If a client (or customer) pays you to create a piece of “art” then is it still art? Why? Or Why not? Because you are no longer the one deciding what to create but merely a hired hand doing someone else’s bidding? Does that make the piece not art? According to some art is only art when you are under no one else’s employ and your client isn’t telling you what to make.
Well… about that…a few examples might make the point better than any argument:
1. Sistine Chapel was a commissioned, paid work, with a contract, given to Michelangelo. It is considered as the pivotal piece of Renaissance art
2. Statue of David was also a commissioned piece, by Michelangelo, for the city of Florence, Italy.
3. Virgin of the Rocks, Last Supper were both commissioned art painted by Leonardo da Vinci
4. Jospeh Haydn was employed by the Esterházy family as music director and composed for the family
5. Mozart composed several pieces for the Salzburg court
6. Beethoven composed many commissioned pieces for Prince Lobkowitz and Prince Lichnowsky. Later, however, Beethoven would go on to have much more freedom to create what he wanted and have patrons and publishers pay for his work afterwards.
7. The Thinker by Auguste Rodin was a commissioned sculpture (part of a larger commission from France’s Directorate of Fine Arts)
8. The Tetons and the Snake River by Ansel Adams is a photograph he took under employment by the US Government Department of the Interior (and as such this photo is in the public domain)
So are these pieces considered art? Or should they be considered paid work that do not qualify as art? There are of course hundreds of similar examples, but I wanted to cite a few notable ones to disprove the utterly ridiculous position that art is only created while freelancing.