Life as an Artist Notes
Life for professional artists is a challenge. We are in a very competitive market. It wasn’t always that way. When I started my career 40+ years ago. professional artists who truly made a living from their work were quite rare. Galleries were fewer and more prestigious (snooty), and most of the pros made their living from portraiture for the affluent. Most art school grads ended up working in frame shops or museums or teaching to sustain their income.
Galleries were the only gateway to sales. There were multiple tiers for artists from high end to low.
As a nobody, I started out in the street festival realm. I did street shows for about 15 years before I transitioned to galleries. Life as a professional artist in galleries went pretty well for a number of years until 2009. Most of my galleries closed in those recession years and sales were poor. In 2010 life as an artist led me to the route of self- representation, though I still show in a few area galleries. Going this route meant that I had to sell my own work.
I had to learn a fair amount about marketing in a very small window of time. I have worked hard and have survived in a sluggish economy since 2010. It is a roller coaster with constant tweaking of markets, sizes and prices, and some bad and good years.
Life as an artist is still better than any other career path I could choose.
In this era, social media and Internet access has made it possible for everyone to be a professional artist. Retirees have taken up the challenge in droves as well as young Millennials who like the idea of independence. The market is flooded with artists with no training in art who think it is a great idea. None of them have to charge a living wage for their paintings, so it is possible to buy art at ever lower pricing. They have retirement income, parental assistance, or spouses who really provide the family income.
Many unseasoned collectors are looking for a bargain. They see art as a commodity, not unlike the couch they bought this year, easily changed with the décor. TV designers are teaching clients to make their own wall art to save money. Fine painting is reserved for collectors who understand the value of art. Art programs have been cut from schools, so that art is no longer considered to be important to the average family.
We who have earned the art degrees and worked a lifetime to better our craft are just another artist out there competing for the same scraps in a sluggish economy. We are up against the reproduction market as well with a flood of copies of paintings.
This is not a “poor me” essay. This is just the reality that professional artists face every day. I welcome the challenge because I feel that I am offering paintings that reflect the education I worked hard for and the craftsmanship that was hard earned over long years of effort. Professional painters offer a cut above the mob.
I don’t offer copies of my paintings. Each one is unique and unlike anything you can find elsewhere. The paint, the strokes, the canvas is all real, not copied on a machine and sent out to hundreds. There is only one in the world and that counts these days. I will continue to study and offer the best work that I can do. I am very willing to face the challenges of life as an artist because I know there are enough people who do value art to keep my career moving forward.
More musings for artists and collectors to come……
Peel and cut fresh beets into fairly large chunks.
Put into a deep sided bowl. Add I diced onion. I like to add a ½ cup of chopped ham to give them a bit of a smoky flavor but that is optional. Add a bit of chopped parsley, chopped thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Add a T of brown sugar or sugar substitute. Drizzle in about two T olive oil. Coat beets all over with mixture.
Place them on a sheet pan. Roast at 400 degrees, turning once or twice until they are tasty and done.