Does Art Education Set You Up to Never Sell?

Received a message from a local Dutch artist yesterday, she’s been reading my blog.

Told me that I’m right say that artists should sell, and that marketing and customer acquisition are just something we need to come to terms with.

And then she wrote something shocking:

“Part of the reason I never did anything more than get my work into galleries is that in the art academies you get brainwashed with the idea that anything to do with ‘commercial’ is of the devil”.

Wow… for real?

That almost sounds like academies are in cahoots with the gallery industry – like the dentist who pays the baker to put sugar in the bread.

Ok, I’m inventing a conspiracy theory here.

But still.

If an art student gets trained with the notion that selling isn’t part of art, then it makes perfect sense that the starving artist myth is alive, kicking, and proliferating like a field full of bunnies on a hot summer’s day.

Now, to be reasonable: I do agree that art itself should probably not be commercial.

We’ve seen plenty of art that’s formulaic and created just to be as sellable as possible.

But the artist herself, they should definitely have a well-developed commercial mind.

Not so as to sell out – but so they can sell their art.

And that doesn’t mean you need to be sleazy and salesy, nor does it mean that your art should cater to the highest-spending market segment.

All it takes for you to sell more and earn more is to learn who will like your art, find out where they get together, and show up there as the friendly, passionate, sociable person you are.

And if you’re more introverted than sociable, that’s no problem either.

You don’t need to physically show up, not now that we have the internet.

But show up you must, because otherwise all you have are agents and galleries.

And the problem with that isn’t that they are bad people (though some may or may not be) but that they need to look out for themselves first.

You as the artist are an asset, part of their business – not their prime interest.

Which is why I think your better off taking care of yourself, rather than relying on others.

You wouldn’t be the first artist to sell through galleries for years, only to suddenly be dropped when fashion changes or the gallery goes bust.

Trust yourself, take care of yourself.

You’re the only one you can always count on.

Anyway, I must get back to writing about Frank the artist – I’ve lapsed a bit, writing down his story.

And I’m curious to find out what happened with that 60+ lady he fell in love with.

Hit reply if you want to be updated on how his life unfolds…



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