First of all I wanted to thank all of you who commented (both on and off blog) on the Artist Income Study post. It is always interesting to me about what artists have to say about money. So thank you!
Secondly, I decided to break this follow up into two posts because as usual it just keeps expanding even though when I started out it felt like there wasn’t that much I needed to say. Apparently there is.
I was working on the follow up post to the Artist Income Study of earlier this month. (which was spawned from reading a Robert Genn newsletter about artists tending to fall into poverty income brackets and that those with artistic degrees tend to earn less than those without,) when I ran into a little trouble. My opinions and stories started to lean a little onto the cranky side. This is not the tone I wanted to set, so I quit working on it and decided to read the latest comments to the initial newsletter instead.
“However, by creating art that connects with people I get to have a small but positive impact on their lives through my art. Not a bad gig when I really think about.”
I was a little surprised at how angry so many of the people got. (apparently I’m not the only one with issues) I believe one commenter said something like “you would have thought Robert Genn had stood up and told them all their work sucked.” (completely paraphrasing there.)
This is a very sensitive issue for most artists. It not only hits close to something they love to do, but also to a core belief in how they perceive what they do affects the world.
Personally I’ve experienced bias for my work which I took personally for a day or two and then let it go. Mostly I try to learn from it so I can better succeed at my desired goals. Which are: sell enough artwork to keep my bills paid. In doing so I can improve my artistic skill plus get the satisfaction of doing something which is personally rewarding. I have no illusions of grandeur. (none) I don’t want to be famous, (I really do hate the spotlight) nor do I believe that my work will immortalise me. However, by creating art that connects with people I get to have a small but positive impact on their lives through my art. Not a bad gig when I really think about.
For those who seek something greater . . . good on you and go for it.
In regards to money
I have never really thought of making money at art as hard. Well . . . not harder than making money doing anything else. Perhaps it is because I do so many artfairs that every year I am surrounded by artists successfully selling their goods. Many do these events for fun or hobby. But many others earn enough to live on and some to live on it very well. (Second homes, put their kids through college. That sort of thing.) Mind you it would be exponentially harder, if the art I was trying to sell was of an elitist nature. At least at art fair venues.
There are also plenty of artists making a good living selling through galleries or doing commission work. I think it is just the fact that anyone with a pencil in hand can claim to be an artist. I read a few years back that more people claimed themselves as artists on their taxes than lawyers, doctors and teachers combined. This is surely going to bring down the economic average as many of them are hobbyists.
Two Kinds of Artists
I think when broken down to it’s most simple form, there are two kinds of artists. Those who create work to sell and therefor must take into consideration what the public wants. And those who, for whatever reason can create art that needs not give an economic return.
For me the fact that what I do has public appeal in no way makes what I do less. My art is still an emotional and spiritual undertaking. Perhaps I am just fortunate that what I love to create has an audience. If the only thing the public wanted was say . . . abstract art, I would be screwed. There is nothing wrong with abstract art, it is just not me. I couldn’t create it or sell it and feel rewarded in any way. So by doing what I do, I am not pandering, I am simply connecting with the critter people of the world who want critter images on their walls.
Perhaps if everyone did want abstract art, I too would be wailing at the unenlightened public. Um . . . perhaps not.
I will continue this discussion in Part 2. As well as show my latest colt wip as it actually relates to what we’re talking about here. (Anybody getting sick of looking at this little horse yet?)
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