|Of all the things that I hear when I am at an art show, the variation of "you are so lucky to be able to just be an artist" is the most annoying. Not because I hear it a lot. Not because I don't understand what they are meaning; I used to have a J.O.B. and put in my time with the corporate world. |
It's because they don't understand what the hidden meaning is of what they are saying. The implication is that I don't WORK. That I just somehow magically have work pop onto a canvas, and then it magically sets itself up, and then people just give me love and money. Sorry to destroy the romantic notion, but if you are going to make a living as an artist....none of those things will happen.
Creating art is work. Sure, it's not "digging ditches or fixing fences work", but it's just as hard mentally as any office job, and it's probably more emotionally taxing. When I filled out and filed paperwork at my job, that was it. When I create a piece of work now, I am putting a part of me up for everyone to view and judge. Some of my pieces I love, and it's tough to have people glance at them and whisper to their friends, "that's really weird". Even better, you have to be prepared for people to not only hate your work, but to feel the desire to tell you that they hate your work. I did a charity event once, where I had donated two pieces for auction, and also committed 20% of all sales to the charity. This guy came out, looking at the various artists that were showing. He came over to my area, and asked, "well, what the hell do we have here?" I explained that I was a digital painter, etc. His response? "OOOOHHHH .... so, shit art." Yeah. That's what he said. Even if your boss says something like that about the report that you filed, it's not the same as something that you put some of yourself into.
Or, you get the people who, at an artwalk in the middle of a dirty dusty street, feel the need to make themselves look uber art collectors, with the "Oh, these are prints? Well, I only buy ORIGINALS". This said while they have earbuds for an MP3 hanging around their necks. When I ask if they are listening to the "original master recording" of that song, they always say no. When I ask if they read a lot, but only the original handwritten manuscripts, they always say no. But, for some reason, they think that when it comes to visual art, only the original will do for them, not that they are actually willing to pay for it. I had a friend once, who, when confronted with the "only buy originals" statement, had this exchange with the "patron":
artist: So, do you like the piece?
patron: Yeah, totally love it. I just only buy originals.
artist: I can get you the original, but you understand it costs more than a $50 print?
patron: Of course. How much is it?
patron: What?! Why so much? It didn't cost that much to make!
artist: actually, it costs less than this print did to make. But, I ONLY sell my originals to REAL collectors, not posers.
Now, if you collect originals, I am not calling you a poser. My point is, don't say how lucky I am to make a living as an artist, and then in a backhanded sort of way, imply that I can't duplicate my efforts so that I CAN make a living as an artist. Imagine doing YOUR job, but only getting paid once for it. Unless you did something at work in a completely different way, or did a completely different job, and then you would get paid one time only for that, as well. That would rather suck, wouldn't it? But, that is exactly what "I only buy originals" implies you want the visual artist to do... make money just once off of their work.
Then, once the piece is created, it has to be seen. And, despite what the tech people want you to think, you are NOT going to get rich selling artwork on the internet. You have to work it. You are going to do shows that you pay $300 for, travel hours, spend hours at, and sell $20. Even on the shows where you make money, you are still going to invest a lot of time setting up your booth, standing in it, and tearing it down. When I go to first Friday in Vegas, as an example, I leave my home around 7 AM Friday morning, get to Vegas around 2, take a quick shower to wash the travel off me, then head down to the show site to set up, where I will be until midnight when it's time to tear down and pack up everything in my tent by myself, then back to the hotel by 1:15 AM Saturday, so that I can eat a cheeseburger alone in my room, hit the sheets by 2, and be up by 7 AM so that I can drive back home.
You also need to work on getting your pieces into static locations, ranging from coffee shops to galleries. And you have to check in to maintain inventory and collect on sales, because many places will sell your work, then neglect to tell you until you stop in.
The one thing that you WON'T have to do is worry about the "museum pixie" kicking in your door so that it can view your artwork that is hidden away in your closet, and then declaring you the "next big thing". I know artists who won't do shows, won't promote their work, won't seek out places to hang, and then complain that they aren't selling any work. Or, better still, that "nobody understands them". Please. It's not that nobody understands you, it's that nobody sees you. If you want to be "lucky enough" to earn a living as an artist, you need to get off what you are sitting on, and you need to get to work, and you need to treat it like a job with you being a big old ass of a boss. Or, the worst thing is, when I hear an artist that says they don't want to make any money from their work, because it "degrades" it. What a load of crap. ALL the original old masters were paid artists, working for a living, and they damn sure had NO problem getting paid for their work. YOU are degrading your own work when you sell it for no profit. Look, if you feel you have to "suffer" for your art, and starving yourself is the way you want to accomplish it, then you won't be an artist for long. You will be hungry, broke, and homeless, but you won't be an artist.
So, bottom line, I understand what you are meaning when you say "you are so lucky to make a living as an artist." You are saying how great it must be to not have a corporate job (or paid vacations or health coverage or a 401K ... but I guess in today's economy, a lot of you don't have those anymore, either), and to be able to get paid to express myself, etc. But, please, understand that from the working artist's perspective, "luck" has VERY VERY little to do with it. It's a bit of pain, a bit of sacrifice, a bit of creativity, a lot of hard work, and, yes...a little bit of luck.
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|Just a quick heads up to everyone who might happen to like my work, and would like to carry it around with them.... I will have an app hitting the Android marketplace later today that will allow you to download and use, on your Android device, over 25 of my pieces! Stay tuned for the link later today...and please share with your art loving friends!|
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| Ok, I have been remiss in not updating this very often. I will do my best to improve on that. I wanted to update everyone on some shows I will be doing and where they can (or can no longer) find my work.|
Shows: I will be doing First Friday in Las Vegas in February and March, and will determine if I will be doing more months after that. Third Friday you can find me at the Chandler Artwalk. i am applying for the Oceanside Days of Art festival in Oceanside, CA for April 21st and 22nd. Will update more after I hear about that one. I have received my application for, and will be returning to, the North Park Festival of Arts in San Diego, CA on May 20th. Love this show! Will be bringing my full two tent set up.
Update on where to find my art when I am not at shows (other than here, of course). I recently put close to 20 pieces into Garlic and Shots on Rural and Elliot in Tempe, AZ. Great place, great food, great atmosphere. I will also be hanging multiple pieces at Hiptazmic Gallery at the Art Factory in Las Vegas, starting 1st Friday in February. I am also in the planning stages for a display at the Sanctuary art space in Phoenix. And, I might have some of my skateboard designs produced and sold at Industrial Rideshop in the greater Phoenix area. Sadly, I must also report that two of the galleries that I was hanging in have closed, due to the economy. Therefore, I no longer have work at Evermore Nevermore in Mesa, or at Galerias de los Muertos in Phoenix.
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|I purchased 3 of your pieces at a Third Friday in Chandler. Great work. A lot of emotion to them that I resignate to. I have Soaring to You, Rojo y Negro and one in purple with a lady nealing and eyes blind folded. Great work thank you for choices that made you the artist your are. A future purhcase is Her Time Come at last it is still in memory. Blessings on your life and work. Adriana Johnson|
|-- Adriana Johnson, 2/13/12|
|If you are the organizer of an artwalk or a festival in Arizona looking for artists that attract a crowd and sell well, please drop me an email. You can also look up my profile on http://festivalnet.com/index.html|
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|Keep up the good work. I enjoyed your art at the Chandler Historic area. Keep making the world a positive and more beautiful place. Glad you aren't a starving artist! ha ha|
|-- Denise, 10/25/10|
Wow, I must have lived a good life the past week or so....I just received an email from the City of Chandler, Arizona (where I live), inviting me to send in 10 works that may be used for a public beautification project. They want to take the works and create "wraps", and use those wraps on large outdoor features, such as junction boxes or electrical panels, large concrete planters, etc. Plus, the city will create a brochure and promote our works (I was 1 od 4 artists asked to submit).
Plus, they will pay us 1 time reproduction rights of $400 for use, then $100 for each file used! Best of all, I didn't have to do anything, they contacted me based on works they had seen at local artwalks and online at my two sites. So, as I have said before, the moral of the story is get off your high-horse about only showing in galleries (you know who you are), and do whatever you can to get your work seen (artwalks, coffee shops, boutiques, etc.) While some friends of mine are busy trying to get into galleries (and not selling), I have focused on building a name reputation and getting my pieces on people's walls. Not bragging, just saying I hate the label "starving artist", and refuse to accept it.
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|The art of a starving artist is dead. Congratulations. Ambition and drive pay off well. I own a few of your pieces. Can't wait to see what else you come out with.|
|-- I Am L.O.V.E, 1/2/10|
|You deserve this. Congratulations! You're the hardest working artist I know.. except of course, for me. :)|
|-- Sienna, 10/17/09|
|I just delivered 4 of my pieces (The Road, Not just opportunity knocks, Sing the words to every lie you've heard, and My heart for you) to the set of a movie being shot here in Phoenix! The movie, "Valley of the sun", is about a wealthy man living in LA who wakes up one day, decides his life is without meaning, and moves back home into his parents house. Who happen to live in Sun City, a retirement community here which is famous for the fact that the majority of it's residents drive golf carts. Casting director did Napolean Dynomite, so probably the same sort of movie. |
My piece called The Road is sized 32 x 50 inches for the movie, and will be featured several times in the opening sequence. All the pieces are being used on the set of the multi-million dollar home, which is rather cool. Means they thought my pieces looked like they would belong in a multi million dollar house.
Cast and crew are going to sign the back of The Road, and I get that piece back. I also get a mention in the "Special Thanks" credits at the end of the movie, and the set designer has passed my name on to others in his position. All in all, I am pretty excited by that.
Best part is, they "discovered" my art while attending a local artwalk (First Friday's in Phoenix, one of the largest monthly artwalks in the country). So, moral of the story is .... find every way you can to get your work out there, you never know what might happen!
"Will I still be soiled, once the dirt is gone?"
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|That is awesome!|
|-- Sarah Klamm, 8/28/10|