Editorial | Subscriptions should not dominate the creative industry

Savage Interactive, developer of the popular illustration software Procreate, recently announced a new application for animation — Procreate Dreams. Given a release date of Nov. 22, Procreate Dreams received overwhelmingly positive response from users online due to its low price tag. Customers will only have to pay a one-time flat fee of $19.99 to use the software.

Most reliable and high-quality digital art applications require a subscription to use, which burns a substantial hole in the wallet of dedicated artists. Compare Procreate Dreams to a leading animation application like Adobe Animate — $20.99 per month — and the strain subscription services put on your finances becomes very palpable. Only a year’s usage of illustration or animation software can cost anywhere from $200 to well over $1,000, depending on the quality and goal of the applications.

Artistry is a famously unrewarding profession, specifically financially — you rarely hear anyone calling themselves a well-fed artist. For young, aspiring artists trying to build a portfolio — who often must pay the rent with an unfulfilling day job — price tags well into four figures often do not pay for themselves in the short term or at all.

So why have we let these subscription-based services dominate the industry for so long? The range of options available to people interested in pursuing something creative are wide, yet very polarized. New artists must choose to either use an inferior but free service to start out or stomach a price tag that adds up very quickly.

This hinders the ability for the financially insecure to achieve their potential, and there’s no reason half-decent quality tools should be stuck behind a paywall that seems insurmountable for some. As rent, gas and food all use up a larger portion of income from lower-class households, it can be difficult to justify such an investment. Subscriptions bar these communities from not only creating art using applications, but also from consuming them on increasingly expensive streaming services.

Procreate Dreams could hopefully bring a new change to this paradigm. While it likely will not be as high-quality an application as studio animation softwares that can cost over $100 every month, it will provide an animation-specialized application option for a very palatable price.

Fortunately, subscriptions don’t have a complete monopoly over the creative industry — free applications are available if you’re willing to deal with a typically lousier user interface and fewer options for higher-level artwork. Blender is a common choice for those dabbling in 3D animation, while OpenToonz and 2D Pencil are popular options for those in 2D animation. There are also plenty of free options for illustration, and Procreate offers a highly rated application for a one-time fee of $12.99.

For Pitt students, college is the perfect time to try working on that artistic endeavor that’s been sitting patiently in the back of your mind. Students with an active Pitt email address get access to the entire Adobe Creative Cloud for free. This expires when you graduate, so make the most of it while you can. If digital art were as accessible for everyone as it is for our four short years at Pitt, the world could be a far more creative and enriching place.

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