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For real? I mean, COME ON.
Is the writer trying to say the artist is the only one who should pay for art?
That we should all be little Vincent van Gogh clones, suffering for our art and our sanity?
Normally, I’m a big fan of Hugh MacLeod.
I’ve met the guy several times, and I admire his wit and his wits.
Big mind, that dude.
But that line?
That’s just total crap – it’s stupid and it’s wrong and it’s false.
That’s how I felt when I came across the quote the other day.
But then I Googled and got some context:
“Art suffers the moment other people start paying for it. The more you need the money, the more people will tell you what to do. The less control you will have. The more bullshit you will have to swallow. The less joy it will bring.”
Not quite as bad, but still not true.
It harkens back to the notion that we should all be freely expressing the inner inspiration, regardless of people’s opinion or buying interest – “because I’m an artist, you idiot!”
A nice, yet useless relic from the 60’s, I suppose.
Sure you can make just what you want, without a care.
But then you might risk not selling anything, and you’ll need Hugh’s next axiom:
“Keep your dayjob”.
Which is fine – nobody has the right to say that you should sell otherwise you’re doing it wrong.
But most of us, we want to sell our work.
We want the recognition, the fame, the money, and the simple satisfaction that we can make a living from being 100% creative.
And for that, someone’s gotta pay – and it shouldn’t be you.
Besides: as I’ve said before, many of the most famous works of art – music, sculpture, dance, painting – were commissioned.
Schubert and Mozart under king’s contracts, the Sistine chapel commissioned by Pope Julius II, Michelangelo’s David by the Opera del Duomo – you get the picture.
So yeah, Hugh definitely missed the mark on that one.
That said, there is of course the risk that an artist will sell out if he tries to buy in.
If you try to cater to the market, you might end up being run by money, and that’s not exactly what creativity is about.
Which is why we can all learn a lesson from Jim Henson.
He figured out how to be an artist, and be in business, all at the same time.
And yes, Sesame Street was built to meet demands and conform to plans.
But it, and his other work, allowed him to create his ‘real’ art – and I think we can all agree that the muppets were and are still highly creative creations.
See, you don’t have to sell out in order to earn money from your art.
You just need to understand how TRADE works, and have your business head on.