Money is the root of all Evil

Seriously.  I mean it.  Why is it necessary to have money?  Why can’t I just happily go off into the great wild, and do what I want, when I want?  Why do I have to sell my art?

Some would say I don’t.  But here’s the thing.  Currently the only source of income that I have is teaching.  Which I love.  But it’s VERY part time, and only pays so much.  So money is an issue.  Paying bills can be an un-fun activity.

Which leads me to start thinking about selling my work.  And I have a hard time with this – particularly the big mural guys, who are currently my obsession, and I don’t know how to part with them, especially since they are one-of-a-kind.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

So, in my logical mind, this leads me to thinking about selling some of my other prints.  I’ve got crap-tons.  Old work that just sits in the closet.  New photos that I take for my own personal enjoyment that collect on my computer and turn into a time-suck in Lightroom.  I like them, but they are incredibly unrelated to the murals.  Things like pretty pictures of trees or architectural details or landscapes from vacations, like this…..

Here’s the issue.  Is this a sell out?  Am I pandering to the market?  Am I dumbing down what I really want to do, just to get by?  But what if I can’t do what I do because I don’t have enough money, so the only way to do the “real” work is to sell the more approachable stuff?

And you want to know what’s really embarrassing, or terrifying or just plain frustrating?  I, on the sly, started an Etsy store to try this out – to see if I could even sell the prints that aren’t my “real” art but maybe still make some money on something that I truly love to do.  Haven’t sold a blasted one.  Not one.  Not even an email.  So apparently my “approachable” work is still not finding the right mark.

This all is coming spewing out of me right now because I was just reading an article on “Art in the Time of Austerity” by Ben Davis on artnet.  The economy as a whole is so screwed up, and the art world is this lovely little microcosm of what’s going one in the big picture – the rich are doing just hunky-dorey and everyone else is holding on by the skin of their teeth.  The stat that shook me to my soul was towards the end of the article.  Of the approximate 80,000 artists that live in NYC or London, only 75 are “superstars”, and an additional 300 are successful.  The rest?  All 79,625 of them?  They are not making a living wage with their art.  Even if they are showing work in a gallery on a regular basis.  How’s that for chilling?

It kinda put a dark mood on my day.  So, now that I’ve vented all the bile in my spleen, I’m feeling a bit better, and will continue on with making my “real” art and hoping and praying that either our society fundamentally changes and good working people can live without worrying how they’ll pay their next bill, or I’ll become an art superstar and earn that 7-figure salary.  That, or I’ll win the lottery.

Wish me luck.


8 Responses to “Money is the root of all Evil”

  1. October 14, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    I can’t even explain how much I agree with you on this. You’re right about the rich going on like there’s no recession or depression around. There aren’t even jobs. A lot of people are saying things like ‘self-employment is the only way to make it’ and I agree but getting it off the ground is hard. Chilling doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling. I for one don’t think of you as selling out. I do understand about not wanting to let your favorite pieces go too. I sort of have the same problem.

  2. October 18, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Don’t give up Giese!!
    Art is the most frustrating, depressing, wonderful professions in the world.
    Yes, in order to make a living at this you need to play up to the ones with the disposable income. (doesn’t that term make you even more crazy?! “disposable”)
    Michelangelo needed a patron and yes Van Gogh died crazy and poor, but look at Picasso,
    he didn’t hava an original thought in his head, but he was more talented and played the game better than anyone. (and had fun doing it)
    Hang on to the people who “get” you and convert the ones who don’t.
    There is a workshop or a seminar or a support group in here somewhere. Lets get coffee, work it out and then tell the world.
    Keep it up Giese!

  3. 6 Kate
    October 18, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    I certainly don’t think of it as selling out. I think of it as a means to an end – you sell what might appeal to a wider market so that you have the resources to create the work that really speaks to you. If that makes a person a sellout then I guess I’m a sellout as well! 🙂

  4. 8 val
    February 14, 2011 at 5:11 am

    Hi Amy – I, too, have gone through the second-guessing, the frustration of art vs. commercial, and wondering how in the world I’ll make ends meet. I don’t think creating “approachable” work is selling out because, when you think about it, we have many facets to our perspectives, and many varied interests. Part of me loves kitschy, corny stuff, while another loves classic, minimalism. I loooove B&W and have also found color mesmerizing and fulfilling, too. You make beautiful images, some more commercial and some more “artsy,” and there is someone, somewhere that will resonate with each of them. For the past couple years, I’ve been turning my attention to creating 3D shapes in the form of jewelry. It’s the same story, tho…balancing what sells best with what I want to make. So I make what I like and the ones that are more popular, I make more of those, while the ones that don’t sell I keep for myself or give to friends who appreciate something different. As for one-of-a-kind pieces, whether it’s a painting, sculpture, necklace or photograph, document it well, and if you just can’t bear parting with it, mark it NFS (not for sale). And about the Etsy site – there are thousands of sellers and it seems that the best way to make sales is to get featured…your prices are definitely reasonable. Bona Fortuna!

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