Saturday, January 31, 2009

Don't Sell Your Inspiration Short

During the early years of my life as an artist, people would look at my work and often ask me, "How can you possibly part with (or sell) that painting?"

My desire to make a living from my art meant that I had to make peace with the reality that to make a living I have to sell my work. Seems like such a simple concept, but ironically many people think that creating art for money somehow sullies the purity of the art.

It is strange that art is afforded this expectation even though God/religion and money/power have been hand-in-hand for centuries. It's as though some people think that art work has no relation to real work. I know of many talented professionals in other fields who would never think of working for free or heavily discounted unless the work was pro-bono for a worthy cause. Yet, I know many artists, (including myself, before I got a clue) who will give discounts to wealthy people or corporations (who can certainly pay) for a variety of reasons that mostly boil down to low self esteem combined with a feeling of scarcity.

The fact is that in the world we live in, money is necessary to support anything. Here are a couple suggestions:
  • For Collectors - Before you ask an artist for a deep discount, be aware that a synonym for discount is disregard. When you ask a creator to discount deeply (they are not some big box retailer or corporate chain) consider the possibility that you are asking them to disregard the value of their work (sometimes to the degree that the artist will have to stop working or will have to stop innovating so as to create "saleable" pieces). Be sensitive.
  • For Artists - Remember that your work has value. Be aware of how your prices fit with comparable work and don't undersell or oversell yourself. It's easy to think that price alone matters. If you want to give away work, gift a non-profit agency, they are always looking for help.

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