I’d Rather be a Starving Artist

“I’d rather be a starving artist than succeed at getting fucked.” -Macklemore

Thanks Macklemore for putting into words what I’ve been trying to tell people for a very long time. This doesn’t just apply to artists either. I’d rather be anything than succeed at getting taken advantage of. Unfortunately, I see a lot of people get taken advantage of, especially artists who are just starting out. And I don’t like it. I’ve been one of them. I learned my lesson and I’m very cautious to not let it happen again.

If I could give only one piece of advice to artists who are just starting out this would be it:

DO NOT PAY TO BE PART OF AN ART SHOW.

Period.

Most artists I know are pretty strapped for cash as it is. But man, it sucks when you’re an artist and you feel like the only way to get your work shown is to pay to be “considered” to be in an art show and 99% of the time you’re not going to be chosen to be in that show. You might get lucky and have your work accepted but now also think about this, the gallery or organization just made a TON of money from “entry” fees to be considered to be part of their show, so now where is the incentive for them to sell your work? There’s really not. And if somehow they do, they still take a commission. Seriously, it sucks.

There’s other organizations that want you to sell so many “tickets” to their event to be able to participate in their show. Now with this you’re not only making the artwork, having to set up your artwork, sell your artwork, but you’re also required to do work for this organization and sell their “tickets” for them. Again there’s no incentive for them to sell your work. They already got all the money they need from their ticket sales. You just did their work for them, for free and aren’t being compensated for your time. Doesn’t sound right either huh?

As an artist that’s just starting out I’d start looking for other places to show my work. Get your group of artist friends together and brainstorm on where you guys might want to put on a show and do it. Do a little research and submit artwork to be considered for only those shows that don’t have an entry fee. And only participate in group shows that don’t require you to pay a fee to be part of them.

Galleries and other organizations that take a commission if your work sells is a normal practice and you should feel good about this. Why? Because you just did all the work to create this awesome piece of artwork and now you have someone who believes in your work enough to say that they’ll show it and *work* to sell it. They should most definitely be compensated for that work just as you should be compensated for your work.

Now go forth, make good art, and show the world what you can do!

If you’re an artist what would be your one piece of advice to artists who are just starting out? If you’re not an artist, does this make a difference in your decision to attend a show or purchase a piece of artwork?