An Artist's Struggle

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)

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  • paintingbyscott
    paintingbyscottalmost 6 years ago

    OK I can add something here…there are so many artists out there that have been forced, if you will, to put the paints in the closet and take the minimum wage job just to make ends meet. We all have bills to pay, and some have children, mortgage and car payments etc. and just unable to keep up otherwise. Get a “real” career and keep up with the Jones is what we are told. While in Montreal the Gallery owner that I was exhibiting at told me that I was the only artist there that did not have a full time job, wealthy spouse or otherwise any other means of financial support. I worked for him on occasion behind the scenes just to see what makes a gallery tick…Art is like any other business, you have product, a target market, distribution etc. As an independent artist you have to wear many occupational hats to complete the steps to success. I am not there yet…I have a marketable talent, now just have to figure out how. At times it becomes overwhelming and I forget what it means to be an artist, I lose focus on what it is that makes me happy and I get frustrated with my inabilities to be “successful”. That is the hole I find myself in…depression creeps in and I don’t draw or paint at all…there must be a delicate balance!

  • Vanessa DeWig
    Vanessa DeWigalmost 6 years ago

    thanks for sharing that scott. it’s hard because most of us artists tend to be liberal (not just political) with life, and when we have to get into the “real world” with marketing, knowing the right people, etc., it seems that we do lose a piece of what makes us artists. you have a great talent and your work is amazing, so to see an artist like yourself have to go through the struggles it’s really frustrating. i watched a movie call “Art School Confidential” starring John Malkovich, and it followed a young talented artist into his first year of art school. long story short, he figured out that it wasn’t his art that people were interested in, but the artist. if you have some crazy story like jackson pollock, or you lived your life like an eccentric like picasso, then people go crazy over your work. unlucky for most of us, we express ourselves through art to deflect attention away from the artist. it’s a complex world!
    thanks again for the personal experience.

  • paintingbyscott
    paintingbyscottalmost 6 years ago

    Yes I would agree, marketing the artists’ story is something I am developing. I may not have cut off my ear or stormed the parliament buildings, but my lifestyle has been quite different to most. And if I invite those interested into my “lonely wolf” independence from the pack way of life, perhaps they would understand or relate in some way how they themselves would just like to leave it all behind for a while.
    ”…we express ourselves through art to deflect attention away from the artist.”
    Could not have said it any better, I find that I create what I see externally what is beautiful in the world, all its’ forms and colours and how the light falls upon them. I do not express the dark, coulourless and emptiness I feel sometimes. With that said am I a true artist? I am questioning myself on many aspects of where I am at this stage of my life. I do have something to say with my art though…Beauty in Nature and the Human Landscape. A relationship with our Mother Earth and how we can live harmoniously, as our ancestors did for centuries. That is what “the Muse Pack” is to represent, perhaps I will post “the Fisher” soon which is a similar depiction of a woman who survives on what she gathers from the elements. The Osprey is showing this as well, an independence of wing searching and finding all that is necessary to survive the Wilds of the North. I have recently came back to society to “plug in” and share what I discovered out there in the bush…just me and the chipmunks at the main campsite with the occasional Red Tail Hawk visit and of course Big Bear, Curious George and Mama Bear and Baby. I felt more a part of the natural scheme of things rather than an outsider. Spending the balance of three years out there, canoeing to different locations to find the fish I needed, collecting water…essentially filling my days with acquiring the things that are important to life itself; food water and shelter…I must admit I appreciate a hot running shower!

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