Hello Everyone; So, what is art???? Art can take many forms. Music, comic books, literature, paintings and so many more are versions of art. To me, art is something we create from within our souls and share with others. We express ourselves in different ways, but expressing ourselves in essence, is artistic. For me, art comes in the form of my paintings, and to a degree, the instructional videos I make. For my wife, the handmade beaded jewelry she creates. My father does wood carvings and my neighbor is an amateur photographer. None of us are famous and we are not really known except in our communities, yet, we are all artists.
Since I am a painter, so let us focus on that type of art. I have been painting for many years and over that span, some people have loved my work, hated my work or they were completely indifferent. It has always and still does amaze me that a single painting can invoke so many emotions both positively and negatively. I still love the fact that art is so subjective. There is no telling what work will invoke what response, or any from a viewer.
When I first started creating art, I tried to find out what people liked in a painting, what style and so forth. I have always wanted to be a professional artist paying my bills with my artistic talents solely, so I needed to know what people wanted. That approach was a complete failure. Over the years, I have spoken to many artists and listened to many on the internet. Almost all of them have the same message to people just starting out in this career. “Paint what you love”. According to people who have had success as professional artists, if you paint what you love, then you will care about it more. If you care about it more, then you will improve quicker and eventually, with hard work, you will find your crowd. Basically, they said paint what you love and someone else will love it too. The trick, as I and many others have learned, finding your crowd takes a lot of work and a lot of patience.
I saw a movie about Vincent van Gogh a few months back and the movie really intrigued me. I was never a fan of Van Gogh’s art and I thought he was really off his rocker, so to speak, but that movie changed my opinion completely. In his life time, all be it short life time since he committed suicide, he only sold one painting. To add insult to injury, his brother worked in an art gallery and could not sell his work. There is one scene that really changed my opinion of him as a person. He was sitting outside a mental hospital talking to a priest who was responsible for discharging him if he thought he was ready and they were discussing his art. The priest referred to Van Gogh’s art as ugly. Now, Van Gogh did not take offense to this, he just had a puzzled look on his face and said, and I am paraphrasing, if my art come from within me, then how can it be ugly?????
Van Gogh also said he was born too early, in the wrong generation and people did not understand his work. Well, after his death and continuing now, his works are fiercely fought after and many many dollars spent on them. No in the days of Van Gogh, he did not have internet, television and populations as we do in this day and age. We have a decisive advantage over Van Gogh and all other artists before him and up until the technology revolution. We can get our work out there to be seen by many potential collectors or just admirers.
This blog post is based on my opinion from many years of existence, from trial and error and from history. When I put it all together and connect the dots, I really believe that if someone wants to be an artist bad enough, they will do what it takes to accomplish it. Edgar Degas was a French artist and by all accounts, a real asshole. Please forgive my cursing, but that was the only appropriate way to describe him. He had the luxury of being born into a wealthy family and was able to survive until his art became popular, which occurred when he was in his late forties, I believe.
Other artists, like Raphael and DaVinci did other things in their younger days to make a living until their art took hold. Remember, back in the early renaissance, the only people who could afford to buy art were the clergy, royalty and selected business trades like merchants. Their pool of possible collectors was very limited and the competition fierce. From videos I have seen and books I have read, even in those early times of commercial art, the artist had to not only be accomplished at their art, but also at business. Handling money, marketing and sales techniques. In order to survive, the artist then had to make time and be knowledgeable of all that as well as their art. Funny how some things never change.
Present time artists must do the same thing. We must be on top of our art, we must be knowledgeable of the internet and all of the different marketing techniques that it offers, be a solid budgeter of money and have the personality to sell ourselves. A full time artist is a great deal of work and patience, and still, like everything else in life, no guarantees it will ultimately work. I am a fifty five year old man working in a normal job and trying like crazy to build an art business, I sold my first painting to a woman in California about twenty years ago. Since that faithful day, I have sold approximately one hundred paintings. Now that sounds like a lot, but consider I am an unknown, so my work does not demand a huge price tag as other well known artist and also, that is over a twenty year span.
It reminds me of golfing, which I do not par take in anymore, but did in my younger days. I was not really good at golf, ok at best, but every once in awhile, I would have a shot that looked like the ones I saw on television. That one shot out of many bad ones kept me going. My artist journey is similar. Each painting I do sell gives me the same joy as the first one and each painting I sell becomes a building block for the next.
My advice to anyone wanting to be a professional artist is this, always strive to improve your art and put yourself out there. Prepare to work hard, have patience and never ever be afraid to fail. Point of fact, you are only a failure if you refuse to continue the fight. This fight, my friends, is a fight worth seeing to the end.
Many success to you all.