Monday, November 2, 2009

Art and Money

You can make money off your art: You deserve creative fulfillment and recognition for your hard work -- artistic, social, and financial success.

Seal on the topic of "art and money" : I recently came across a young high school senior. I asked him in what direction he wanted to go after graduation, nothing final, just what interested him. He said that his dreams of art were dashed long ago and he didn't know what he wanted to do. He related to me that his parents had both studied art at some point and couldn't make the bills, so they highly discouraged him from pursuing art and thereby "following the same path of failure." Seal had experienced similar discouragements throughout her life. She has heard many comments like, "art doesn't pay the bills," "art is frivolous," "stop dreaming and come down to the real world," "it's good, but as a hobby, not to be taken seriously." Not to mention, there is an archetypal fear among artists of leaving their loved ones behind . . . We are afraid to dwelve into our art, for fear of leaving the house undone, never seeing the family or not seeing friends as often, or the myth of living a "solitary insane" existence. It took Seal a very long time to learn about her own personal limiting paradigms and actions regarding art and money, so she would like to share some of her important discoveries.

For artists, there is often an added psychological battle and negative thoughts around money. Money is seen as hard to come by, but especially for an artist. We even have the common phrase, "starving artist." Furthermore, if an artist is successful and comes into money, the community shuns upon him/her as a "commercial artist" or "mainstream artist," this person is seen as a "sell-out." This dichotomy is unhealthy. No wonder it is hard to create and it is hard to receive monetary value and recognition for one's art.

It is very much possible to make money off your art and keep your artistic integrity. Take a look at Hayao Miyazaki or Tim Burton to name a few. Money is neither good nor evil, simply a tool used by the owner. As for "commercial" or "mainstream" artist labels, why, isn't it good to be recognized? and to be paid in full value? Art is an expression, but it is also a profession, just like construction workers, surgeons, lawyers, bankers, professors etc. Would you pay a surgeon half the rate even if he/she was stellar?

So, the question is how to do it? How do you make money off your art? The question I gently ask you then, is what steps have you taken? Have you finished that painting, or that novel, or that jewerlry? Have you made your presence known?Have you hit up all the craft fairs, galleries, investment firms? Have you organized your own gallery show? Have you collaborated, networked, and connected with other like minded artists? Do you have a business card or a website at the very least? Seal is also personally working on these aspects herself, but that is the challenge of being the artist.

Many successful artists, Seal has talked to has said, their success doesn't come from "big breaks," although occassionally they too, but most often it is the mundane tiny steps, like following up call to a recommended contact, or dropping off your business card at the local newspaper, actions that seem minute can trigger series of events leading to a big break. But then there are artists who also simply happy by making art. Either way, we do better as artists when we support each other's endeavors, when we applaud a commerically viable artist, when we change our interior monolouges regarding how we perceive "money and art" to support our artistic successes.

At the heart of it, "success" can mean very different things to different artists. It can mean just doodling everyday, it can mean a soldout worldwide show, etc. But in the end, it is okay to be an artist and it is okay to have money. And you can make money and live off your art.

As for the boy whom Seal met, if he even has a spark or desire to pick up art again, she will not give up in offering him a new perspective, a healthy world where artists are appreciated and they deserve creative and finacial success. It is possible.

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