The Challenges in the Business of Art

There are so many things about the business side of art I don’t know about. Many artists, galleries, collectors, and dealers emphasize in its importance, while others want to completely dismiss the subject. I am not sure where I stand yet in this subject, so I need your help. What is your side of the story? I’ve been reading about this in books, blogs, and articles and finding all kinds of mix-messages about how to present yourself as an artist and how to present your art for people to get to know it and buy it. “Don’t put your art for sale!” “You need to let people know it is for sale!” “Art is about creativity not money!” “The artist needs to eat too!” “You can’t consider yourself a professional artist if you do this just for fun and leisure!”… It gets very confusing at times and honestly I don’t have a straight answer or position in the subject.

My wife, who is my greatest supporter, is constantly motivating me and helping me to get the word out about my art. I remember when we visited a gallery in Miami Beach a few years ago. I was drooling with all the wonderful art I was looking at from some of my favorite artists. I’ve only seen these pieces online and being in front of them was just a surreal experience. At that point I was still struggling with the idea of showing my art. To make this story short, after hesitating for a moment I showed pictures of my work to the gallery director. His reaction was very interesting. He removed his glasses in disappointment when he knew all of my pieces were in a corner of my living room and said to me with his card at hand: “Whenever you want to make something of your life let me know”.

Shortly after I had my first show, one of my pieces was requested to be in several shows in Argentina, and a commissioned piece ended in Paris. So it began! I am still trying to figure this out as other pieces are in other parts of the world and published (although someone in a very demeaning way called the books paid ‘catalogs’ I feel fine when I see the fruit of this). I was afraid that getting involved in the business of art could affect my creativity and suck the fun out of it. It is disappointing at times to see people making tons of money with artwork that makes no sense to me (art is subjective anyway) and I bet they feel fine about it. This is a lot of work, a lot of pressure, and a lot of sacrifice to have someone tell you that your work is not “all that.” I keep pushing, learning, growing, and trying to figure this out.

I try looking back to some artists in history: DalĂ­, Picasso, Warhol, Bernini, Caravaggio… and many others who enjoyed the fruit of their labor and still loved their art. Then I look at Van Gogh. Isn’t it a sad story? Now people are making millions when he barely made it through the day. I imagine my art paying the bills so I can get in the studio and worry about nothing but to create. I see nothing wrong with that. In fact, I want that! I also want to share what I know with others and open my studio for others to learn too. The business of art seems scary to me but it should not affect my creative spirit or the love for what I do.

A Heartwarming Tale of Good Business – How 5 Minutes Grew My Heart Three Sizes That Day!

Ugh. Tires. I had to get ’em. From my point of view, there is nothing sexy about tires! But, I needed them. Desperately. Steel was beginning to show through my radials. A number of people were telling me this.

And, so it was with tires in mind, on that bleak, blustery, dreary day at the end of November that I walked into a Tire Centre only to have my life forever changed by the experience!

I haggled with the owner about what kind of tires I needed. I was adamant that I wanted this certain kind of tire. He was recommending another. I listened to his suggestions and we struck a deal. After all, he was the expert on tires. And, then I sat down to wait… and wait… and wait.

After an indeterminable length of time (it seemed like hours), I was told that my car was ready. It was at that point where the story got really interesting…

I went over to the counter to get the “damage statement”. It was then that I was told, by the owner, that there would be no charge. What! NO CHARGE! Were my ears deceiving me?!!

I asked, “Pardon?” somewhat incredulously. My guess was he was trying to keep it on the low. The place was crawling with people waiting for their cars to be finished. Frustrated that I needed to be told again, he stated impatiently “Will this help you?” I emphatically replied “Why, yes!”

It was then he said these words: “Well, then. Merry Christmas.”

He sent me on my way. Stunned, I turned and very cautiously walked out the door. I could have heard a pin drop. It was as if everything in my world had become suddenly hushed and reduced to slow motion. It was a very surreal experience for me. I can still remember it as if it happened yesterday.

I crept back to my car, scared witless that my bubble would burst and I would awaken to this being an insane dream. I put the keys in the ignition, backed the car out of that Tire Centre afraid to disturb or interrupt this beautiful moment, and I began to drive down the street. It was only when I had gone 200 yards, that my senses began to return, a rush of blood flooded into my head, and I started adding up what just happened. I mean, literally added everything up!

Something that I should have been charged over $1,200.00, cost me nothing! I burst into tears.

Who, in this day and age would do something as astounding as that??!!! Who was this guy? Some kind of Earth Angel?

My life had already become topsy-turvy. This random act of kindness just spun it out of control.

And then it dawned on me. The path I had recently chosen to take, the journey that I was now embarking on… that of inspiring others to do the things that inspire them, well, this was a very obvious affirmation to me that I was on the right path. I got it! I really, really got it! Those tires I received actually eased the bumpy road I was travelling on.

When you change the focus from getting to giving… putting other peoples’ interests first and truly adding value to their lives, well that leads to unexpected returns.

That kind man received more business through his generosity to me than thousands of marketing dollars could ever have hoped to achieve. It brings new meaning to the old proverb “Give and you shall receive.”