I protest!

March 28, 2009

I recently read a list of things you can do to make it easier to sell your art online.  Of course it started with BE VISIBLE, hang out on Twitter, FaceBook, network, start an Etsy shop, etc etc.

I wondered why my heart didn’t start beating faster with anticipation of doing all these things and why my imagination wasn’t engaged.

And I realized that it is simply same old same old, but this time online.

In our present society, if you want to sell, you have to work at it constantly.  Whether you are carting your work around to galleries and getting newspapers to cover your opening, or whether you are trying to get noticed on the latest online craft depot you need to attract people to your work and convince them to buy it.

One online artist friend mentioned her aversion to ‘raising my profile online’ and her resignation to having to do it. 

I feel the same way and regularly beat myself up for not being more consistently entreprenurial. But instead of feeling like I am a failed salesperson or that my art isn’t up to snuff,  I wonder if some of us shouldn’t listen more closely to those feelings of resistance. They may have something important to tell us.

People blithely say artists are habitually  not good at selling.  I see it another way. Art and artists  exist in another context  than the marketplace.  Art is more, goes way beyond being a product in the consumer chain.

Some people, mostly a younger group, are perfectly suited to making work with the object of selling it online. I think that is just wonderful. It is valid, and interesting and sometimes inspiring.

These musings, however,  are for the rest of us, the ones who are asking some difficult questions about what art really means in their lives and the life of the community. 

 I want to argue from outside the paradigm that we all seem to be caught in, that if you make things, this automatically means that you need to put them to work to earn an income for you.


More in the next post.

3 Responses to “I protest!”

  1. I don’t think that because you make things you have to be in the market to sell them. But some of the ‘marketing’ you object to is getting your work seen and shown. One of the biggest problems I have is (at least dealing with it in my head) the number of people who think being creative is a get out clause for a job they hate. I would counsel sorting out your career before imposing onto your creativity the responsibility to make your living. Having said that I know many painters, composers, song writers, muscians who do make a living from their creative work. I also know directors who teach and write to keep themselves in groceries. ALL the people the ones who are making a full time living or a part time living are ALL living off the process of marketing and networking. Sometimes the networking is unexpected. I know a songwriter to got an incredibly well paid gig to write music for an ad for ‘scotlands other national drink’ ‘Made from Girders’ which came from his girlfriends osteopath !

  2. szoutewelle Says:

    mary, thanks for your response. All well said.
    I have made a living from my creative work. There is a lot to be said for it.

    The problem with this issue, is that I don’t want to argue from out of the old paradigm, of,’It is normal and expected to make money from your creative work, and if you don’t there is something wrong with you’.

    There is something intrinsically wrong with the existing system, that is my point.

  3. I do think there is an enormous knot in society about where our value as people comes from and this is tied up with work. And you are right to take money out of the equation is very radical. But to explore this I would recommend Tom Hodgkinson’s How to be Free. I agree that replacing one type of work with another creative kind is not necessarily the right thing to do. Questioning the work all together is. There is a great quote from Oriah Mountain Dreamer about why she charged for retreats and spirtual teaching and her reply was when the grocery store and the petrol station took spiritual teachings as payment ! Freeing ourselves from the work=my worth myth is the really liberating one.

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