Saturday, August 26, 2006

Micro Enterprise

One of the thoughts that occupies my mind is making a living as an artist. While this enterprise has propelled my studio practice for over 10 years (before that, I was content to make abstract sculpture/painting and hope to be "discovered")I am only recently beginning to see the possibilty of success. That is, becoming self-sufficient through my studio output. Many years of training, post art school, in business, marketing and developing production skills have gone into making this theory a reality. It has been far from easy and a huge obstacle is a general sense that art should not be sullied by the market. Well, I argue that art IS in the market and the artist who looks this reality in the eye stands a better chance of financial freedom.

Art for sale. Any artist in their right mind is eager to sell their work. An artist who relies on grants and funding through non-profits is no better than a mendicant and therefore beholden to the limits the funding provides. Government suppport, ie NEA funding became a joke in the 90's as some of the most provacative art funded through that office was censored and raised moral outrage (Robert Mapplethorp, Andre Serrano).

This short piece is the start of what I hope will evolve into a larger conversation, and ultimately a book. While I continue to pursue my studio practice full time, I would like to dedicate a large part of this blog to these ideas. I invite comment and emails. Like Chris Anderson's "The Long Tail" I see writing a book on line an exciting and bracing enterprise. Peer review is tough in a non-academic setting so it is here that a peer review becomes possible.

technorati tags: , ,


natasha said...

bravo! it is funny, though. i remember when i was in art school, thinking that the people who had a back-up degree in business or the graphic design majors were considered sell-outs to us fine art people. now, it cracks me up. you are going to have to sell yourself one way or another to survive, whether it be to have to wait tables to finance your art, or if it is to sell your art and live on that. having to do a horrible job that eats your soul is really just as much of a sell out as having a decent job that actually pays. as my friend john always says, "don't eat your soul to feed your belly"-kafka.

Susan Schwake said...

ah the micro enterprise. let the challenge begin.
this post is exciting to me and i applaud you maryann for begining this here. here is to the next ten years and the promise that it holds.
(imagine me now clinking a pair of your confetti juice glasses together full of some moet chandon) by the way, it was nice to see said glasses at whip up today! kudos to you!

Shannon Garson said...

Hi Maryanne,
I had the same worries when about 8 years ago
I set up my studio. Now I am self sufficient and I've found that financial pressure has actually made my work better. The public isn't dumb, I've come to the conclusion that when something isn't selling it is not because of lack of explanation from the artist but because the piece is not successful as visual art. This harsh but creative lesson has forced me to examine many ideas I've had over the years and refine them into something that is financially succesful.

Having financial pressure has also forced me to become more proffessional. I can't sit around all day in anxiety because I'm "Not inspired!" I have to make work. Being skillful at what you do and proffessional means you can make good work everyday with or without "Inspiration". -With is better!

As for grants, they are great but art cannot survive on this kind of funding. Especially the kind of art that I want to make. I call people who are creative in their business as artist "Craft Guerillas". I've written a couple of blogs about this from an Australian perspective.
Great topic!