Self Serving Lane

   I have posted about this before but I think it bears repeating. 

If it’s your passion – you find a way to make it happen. 

BUT…

Sometimes YOU need to make it happen. 

With the advent of donation websites artists are suddenly becoming fancy panhandlers, shaking their paint brushes and camera bags for money for projects they want to work on. Now, we all should know that artists don’t make a lot of money. Like every ‘art’, unless you are part of a small percentage of people who find that niche and really become a ‘name’ you just don’t make a lot of money doing Art. And that’s fine. Art is a passion. If it’s a job then you better put out plainly marketable and salable stuff. But if you do Art because it makes you happy and you like it, well, you have to go in understanding that you may not make a living at it. 

Why?

Because there’s a weird line that we’ve crossed. 

People need to understand that ANYONE can create art. Truly, ANYONE. But it takes time, and practice, and patience, and work. So because people feel like ‘I can do THAT’ they don’t take art seriously and don’t feel it’s worth what people want to make for it. 

There’s also the issue that artists need to appreciate the market and not get mad when they don’t always get paid what THEY think the art is worth. Sadly, it’s the buyer that has the power. Unless you have a very salable piece or a name you can sell you are at the mercy of the buyer and the buyer doesn’t always want to pay what art is ‘worth’. I have sold paintings and books that I felt were ‘worth’ more than they sold for but then I stepped back and realized – Hey, someone wanted that, they HAVE it, neat. And that worked for me. But I am not a ‘professional’ artist. At all. But that doesn’t mean I don’t take it seriously. 

The thing of late is that marketing for art has become too easy. Too easy because we don’t work to market anymore. We do some shows, meet some other artists and be-friend them, and then we just sell to one another. And that’s cool but, well, I wanna sell to strangers. I want people with no investment in ME to want my work. I don’t want to guilt friends into doing it. 

And it does hurt when you don’t get the support you wish you did from friends – I always wish more friends cared about my books and art than do but, if they care about me that is all that matters, isn’t it? But there’s a bad, bad habit artists get into when they pitch over and over and over to friends because you focus more on them and less on the new customers and clients. 

We stop working at being artists and work at being panhandlers. 

We set up donation sites for our projects, and funding sites and beg people to support us and our art because it’s our passion, and that’s awesome but, well, it’s OUR passion, not theirs. This is a project for you but for them maybe the project is putting up drywall, or helping sell Girl Scout cookies, or saving the eco-system. And you have to ask yourself – what am I doing for them?

Because that’s the thing – you are asking a favor with no collateral on the line. Sure, you will give them a memento of you project but it’s YOUR project. YOUR business. Not theirs. All too often these days we artists are happy to turn to a funding site to raise money for thing we want to do. We don’t generally NEED to do them because if we did we’d find another way to do it. I mean, so I want to paint with orange. Well, I can go buy orange paint. I don’t have the money. Well then, I guess I mix up some yellow and red and see what I come up with. That’s Art. 

And that is why not everyone can do it. 

Everyone can take a picture, write a story, sing a song, but not everyone can do it well, or find ways to do it that are unique, or find a way to do it when it looks impossible. 

That’s the work of Art. 

We can’t do every project we want to do. There isn’t enough time, aren’t enough resources, and there isn’t enough US to go around. We have to make the hard choices. And to me, one of those choices is when to go to others to fund what you want to do. 

I don’t know that I could do it. Being a writer it’s a little easier to say that, but I do also paint, and do take photos. I am sure I could find stuff for people to fund and support. For me though, I can’t do that because this is MY work, MY business, and MY benefit if it works out. I need to find a way to make it work. We’re artists, we’re supposed to make it up as we go along and find ways to make the impossible happen. 

We can’t keep relying on friends to buy our work and support us and make our dreams come true. That’s our job, and maybe it’s time we started putting the work back into that part of things once more. 

…c…

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