Friday, 21 June 2013
Commercial Artist or Fine Artist? You Decide.
Why doesn't anybody buy my paintings of children being beheaded and chased by Demons of the Underworld in this quaint gallery in a seaside town?
I think that's as good a question as any. Can you be a commercial artist and a fine artist? What exactly is the difference?
One produces work specifically to sell, one produces work they hope will sell to someone, somewhere at some point. Is that the difference?
One works with a specific audience in mind, the other works because they are driven to do it. Is that the difference?
What are the driving forces behind the work? Money? Passion? Necessity? I know that I am deliberately asking and not answering lots of questions. These are questions that I am asked really often.
Can you be true to your artistic self whilst pursuing commercial gain? Do you have to sell out? Should you develop an alter ego whose work you tout that caters for a more commercial market?
The thing is we all have to eat, pay mortgages, rent, bills etc. What is more important to you, being recognised as a mover and a shaker in the art world? Or regurgitating several variations on a theme that conform to an accessible aesthetic and a regular income? That is not undersell the latter because the skill involved in that particular formula is not to be sniffed at.
Can you do both?
These are all questions that I think should be up for discussion. People get disappointed when they don't sell much work at an exhibition (understandably so I hasten to add). I have been there and done that. But let me bring you back to the opening line of this particular blog. Would you want that picture in your lounge if it did in fact exist? I'm not so sure, but is there an audience for that kind of art? Of course there is. But this brings us back to an earlier blog, do your homework and find where you think your potential best audience might be. I would possibly suggest a 'Weirdo Convention' for that particular image.
Artists have asked me in the past what I thought they could paint that would sell. You can imagine that I have absolutely no response to this. I think that I may have mentioned before that I feel that we respond to art subconsciously as well as consciously. I believe people engage with the passion, enthusiasm behind the work. That must count for something.
Does this mean that artists have to make decision? The jury is out as far as I am concerned. Personally, I make art that I feel driven to make and I hope that people like it enough to buy it. Which they have and do. Do I make a living from it? NO! But I do however make a living from art so I feel that I am very lucky to do so.
I am posing all of these question in the hope of starting some discussions about this as I think it could be useful and informative. Feel free to comment.