There was a post in my email yesterday, Ever Felt Like Giving Up?, by Doug Hoppes written on FASO’s blog. He was asking artists if they ever felt like giving up their art career. And it got me thinking…why would an artist want to give it up?
Artists are a lucky lot. They have found their passion and can work at something that fills them with a feeling of purpose and worthiness. You would think that, if someone found that in their lives, that the rest would be so easy! Very few people find their passion in life and can work at it too.
But artists have their trials and tribulations also:
Most artists don’t make enough money to live on so most have to supplement and take away from their art “time” to do another job or two. And most can’t afford health insurance. The “Starving Artist” theory, perpetuates the idea in society (i.e. buyers of art) that artists should not be paid enough for their products in order that they can make a living wage or be paid for their creative talent. Where did that theory come from anyway?
For some reason, working 40-60 hours/week on creating art plus all the marketing & social media time, material and studio costs, paying 30%-60% commissions and research time, that has become so much a part of their job, isn’t worth as much an hour as someone out there working in the “corporate world” or outside of an art studio.
Crazy isn’t it? The people creating the art are the only people who can’t make a living off their own art and most times comes out at a loss? The art store employees make a living selling art products to them. The galleries and alternative spaces make a living selling the artist’s work by making a sales commission on the art. Colleges and universities make a living teaching art. Website designers and developers and all the online businesses make a living off the artist. I could go on and on, but really think about it. The real creator of the art doesn’t. They are the ones with the original, creative idea in the first place. And they can’t price their work high enough to cover all their costs to make a living off of their product because society thinks they should starve for their art!
Selling your art and the steps necessary to being recognized is another process that leaves most artists exhausted and discouraged. Applying to juried shows, getting into galleries and alternative markets, finding your tribe, educating yourself on the market and social media, updating your website and the research hours are endless.
Why do they do it? Yes, some quit along the way or stall at a certain level because they don’t have the time, money or equipment to keep marketing themselves or pay someone else to do it for them. Or some just don’t have enough passion and fall by the wayside.
Would I give up painting? The thought has come into my head several times, usually at stressful, personal times in my life. But quit painting? Never. I might give up some of the other stuff that goes along with being a marketing guru for selling my art but I hope I perish with a brush in my hand.
It is sad in a very serious way how society treats their creatives. Most people revere artists, their talent and creative spirit. It is a commodity in business (or should be) to hire creative-thinking people. Most people I meet get this starry-eyed look when I tell them I am an artist. They say, “I wish I had that talent”. Or, “I can’t draw a straight line”. Or something to that effect. But you can see that they really wish they could do that! For many it brings back memories of a simpler time when they were children and did art projects for fun and not competition. And shouldn’t that be one of the purposes of surrounding yourself with art, bringing back memories or giving you a certain feeling, whatever those feelings might be? Some people are afraid to even approach an artist because they feel inferior in their presence.
Artists are just ordinary people doing what they do best in life. And they should be able to make a living at it without having to sacrifice their salary so everyone else can make a living off of their creativity. We pay you or your company for your services so that you can continue to do your job and that is all artists want as well. To be paid a fair price for their work so that they can make a profit (salary) for their job after paying for everything else.
So the next time you see a piece of art that you would like, remember that artists have the same costs to performing their job as you or your company does. I am hoping that educating the buying public will erase this title, “Starving Artist”, forever. As an educated society, it should have been eradicated years ago. And remember, you could be buying a piece of art that will go for millions or billions at Sotheby’s someday. You lucky person!
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Please share this post with others who might want to know a little about life as an artist from an artist’s perspective. And thank you for your interest in my work. Coming soon: An article you won’t want to miss on what goes into pricing a painting.
Painting above: Green Piece 1 • 12″ X 12″ • Acrylic/MM • $425