Artists DO Work for a Living

For those who mistakenly believe that artists “don’t work” and on behalf of serious artists every where, let me set the record straight. Some animatics artist Sydney rely on pre-loaded effects but here at we work differently based on creativity.

We work our keesters off, you just don’t have the option of seeing us doing it. People have an idea that artists are dreamy floaters through life without a care. How do you think that work gets created in the first place?

You may see an artist enjoying accolades at a reception when an award is won. You don’t see the hours of time preparing the work for the exhibition or the show. Sketching, painting, mixing media, creating, layering, and the classes, guilds, and research on how to combine it are very time and energy consuming. Artists have to turn on the creative spigot if you will and let it flow – which is draining on a daily basis. At the end of the day, we’re just as ready for happy hour as you are, the only difference is we are, for the most part, enjoying what we do.

Sure, there are parts of this chosen career that I don’t want to spend much time doing – such as wiring canvases. Pretty uncreative, but necessary. Chances are, that we enjoy the creative process so much that the mundane stuff is truly a chore.

What you see at art shows are artists on a break from creating. The art show scene is hard work also, do not be mistaken. Setting up a booth in 2 hours can be really backbreaking work. Personally, I never feel that my booth is ‘done’ without 4 hours going into it. Perhaps it’s my high detail, visuals background where there is time to create a fabulous display without pressure of crowds or judges and parking within range of the tent instead of the outer back 40 of the festival lot with a 12 mile hike to the car. So it’s a bit of pressure, to say the least, to have it all together for judges to come and figure out what it is you are creating and give an opinion on it.

I too stood dreamily by watching artists in their booths at the Atlanta Dogwood Festival every April. Although I was ignorant of the appropriate etiquette then, asking with great nerve how the artist created the work. DUH! Now I know better. This is something one does not do. The artist has come to their medium and body of works through trial and error, creating and figuring it out. Why then should they hand the average bystander a laundry list of the steps to create the art?

The art I create has taken 17 years to get to this point. How can I possibly distill it for someone else in a 30 second reply?

I understand now that I am living life as an artist, not just dreaming of being one how difficult it is to see someone take photographs of my image without permission or thought. To overhear, “Oh, that’s easy, it’s just……..” Worse yet, to hear so many good comments on one’s creations without netting sales at the end of the day. To these art ‘patrons’, may I suggest that although it’s great to have compliments, we can’t buy groceries with them.

I’m learning more about how this works as I go. For sure, some places are not prone to selling art. An open container street party is not the best art buying crowd. It’s more of a neighborhood all day happy hour/yearly reunion. So an art show that happens to coincide with this is not necessarily going to do very well. People are not thinking of buying art at this time. That’s fine, but it’s not what I am here for. In other words, I feel like I’d have sold more art walking the street at this festival in a bikini rather than going to the trouble of setting up a tent and lugging it all out there.

This is part of what is so frustrating when overhearing the inane comments of the wandering public made in passing. Artists do the same amount of work, whether the show is a profitable one or not. We’ve created the inventory ourselves, gathered it up, hauled it here and have it displayed as nicely as possible for the event. In fact, it’s really tough when sales don’t make, yet the work has to still be done tearing down the display and tents, packing it up, going home and refitting it back into the stream of our lives. Only there’s not much budget for dinner out, because sales didn’t make.

True, some of us may be in our pajamas all day, but chances are we are already in our studios painting while you are still commuting in traffic. Or we are cramming time to create among the zillion other tasks involved with raising children. Many of us have worked as hard or harder at home in our pajamas ( I paint in my pj’s) than many work elsewhere with company cars, budgets and built in perks – 401k’s, medical insurance, and the security of a regular paycheck.

The next time you attend an art show, if you like the work, don’t be afraid to say so. Your enthusiastic response is appreciated, but it doesn’t pay the bills for the artist ….yet.

BUYING the work will show the artist how much you like it. If you’re more gung ho than that, TELLING your friends how much you like it and SHOWING it to them are key. Give out the artist’s business card, or send an email with a link to the artist’s website. Line up contact for us that might net new works.

In other words, if you like it, back it up with action and help others see it too. You, the enthusiastic appreciator of our works, are our best networking force. If you’re serious about liking the art, then please take us seriously and become a motivating force in the sale of it.

And buy it now, before you help us become famous long after we’re dead…..the electric bill is past due!

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