Artist Therapy 10: No one’s going to pay me for this.

Artist Therapy is a series of posts exploring problems we artists have making, getting ready to make, and sharing our art. It is inspired by Havi Brooks’s Blogging Therapy articles.

Previously on Artist Therapy:
1.) Introductory Ideas
2.) I totally suck at art.
3.) I’ll never be good enough.
4.) I don’t have time for art.
5.) It’s too late for me to start.
6.) What do I even draw?
7.) I’m blocked.
8.) But I don’t have a style!
9.) Share my art? You’re kidding.

Today’s Artist Therapy:

Back when I planned what I was going to write about for Artist Therapy, I thought I would have sold something by the time I wrote this.

But I have not. (You can change that by visiting my Bluecanvas page, but you don’t have to!)

The last thing an artist selling their work needs is blithe assurances that “Of course your artwork will sell, you are so talented blah blah blah.” That doesn’t help, so I will not say it. But I do have some thoughts.

The first thing is that money and art create a whole lot of personal issues. There’s a scale for artists: at one end are those who believe money corrupts art, and at the other end are artists who work only on commission. My position on the spectrum is “I made this thing for myself and I hope someone else will buy a print if it speaks to them.”

Depending on where you are on the spectrum, you might feel guilty for accepting money for your art because you believe it’s wrong, or for never making art that isn’t for clients. For the former, it’s not bad to accept payment for something you’ve made, and you’ve got to eat, right? Besides, many buyers want to pay you – they’ll feel guilty for just taking something you made! As for the latter, if making art is your job, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to come home and do more work.

Just know that your feelings on art and money are legitimate, and you don’t have to compromise them.

My second thought is that people in the world do want art and will pay money for it. If you live in the U.S., you know that art is not particularly valued here, that art programs are routinely underfunded in schools, for example. But lots of people buy art every day. Something that speaks to them or something to put above the sofa – art does sell.

The third thing is that it’s ridiculously easy to take lack of sales personally, but you don’t have to. People don’t always have the money or they want something more practical than a print. I know that some people just aren’t going to like my stuff no matter what, and that’s okay; there are lots of reasons they won’t/can’t buy that have nothing to do with me.

My last thought is that selling art is intimidating and scary and it took me a long time to be ready to put my works up for sale. I’m really fortunate that this is a hobby and not my livelihood, because I’m not sure I could be so detached if I depended on my art for an income.

If I ever do have a sale, you will be the first to know!


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