Monday, February 5, 2018

A Review of How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist; Selling Yourself Without Selling Your Soul

I only had one art professor who was active in selling and promoting his work locally. One. And he obviously wasn't going to quit his teaching job at any point and make money just in the industry. 

And he openly made fun of a student who was selling her work on eBay to pay her bills.

It was one of those many moments where I wondered what the hell I was doing to myself studying the arts. 

Nobody thought to include in the curriculum (at the community college OR university level) a course in how to run a business in Fine Arts. If anything, the university was even further detached from the business aspect of art-their painting instructor was proud to tell everyone she never made a "damn thing" off of her work. I didn't question any of that. Ever. 

It turns out working in an industry where you are routinely devalued goes hand-in-friendly-hand with the devaluing you internalize if you experienced family abuse. 

Learning that I was worth anything at all was hard. Learning my work might be worth anything is harder. 

If you are struggling with that as an artist, or just want some tips on fine arts as a business (because that is what it IS), then I can't recommend strongly enough "How to Survive and Prosper As an Artist" by Caroll Michels. 

Everything from standing up to dealers to setting prices and crafting your resume is here, along with some really valuable link resources. 

The text is written with the deft hand of experience, and the advice straight-forward, unlike the convoluted crap you probably got at school (and you were probably lucky to have received even that). As the book points out, we were actively prevented from talking about money, from thinking about money, or approaching what we were being trained to do as a business in any way.

That not only sucks, it's absolute garbage. 

This is the book I wish I'd had as an art student. And we need more books like this in the world. And you need it if you are attempting to make a living doing something creative. 

We have to change we way we look at art and how we devalue our creative workers. This is a good place to start. 

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