Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The High Cost of Art, to the Artists

Wonderful People,
I do my best to refrain from comments that I am going to make here, but sometimes these things just need to be said. Here we go.

People often comment on my art and wish out loud that it didn't cost so much.  In front of me.  I believe they have no comprehension of what it takes for me to get that piece in front of them.  Let's say I invested 60 hours in a piece.  

All right, let's see... what is a living wage? $10.00/hour? Not really, but let's use it. Ten dollars times sixty = $600.00. Would you be willing to pay $600.00 for this beautiful piece of art? My guess is that most of you would not.

Now it gets personal. And honestly, I think this is the first time I've ever spoken about this among non-artists. Artists understand. Believe me.

When people look at my art, they enjoy it, take photos of it and use it that way, which is not legal, and is actually stealing from me. They also frequently comment to me that they wish it wasn't so expensive.

I'm really proud of my work, and careful to use only the best materials. I want it to last, not to fade as so many do, and be preserved archivally into the next generations. Just curious, have any of you looked at the price of art materials lately? I drop twenty bucks on a tube of paint without the blink of an eye.

So, what you are asking, in essence, is for me to invest thirty or forty hours on a piece, invest a great deal in materials, and sell it to you for a low, low price. That makes my living wage about ninety-six cents per hour.  Beyond that, it has taken me over thirty years of hard work and study to get at the place I'm at now artistically.  What is a professional paid that has this kind of education, study and work behind him?  Is there not a value attached to that?

I am a professional artist. I'm very proud of my work. But let me tell you, it can be very discouraging when the work doesn't sell. People love to support me by telling me how much they love my work, but that does not compensate for the hours I spend alone creating art when I need to be, say, taking care of my family and home or enjoying free time.

If you want to support an artist, support an artist by buying his or her work! Now THAT'S what I call encouragement! Please don't say, 'Oh, I love this - you should do a whole series on that!' The deal is, if I've created one piece that you really like, it means I really like it too, and would LOVE to do an entire series on it. But what goes unsaid is that I can't continue to create without the financial support of others.
Think about it this way - how many days, weeks and months could you go to work and do your job and not receive a paycheck?  You may absolutely love your job!  But you simply can't continue to invest yourself into that job without compensation. Ask any of your artists what their big wish is.  My bet is that they simply wish they could sell their art.  All we want to do is make art!  But we can't continue to do so with a public that devalues it, under-appreciates the artist and takes photos of it to use freely in their own way.

Something else that goes unsaid is that when you see a painting of mine that you like, there has been untold cerebral work, sketching, and research before I put brush to canvas. And it may possibly mean that there are a number of paintings behind that one that failed as I struggled to bring this one forth.  We try to make it look easy.  It's not.

There have been so many times I have been discouraged and wanted to quit. Trust me, being an artist is very often a difficult thing. Did you know that a successful artist's goal is supposed to be 'Paint for three months of the year, sell for nine months of the year.' I can't even IMAGINE what it would be like to have people buy my paintings at a pace where I could spend more time painting. Wow.

So please, don't balk when you see an artist's high price. See the work of art for what it is. Art. Something beautiful that was lovingly and thoughtfully created and is perfectly unique. Buy it. Encourage the artist with your wallet.  And appreciate your art for what it is.

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