Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's Only Business...

Paris Salon

Unlike many careers that need years of education and training, becoming an artist is insanely easy.  Just go out and get yourself some paints, brushes and canvas, and have at it.  While it's not required, it would be helpful to look the part, too.  After all, doctors drape stethoscopes over their white lab coats for no reason. You should wear black clothes, funky hats, and speak art babble whenever possible so others can easily identify that you are an "Artist".  It's that easy. 

Making a living as an artist, however, is insanely difficult.

Of course, there are varied strategies on how one can make a buck at their art.  The first method, practised by most beginners is:

  • Wait to be Discovered.

That's when you paint all you want, and then wait for some rich collector, or a fancy New York City Gallery to find you and make you rich.  As a daydream on a boring day at work, it's great.  As a business philosophy, it's not that effective.

The next strategy is:
  • The Social Scene

You know-- twitter your upcoming art event.  Update your Facebook status every time you finish a painting.  Make an App for your art.  The objective is to steer people over to your web site.  This is the first cousin to Exposing Yourself, but it is also remarkably similar to Wait To Be Discovered...

Well then, what about
  • Exposing Yourself

Hey, you can't sell it if no one sees it.  At least this is a more proactive strategy for your art career.  So you hang your work in any venue that has a blank wall.  Personally, I have hung paintings in book stores, doctor's offices, town halls, grange halls, libraries, hospitals, cafe's and restaurants.  It was great for getting my name known, but not so much for sales.  The reason is that people are going to those locations for reasons other than buying art.  As a matter of fact, I don't recall seeing any one leave a hospital with a new painting under their hospital johnnie.

The more intensive next step is

  • Hit The Road Jack
Do the shows.  The nomadic caravan that is art in the park shows, or sidewalk art festivals.  Another weekend, another town.  You can make money here, and maybe even win prizes for your work.  Many artists spend the winter painting, and the summer hitting the road going to one art event after another.  I've done a few of these over the years myself.  For some reason, everytime I did, it was during a violent windstorm, and I have had a few pieces damaged as a result.  I'll leave the road to the more experienced travellers with those really cool tents.

Lastly I guess, is
  • Lose 50 percent
I know that sounds harsh, but that is what most galleries take for their commissions.  Personally, I like galleries.  I enjoy the concept of shipping off my paintings for others to hawk, leaving me free to stay in my studio and work.  And let's face it, tell people you're a painter and right after they ask if you do interiors, they'll ask if you show in galleries.  They don't ask what restaurant or library you show in.  It's snob appeal, I admit, but it works for me. 

So keep painting, and find a sales strategy that works for you.  Just remember,  there's lot's of difficulties doing what we do, so as the Godfather said, don't take it personal-- it's only business!


Kay said...

I love this post..

Karen Martin Sampson said...

OMG, all so true and I have done all those things! Still waiting for that being discovered moment but I'm no spring chicken and if my prince, savior, patron doesn't show up soon I've had it. Oh yeah, but I've also had quite a ride so really can't complain:-)

Stephanie Berry said...

Okay, okay, I am locked in a daydream!!