Making a Living as an Artist
“As artists, we are often regarded as people who have problems paying the rent, and our belief in this myth only adds to its truth. It may actually be the case for many artists, but this does not have to be you. Money, as it turns out, is merely a form of energy that comes to us because we have created some kind of value for others. So the questions around money and wealth must invariably revolve around how we are creating value, and how we value ourselves, the creators.” – from The Infinite Artist book
We All (most of us) Need an Income
Making a living as an artist is a concern most creatives have had at one point, or have, or will have in the future. Because unless we’re independently wealthy, at some point we all need an income – and despite all of our deeply held, often negative beliefs around money and art, haven’t we all considered how great it would be to earn a living doing something we completely love to do?
As a creative workshop teacher and creative coach, there are many topics I often like to focus on, such as marketing, how to get art patrons, how to sell your art online, and all the other things you need to learn for making money as an artist. But those are cursory – things that we learn along the way, but don’t really need to think about too much. Because at the core of it all, what matters is our attitude around money and wealth – and our deepest beliefs that support that attitude. Once we get that part down, the rest will come easily.
The Energy We Put into Our Work
In Chapter 13, The Infinite Artist book discusses the energy we put into our work, and how that energy can come back to us in the form of money. Mainly, this is the energy of emotion – how we make people feel with our art. One of the biggest misunderstandings many young artists have about making a living as an artist is that they think because their work is technically good that it should sell, and that the better it appears from a technical standpoint, the higher they should mark up the price. Not so.
Sure, professional looking art can often sell for a higher price. But in fact, most people buy art for other reasons. And one of the main reasons people buy art is because the piece, or the song, or the dance makes them feel something deeper or more profound than they were able to feel without it.
From the Depths…
Maybe this has become obvious to you – making a living as an artist usually has little to do with so-called ‘technique’ (meaning an established, conventional system of creation) – though presentation is ALWAYS important, along with a personal grasp, or familiarity, of a medium. From the author’s point of view, success with selling art has everything to do with the ease in which we are able to express something, and the depth to which we are able to go to bring the ineffable essence of our heartfelt experience into form.
The Importance of Your Story in Selling Your Art
One very essential part of what it takes to sell your art – any kind of art – is that people know you. They know your story, they know that their friends know about you, and they know that people they like and look up to have bought from you. This kind of social ladder climbing game is more subtle and more pervasive than most people are aware of. It is a fundamental driving factor for the pricing of art, especially in the world of high art.