It can be hard to accept, but being a passionate artist is not enough if want to make a living from it. This applies to anything I guess, but let me stay with art for this article. There are many quotes, books and articles about following your passion. Everybody hates their day job. It is such a drag. Would it not be better to follow your passion. You know what I mean? So quit your job and follow your passion. This is misleading advice!
Let me be honest and admit that I have accepted this challenge for a long time. I do want to make a living doing what I am passionate about. My friends and family would love me to be happy doing what I am passionate about. That is fine. Plenty of moral support. But let me not forget. Making art is not enough.
The reality check is that art must be good and it must be in demand. The economics must be there. Supply and demand applies to art too. Awful I know, but exciting when it works out.
So what does an artist do. It has nothing to do with fine art degrees for a start. I will hone this down to painters for the sake or argument. Art has many directions and some are more commercial than others. Designers of products may find commercial success easier than portrait artists for example.
So our painter paints paintings. With passion. He or she loves painting and wants to paint every day. Everybody would agree that this artist has a passion for painting. Yet nobody purchases the paintings. Pretty soon our artist must make some tough decisions. Carry on painting ?Get a day job? Give up painting except for a hobby? Study for a conventional career?
Now I am a sucker for a good ending. I love rags-to-riches stories. I am fascinated by artists who have done well for themselves. But I get it. Passion is not enough. I have experienced this first hand. The cold hard truth is that no matter what I try I had better be good at it if I want to make a living from it. I must also have people willing to buy my work.
This does not only mean painting well. This is a given. I know you may point at some artists and question why their work is highly paid. This is beside the point.
The point is simple. One needs to be good at every part of the equation. Good art. Good business skills. Persistent attention to detail. Never give up. If you can keep on this path then you have passion. But you also have the attitude to see through the long haul. One day your "good"will become great.
At first I did not take this advice with good humour. I did want passion to be enough. Now after years of working in this field I can say that my passion for art has not dimmed. I have grown up though. I will not be too proud to earn from other sources if required. We all have to do what is necessary at the time and move on.
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