Through art school, I felt a heavy emphasis on what “The Greats” did. Which is fantastic. They are great for a reason… and Yes, I wouldn’t want to learn about mediocre art. At the same time, those that are in galleries aren’t the only works of art that are of quality. How do you make a living selling your art? That question was never answered in all of the classes that I took.
No offense art professors, but it seems to me that it wasn’t taught how to be a successful artist because they weren’t successful artists. They aren’t making money from their art, so they have to teach to make end’s meet. Nothing wrong with that, but it becomes like the blind leading the blind. No one knows how to actually make it in this cut throat industry.
Granted, there’s also no ‘One Way’ that applies to everyone either. Some people want to make art to sell to homeowners. Others want to make it into museums, and others want to create art for productions and animation. All of that is good, but there still isn’t any business background on how to achieve those goals once you leave. --Which leads me to another question for another day-- Is one avenue of art more valuable than another? I’ll have to answer that another time.
I know an artist who reaches for the stars, is blinded by the allure of fame, and is bamboozled at every turn. Her goal is to go down in the history books, so she puts a heavy emphasis on keeping her inventory straight, puts tons of money into marketing herself with big names, and is shafted again and again. She’s suckered in to all of the marketing tricks that people have laid for poor striving artists because they know they don’t know what they are doing. They are looking to scam unwitting artists out of money because they are low hanging fruit. They are so focused on a quick way to become known that they fall for any and everything. At what point do you give up the dream on being big so that you can get out of your own way and be successful?
What actually is success?
If your measure of success is to be in the Guggenheim, and you never make it, then do you fail? Would all of the great pieces of art that you made along the way be for nothing? Stop putting so much stock into fame, and fall in love with why you make art again. If you love what you do, and continue to create work that sparks something in you, then you are winning. After you are happy with where you are, then take a few business classes.
Figure out how to market yourself, make connections, and set yourself up for real possibilities. All the while, keeping at your trade so that you are constantly getting better.
Regardless of how great an Olympic runner is, they still have to train daily to stay great. Same for artists. Just because you have some natural talent and gifts doesn’t mean you should sit on your laurels. Keep moving along acting like you know what you’re doing until you finally start to put the pieces together. Soon enough, you’ll look behind you and see how far you’ve come. You’ll start off saying that you’re an artist with apprehension, and soon enough, you’ll start to say it loud and proud knowing that every bit of it is true.