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In which Matt Shipman interviews me about the science photography business

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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If you’d like the backstory on how I became a professional insect photographer, SciLog‘s Matt Shipman is running a recent interview. I also give opinions, completely free-of-charge:

CB: You’ve been a vocal champion for science artists, calling for greater awareness of artists’ legal rights, the need for users to give artists attribution for their work, etc. What are some of the biggest problems facing the science art community?

Wild: The biggest problem? In the United States, the lack of a decent healthcare system. I hardly ever write about this, but a great many artists and photographers are less productive than they ought to be because they remain in day jobs they don’t like just for the affordable benefits. Either that or they are out on their own, uninsured, or paying huge monthly premiums just for catastrophic coverage, or they depend on a working spouse. The United States is a terrible business environment for very small companies and freelancers like me.

Obamacare helps us freelancers somewhat, especially since pre-existing conditions are covered, but many American science artists fall into the hole of not being quite poor enough to take advantage of the savings in the exchanges, but not being quite rich enough to afford health insurance comparable to what they’d get working for a large employer. The result is that our dysfunctional healthcare system serves as a disincentive to starting a small science art business. The current system disadvantages new artists beyond the usual barriers of breaking into a field.

Alex Wild About the Author: Alex Wild is Curator of Entomology at the University of Texas at Austin, where he studies the evolutionary history of ants. In 2003 he founded a photography business as an aesthetic complement to his scientific work, and his natural history photographs appear in numerous museums, books and media outlets. Follow on Twitter @myrmecos.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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