream. It's not actually, we just need to stop accepting low paying gigs and undercutting each other. We need to remember that developing our skills takes as much time to do an apprenticeship and that just because what we do isn't considered a trade, it is. And I find that if ever I just my worth or myself in this regard, I remember that Vampira got paid $200 in 1959 for the worst film ever, therefore I am able to ask for something worth my art's fair price.
Hidden Career Advice For Artists
by: Tristan Risk "Little Miss Risk"