Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Selling Out is Hard To Do

As an artist, it might seem frustrating at times to keep going.  If you are not getting the accolades or sales you want of your work, it can be discouraging to continue to do what you like.  Often you might question whether or not you should change your subject matter/style to "fit in."

Monkey was privileged to be able to sit on an Academy of Art Alumni panel on the topic of Getting into Galleries.  One question that really struck a chord with him was "Should I paint what sells, or what I want to paint?"

We think that there is a perception (true or not), that either abstract art, highly conceptual art (think soup cans or diamond-encrusted skulls), or classical landscapes and portraits is what's in demand.  Regardless of the truth of the matter, especially if you go through classical training, these types of paintings are what you think sell.

If you try and paint these things, when you really would rather be painting silly monsters or unicorns or whatever, you will not do well.  Trying to sell out is actually really hard to do.  Sure, you might start selling paintings, or you might start getting lots of praise for your new work, but if you don't like it, you won't be happy.

Making art is such a personal thing that you can't force it.  Well, you can force it, but it'll lead to you disliking or even hating your own art, and it'll become another ball and chain job that you have to do even though it kills you.

Monkey used to think that no matter what it was, he'd be happy to be paid to make art.  Then, as he actually started getting paid to make stuff, he realized that he only really likes making stuff that he wants to make.  The thought of being told to make piece of art that he was totally uninterested in was even more difficult that dealing with the daily hurdles of working retail.

Really, selling out is easy to do, but hard to keep up.

Now, we want to stress that we totally understand.  People have bills to pay, food to buy, etc. etc.  If you have to take those dog portrait gigs or doing background paintings for porno or working crazy hours at a game company or whatever, we're not judging.  But for all of you out there who ever feel discouraged, or that your art doesn't have a place in the world, please know that it does.

There is an audience for you out there.  It might not be the largest audience, but it's out there, you just have to look.  The internet is amazing at helping people find micro-subcultures, and if you feel like your work isn't attractive to the mainstream, then experiment showing your work elsewhere. It might take time.  It'll probably take a lot of work.  But know that the long hours and hard work and all the experiments that don't work will all be worth it in the end when you find your niche and can truly be yourself.

So keep in mind that you need to keep on doing what you love.  Have fun.  That's what art is supposed to be about.  If you're happy and having a great time, that feeling comes through the work and it shows.  People can tell when you're enjoying yourself, and it will naturally bring more happiness and joy.  Create what you want and seek out your audience, and trust us, you'll do just fine.