This one might piss a few people off.
Not that it’s my intention to do so, but so often do I see artists – incredibly motivated, driven, talented – shirk the issue of money and selling, that I think it’s time to share one of my more radical opinions.
Don’t just take it from me, you know.
There are tons of people out there, smarter and more experienced than me.
Cory Huff, Ann Rea, Alyson Stanfield, and many more: they all tell us to get over ourselves and exchange our art for money.
Helen – an accomplished artist in her own right – says the same thing.
And personally, I don’t see any shame in selling art. Quite the opposite.
So here’s where I hold my breath:
A real artist is someone who sells their work – or at least actively tries to.
I can already hear people go: “You’re crazy! I AM an artist, even if I don’t sell my art!”
That’s valid, I agree.
But are you working on sales?
Are you building an online presence?
Are you using the proven marketing strategies that get you in front of people?
Are you, in fact, acting like a professional?
Let’s take this back a few centuries, to prove my point.
Georg Friedrich Händel wrote his magnificent Water Music suites because King George I commissioned him to do so.
Schubert had a job – composing music so as to feed his large family.
Rembrandt was commissioned to paint the Nightwatch.
Michelangelo’s David was bought and paid for.
So how come we ended up with the notion that free artistic expression is the only thing that justifies art?
That taking money for it somehow defiles what true art is meant to be?
I don’t buy that.
Look at the Rolling Stones, or Leonard Cohen – or indeed, Andy Warhol.
They all know that in order to keep creating, money has to come from somewhere.
I listened to an interview with Jay Jay French, of Twisted Sister fame (who vehemently rejects the glam rock tag, btw).
Like ‘em or not – they are a business, and it’s that attitude that has enabled them – just like the Stones – to survive to this day.
Neil Young? I doubt he rejects money.
Jack Nicholson? Al Pacino?
All of them, artists in their own right, still going strong, living from what they consider their art.
So why would you want to distance yourself from that, what’s the sense in being a closet-painter and never try to sell your work?
Maybe completely free artistic expression is indeed what you do it for, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.
But I do regret that the consequence of it is that something you create, that could change somebody’s life, won’t get seen.
So maybe it’s marketing that people are against – that’s something I can understand. There’s a lot of crap being sold, just because there’s a marketing genius behind the strategy.
And that’s wrong in many ways and on many levels.
Sad too, because if there’s one thing the world needs, it’s more real art and less gunk.
Which is yet another reason to come to terms with promoting and marketing your work.
Or maybe it’s because of ethics – there sure is a lot of that missing in a lot of marketing.
But that’s just a matter of how you go about things.
Ethics are in your hand – if you’re an ethical person, your marketing will be ethical too, automatically.
So ask yourself: why not? Why wouldn’t you create a simple, effective, ethical strategy to be seen by more people?
Goodness, they’ll even thank you for it, once they find you.
Or, maybe it’s confidence, fear, doubt, insecurity – is that what’s holding you back?
Not sure you’re good enough, that you can pull it off, that your work deserves to be seen?