Being a Professional Artist: Catch-22

Obviously the dream of any artist is to create art as a living but there’s always a catch. When art becomes a career it can put a lot of pressure on yourself. If you aren’t careful then the joy of making art becomes a struggle to make money. This very thing has been happening to me for the few months. Making art became less about expressing my passion and only about making money. In this post, I’ll go over some of the thoughts and feelings I’ve had about art as a career and how I’m dealing with them. 

No one becomes interested in art because they dream of one day being a millionaire. We become artists because of something deeper within ourselves; a passion for being creative. Everyone must grow up and along the way we realize that we need to make a living. The most important thing in our lives is being creative so why not make a living being an artist? It’s at this point that the reason for making art can seem to change from a passion to a making a living. If you aren’t careful you will slowly find that you’re losing your love for art and building your love for making money. 

When your passion changes from creativity to money and you’re an emerging artist with little to money coming in then it becomes easy to quit. The plight of many emerging artists is quitting before your career has time to develop. That’s why it’s important to keep your passion for making art. If making money was your passion then you probably wouldn’t have chosen to be an artist; there are plenty of easier ways to make money. Remember why you chose to become an artist in the first place: you are creative.  

These past few months my creative work has revolved around gaining traction in my career. Trying to post more work online, posting more on this blog, applying to more shows; all of it done trying make money from my art. Just like when I decided to be an artist I didn’t initially start doing these things to earn money but because I enjoyed doing it. After a while I learned that I didn’t really enjoy doing them anymore and it was because I was doing them for the wrong reason now. I love doing these things when I have the idea of being creative and working on my craft in mind but not when I’m doing them to just to make money. This is real life though and money runs the world. The truth is that the most successful artists throughout history weren’t successful because they were trying to make a lot of money but because they never stopped making art. They worked hard to perfect their craft and their passion for art was shown in their work. People could see this and eventually success followed. 

Being a professional artist is a catch-22. Making a living from your work is the dream but letting money become your reason for making art is deadly for your career. Art is about heart and emotion and people will notice if you don’t have it. A key to being a successful artist is working hard to show your love of art through your work and success will come. If you’re worrying more about success and money than your actual artwork then you’re worrying about the wrong things. 


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