Pointless, Futile, Meaningless…

Nobody but nobody seems to make any money at being an artist. I’ve spent half a decade working in the business and everyone seems to be penniless and nobody has the answers. Professional organisations seem to recommend fair prices for artists which are realistic if you consider minimum wages versus professional wages; but which are completely ridiculous when you consider the how little a potential client is willing to pay. The only way to sell art and make money seems to be to pile it high and sell it cheap; lower the intensity of the labour and cut corners all the way. Whilst there are no industry regulations the artist is lost in a maze of opinions and chasing the imaginary holy grail of success. The artist seems to be devalued and exploited at every level.

So on the one hand I need to charge a price based on the level of skill involved and yet on the other hand I must sell it for a price a client is willing to pay. I’ve been told off by some galleries for setting my prices too high and yet other galleries have chastised me for selling my art at too low a price and selling myself short. Buyers have told me they would like to see my work on a larger scale and yet don’t want to pay me for the time it would take for me to make it. Everyone wants to look and see and experience what I do, and yet don’t want to pay me even a minimum wage for anything I do. And even if somehow a balance is reached, there is still no guarantee of a sale. The whole idea of creating art for others to experience is pointless, futile, and meaningless.

I have always made art for myself. I create the things I want to create because I need to get them out of my head and experiment with the philosophies and the craft of what is possible. Sure I dabble with prints, smaller works, pocket-money greetings cards etc, but my main focus is my own psychological ends. My CV does not need any kind of enhancement and my bank balance does not need any further punishment. At this point I could give up on showing in galleries and it would probably be wiser to turn my back on any attempt at sales. I could give up on writing this blog, I could disappear off the radar completely and give up. So why do I continue when everything I am doing is under-appreciated and ultimately pointless? Why bother at all when considering the futility of existence can drive even the sanest people to madness?

I could get drawn into depression but I refuse. I could allow myself to be sucked into debt and get exploited but I won’t. Instead I will remain resolutely self-sufficient and continue to build my own career for my own reasons. If galleries don’t exist to market my art then I will work as a collective with others to create the opportunities I require. I will continue to explore and push my potential, not to please others but to please myself. I choose carefully who I work with and why. I will spend wisely on making my own opportunities and for my own reasons. I have all the logistical and marketing skills to make things work for me. At one point I wanted to succeed and break into the industry. Now I no longer care about the establishment and am more intent on succeeding in spite of this. I choose my own directions.

I choose life.

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6 thoughts on “Pointless, Futile, Meaningless…

  1. Question: Who or what is the arbiter of success in this situation? You say you want to ‘succeed and break into the industry’, what does that mean? As an outsider to your chosen field, you seem successful to me. Evidently you don’t count yourself as successful.

    Really interested to know what the measure is…

    • Success to me counts that I can work full time as an artist and pay my rent. At the moment I do not feel that successful because I am still supplementing my income with that from my educational work.

      I guess I’m setting my own measure of success in an unrealistic place. Perhaps I am already a success? I don’t know.

  2. Pingback: What is Success? | melanie ezra

  3. I have always hated the art establishment with a vengeance which is why I walked out of the arts for 15 years. I came back in because I am an artist and I am compelled to make art for my own sanity. But I still hate the art industry. I think you are right about cooperating with other artists to find ways of making it possible but I am not expecting great riches.

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