Blog  At least 710 Singaporeans think that artists are not essential

At least 710 Singaporeans think that artists are not essential

On 14 Jun 2020, our local papers released a new survey regarding occupations that are essential or not. The reactions that followed after ranged from ‘yea, that’s right‘ to ‘cool story, bro’ to ‘what’s a hawker?’, ‘OUTRAGE‘ and of course, memes.

Essential Goods for Non-Essential People:

Posted by Singaplex on Tuesday, June 16, 2020

There’s plenty to break down about the survey. From the fact that it’s most likely not the most accurate survey, what defines an artist to ‘well… so what’s new?’. For us in Singapore, it’s not an unfamiliar sentiment. We grew up to the common Asian parental question of ‘Can the arts feed you?’


Sure, seeing THAT published on the national paper does sting a little and the immediate emotional response is a knee-jerk reaction of ‘HOW DARE YOU’. However, you got to admit that in the middle of 2020, just sitting down to draw isn’t going to cure the corona virus, solve racism or feed the nation. At least, not directly nor immediately.

There is a value and purpose for all the non-essential jobs listed there. Yes, even that of telemarketer. Daiyaku puts it across very nicely in their little comic.

Just our 2 cents in regards to the recent poll on essential services. 😡

Posted by Daiyaku on Sunday, June 14, 2020

The Spice of Life

A nice silver lining in the whole brouhaha is that, it started a conversation about the value of arts within our society. I don’t think anyone is really saying that the arts is absolutely useless to society. Even if you take the most pragmatic, utilitarian approach to the whole issue, arts is a major contributor to both society AND economy.

As people love to point out, a graphic designer designed that controversial infographic. Graphic designers create all those graphics that makes it easier for our society to understand all the various means in which the government is trying to prop up our economy.

Concept artists create art that goes on to be the building blocks of entertainment. Comic artists craft stories. Animators bring those art to animated life; keeping us sane during the lockdown through binge-watching anime (or gaming). Illustrators design new waifus (or husbandos) that we can gacha or idolize.

Graffiti artists painted those amazing murals that highlighted social inequalities within society. Musicians provide the music BGM of life. Everything creative that you consume on a daily basis receives a little touch from various contributing artists from the photographer to the Photoshop editor.

Sure, we are non-essential in the sense that if you take ALL the artists out of the picture, life will still go on in one way or another. If push comes to shove, the hawker will take priority over the artist.

However, take comfort that if there are no artists left, the world will be an incredibly dull and boring place. So much so that you’ll start seeing self-appointed artists popping up here and there. There will never be a time when there are no artists ever.

The work artists do. The work we do. There is still value.

Cool story, bro

And for us, we will still be here. Drawing our waifus and husbandos. Getting paid to draw the oddest things and making the world a more interesting place, one art at a time.