Friday, July 1, 2011

Commercialization – Selling Art vs Selling Out

This week I chatted with several people who scorn certain “artists” making millions from trendy pop art styles. Many love and buy Romero Britto’s colorful and happy paintings and a plethora of everyday items in his trademark style such as mugs, umbrellas and clothing.

"He’s no artist, and that's not art!" I hear.  

[Keep in mind that commercialization exists in many different artistic genres. I've been singing since I was 3 and have accepted that many mediocre singers writing mediocre music make millions of dollars just because they have a popular style or certain “look.”]

The reality is that this type of work is considered “art” by most of the general audience. But many artists still fear being portrayed as too commercial. They see the over-commercialized artist as the big, bad business guy. To them, this is the epitome of selling out in the art world.

But unfortunately, many with this attitude end up subconsciously limiting themselves from succeeding. In the process of purposely trying not to sell out, they inhibit themselves from selling.

In some of my previous articles [Positivity and Action] I've discussed overcoming fears in order to become successful. It’s human nature to be insecure and unsure about ourselves while we’re moving up, and along the way we often sabotage ourselves from reaching success.

Do you fear 'selling out'? Do you purposely avoid publicity and fame? Do you price your pieces too low so as to not appear overly ambitious? Do you avoid other business practices that may seem too commercial or aggressive?

If any of these sound like you, reflect and be honest with yourself. Why are you really doing this?

Instead of wasting your energy thinking or complaining about these commercial artists or business practices, take a workshop on public speaking or pricing techniques, ask others for feedback on your work, or request advice on how to improve yourself.

Whether you like this type of commercial art or not, you must appreciate what their creators have done. They are entrepreneurs who need to survive off of their work, just like any other artist. Perhaps your mission and business model are different. That's perfectly okay. Art is still a business.

Appreciate the tenacity, persistence and other skills which have gotten these so-called “artists” where they are today. Learn from them, extract what’s valuable, and apply that to the business side of your art.

Always remember, if you sell your art: You are an Artist first, and a Business person second. 

*You can read more about elevating your business practices in Ch. 9 of my new book Sculpt Your Life From Sketch to Masterpiece(TM). This book is sure to drive you down the road to success!

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1 comment:

  1. Good blog. Great question. I learned from an early age the "evils" of selling out from literature 'art' classics (Fitzgerald, Salinger, etc) to the point of glorifying the poor artist, poet, or teacher. There seems to be inherent dignity in not getting rich because it keeps you honest and is the "red badge of courage" of showing your legitimacy as an authentic artist. i "sold out" in a way... my true dream is to teach history. however, i am fortunate enough to have a good, stable job working for the Man, in which the payoff is that i come home to a nice home in a good neighborhood, and i can afford providing food to my family. my solution or compromise is balance. live comfortably but not too ambitious. earn enough but use your time wisely... that is take your days off, spend time with family, and make sure you can provide for your family. my goal is to one day have enough financial security to become a teacher... the risk of course is not being 6 feet under when my time comes. at the end of the day, i have come to terms with selling out... the fresh produce i can afford at whole foods makes it a little better. my solution is balance in the true Aristotelian way. i hope this helps.