Artists making money. Is it wrong to make a profit ?

Cezanne's Card Players
Cezanne's Card Players - Most expensive painting ever.

Art at the top level is a commodity more than anything else but what about most artists who make very little money and often rely on financial support from friends and family. Why isn’t their art valued as highly ?

Cezanne's Card Players

This painting by Cezanne is warm, emotive and certainly a masterpiece but is it really worth the $250 million that in 2011 made it the most expensive work of art  ever sold ?

Here’s an article from the Guardian entitled The Art of Selling Out and as Damien Hirst puts it:

“Warhol really brought money into the equation. He made it acceptable for artists to think about money. In the world we live in today, money is a big issue. It’s as big as love, maybe even bigger.”

Are you an artist ? Do you ever sell your work ? Why not ? Isn’t it good enough ?

I think a lot of artists see other art selling well and think “My work’s better than that” but never actually get around to doing anything about it.

Are the successful artists out there better at creating than anyone else or are they just better at selling their art ?

If it’s not a lack of confidence that stops artists from selling their painting, sculptures or illustration then it’s the view that artists should be concerned with more cerebral things than money. Their contribution to society goes deeper than that.

I saw this article in the Scotsman newspaper that has the headline Artists forced to survive on £100 a week

THREE-quarters of visual artists in Scotland are earning less than £5,000 a year, according to a new report.

Just five per cent of artists surveyed for the study said they were earning more than £15,000 after tax and expenses.

When it came to actual turnover, 70 per cent of those who took part in the study for the Scottish Artists Union (SAU) were generating less than £10,000 a year.

This is sad and the figures are shockingly low but as beneficial as it is to have artists around it’s hard to argue that they should be subsidised by society. If their aim is to be professional then a realistic business model should be developed that allows them to earn a decent income. Many artists teach, run studios or have a different career that allows them to create until they reach a level where their art can support them.

I spent four years at a prestigious art school in London and very few of my friends I’ve stayed in touch with are artists. These are all extremely talented artists but who were better at making art than selling it.

Writing this reminds me of something I saw on Twitter a while ago and it stuck in my mind:

It appears that she was referring to some guy who’d aimed a few tweets at her.

Molly Crabapple is a New York based artist who used her experience as an art model to create Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School which is based on making drawing fun has been hugely successful and has spread around the world. This has raised her profile and created a wider audience for her artwork. No doubt if people hadn’t liked her work she wouldn’t have got as far even with a wide audience. It has still brought resentment and perhaps professional jealousy.

Is there really a reason why people can’t make good art and promote themselves as artists and does marketing make your work inferior and doing well from it devalue it in anyway ?

“Do well, but not too well” – I’ve heard that there is always a deliberate flaw by Muslim tapestry weavers, who add one flaw because only Allah may be perfect. Should artists restrain themselves so they don’t become the target of professional jealousy ?

On a fun note here’s an artist who prided himself on being commercial – it’s a Salvador Dali chocolate advert. Selling out ?

What do you think ?