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24 January 2011

Art Full-Time...

An artist friend of mine, who quit his job several months ago to become a full-time artist, posted on Facebook today that he's looking for another job.

He has been one of my best "cheerleaders"; he's been very enthusiastic about the "spider" paintings, and has really encouraged me to get my latest stuff into galleries and shows around town.

I was really hoping he'd be able to create art, full-time, from now on. (I'm sure he was, too!)

Times are tough, my friends. Really tough!

Ever since reading his post, I've been thinking about what it really means to be a "full-time artist".

A while ago I posted something in the "Art Business" forum at about creating 'a decent year's' worth of art. Basically, artists who wants to make (for example) $30,000.00 (net earnings) from art sales, need to create and sell! around $75,000.00 worth of art in a twelve-month period (since galleries take--on average--forty percent, plus there will be taxes to pay, as well)!

This is not an easy task! First, it means creating (on average) around $6,000.00 worth of art every month for an entire year.

To put this in perspective, last year, I made $4,500.00 worth of art--total (at my current prices). Now, last year, I did start several pieces which will be finished this year, but the work that went into them, will be added to this year's total.

I do have about a dozen pieces available that were created before last year. But, even if everything I started last year was now completed, and if we added the older stuff in with the new, I still wouldn't have anywhere near $70,000.00 worth of art to sell.

And then, even if I had $70,000.00 worth of art "in stock", I'd only earn (forty percent of) it, if every single piece was purhcased.

And that's only if one wants to earn the (rather modest) sum of (roughly) $30,000.00 a year. Any artist who wants to earn more than that, is going to need to create and sell a correspondingly larger amount of work. (Or, be able to charge correspondingly higher prices!)

I think I have a good idea of what makes a good painting. I think I have some decent original ideas. I know my materials fairly well, and know something about how to use them. I am starting to get into local gallery shows, and I've sold several pieces in the past few months.

But, there is still a TON of stuff I don't have any ideas how to do. I don't know how to make enough art (while still working a full-time job) that I'll have enough art available to be purchased, that I can sell enough to feel comfortable quitting my full-time job, to become an artist full-time.

And, I don't yet know how to consistently sell my work, so that most of what I make, is bought in a reasonable amount of time.

My goal is for me to be able to create art full-time. I know that this means I'll have to become much more business-savvy than I currently am. (I suspect it may also mean that a percentage of the art I am going to make, will be made primarly for the market, rather than for "art's sake". What percentage, I have no idea. Hopefully, not too large...!)

Anyway, maybe this information will help someone out there--and I hope it hasn't been too depressing. It's not sexy, and it certainly isn't fun, but I may touch on this subject again from time to time, because it is a huge part of what it means to try to make a living as an artist.

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