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Old 09-28-2017, 01:03 PM
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Mike L Mike L is offline
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A provocative article

A provocative article in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

The Secret Recipe for Success in the Arts
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Old 09-28-2017, 05:05 PM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is online now
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Re: A provocative article

"you simply will not be able to sustain middle-class or better earnings over the course of a career from your art-making alone. ... people who appear to be making substantial incomes from their art alone for long periods of time are often deliberately or tacitly hiding inherited or married-into wealth and privilege, or are quietly running side businesses to keep their finances afloat"

Very true, IMO. I've been listening to the savvypainter podcast for a while now. This is a weekly interview with a painter, and I highly recommend it. All these painters have some kind of success. But I have noticed that almost all of them are also teaching, either in a school or through workshops or both. A scant few had money (and/or connections) starting out, and some have a working spouse and say as much.

Pretty much nobody who has been interviewed is making a full-bore living from selling their paintings.

This was actually kind of a relief for me to find out, because I'd look at a lot of art that was being produced that I actually like and I'd wonder how in the world they got to the point of, for instance, making paintings 12 feet long or whatever. Well, because they didn't HAVE to sell the paintings; they had their day job in art. This really changed how I view contemporary painting.

I think the idea that a person can craft a middle-class life from selling paintings or whatever their art form is not realistic. But I do think it is possible to make SOME money from selling one's art, and that this can be combined with other things to create a life. Probably not a middle-class life, but a rewarding, interesting, satisfying life nevertheless.

I never wanted a middle-class kind of life ever since I left home, so it doesn't bother me to think about not getting it through my art. Instead, I take comfort in having several income streams so that if one fails, the others can carry me along. And the fact that I don't have to listen to anyone tell me what to do, sit in a cube, care about meetings, dress a certain way, commute, etc., etc., etc. all make a small income worth it to me.

This year has been successful for me in terms of art sales so far, but that means that I am making $300/mo from my paintings and prints (mostly paintings). Last year, the first year I was actively trying to sell them, I made $100/mo. I hope that in the next couple years I can boost that to $600/mo, which would be enough to let me cut back on my shop and have a lot more time for painting. It sounds like peanuts, but I put that together with my small income from my online shop, royalties from my book (not a bestseller), and Social Security benefits, none of which by themselves would be enough to keep me even in poverty, and I have enough to get by while living what is for me a satisfying life. I don't have much in terms of material possessions, but I have never cared about them enough to want to do what would be necessary for me to get them. I've seen most of my siblings die before me and that experience has really made me look at what I want from my life. Nice furniture, a house, and a good car don't stack up for me at all.

So for me, being able to bring home some of the bacon with my art income is satisfactory--and satisfying. I do wonder how many other people feel like that.
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Old 09-29-2017, 05:26 PM
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Re: A provocative article

Not into redistribution of wealth or any of the other socialistic programs this article advocates.

As far as the notion that artists aren't seriously making money if they have a working spouse, it's ridiculous.

Nearly every couple has two income earners. My lawyer isn't NOT successful because his wife also works. Why imply that having a working spouse is somehow a signal of not being successful?
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Old 09-29-2017, 06:47 PM
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Re: A provocative article

I'm not sure I understand the conclusion, or what I interpreted to be the conclusion, of the article - that access to things like healthcare and affordable housing is the the secret to success as an artist. It would certainly lay the groundwork for many skills, art included, but I'm not sure I would frame it the way he did. The way I see it, there are many self proclaimed artists in the world, most of them bad and some of them unlucky. But even bad or unlucky artists deserve access to basic human needs and rights. Otherwise, what is the point of maintaing a society. It will never happen but that's beside the point. Don't agree about the need for reparations or the identity politics stuff.
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Old 10-04-2017, 11:18 AM
theBongolian theBongolian is online now
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Re: A provocative article

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobinZ
Nearly every couple has two income earners. My lawyer isn't NOT successful because his wife also works. Why imply that having a working spouse is somehow a signal of not being successful?

I think the point was that some artists that appear to be successful in truth make no money from their art but live off the earnings of their spouse. Those artists "tilt" the perception that more artists are financially successful than is actually the case.

I found the article not so enlighting, re-stating the well-worn fact very few artists are able to support themselves solely from art. And like the schools he (rightfully so) disses he has no solution to the problem.

Until more people start buying original art nothing is going to change.
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Old 10-05-2017, 06:15 PM
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Re: A provocative article

Seem successful to whom?

I have heard this argument before, that to be considered "successful" from other artists, they not only have to pay THEIR share of the bills, but all of them. No other income in the household.

Why else does he bring it up?

How many other people are judged this way? That they can't have a working spouse to be a success?
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Old 10-05-2017, 07:24 PM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is online now
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Re: A provocative article

I don't think it's that artists can't have a working spouse. It's that they are presented as being able to have a middle-class life ON THEIR OWN. I've noticed this in podcasts I've listened to. I'm sitting there hearing about a painter going to workshops in Tuscany or for a summer in Venice or whatever and wondering how do they afford that from just selling their paintings??? They must be selling like hotcakes!!! And then "Oh, well, my spouse has a great job and supports us" or "My family had a summer home in Italy." I'm not making this up.

Is being successful ONLY about money? No. But how successful would we call a doctor or lawyer or teacher if they could not support themselves with their work and had to have a side job or a spouse with a fat job to pay their bills?
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Old 10-05-2017, 10:46 PM
wdaniels wdaniels is offline
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Re: A provocative article

My definition of success is not necessarily being rich or famous, or even to be able to support myself solely by my art, but to have as happy a life as possible, and I think everyone has to find their own solution for achieving that. As for the societal changes that the author sees as solution for the dilemma of those in the arts having to make a living, I think the odds of those happening in the near future are even worse than an individual having great monetary success in the arts.
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Old 10-06-2017, 07:19 AM
zardoz71 zardoz71 is offline
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Re: A provocative article

Well it's not unknown that some artist have other means to get cash beyond the art the make. In the local paper was a article about a old lady that died and would get honoured for her work that extra mentioned that she was a wealthy person because of other things she did, so the did have more freedom..

BTW this socialistic programs he advocates work for many countries. Ours is called: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_market_economy

And that enables us with paying a bit more taxes to have free "college education" or a 3 digit € (depands on state) for a semester and nearly free healthcare. I ended up a couple years ago with a stroke in a clinic and my bill was just ~10$ for a each day there. We have even limits how much it can cost you......and we have even access to get our rent paid....



So I have read his first article and yes artist don't get much paid everywhere in the world. See my example from Germany:http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/show....php?t=1425673

However the approach to help is different in each country what the think is necessary and he writes what he thinks should be done.

We have here a public agency that takes care of your healthcare/pension/social you need only to pay 50% like if you would be a employee, the state (20%) and companies that make money with art (30%) pay the rest, so that should ease the burden a bit.

Next we have a "droit de suite" (resale right)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Droit_de_suite for art in the Europan Union. Everytime some of your work get resold you got a royality. The are different limits in each county for it. At least California did have something similar in the past, however nationwide bill got axed.

Then the are other ways artist can participate like a exhibation right/fee. In Canada you have CARFAC: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadi...Representation that takes care of this. We tried to bring a law in force nationwide but it died in the parlament. However some states have it in force like Berlin http://www.bbk-berlin.de/con/bbk/fro....php?idcat=178 (German)
So if you painting got shown in a e.g. museum exhibation you get paid for it, depanding how many take part of it. 1-2 1000€. 3-10 350€, >10 150€.....

I think there was a "activist group" in the US that trys the same...


So there are some ways to support a artist beyond him/her selling only the art the create.

Last edited by zardoz71 : 10-06-2017 at 07:22 AM.
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Old 10-07-2017, 03:35 PM
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Re: A provocative article

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harold Roth
I don't think it's that artists can't have a working spouse. It's that they are presented as being able to have a middle-class life ON THEIR OWN. I've noticed this in podcasts I've listened to. I'm sitting there hearing about a painter going to workshops in Tuscany or for a summer in Venice or whatever and wondering how do they afford that from just selling their paintings??? They must be selling like hotcakes!!! And then "Oh, well, my spouse has a great job and supports us" or "My family had a summer home in Italy." I'm not making this up.

Is being successful ONLY about money? No. But how successful would we call a doctor or lawyer or teacher if they could not support themselves with their work and had to have a side job or a spouse with a fat job to pay their bills?

All of the doctors and lawyers and teachers I know have a spouse with a job.

Why should artists be expected to shoulder all the financial bills in a marriage in order to be considered successful?

I know few middle class folks who are going to their summer home in Venice, no matter what they do to make their money.

I can't speak for the podcasts you listen to, but if they are presenting working artists as being middle class and yet are wealthy enough to own homes in Venice, I'd be leery about anything they said.

Although the work shops would be tax deductible...
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Old 10-07-2017, 06:06 PM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is online now
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Re: A provocative article

So are you saying that you think artists can indeed make a middle-class lifestyle just from selling their paintings?
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Old 10-08-2017, 12:41 AM
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Re: A provocative article

It absolutely can be done to make a middle class living selling art. The best way to do that is in a capitalist system. I don't buy that author's socialist blather. She blames everything for not succeeding in the arts except for the actual artist. If you want to succeed at anything in life you need to take personal responsibility and do it. Nobody is going to fix your life for you. Nobody is going to put in the hard work of marketing and cold calling potential clients. I long ago learned there are going to be a million naysayers out there. I just don't pay any attention to them and just do my thing.

One way to succeed in selling art is to consider your art a product and run your art business like a small sales company. I've been doing it for almost 20 years. It takes a bit of time to build any business from nothing but it most certainly can be done. There are lots of artists out there making a good living selling their works.

The real problem is not that the system is stacked against them but that the average artist has no idea how the business world works. (That is assuming they have a world-class product. If the art is not up to professional standards or has no appeal to any particular audience, then it will not sell.) If you want to sell something and make a good living at it, you have to be a salesman. Most artists don't want to do that. They just want to make art and are waiting to be "discovered".
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Last edited by falcon012 : 10-08-2017 at 12:44 AM.
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Old 10-14-2017, 10:53 PM
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Re: A provocative article

Harold, if you are addressing me, yes, I know it for a fact.
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Old 10-14-2017, 10:54 PM
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Re: A provocative article

falcon, your points are excellent. Nobody knocks on our doors, nobody. Not online buyers, not people looking to decorate their walls, not investors, not gallery owners.

All of it takes selling in some manner.
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Old 10-15-2017, 08:56 AM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is online now
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Re: A provocative article

Robin, yep, I was asking that. Not meaning to sound snippy or anything. Actually, after replying in this thread, I saw a thread on reddit by a guy who was selling six figures on his PRINTS because a couple years ago, a friend of his posted one of his paintings on reddit and that thread went to the first page, which usually requires 10s of thousands of upvotes. He said he left a corporate job paying just under six figures to become an artist selling just over six figures. I went to his site and he paints realistic wild animals with unusual, drippy colors. I've noticed that reddit is very fond of high realism. At any rate, his experience sure proved that it is possible and then some.

I guess I don't feel like that's going to happen to me. Even making what is "average" in the US just from painting - no workshops, no prints, no teaching positions -- seems pretty much impossible to me. OTOH, it doesn't bother me that much that it is, as long as what I make from painting and prints makes a significant contribution to the pot. What's significant? A third, for me. I'm still not there, but I am confident I will get there and hope eventually to exceed that proportion. However, I make sure I keep other income streams going.
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