Lately I have been listening to and reading a bunch of books on time management, work ethics and just all-around self-fulfilment and motivational literature and a thought crossed my mind yesterday, while thinking about us artists and the work we do.
It is a generalisation that we creatives do what we love; while some of us might not really be in love with our work, I myself am one of those who really enjoys making art and talking/writing about it.
But the curious thing that happened yesterday was when I was thinking about the new smart art-price calculator my brother and I are working on, the question of money inside our field popped up.
While I reckon conversations about money in art have been opening up considerably in the last 20 years or so, I feel like many of us are still a bit ashamed to talk about money when presenting our art and I might have found a piece of the puzzle that creates this discomfort in some of us creatives.
Hear me out though! I look at all my friends and colleagues who are working regular 9 to 5 jobs: bank tellers, financial professionals, waiters, craftsmen and even fitness trainers all more or less know their worth when at their job.
Be it hourly or project based — some even get paid by effect rather than a fixed amount — all of them work at a job they kinda like. Not really love, but most tell me “it’s OK”.
And this “OK” got me thinking. Could it be that we creatives feel some sort of shame regarding our work, because what we do could be described more as a playful activity of creating than a tedious 8 hour Excel spreadsheet analysis?
Could it actually be the mere fact that many people do not have fun at their work place? And that this abundance of unfulfilled souls enforces (consciously or even subconsciously) an aura of passive-aggressive judgment on the fact that some of us actually love what we do?
When I think back on any one time I sold a piece to a collector, most of these collectors really didn’t have any issues with understanding the perceived worth of my art, even if the base price I had set wasn’t just a few hundred quid — they seemed absolutely content with the idea that something they liked, something I enjoyed producing, was going to cost a good amount of money.
But every time I spoke to someone who I would now describe as “unhappy with their work arrangements”, they never even showed any interest in buying the piece — even though they absolutely and genuinely liked the work!
And I find, looking back at all of my encounters, this might just help some of you as an extra thought to consider while you’re searching for the right kind of buyers for your art.
Of course quality is important and communication skills are imperative and the list goes on, but maybe the deciding factor on which person at your opening you should spend most of your time on is the one that speaks highly and openly about their enjoyable work arrangement.
Maybe they really are the only people who can truly and unbiasedly understand the value of our creative process and the fun and joy it can bring.