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.