After coming across yet another reference to the proverbial starving artist I dashed off this missive. I’m calling it:
The Thriving Artist Manifesto
The history of artist as tortured starving genius has a long and storied past. It’s time to torch this fetishized image. Social media and online marketplaces provide opportunities for artists to show and sell their work like never before. And yet, there remains a perverse attitude towards artists desiring to make money from their work. At best they are accused of creating inferior work due to money’s suspect influence. At worst, accused of "selling out” - even prostitution. (These accusations blindly ignore the well documented history of artists and their patrons. That Sistine Chapel ceiling wasn’t painted fo’ free out of kindness of heart and love of religion. Michelangelo didn’t even like to paint!)
An artist’s life is not for the faint of heart and will probably always involve some financial strain. But they sure as shit don’t have to starve! It is possible to make a living as a professional artist. If we wish to see more artists succeed though, we MUST reform the art education system to include an emphasis on business. Every art graduate should know how to market their work in a professional manner, price work appropriately, and keep accurate financial records.
Let’s start with a small yet profound first step. Replace starving with thriving. A thriving artist. It creates an environment where artists are encouraged and expected to thrive. And lastly, if we are truly sincere about supporting and celebrating artists as a vital part of a vibrant community - we must pay them.
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