I liked the idea of this TIME feature on people who work in creative fields that “actually pay,” but when I started reading it, I wondered if most of these people were actually earning a decent amount of money. For starters, most of these people are cagey about what they earn (when asked how much he makes, the balloon sculptor says, “Some months are better than others, and I keep growing pretty rapidly every year, about 50% every year for the past 4 years.”).
Secondly, the comedian interviewed in this feature is Tig Notaro, who recently released a successful live recording of one of her sets in which she discusses being diagnosed with cancer, and it’s my understanding that it’s difficult to make money as a comedian unless you’re a big name. Finally, some of these creative types admit they don’t make a lot of money (when asked about the worst part of her job, graphic novelist Ellen Forney responds, “Not much pay, no group health benefits.” The street artist who covers objects in public spaces with yarn says she gets paid $20,000 a year through commissions, which is pretty nice—I mean, she gets paid to cover objects with yarn—but not nice enough to make a decent living. Maybe I need to reconsider how I define “actually pay.”