One of the hardest professions to make a living in today’s world is being an artist. Today’s artist must be efficient at marketing and business to an extent that hasn’t been seen before. The technology and competition is fierce, and the lack of interest from the public adds an extra layer of frustration.
In terms of technology, with the development of art software programs, one can simply get a “sketch” to the point where it looks almost like an artist’s drawing. This allows mass produced art at an affordable price for the eyeryday person. An artist who takes out the time to develop a sketch the “old-way” must compete with a computer program that can essentially develop an image faster and even more accurately. Yes, we benefit from technology in being able to showcase our art and sell it to wide varitey of people, but at the same time we will have to learn how to compete with it as well.
It seems like every year I see more and more artists pop up onto the scene. I’m amazed at how many skilled and talented individuals there are out there. In history I believe there were more artists than we realize, but because of lack of time, money, and encouragement, those individuals were unable to pursue it. It’s great that we live in a time where we are allowed to develop as artists coming from all walks of life, from all different artistic backgrounds. For those artists who make a living from their work, though, they must compete even harder with this new rush of artists found in our community. We can look at this in a positive way; more people, more competition, more personal emphasis on improvement. It’s good to try to push to the next level with one’s artwork, but at the same time it may frustrate an artist who will have to deal with the “influx” of new artists.
Despite this competition with technology and a big community of artists, we have to try to reach to the public. This is the hardest aspect of being an artist. You might have a real masterpiece sitting in your studio, but unless someone purchases it, or someone wants to put it on show, it will continue to sit there in your studio and collect dust. I had an individual look at my artwork recently and was amazed by the work. I offered to sell them a print for $10; a pretty affordable price for a picture with an original signature. The person replied that it was too much money, and they would have to think about it. Even though this was a friend, the idea of purchasing artwork was of no interest to them. Why buy original artwork when one can go to Target and get some cheap art to throw on the wall? Most people are either too scared or too ignorant to realize the importance of supporting the arts. Especially for the subjects I draw (skulls and such); even my own mother looks at me with a confused look! They don’t get it, but it’s up to us as artists to try to convey our message not only through our artwork, but also through conversation to explain where we are coming from.
I am not a full time artist. I realized since I was young that I couldn’t make a living off of this, at least right away. I didn’t go to college for art, in fact I never took an art class while in college. Currently I work in the financial industry, and I instead look at my art as a way to escape and express myself in a fun way. Maybe I don’t have the strength or talent to compete out there to justify doing this full-time, but I do know that it’s the most fullfilling thing I do, and worth every moment of frustration that adds to the artist’s struggle.
Please feel free to share your own struggles here and vent among those who feel your pain. Trust me, you’re not the only one, we all have our moments, and we can help one another.
P.S. (a good documentary to watch that deals with this in a way is “Who the *uck is Jackson Pollack?” It shows the difficulties found in the art world)