Sunday, December 7, 2008

money? art?

I know some of us make a living making our art.
but the truth is most of us don't.
Yesterday at my studio open house, a friend told me of a writer's conference she attended. The strongest message she received there?
If you are a writer, you will need to earn your money another way.
Yesterday, I had my year's work on display - paintings, collages, printed cards and labels and a bumper sticker, the book I wrote about journaling, and lots of collaged cigar boxes. I made the cards to have affordable items available to buy. I know most people won't buy a $200 painting or be able to have me do a $500 commmision.
Many people cannot buy a $25 book.
So, I greeted and chatted, and it was a fine day.
and I sold $22 worth of cards.
It was just enough for the tip for the lovely dinner my family had after the open house.
So the waiter at Chutney Manor who served the 6 of us for one hour earned all the money I had made that day for the art I had for sale in the studio . . . .

So, I know it is not about money.
There is no money in art, and certainly no art in money.
Money is something else.
It can't be the reason.
It is just a reality that there needs to be money in your life to create your housing, give you food, and maybe a bit of security. I know that art and money aren't really linked.
Not in my mind, anyway.
Otherwise, the weeks of work to make cards, the hours of work to set up the studio, the time spent talking and chatting and sharing would only have a value of $22, and I know in my heart that is not the value of what I do.
So, off to make some pages, write about them, and try to live artfully.
money or no.

"It is a sad fact about our culture, that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it." --W. H. Auden


  1. hello arty em :)
    it is so true (for most of us anyway) what you say about art / money... unfortunately :( people will admire art but they won't buy... i cannot understand this point as well. enough said...

    i really love your art journals... the first word that came to me ... weirdly enough... "mysterious"... i find them full of mystery... i haven't really looked deeply yet but i will come back. perhaps it's the colors you use, perhaps they reflect the artist. anyhow they intrigue me... thanks for sharing your wonderful work :) God bless...

  2. is art so difficult to buy because they are so personal? this question just came up to me...

  3. thanks for visiting, Luthien - and the work for sale at the show was not all personal, but you do have something there - most people are looking for just decorative things to hang on their walls. . . . oh well - I gotta do what I gotta do, and I am glad I can show it to the world here, at least! thanks for coming around.

  4. man what truth behind the post. I think about it every day. Everyday I mean when I get up for work and realize all I want to do it paint, but I can't eat paint. Well I could but I am fearful it wouldn't digest well. I love the quote on the end amazing.

    Please stop by my blog I have an award for your words of wisdom!



  5. I really hate how that messages is drummed into us that most artists can't make money. I wonder if the thought of that alone hinders a lot who could be very successful financially.

  6. I just wrote about art for art's sake..because none of us ('cept for the few and far between) create art for a living cause there is no living to be made there for the majority. We do it because we HAVE to do it, it is in our soul.
    Thankfully sales do not equate the truth and beauty of what we create and most of us have come to realize that. I am glad YOU know that!
    Peace & Love,

  7. When I gave up my studio in September I thought I'd grieve. I didn't, and I know it's because the studio became something I never wanted it to be. I began to make art just to pay the rent. Month after month I was breaking even, and some months it was a loss and I had to dip into regular bill money.
    Then I got involved in all of the art walks which involved a whole lots of cash, food, advertising, etc. People would come and hang out just for the food and drinks and I'd sell a few cards. Maybe.
    Luckily I did establish a bit of a clientele who bought large paintings, but again it was just enough to pay the rent. When I realized that, I knew in my heart that's not why I create art and I had to get out. I do miss that beautiful space, but now I'm back to my cluttered dining room table working on Illustration Friday and things for my Etsy shop. And I'm so surprised that it's enough for me. To have spent every weekend for the past 2 years sitting in my open studio, letting my house go to pot and having my husband miss me...and then to only sell a card for the entire 8 hours, ugh. I knew it was time to go.
    All I'm saying is you're preachin' to the choir here! I feel your pain, but I also feel your passion.