I know many artists. I know that they are artists. But I don’t know how they make their living. Slowly, when getting to know someone better – and asking (If you dare to ask those personal questions) – you might find out how some artists make ends meet. But many won’t even answer you – they will avoid the question … you’re not supposed to ask that question (at least not in Sweden).
Many teach art (this they will admit). Others have jobs on the side like waitress, caretaker of children/old people/handicapped, handyman, selling fish or working in a store. Some have a partner who provides that regular income to the family – others have some kind of unemployment benefits or are sick-listed. Very few make their living just through art sales at exhibitions, but some make their living as artists in other ways.
Let’s say some really bad swearwords in the world of artists (at least the world I know)
Oh, my ears. Those words mean that you are a sell-out! (if you anyway do those unspeakable things - have at least the judgment to pretend not to.) Art is a calling. (Some people believe artists just suck at marketing. That is not the whole truth. Artists say it with pride “I’m so bad at marketing myself, I prefer to spend all my time in the studio.” Or they believe that “Good art will always find its way.”)
Let’s swear a lot, shall we? Where do I MAKE MONEY right now – as an artist?
In my bookkeeping I’ve divided my income posts into
2. Exhibitions (gallery)
3. Art sales outside exhibitions (provision sales/through my own studio)
Commissions give the most money (especially) when you take into consideration the time spent working. Besides a commission is normally a bigger job. Today I’ll concentrate on this part of Art as Business. This has also been the part I’ve chosen to concentrate on first in my fresh start.
HOW DO YOU GET THOSE COMMISSIONS?
(yes, I would also like to know that)
I got my first public commission in 2004 thanks to KKV – artist run collective workshops here in Gothenburg – where I am a member. KKV had a project mediating public commissions for KKV:s members. The municipal of Lerum was looking for a figurative painter who could paint monumental – and who could come up with two suggestions within a month. I was asked not just because my art is figurative (had never painted monumental!), but because being on the board of KKV for two years I had shown I kept to my deadlines. The Municiple of Lerum was very pleased with my first big job (38 x 8 m) and I was contacted again two years later for another mural.
After my first public commission (and again after my second) I made sure to have good photos at KKV for future commissions, I put photos and an article about my commission from the local paper in my folder at KC-väst (an artist organization that mediates commissions etc) and made sure to be in their printed material etc. I had it on my website. But nothing happened. No one asked for me. (Except the municipal of Lerum because they were pleased with my first job.)
Why didn't anyone show any interest in me and my fantastic murals?
What was I to do to get some more commissions?
And what am I planning to do about it now?
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