Artist or Hobbyist? Businesswoman or Artist? Submit to Art Establishment or Join the Creative Class?

You know how adds pop up on your Facebook news feed? Well, this one popped up on mine from Artists Who Thrive.

I noticed several of my artists friends liked the page and I was fascinated by the comments section. Some were negative about the whole idea of selling your art as a business and Ann Rea, the founder said, that was fine, but it meant their art was a hobby.

Artists Who THRIVE was started by Rea to share with other artists what she learned selling $103,246 of her art during her first year as a full-time artist. Learn more about this here: 

Apparently I have two choices.

She only mentions two choices, but I suppose that was just to simplify things.

Here is what Rea says on her Facebook page:

‘Now artists have a choice.

(((A. Submit to The Art Establishment)))

1. Create a body of work and hope you can just show it.

2. Lose confidence by seeking permission.

3. Your success will be limited to your representation.

4. Get paid 50% later, less discounts.

5. Make art for art’s sake and for critics to reject.

6. Deliver vague value and confuse your market.

7. Earn an MFA from a top art school, if you can.

8. Barriers of entry to the art market, many.

9. You don’t own the platform. What fans?

10.Build their artistic enterprise.

(((B. Join The New Creative Class)))

1. Create value above and beyond your art and sell it.

2. Earn confidence by taking focused action.

3. Your success is shaped by your expertise and efforts.

4. Get paid 100% up front, no discounts.

5. Make art inspired by a personal mission.

6. Deliver clear value above and beyond your art.

7. Earn an MFA, if you want.

8. Barriers of entry to the art market, none.

9. Own your platform. Connect to your fans.

10.Build your artistic enterprise.

So I can either submit to the art establishment or join the new creative class! For $2,000, (if I made it through the application interview), I could join her seminar and learn how to join the creative class (I am already a cultural creative). Also, I do not get my diploma until I earn that $2,000 back directly in sales of my art.

Sounds promising, but probably not gonna happen.

I think I will scour her blogs and get the free stuff for now, as I am sure she has some good ideas. She’s not a fan of Etsy.

From what I’ve read so far, I need to get clear, develop a mission statement, write a business plan, find my niche, develop nourishing relationships- I’m selling emotion, I’m selling an experience through my art, not just the art itself. I’m offering a service. Art is a luxury. Find the affluent buyers. If you are going to have a website, you should be selling stuff from that website- she asks why do artists put stuff on their sites that isn’t for sale?

Artistically, Rea was mentored by Wayne Thiebauld and I can see it in her work.  Thiebauld is not a businessman. He is in the art establishment and doing quite well.

Rea paints landscapes of California, you can view her work here:

Maybe being a hobbyist ain’t so bad.

I’m still a great artist.

I have a full time day job. Most important thing for me to do now is make stuff in the studio.

Fight the power.

Update- A couple of hours after I wrote this blog I came across this article (not that I am young or just starting out, but I’m still female): 18 Female Artists Give Advice to Women Starting Out in the Art World

This is what resonated with me from Adrian Piper:

‘First, you should be clear about what you are aiming for: (1) public approval, (2) commercial success, or (3) art-historical significance. These three are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and there is nothing wrong with any of them. But my remarks address only (3).

The best means to art-historical significance is financial independence. Don’t even think about trying to earn a living from your artwork, or else you’ll start producing the artwork that will earn you a living. A trust fund will divert your energies in a different way. The best means to financial independence is a day job in a different field. Waiting tables, driving a cab, office work, and teaching are traditional alternatives for artists, but the digital revolution opens up many others. All of them will free you to make the work you are most deeply driven to make, regardless of whether or not anyone else likes it or buys it. That’s the work that’s most interesting and important to you. You won’t have time to waste on producing work that doesn’t obsess you.’

Ann Rea is aiming for commercial success- and that’s fine. She does it well. I am aiming for art history and whether or not I make it, that’s what I desire in my heart.

So tonight, I saw the Artist that Thrive add again on my Facebook feed and I took the effort to hide it? Why, Facebook asked?

Because I see it too much, I said.

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