When one embarks upon the path of becoming an artist, they know that they weigh the difficulties of supporting themselves against the passion for making art. To artists this isn’t a question even worth indulging. To give up making art would be for many the near equivalent of ceasing to exist. Painters don’t paint because they want to, they paint because they have to.
But unfortunately the realities of the world often limit artists, regardless of how strong their dedication and fruitful their potential. Artists need to make money to survive, and often the art alone doesn’t cut it. Artists may receive an outpouring of support from a thousand people on facebook and yet not receive a single cent for their labor. And making art is hard. Not only does it often require hundreds of hours of dedicated focus to realize a vision, but there are few other occupations that routinely call the self worth of the professional into question. But with each artwork, the artist is stripping themselves bare and opening up to the criticism of something that may feel more like a part of themselves than something they made. Making art is hard work, money can be dangerously hard to come by, and the lack of success can drive the artist into a discouraged or depressed state.
And so many quit. Or many get another job. But the problem with the “day job” scenario is that people become shackled to the other job, becoming far too dependent on it for their well being, and they may end up never being able to realize their full potential as artists. Many others engage in grey area or straight up illegal ways of making money because it can be an easy way to make a buck. But the same risk falls for that as well. Artists get lazy when they can make an easy living doing something illegal, and they may abandon their art altogether due to financial security of their other occupation. And besides, it can be spiritually corrupting.
So for people like myself, who don’t have a day job and don’t want to get one, it can be really challenging to cope with the difficulties of pursuing art as a full time career. Money can be sparse, and it can be discouraging to realize that you haven’t made a dime in a whole month. But to have to abandon the artwork for another career would be heresy, regardless of how difficult it becomes. Art is my entire life. I dedicate every waking moment to the practice and study (and shameless geekery) of making art. And I don’t only do it for myself.
Art is important. Art shapes culture. Art inspires. The artist holds in their hands the power to shape the imagination and perspective of the viewer. One can take refuge in its beauty, or a painting could provide a revelation that the viewer has been searching tirelessly for. Art shows not tells, it can communicate to the viewer in deeper ways than words ever could. Art provides an essential record of our world cultures, and can unlock archetypes and messages buried deep in our species’ collective unconscious.
We love art, and know inherently the value it holds to our society. That’s why I’m asking for your support. I speak on behalf of the entire art community when I ask for you to please support the artists you admire. To watch artists stop making art because they can’t support themselves would be too great of a tragedy. As much as a share or a like is appreciated, also consider buying a print, or even buying an original. If you own an original artwork you own something can never be reproduced, and may exist in your family for generations and generations. Art is magical, and a tiny image on a glowing screen can never take away the energetic impact of a painting in your home. Art is worth supporting.
A NOTE TO ARTISTS: Remember to ask for what you are worth. Working for free makes things harder on everyone, as this author explains. If you need to persuade someone to pay you, here’s a good place to start.