… On Living the Artist’s Life!
Living a creative lifestyle is one thing, making art your main focus and ultimately your career takes courage. There are a multitude of books on the subject of how to best “ride the wave” and stay on track. Reading these books helps to isolate certain suggestions and implement them into one’s artistic life.
Today I want to offer my view on the particular topic of teaching to augment sales from your art:
There are some artists who entertain the view that one can only call oneself a professional artist if he/she can support him/herself solely with the art they create. Anyone who has tried that route knows how difficult it can be to a) produce strong art without compromising one’s ideals and b) find representation to sell the art at a fair price to ensure adequate compensation.
Here is the truth of the matter: As artists we have to embrace challenges and opportunities. Creating art must always be on the top of the list. When we create we grow, we challenge technique, analyze design and give problem solving skills a good workout. On the other hand: Artists cannot live on air or love alone – we need shelter, we need nourishment and we need to interact with others every once in a while… Yes, there are potlucks and get-togethers, there are friends who support us no matter what and are willing to set an extra plate at the dinner table, and every once in a while there is a couch one can “surf on for a couple of nights.” But there comes a time when we want to grow up, become independent individuals and move on.
Selling art is not easy. Hiring an agent is one direction to take, at which time one has to consider that the agent and the gallery will take a cut from the pay cheque. If the art sells well and the artist has developed a good name with patrons and collectors sharing the wealth, so to speak, will be positive for all involved.
How does an emerging artist survive? Emerging artists diversify. Working in the neighborhood coffee shop as a barrista is a great way to bring in some cash and feel out the local scene. There is no additional work to take home and all free time can be used to create art. What if the artist is not interested in the wafting coffee aroma and chatter of customers, trying to keep orders straight while performing at top speed to keep the line up moving?
Artists have a multitude of options, teaching art in community settings, art centers and schools may be just the best way to go. Teaching will keep the artist fresh. Exciting ideas often generate from merely watching students embrace the materials with fresh eyes. Dipping the brush into paint and spreading it on the canvas, threading the needle with two threads instead of one and altering the stitch presented, holding a hammer and mallet just slightly different may result in new possibilities – not just for the workshop participant but also the artist. Teaching is sharing one’s knowledge and satisfied students spread the word to friends and family. Teaching builds a support base for the artist, from generating interest for future classes to building a collector base for one’s art. Teaching is a great way to brake out of the “Where will my next pay cheque come from?” doldrums and may provide the building blocks for an independent career in the arts.
What is your opinion? Please take the time to leave a short comment – let’s start the discussion!