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Advice for Young Artists (from an old one)

Selling Art

The common view of art is that you become a famous artist and make millions selling your masterpieces. This is about as common as becoming a movie star and making millions on your films-in other words it is as rare as a three-eyed newt.

We all make art in some form; by painting, music, poetry, or even cooking. But we don’t all make money doing what we love. In the art world, 80% of your time must be devoted to marketing to be ‘successful’ which only leaves 20% of your time for everything else, including making art. I’ve held career positions as an artist and a strange thing happened: it was no longer fun. For one thing, you have to meet deadlines, so-called because if you fail to do so, you are dead.

But then money is important; even poets have to pay the electric bill. What to do? I suggest to young artists that, unless they are independently wealthy, they get training in some profession that will pay the bills and make art for fun, when they can. They will sell some art now and then, because someone will like their work. But what do people like?

Since each individual is different, it is unpredictable what they will like. The very first art piece sold at the Studio was bought by a young lady who passed over all the pretty landscapes, wildlife paintings and sculptures. She went straight to Corky and said, “I want this.” She has him on her fireplace mantle as we speak.

I wondered about this until I remembered that I have Corky II on my own window sill, jauntily hanging off a potted plant. Corky is just made with wire and cut up wine bottle corks, with movable limbs so he can take any position you like. Corky is somehow endearing. But according to Medium.com, the most popular art in descending order is landscapes, local views, semi-abstracts, dogs, human figures, seascapes, and wildlife. No mention of Corky.

Corky was made for fun and maybe the spirit of fun rubbed off on his silly little self. So have fun making your chosen art and maybe a buyer will make a beeline for it one day and say, “I want this.”