Art + Money
Everything in our lives, to a greater or lesser extent, is connected to money and art is no exception. Artists need money for canvases, paints, films, PCs and, of course, they need to eat! This means that any artist sooner or later will be brought reluctantly to face with the problem of getting money.
Yes, art history knows some happy exceptions, such as when an artist was descended from a wealthy family or found a rich sponsor or benefactor. However, the number of these exceptions is small, and the majority of artists in the beginning of their career experience money difficulties, and sometimes this lasts all their life.
Why can’t artists reliably earn a living through their artworks? Why must they so often have a traditional day job and create their as yet unacknowledged masterpieces by night? Why is a Van Gogh a good investment while it is really risky to invest money in contemporary artists?
All answers to these questions come down to the same point, which is that people who are buying art prefer to invest in artists who are known to have a solid reputation, this is more important to them than going for what they really like. This is practical from the point of view of financial investment, but makes no sense in an emotional way – if art doesn’t give you a feeling of beauty, if doesn’t guide you to a different world, then it is not the art for you. The desire to buy a particular artwork should ideally resemble love at first sight.
Money can affect the artist’s scope for free expression. In order to make serious money from their work artists often feel that they need to create artworks that will score big successes in a society and will earn them money. These artworks do not necessarily carry great value; this is like the hit of the season that will be forgotten in the near future.
The key thing is for an artist to remember the reason they chose art as their profession – not in order to get rich quickly, or be incredibly famous and known all around the world. Rather, the point was to be able to create in the way that they wanted to, to give form to the ideas in their head, and to share these things with the rest of the world. When artists bear this in mind, they will be able to be satisfied with the quiet appreciation and steady but unremarkable sales that most artists experience in their lives. It is enough to pay the bills, perhaps have a little over, and keep creating.