making money artArt and money… these two have often been talked about in the same context.

There are millions of struggling artists around the world who are NOT making money from their art.


 What drives them to continue creating?


Do you think our art would be better if we didn’t have to worry about making money from it?


What are your opinions on this hot topic?

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  1. I've discovered that neglecting my art has been the cause of the bouts of depression I've suffered over the years. It's something I must do to stay alive and healthy! Now I need to learn how to make a living at it. It's a steep learning curve for me. Your tips on this site are very helpful. I appreciate it a lot! Thanks!

  2. Not that I have any choice, but can't think of a better way to be paid for work done. To make a living from it just means to refine it more-like training a race horse?- to deliver the best product for the most reward.

  3. @Ross Michaels

    Thanks Ross!!

    As you said, many artists, myself included, NEED to make art to function. Art is interwoven with nearly every aspect of my life.

  4. Many people paint as a hobby, without making money at it. They just like to paint. It's that way with any hobby ... sports, music, fishing, etc.

  5. @Robin Kent Art
    That's a good way of putting it...

    I think most who want to make money from their art create to express themselves. Making money certainly helps to create more (purchasing art supplies, etc.). But, it should not be the artist's driving force, in exclusively creating art that sells.
    I think its perfectly ok to create art that sells sometimes..

  6. I continue to paint because it sharpens my skills and I feel good when I do it. I've often asked myself the same questions you raise in this posting, and know that if I stop painting/creating, I'm not fun to be's just part of my life and who I am.

  7. In my opinion the art is a vocation as a religion and the artist have to hear his inner voice making money or not...

  8. So we all agree that we NEED to create. What would it mean if we didn't HAVE to make money from it. I think we could focus more on why we do have a need to express ourselves visually and become more intune with it. Some countries actually pay their artists so they can focus more on their craft. Art in the US is definitely underrated. We have brilliant creators. I hope as a society we will stop buying cheaply mass produced items in lieu of objects with uniqueness and purpose made by our neighbors. Thanks Graham for all you do for us!

  9. @Anonymous
    Thanks JJ Jacobs, Davide Barbanera, and Anonymous!!

    I really appreciate your input here!

  10. Graham, I decided a long time ago that making money (while it is certainly very nice) MUST not be the driving force behind making art. But I want to emphasize that the two are not mutually exclusive. Turns out that this is a healthy attitude when it comes to one's approach to art. I feel it is basically dishonest and shallow to make the primary goal of art-making to be all about the money. When I see 'artwork' that is obviously commercial and intended to cater to the lowest common denominator (let's say, in this part of the country, ANOTHER painting of a prairie wheat elevator...zzzzzz) of mass appeal, my first reaction is, "that sucks, take a photograph already!"
    My point is, art without an idea or inspiration beyond the hope of translating into cash is usually really bad, not what I would even dignify by calling "Art". It is simply another craft using paint and canvas but a craft nonetheless. Not that there's anything wrong with that, crafts are what they are...crafty.
    But don't try to fool anyone into thinking it's capital "A" Art.

  11. If the painting is created from inspiration/creativity the end product will be honest and will read well. A forced painting will not have soul. The people viewing your art will feel the difference even if they do not understand why. It is very ok to make a living from your art, there is no rule that states that you must be a poor struggling artist in this world. Keep your integrity, but be open to accepting payment.

  12. When I was a child, art was am hobby. I didn't even care/think about selling BUT, I always had fantasies that in 200years from now, my artworks would be priceless!

    As an adult, I love art & would paint/draw just for fun BUT am chasing a career.

    I found out that; for your art to sell (in my locality) you have to compromise. Tourisim use to be HUGE in my town until violents ruined everything. When I was younger I sold more art than I do now & loved getting paid no matter how small (some bad people use to scam me because I use to be shy LOL).

    I became a part-time artist when one day, my slippers got damaged and I didn't have the money to repair it (had to ask my dad for help/employment).

    An artist friend of mine no longer paint but makes sign-post, billboards, repair plate numers, makes office stamps & so on (not a single painting in his studio).

    Another artist friend of mine stop contacting me because he is very successful now.

    I tried the internet in 2008 & was disapointed. But my blog has many hits

  13. Art is communication and to me as vital as breathing and eating. I am who I am and I express myself on a higher level using colors, whirling painted forms, senses touched by my canvas.

    If they pay me, so be it. But I will continue even without the money and I feel much more rewarded by an exhibition where I can meet lots of people, discussing my paintings without selling compared to selling one painting for one person for a lot of money.

  14. Guess what's the difference between a trained artist and a natural artist. A trained artist can make any subject inspired and done well, because they are a professional, and have the techniques ( i.e knowledge) discipline to do subjects and compositions that may not be what drives them but.because of their trained skills can have a wonderful outcome ( call it mastering the subject or pure craftsmanship). But If you have spent years and years honing your skills you should be paid for your efforts ( art supplies cost money). The only way you can be a hobbyist is to have outside income or support. Another thing if you need to make money from your art'd better treat every piece as if it would wind up in a museum. It's like any other professional endeavor's your reputation. I recall the days when the fine artist would said commercial art (graphic arts) wasn't art
    the way fine art was. My reaction to that was; drawing and painting lead me to the commercial side..and because of the demands of the commercial art world has made me a better fine artist.

  15. The need for creative expression has no bearing on making money or having no money at all. We follow the call to create wherever it leads us. While some are driven to pursue recognition and luck, others are driven only to create. Personally, I can always make something from nothing in artist mode, but it would be nice if my painting had paid for my little retirement spot on the beach. After decades of working for the man, not the muse, I'm now free to paint as long as I'm physically able.

  16. Hi Graham- this is such an excellent topic!! My high-school art teacher told me years ago, that the minute you start focusing on dollars and cents, the quality of your art will go right down the tubes- and he had a very good point; There have been some people who used to tell me that if I wasn't making money on my art it isn't worth anything- and I totally disagree. A price tag does not change the art- and one painting is exactly the same no matter how much or how little it was sold for- or even if it was given away as a gift. I think all artists have the driving force to create, and money does not change the art into something else....I also believe that the things money CANNOT BUY- our most heartfelt emotions, that drive us the most and can influence our artistic abilities far more than anything else.

  17. @jcorderman
    Thanks Nancy, Gail Kent, Jobra Han, Carolyn Henry, Ife ka!!

    You all have echoed what I feel about this topic. Making money really has nothing to do with making art... and as Nancy said, the value of artworks should not be determined by money.

  18. I have to say that the normal artist strongly contradicts the normal business person but in order to make a living as an artist (unless you have representation) one must be like the business person. I have known many amazing talented artists that are not driven to market themselves and understandibly so; socializing and selling are not normal traits of an artist. Like anything in life that is worth working hard for; a career in art must be balanced with wonderful creative art and strong minded direct business sense. It is difficult to buy art supplies without money. Believe me I have been there.


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