Picture this. You see a painting at an art fair. You think, “That was meant for me!” Hoping you can afford it, you approach the artist and ask, How much is this painting? The artist, instead of answering you directly, seems uncomfortable, and starts to tell you about the inspiration of the piece or why it was so interesting to paint. They say anything but the price. You can see they are visibly uncomfortable, and you begin to wonder if there’s something wrong with the piece. You can’t understand what’s going on. And so, in confusion, you leave the painting that was meant for you behind. Can you see how this option doesn’t really work for the customer?! Yet so many of us act this way though. Instead, be confident that your art has value! This belief – believing your art has value – is paramount to being an artist.
Inspired by a comment recently made by one of my IGNITE! Members about a sale they’d avoided making and then finally did (yay!), I thought it a great opportunity to talk about this subject. The struggle between art and commerce can be a tangled web and leave us feeling unsure and anxious.
If you’ve ever found yourself hesitating to discuss money for your art or are perhaps afraid to broach the subject of payment with the person who’s commissioned a piece from you, know that you’re not alone. I’ve struggled with this and still do from time to time, especially when I’m caught off guard and I don’t have a price in mind. (Hint: this is a good idea – to know the price of your work!)
Here’s the truth: Your art has value, and you deserve to be compensated for your creativity and effort.
Let’s unravel the threads and look at how we can readily embrace the joy that comes from receiving payment for our work.
1. The Artistic Embarrassment Conundrum
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that discussing money somehow tarnishes the purity of your artistic expression. It’s crucial, however, to recognise that as artists, we invest time, skill, and passion into our work. Our artwork isn’t just about the act of creation; it’s a manifestation of our dedication to what we do. Embrace the fact that your art brings joy, and people are more than willing to pay for that joy. Embrace also the idea that your art has tangible value, and requesting payment is a way of acknowledging the worth of your creative journey.
2. The Myth of Imposing on Our Admirers
Have you ever felt a sense of guilt when asking for payment, that you’re somehow imposing on those who appreciate your art? Shift your perspective. Consider this: those who love your work aren’t burdened by your request. Rather, they are enthusiasts who are delighted to support you.
When someone commissions or purchases your art, they’re investing in the emotional impact it brings to their lives. Recognise that your art adds value to their existence, and they want to invest in that value.
3. Forgetting the Love Others Have for Your Art
We artists can sometimes underestimate the profound connection people have with our creations. Your art isn’t just a piece of work; it’s a source of joy, inspiration, and meaning for those who appreciate it. Don’t let your doubt cloud the appreciation others have for your talent. By forgetting the love others have for your art, you might unintentionally downplay the impact it has on their lives, and consequently, the value they see in it. Remind yourself that people genuinely want to compensate you for the happiness your painting brings them.
4. Embracing the Art-Money Dialogue
Money doesn’t diminish the artistic process; it enables it. Acknowledge that discussing payment is a natural and necessary part of the artist-client relationship. Approach this dialogue with confidence, knowing that your work is worth every penny, that your art has value. Don’t shy away from discussing financial aspects; instead, accept it as a way of formalizing the exchange between your artistic talent and those who appreciate and wish to invest in it. Your work is not just an expression of creativity but a service that adds value to others’ lives.
5. Shattering the Starving Artist Myth: Artistic Virtue and Financial Success Can Coexist
In the artistic realm, a pervasive myth suggests that true artists must suffer for their craft, equating financial success with a betrayal of artistic integrity. This antiquated notion often leads to the belief that if you’re earning money from your art, you’re somehow compromising your virtue as an artist. ACK!
It’s time to shatter this myth and adopt the belief that being a successful artist doesn’t diminish your authenticity; it amplifies it. Acknowledge that earning money from your art is not a sell-out but a testament to your dedication and the genuine value your creations bring to the world.
Let’s challenge the notion that financial success tarnishes the purity of your artistic soul. Realise that selling your art doesn’t make you less of an artist; it allows you to continue creating and sharing your unique vision with a broader audience. After all, a world that values art is more likely to sustain and appreciate the beauty it brings.
6. Celebrate Your Artistic Worth
It’s essential to celebrate and internalize your artistic worth. Your creations are a unique offering to the world, and asking for payment is not only your right but a validation of the value you bring to your audience. By recognising and celebrating your artistic worth, you contribute to reshaping the narrative around artists and finances. Remember that being compensated for your art doesn’t diminish its value; rather, it enables you to continue sharing your unique perspective and enriching the lives of those who connect with your work.
Financial success isn’t a departure from your artistic ideals—it’s a celebration of them. Isn’t it time to redefine the narrative around artists and prosperity? Isn’t it time to confidently say your art has value? Repeat after me (many many times!): My art has value! Let that be your mantra going forward!
It’s time to break free from the paradigm that artists should shy away from financial conversations. Remember, you are not just a creator; you’re a contributor to a world that craves the artistic reflection only you can bring.
So here’s to embracing the business side of art-making and those who admire and support our creative journeys.
Now it’s your turn! Do you struggle with telling a potential customer the price of your work? Do you avoid any discussions around the value of your artwork? I’d love to hear if this post was helpful! And if you’re someone who had this hesitation but now feels comfortable selling your work, we’d love to know any tips you can share!
Until next time,
PS. Thanks Sue for the inspiration for this post! I hope it’s helpful and next time, you will feel absolutely confident that your art has value and share the price easily!