Monday, June 21, 2010
This post is about how the poor economy affects being an artist. We know that art is a luxury. We know that there have been many periods in history when only the wealthiest could afford to own art. Just like horse ownership, a down economy adds huge stumbling blocks to being an artist.
The most obvious part of this is of course, the lack of enough sales. Galleries are closing all over the country. People are not going to buy art when they are worried about the mortgage and feeding their families. Who can blame them? I certainly understand this. You really only think about filling your world with beauty when your stomach is full and the roof solid over your head.
What is interesting is what this does to the artist. I think that most people understand that artists are driven to create. It is more than a job to us. It is an identity. It is breathing. The crappy reality is that it takes money to buy the materials with which to create art. For those who draw...a pencil and paper are not a huge expense, I suppose. But for those who do what I do, or who sculpt or paint....it takes a huge out lay in money for materials. Many of us see being an artist as our job. And even if we don't, getting a new job ain't so easy at age 52 and with little marketable skills. As we all know...the jobs aren't out there.
This is not meant as a whining blog post. This is really about ingenuity. As the galleries have closed, many of us have taken our fates into our own hands. And what I want to point out is the immense creativity that has come from this. I have mentioned before about the time drain that can be social networking. But I what to publicly cheer for those of us who have started to see the benefit to time spent doing our own "marketing". Thanks to websites like http://www.fineartstudiosonline.com/ we can create our own websites to showcase our artwork. It is a wonderful thing to control what is said and what is shown. We are using Facebook and Twitter to let the world know about us! We can now look beyond our backyards and our work can touch people thousands of miles from our homes without paying a dime to ship it.
The other bit of creativity has come in the form of offering more ranges of work than ever before. And perhaps some see that as a negative. And maybe we wish we did not have to do this. but I see more and more painters doing periodic series of daily work that they can sell for much less than their larger, more time consuming work. They are using these as sketches...using them to perfect their techniques and at the same time....marketing the work at a price that makes it affordable to more buyers during the down time. Sculptors who are selling sketches and resin work are doing the same. For me it has meant making lower priced giclee prints available to buyers. I am selling prints on Etsy. I am doing spec photo shoots. I might not have ever thought of doing this before. But it is the sale of these giclee prints that are making it possible for me to continue to buy film and go out and shoot more.
And I think we all hope that when things do get better...those who bought our less expensive pieces will again be able to purchase the work that we have been able to continue to produce. We all want to be there...still working, on the other end of this....so we can fill the galleries, homes and museums with beauty still. We are taking all the chances we can to invent ways to hang on. And I, for one...thank you all for being part of this process with me. As I said...it ain't easy...
My work is a luxury....that is sold to people who are inevitably horse owners...and we know that that is a luxury too. So rather then feel doomed by this all, I have decided to feel it is a challenge and I will do what I can.
So...Who wants to buy a Photograph? I am just about out of film!