selling & hoarding

Dare I write a post about making art and not worrying or trying to sell it vs. making art and wanting to live off of it?

I dare. I dare .

I want to be careful here not to look like I am pointing fingers or saying one way is better, because I have blog friends and artist friends out there in the world that are not doing it the way I am and I don't think either is better or worse. BUT. I have personally experienced from artists face to face a sort of holier than thouness with their attitudes of not 'peddling' their wares. My head goes to to Lisa Call's Blog, because she recently has spoken about her making art and making it for the sake of making it and not worrying about selling it. I get what she is saying and I respect her to the utmost. (so you know Lisa I am not pointing a finger at you but your post did bring up some latent issues I've had with other artists, so your blog reminded me about this issue) I'm not talking about anyone I've met online in fact, just so you know!!!!

The attitude I get from the artists I'm talking about is a superior aesthetic one. Like I just make art because I love making it. They have a way of talking about it to me like because I am doing all I can to get my work 'out there' and 'sold' that that somehow impedes the whole naturalness and purity of it. I could be wrong, but I feel like there is a difference between someone such as myself making art and trying to sell it vs. someone who has it manufactured and sold by the thousands in every store in the country. But even that, I'm not going to judge too much because then I sound holier than thou with my one at a time pieces compared to mass production.

I will say, the people I personally know who have this 'attitude' appear to me more fearful than not about trying to get it out there. I hear just enough history from them to know that they too tried at one time or saw others close to them try to get their work out and they saw how hard it was. So back into their den they go.

Look, I love making art for the most part. If you asked me would I still make it if I never sold it, HONESTLY.....not right now. Or at least at a much slower rate. That is not to say I am driven by money. Mostly I am driven by wanting to eat and pay my bills. I am driven by wanting to have the time to create, and my particular circumstances at this time dictate that other sources of income aren't an option because I am not willing to lose the valuable time and energy it takes me to get into that zone. I don't think I should be made to feel guilty because I want to sell my art. I've made comments about not liking the feeling of it all sitting in the basement on shelves and that it is hard for me to want to keep making more sometimes when I look at all that is sitting there. Maybe I am the snob. Maybe I can't understand why someone would make a large body of work and do nothing with it. (I could understand it if it were fear or lack of time desire) And the point isn't about money, its about hoarding. But who is to say after thinking about it...if I didn't need money I guess I would keep making art, but the joy in making it is then letting it go and move on. Not hoarding and keeping all that energy in one place. Maybe that is the whole thing about keeping a lot of art around that gets to me. Its just condensed and heavy energy that should be set free out into the world. Does that make any sense?

Hoarding is another thing I think too many people do. I personally have helped 10 or more people in the last 10 years get rid of significant amounts of crap. I'm talking hours and days and weeks kind of helping. Going through every single item they own and finding a place and use for it or getting rid of it. I have this visceral reaction when I see people stuffing stuff all over their house, its sick. Why are people keeping so much stuff in boxes and holding on to so much stuff?

But that's me. And I know if everyone were like me I would probably hate everyone.

I guess I see it as a mini tragedy to have tons of art in a house that no one sees. And I think, well when that person dies they are leaving a mess for someone else to deal with. It seems selfish and irresponsible. I have no desire to go through my parents house when they die. I don't want anything. Attachment to objects is something I have experienced but it just seems bizarre to me anymore. I guess I am digressing.

I'm still trying to grapple with exactly what gets triggered in me when people talk about making art and not needing/wanting to sell it. And as I write this I am trying so hard to put myself in someones position who is making amazing work and not showing anyone and keeping it in the house. And I am understanding their need to just create. Nothing more. If they don't have the drive or desire to sell it then what do I care? I don't I guess. Just don't make me feel like I am whoring myself or my work out because I want to have it be the vehicle that gets me through my life. I don't have the luxury of filling the basement up and not needing money. I don't have another source of income right now. And don't make me feel like my work is somehow LESS because I want to sell it.

The bottom line is, it isn't about the money, it isn't about the physical piece. It is about the act of creating something that is inside of me and comes out via the art. I have a need to express myself. It supersedes most every other need I have. (aside from eating/sleeping etc.) I guess if you want to get picky you would call it a want. Alright. I want to do this. I don't understand why I am on this planet. I don't understand life. I haven't wanted to live most of my life, and making art has been the one thing that has given me a joy in living that I have never had. That is why I make art. And that is why I want to make my living making art. So don't make me feel like I am 'less than' for doing the one thing that keeps me going. This isn't a hobby. (and yes I think a lot of art out there is that, by definition a hobby is an activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure). If I were making art purely for pleasure my work would always look the same because let me tell you learning and growing isn't always about being 'in pleasure'. Pushing yourself and going further into something takes grit and gut and insane inner drive or fortitude.

I don't make art just to have something to sell. But after I have made it, I DO want to sell it. Hell yes!

*Daniel Sroka has a post about this that is worth reading.


Lisa said...

Great post Paula. I don't have the time right now to read it in detail but I'll be back later for sure to reread it as there is a lot to think about.

The analogy that immediately came to mind for me was the mommy wars. I was a stay at home mom for 10 years and now I'm a working mom. So I've seen both sides of the fence and from both sides everyone is raw and on edge and sure the other side has a holier than thou attitude. And there is justification from both sides that they are right in assuming the other side looks down on them.

I think because the unknown is fearful and it is easier to put it down as a lesser thing than to learn about it and accept it or even better respect it.

Self Taught Artist said...

thank you for absolving any paranoia i had about linking to your blog on this post :)

Daniel Sroka said...

Your post reminds me of a conference I went to once that was supposed to be about "making a living from your art". Yet the artists leading it just mocked those in the audience who wanted to try to make a living by making art (here's my post about it). So the attitude is out there. But I've also heard plenty of big selling artists mock those don't want to go the gallery route, saying they aren't "serious enough". As Lisa says above, it's on all sides. I guess some people just need to belittle the choices of others in order to build a little confidence in their own path.

Self Taught Artist said...

good post, you don't get all riled up like I do...I guess I show my 'immaturity' as an artist(or a person?). I'm gonna put your link on the post. thanks!

BlueJude said...

Right On baby! Have a fantastic Easter holiday!

Daniel Sroka said...

I was riled up at the time. :-) It is just plain ridiculous when a person claims that their way is the *only* way. But then again their attitude effects no one but themselves. So, whatever.

dy said...

Art is made to be shared, it is only half alive until it flies upon the world. Whether it is sold or given freely, it blossoms upon leaving, the way a puppy leaps toward its new family without looking back, no regrets, no goodbyes. But the way you reared it determines the energy, life and life it brings to its new family. Does anyone judge a doctor for making money at his profession? A lawyer? When you are good at what you do, what you have chosen to sustain you, you get paid for it. That's life. End of story.

Self Taught Artist said...

dy, good comment. i couldn't have said it better. you hit the nail on the head :)you got the doggie by the bone. oh god i'll shut up now

Crafty Green Poet said...

Another fascinating post. I write poetry and if its good enough I try to get it published (one day I may even make money from it!!!). I make art mostly to give as gifts to people or to post on my blog. My art isn't good enough to sell otherwise I'd try to sell it! I think that if art of any sort is your vocation than of course you will try to sell it. I think dy is right about the sharing too...