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Separation between Life and Art

July 27, 2008

The question up for me in relation to making art is this: how do I find a way to sell or give away my work that makes sense to me.

It disturbs me that the accepted ways, (galleries, e-bay, selling from own showroom)  don’t speak to me. But I have tried many over the years and have not succeeded in selling more than a few paintings or drawings at at time. The energy investment has always far outweighed the financial return. Plus my heart was never in it-
as anyone who has been reading this blog can figure out.

I don’t miind seeing art as a product so much, that isn’t my main gripe. Many artists manage to keep their integrity and sell. And we all need money to live and eat.

My gripe, I realized in part, is the separation between life and art. It feels so artificial: I paint a picture and it has to go somewhere and be labelled in a certain way to determine its value( the right review, the right gallery the current trend, etc). Then my buyers have to schedule a time to go somewhere and visit the piece and then buy it.  It is ‘art’, it is not at home, it is somewhere and something outside of the ordinary arc of a day.

I realized this when I verbalized to someone what it is I like so much about what Keri Smith is saying and doing, and why it is so revolutionary. She has tapped into and embodied the movement that is bringing art into the homes, streets, and centers of our daily lives.

That is the way I approach art as well. But it doesn’t solve the question of how to move on the hundreds of pieces of artwork I have stacked up here at home.  Art that was done within the old paradigm of ‘being an exhibiting artist’.

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4 Responses to “Separation between Life and Art”


  1. What about seeing art as an experience? By selling art, you’re selling far more than an object — you’re sharing an experience, much the same way that you would if you were a tour guide for a living, or a piano teacher. One still has to go somewhere to go on a tour, or take a piano lesson, but it’s a willing going-somewhere and it’s still considered to be part of life.

    More practically speaking, I think selling online is working for many artists, and I hope the galleries are paying attention.

  2. szoutewelle Says:

    I like this take on it Alison.

    Yes, I’m thinking of having a webshop when I redo my site. I like the idea.
    I checked out selling on e-bay Holland. Besides it being a lot of work to get things all set up as a seller, what finally stopped me was that the top selling items are all clothes. Or software. Also, a lot of art goes for 1 euro. I can’t quite get by that one.
    Who buys art at e-bay? People looking for bargains.


  3. Yes, I’m wary of eBay myself; I think of it as a giant trashy flea market — a great place to find some used stuff for a bargain, or to find things you can’t find anywhere else (I bought some old Disneyland tickets on eBay when the site first opened), but not necessarily a classy place.

    But I hear some people do well with their own web shops and others do well on sites like Etsy… and it seems there are more and more “handmade marketplace” sites opening up.

    There is a lot of discussion on Etsy about pricing… some people price their work so low they barely cover costs, while others price their work more in line with how they value their work and their time, but I think the latter are winning out. I hope.

  4. szoutewelle Says:

    hi Alison this little discussion is helpful to me in getting clearer about how I want my artwork to connect with its buyers. At the moment, all I know is what doesn’t feel right. And none of the conventional or even new channels light up my lights.

    I did galleries for years, and never sold well, though people generally agreed my work was professional and good quality. What it wasn’t was commercial.

    So it seems that one of the central questions in my life for many years has been and is creating/ discovering a new context for making and selling my fine art work. I think the key for me is ‘art in service to’, and that eventually I’ll assemble a network of like- minded people to do this with.


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