7 myths of starving artists or can Art be a Business
by Agnese Aljena on July 9, 2012
hook, shadow, minimalismCan Art be a Business? is one of The Questions of life. Disputable and dangerous topic, but every artist has stopped and thought about it. And many who are artists by heart, but live 9 to 5 life.
We all know the myth of starving artist. We all have heard from our parents and aunties “don’t go to art school, you will never earn any money”.
The truth is that art market is rapidly growing and contemporary art segment (the one of living artists, not dead) is leading this growth. Artprice is also claiming that with digitization of auction houses and overall globalization the art market will continue to grow very rapidly.
Sure, one can say that there is just one Damien Hirst or Jacob Kassay, and you have to climb the hill. But at the same time we can say that there is just one Steve Jobs or one somebody else and do nothing to change our own lives.
Returning to topic – can art be a business – there are many biases around the question in society. And I love to challenge them.
One of them is already mentioned starving artist. But there are many artists not starving as well. And many starving non-artists.
Second – only few artists earn significant money. Others earn enough for just living, if not starving. The same can be said about any other segment – do you know many billionaires in railway business? Or fishing? Or bakeries?
Third – art is art and business is business. Two different worlds. Then how to call selling of art? And buying art? And artist paying his bills from sold art?
Fourth – artists are not sellers. They just make art. But there are buyers. So somebody is selling.
Fifth – commercial artists (the ones making art on demand) are not real artists. If they are fake artists, then how it comes that so many people still buy from them?
Sixth – the ones at the top have been lucky at some point and got noticed by agent, gallery owner, Maecenas ect. Keep hiding and most probably nobody will notice you.
Seventh – there is so much bad art in the world, why should I/you keep growing it. First of all, there is no bad art. Secondly – just don’t make bad art.
To sum up – I believe, that art can be a source of reasonable income. So, it can be a business, nice lifestyle business for many of us. Art comes in different shapes and sizes – as far as someone considers it art, it is art. If it provokes feelings, emotions, makes somebody cry or keeps one looking at it again and again – it is art. If there is anybody willing to buy it – why not to sell?
The other side of a coin – if somebody is painting, drawing, sculpting, printing, photographing just because of money, there won’t emotional depth and nobody is buying such art. Nobody can “produce” art like in a factory in a long run. And it doesn’t give sustainable financial results. The same is with all other businesses – only those done by heart and soul survive in a long run.
The art of lifestyle business is to do what one loves (and it can be art as well) and successfully sell it. Art comes first, then comes business. Or vice versa – sell it and then make it. One can consider them as one process or if most of society likes – as two separate steps. But the bottom line is clear – you can live and earn as an artist if you wish.