The artists dilemma – commercial or creative

by  | Apr 28, 2013 | 
In my artistic career I often get caught in the balancing act of making creative art which comes purely from my soul and art which is also creative but has more appeal commercially. Heck they don’t call us starving artists for nothing and after a while having a stockpile of completed works at home doesn’t hold any inspiration either.I would think the greatest desire for any artist is to sit in their studio pumping out entirely to the whim of their artistic desire; but how much completed works can you keep in the closet? What is the purpose of art if others can’t share the same enjoyment?I find I get very flat when I don’t sell my work, when it is stock piling, when my message into the world isn’t being seen or heard.On the flip-side I hate my art being dictated and designed by others, I loathe commission work and see small saleable items I make merely as trinkets to pass the time. These are marginally creatively inspiring as is renovating my own home, at least my art is somewhat channelled.
Art Gallery of South Australia
Art Gallery of South Australia (image from Art Gallery of South Australia facebook page) The artists career journeyI envy artists that somehow fell into the groove of producing their creative message and that very outcome eventually became commercially viable. I may be wrong but I have observed this occurring in following steps ..The ‘it’ factor.So many young artists are emerging who grasp the culture of the day, not unlike musicians. They are trendy, creative, inspirational, multi talented and usually university trained. They are likely not to have a mortgage, two children and usually have parents nearby which all help in working through the starving phase. Am I jealous? Oh heck yes .. aren’t we all when we get older lol, hindsight is a wonderful thing!Emerging artists.I did read and I do agree, it takes at least 10 years to master your craft. To hone your message and overlay that with a resolved style which the public can immediately resonate with in their own homes. At this stage quality galleries start accepting your work and your sales values begin to increase.This 10 years is hard, dedicated, focussed and an unyielding effort in your own vision and your own path. Personally I just began to scratch towards this level and then stopped. Life got in the way and I had to rebuild, so it has been parked for the meantime for me to resume another day. Generally emerging artist have day jobs so they can eat.
Ann Gordon from Frances Keevil gallery
Ann Gordon – emerging Australian artist (image from Frances Keevil gallery)Established artists.Becoming an established artist takes time, patience and talent, in other words ‘sticktoitiveness’ (stick-to-it-ive-ness). Silly word but says it all, some 15-20 years later, doggedly sticking to your creative path and constantly growing, exploring and fine-tuning. Perhaps your life situation becomes somewhat more affordable, you are now kid and mortgage free and begin to ponder: can the viability of a lifetime passion begin to pay dividends?Not only does your skills need to develop over decades to attain this level, so must your business skills. No one sells your art work until you do, consistently and daily. There are plenty of talented artists but very few can turn their art into a sustainable successful career. Often this is combined with a variety of artistic incomes such as teaching, working in galleries and in related careers such as graphic designers.
Dominique Fortin
Dominique Fortin – Montreal artist
Dominique Fortin - Montreal
Dominique Fortin – Montreal artist born 1974, full time artist since 2003.Images from the artists website http://www.lafeedargent.comI wonder how many of the young ‘it’ factor artists eventually emerge and develop a long term sustainable artist career?Freaks of natureDon’t get me wrong, there are freaks of nature in art, just like there are in sport, music, science and so on. Those 1 in a million folk. All credit to the natural born geniuses of the world and whichever genre they represent. For example, I am a huge fan of the 28 year old Marina Bychkova whose Enchanted Dolls sell at a staggering $10,000 – $20,000 each and has a waiting list of years.
Enchanted Dolls - Marina Bychkova
Enchanted Dolls – Marina Bychkova (image sourced from Tumblr alicemurphy)
 So what next for me?Building my artistic career really began in my mid 20’s when I seriously resumed painting after children. Over the following 10 years I blossomed into the Fantasy Dreams Bedheads which started in my control and then eventually became overrun with commission orders . Gradually the appeal begun to wane after a further 10 years.
The Wave bedhead by Dina Goebel
One of my original designs, The Wave bedhead by Dina GoebelThe second phase was during the operation of the ArTTable. I had a vision to not only create my art but to mentor others. I was able to continue producing my own art during this phase and eventually by mid 40’s I was emerging into quality galleries.Unfortunately ‘starving artist’ kicked in before I became commercially viable so it was back to the corporate day job which consumes much of my time now. During that time also also made trinkets in the way of small mosaics but they were moderately satisfying practice pieces.Today I make jewellery bracelets, more trinkets to keep my hand/eye coordination intact until I eventually can resume a more dedicated studio space. I have found wonderful inspiration through home renovating and also through this blog so I don’t feel in any way un-nurtured.But my next step is combining everything I have learned, my life, my techniques, my message into my own focussed art. It’s building inside ready to leap out into a third phase where I plan not only to emerge but to finally establish myself as an artist from my 60’s onwards.How exciting, wish me luck!ALWAYS THE ARTISTDina
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