Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The amateur artist is free


-----
The young me would have killed me for saying this, but I've come to learn that earning a living from creativity, real creativity, is virtually impossible. And not even all that desirable.
When I was a teenager I wanted to be a professional photographer, but after an internship and such I saw that this would be like becoming a house painter because I liked to paint pictures. Or becoming an airline pilot because I like WWI dog fights. It just had nothing to do with creativity at all. Nothing.

I believe that the very tiny minority of, say, fine arts painters who earn a good living off their work for most part does so out of luck. They style was pushed by the galleries and hit a nerve with the fine-art buying audience, who for most part buy as investments, not because they understand the art.

Now, I'm lucky and I make a good living at something fun and have time left over to fiddle with my own art. This is a great thing because it means that I'm not screwed if the art public changes taste, or they don't like a new direction I'm going in, or I just hit a dry spot for a year or two.

I won't lie to you, it has taken a lot of internal work for me to get over the mental identification between "successfully making art" and "financial success as an artist". But I'm getting there, and it feels very freeing.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Tuesday, August 11, 2009   20 comments links to this post

20 Comments:

At 11 Aug 2009 07:06:00, Blogger ttl said...

You have made this exact same statement before in this blog, to which I have commented, but I guess it doesn't hurt repeating it ...

I couldn't disagree more. You are portraying the creativist as being at the mercy of the markets (gallerists, art investors, etc.) This is succumbing to victimhood. As if the artist couldn't create their own opportunities in whatever expression of creativity they have chosen for themselves.

There is no expression of creativity of which it is impossible to earn a good living (or even become wealthy) from. Not only is there ample circumstantial evidence of this, but it is possible to prove this in theory, too.

It doesn't matter if everyone now has good digital cameras, portable music studios or Photoshop available. It doesn't matter if people no longer respect copyrights. It doesn't matter if printmaking has inflated the prices of graphics. It doesn't matter if your field of creativity is associated with bygone times. None of this matters in the slightest.

What matters, and the only required ingredients if you will, are authenticity and passion. The creative expression chosen needs to resonate with the artist's core being. It needs to represent the person's True Will. Also, the artist needs to be passionate about their art and chosen path. #1 and #2 together result in (1) trust in self, and (2) support from others. Or synchronistic help from the Universe, in Jungian terms.

Finally, I would like to point out that your statement "earning a living from creativity, real creativity, is virtually impossible" is an oxymoron. Think about it.

Case in point: When Salvador Dalí was handed a restaurant bill, instead of just signing a check, he also quickly scribled a small figure on the other side, and signed it. The waiter, realising that he was now in the posession of an authentic Dalí, never cashed the check.

If instead of telling the above story, I would just have said "If you are creative enough, you can even legally print your own money", would you have believed me?

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

 
At 11 Aug 2009 07:32:00, Blogger eolake said...

"What matters, and the only required ingredients if you will, are authenticity and passion."

That's correct, if you're talking about Making Good Art.
But to have that coincide with making a good living on that art without many painful compromises is very rare, and so far as I can see depends either on dumb luck or decades of super-human effort.

 
At 11 Aug 2009 13:10:00, Blogger Bronislaus Janulis said...

"What matters, and the only required ingredients if you will, are authenticity and passion."

The implication of the above is that the "unsuccessful" artist is deficient in authenticity or passion.

Horsefeathers!

I agree with Eolake, and now, galleries closing, museums cutting back, PFUI!

 
At 11 Aug 2009 16:31:00, Anonymous Kabel Yaache said...

And I also disagree. Eolake - you are insulting the many thousands of professional photographers who have talent and the ability to learn the craft (and now, technology) to produce high quality material wanted, needed and paid for by the client.

Look at Jay Maisel, Pete Turner, Eric Meola, Avedon and many more who struggled at first and then made contact with the right situation to further their career.

You Eolake, are just plain lazy. You don't want to learn anything - possibly because of your inability to do so. And you are SO totally impressed with a camera's ability to get you a 'sharp' image at a 1/6th second exposure, that you completely overlook the real craft of photography.

As I've said before - take a meterless Pentax K1000 with Kodak Tri-X and then come up with some usable images! That's based on knowledge and technique. Make those same images cause the viewer to say 'wow' because of lighting, composition, treatment, color, texture - that's talent.

You sold out. Instead of pressing ahead and learning what's needed, you moved to the self-horn-tooting island we call the yook-ay in order to cover your inadequacies.

By the way - I happen to know two housepainters with talent who also paint on a canvas - and sell their work.

You just want to push a button and get a great picture. You prove the concept of entropy perfectly and clearly.

 
At 11 Aug 2009 19:06:00, Blogger Eric said...

"The implication of the above is that the "unsuccessful" artist is deficient in authenticity or passion."

They are. I don't doubt that a good many are trying, but something is stopping the energy from going full circle. You can't devote an inordinate amount of energy to something and not get anything in return unless the process is inefficient or you're burning part of the creative aspect on something counterproductive. Someone that believes they will die poor if they follow their passion is an example-their beliefs will cause them to miss opportunities and forsake the ability to make their own opportunities.

Nothing happens by chance. While it is indeed rare that people make significant money off of their creative endeavors, that has more to do with how little people understand the complete creative process than it does any other factor.

If you want something that you don't have, you have to change your relationship to it. When you can do that, anything is possible.

 
At 11 Aug 2009 19:13:00, Blogger Eric said...

By the by, Eo-it seems odd you'd invoke luck when you're of a rather mystical mindset. I know you don't believe in spirituality as a means to material ends, but you do understand the creative aspect better than most, no?

ACIM may preach transcendence by denying what it terms illusion, but it also teaches that you create the illusion. That doesn't leave any room for luck and/or victimhood.

 
At 11 Aug 2009 21:04:00, Blogger eolake said...

I think we're all arguing over percentages here.

I could say: It's nearly impossible to become an olympic gold medal winner.
And you could BS, all it takes is sufficient skill and determination.
And both statements would be true.

 
At 11 Aug 2009 21:45:00, Blogger Monsieur Beep! said...

Making a living comes first, no matter how,

only THEN come the pleasures.

You´re lucky when you can combine both.
But always the tummy has to get filled first.

 
At 11 Aug 2009 21:59:00, Blogger eolake said...

Tell that to van Gogh. He used drink and tobaccy to dull the hunger, because he used the money for paint.
Granted, most of us ain't like that no mo'.

 
At 11 Aug 2009 22:29:00, Blogger Jimbo said...

Giving the public what it wants, i.e. yielding to current tastes, trends, etc., doesn't mean you can't be creative. Was Leonardo Da Vinci not creative, or Michelangelo? Of course they were...despite the fact that they were forced to paint and/or sculpt what people would pay for. (Only Popes or rich bankers could afford that kind of marble.) They found a way to create something original within the limits imposed on them.

 
At 11 Aug 2009 22:31:00, Blogger Jimbo said...

Tell that to van Gogh. He used drink and tobaccy to dull the hunger, because he used the money for paint.
Granted, most of us ain't like that no mo'.


He didn't need to do that. The idea that working a "real" job means you can't still create doesn't make sense. There have been many artists who have done that.

 
At 11 Aug 2009 22:33:00, Blogger Jimbo said...

I agree with Eolake,

Why? He's wrong.

 
At 11 Aug 2009 23:36:00, Blogger Bronislaus Janulis said...

I'm an artist, and I've been around and worked with artists all my life; successful artists, but they all have jobs. Teachers, museum workers, framers, musicians; even the best have needed to do something else.

There are artists who can do the art fair circuit, or have achieved gallery representation, who can make enough to survive, but sometimes that's helped by a spouse who works, or the retirement fund keeps them going.

To sneer at artists, to deride them as not good enough in some facet of their life, is to display a serious lack of education about the arts; which is one of the problems. An aside, for every movie star, there are probably 50, 100, 500 actors who make little or nothing from their art. Now, if all of you naysayers and negative nabobs actually support the arts, own some original art, support off, off, off theatre, buy CD's of music you like that never will get played on the radio, own an original photographic print not because it was by Saint Ansel, but because you liked the image, even though it was by nobody, then argue with me; otherwise, may be you should...naff off.

 
At 12 Aug 2009 00:01:00, Blogger eolake said...

Well said.
A friend of mine got into the most prestigious censored fine art show in the country. At the after party, somebody asked how many of the artists showed there could claim they lived off their art. Nobody could.

 
At 12 Aug 2009 02:22:00, Blogger Bronislaus Janulis said...

Here's another point for all you sneery assholes; where the hell is your art; why the hell don't you put something out there for us to to sneer at? Jackasses!!!!!! I digress. Bad me.

 
At 12 Aug 2009 10:06:00, Blogger Eric said...

"I could say: It's nearly impossible to become an olympic gold medal winner.
And you could BS, all it takes is sufficient skill and determination.
And both statements would be true."

I'd disagree with the latter. Plenty of good art is overlooked. There's an extra element that goes into it, but its base material is the same thing that makes somebody good at what they do. I.E., an artist that's really passionate about what he does has all the raw material to be a financial success, the question is whether or not he'll figure out how to use it, or if he wants to. After all, there are plenty of people that love art for its own sake and feel that making it into a profession would take away from their enjoyment of the craft.

 
At 14 Aug 2009 00:25:00, Blogger Jimbo said...

Here's another point for all you sneery assholes; where the hell is your art; why the hell don't you put something out there for us to to sneer at? Jackasses!!!!!! I digress. Bad me.

Wow. You're just a class act, all the way.

 
At 14 Aug 2009 15:06:00, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bron, you're not an artist. You're at best a craftsman. No different than the guy who lays kitchen tile for a living. You just don't have a clue.

 
At 14 Aug 2009 15:10:00, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did Bron ever have evena shred of crdibility? If he ever did he's lost it. If you have to swear like that you've already lost. ttl never did, he made his point calmly and concisely. Didn't reckon with stupidity like Bron's I guess.

 
At 20 Aug 2009 02:24:00, Blogger Bronislaus Janulis said...

Hey, Sneerers,

My failings as a human are one thing, but nobody has answered or attempted to rebut my points. My profanity, classless though it may be, has nothing to do with the challenge or point I was making.

So.............???????????????? Eolake puts his art out, as have I, but the critics seem to......hide. What, not brave enough?

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


Website Counter