I had an interesting email exchange with an artist friend recently about how artists can and do make a living with their art. Here is what she said…
I have been listening to artist interviews, reading books by artists, looking at artist websites, etc. There is a common thread woven throughout. Most artists also write books & teach. Several places I read most artists make more $$ writing & teaching than doing art. I had a hmmmm moment. I was just surprised by it. I just want to do art………but I want an income….a good one….& I know it takes time…….. I guess I was just surprised by my findings & wondered your thoughts if any.
I thought about what she wrote and replied…
I think some of what you are saying might be true but there are some big generalizations… be careful where you use the word “most” or you will get a skewed sense of what people are doing. I don’t believe that most artists are writing or teaching… there are a lot but if you look at all artist – not the majority. Some probably do make more with teaching than art but it could be where they are putting more energy too – I like the mix of teaching and art but make more from my art than teaching or writing.
I believe the most important thing is to follow your passion. If you don’t want to write or teach, don’t. But don’t use the idea that you “have to” make you pull back on your art… there are lots of things people think I should do – that I could do if I wanted to, but it doesn’t feel right. For example, I have artists ask me to represent them as their agent on a regular basis. I have the skills to do it but it isn’t where my passion lies – I want to spend my energy creating and licensing my own art – not also representing other artists. Who knows, maybe one day I will decide it seems exciting and I’ll give it a shot – but for now, I don’t have a passion for it so I haven’t chosen to add that feather to my cap.
In my opinion, artists will find their success (and we all have different ideas of what that looks like) when they do what speaks to them and don’t get stressed about what others are doing.
If things you read or listen to are stressing you out or making you question yourself (in a bad way) – I recommend you stop reading them for a while. 🙂 This is just another form of analysis paralysis. There are so many things an artist can do to make mad money or make a living – each one should decide what they are most excited about doing and figure out how to make it work. If we all did the same exact thing, life would be pretty boring don’t you think?
So ask yourself – what really gets you excited and ready to create? Now go do it!
Here’s to your creative success!
– Tara Reed