by Lee Down

Artists are often celebrated for their creative prowess, but seldom are they acknowledged for the business acumen needed to thrive in today’s world. Let’s dive into the importance of wearing two hats as an artist and how embracing both can be a formula for success.

The Divided Clock of an Artist

The day in the life of an artist is not just consumed by splashes of paint and imaginative strokes. There’s another half to this picture – the business of art. Any successful artist’s time is almost evenly divided between art creation and art business.

While the heart might yearn for the canvas and colors, it is essential not to overlook the importance of marketing and selling. Engaging in the business aspect is not just about money; it’s about continuing the journey as an artist. Surprisingly, the business side can also trigger creativity and cleverness that can be channeled back into the artwork.

Debunking the “Starving Artist” Myth

There’s a romanticized notion about the “starving artist” that has been perpetuated for centuries. Is it always due to circumstances? Not necessarily. Sometimes, it’s a path that artists unwittingly choose because of their aversion or inability to grasp the business aspect of art.

An artist might be exceptionally talented, but if they don’t promote the value of their work, it often goes unnoticed. In a world where there is an abundance of talent, taking an active role in showcasing your work is as important as creating it.

Artist Hat vs Business Hat - Balancing Creativity & Commerce
Artist Hat vs Business Hat Balancing Creativity Commerce

Embracing Commercial Success

Being called ‘commercial’ is often meant as a slight in the art community. But should it be? The motivation for an artist to actively market and sell their work is primarily to continue practicing their art without financial hindrances. Embracing the commercial aspect is not selling out; it is ensuring that you can sustainably do what you love.

Learning from the Masters: A Tale of Two Legacies

Looking back at history, we can learn from two Master painters – Rembrandt and Peter Paul Rubens. Both were incredibly talented, but their fortunes were starkly different. Rembrandt, who passed away in poverty, did not embrace the business of art. In contrast, Rubens, who was enormously successful, understood the importance of business acumen in the art world.

Rembrandt’s art was no less significant, but his lack of attention to the business side led to a challenging life. Rubens, on the other hand, operated a thriving workshop that produced a staggering number of pieces. The lesson? Being a master painter isn’t just about what’s on the canvas; it’s also about knowing how to sell what’s on that canvas.

Art as an Investment

When someone invests in art, it should be viewed similarly to investing in stocks. Art has historically been a sound investment. The key aspects an investor looks at in a stock – past performance, current health, and future potential – are the same when considering investing in an artist.

An artist’s previous works, their current endeavors, and their potential for future growth all contribute to the value of their art. Just as a company must market itself and its products to attract investors, so must an artist.

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In Conclusion: Don the Hat That Fits the Time

Balancing the act of creation with the art of business is vital for modern-day artists. By embracing both aspects, artists can ensure not only the continuation of their craft but also the opportunity to leave an indelible mark on the world. The canvas and the marketplace are both waiting; it’s time to don the hat that fits the time and paint your path to success.

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