Paying the Bills with Art

I don’t know how true it is or indeed if it’s really just a parable of sorts, but there’s a popular story in the art world and beyond about a famous artist of the ages who apparently completed one of his masterpieces by candlelight. The question which naturally follows is “Why on earth didn’t he just paint during the day, under sunlight?”

As funny as the comeback is, what this story and the general reaction to it demonstrates is the plight of an artist, particularly those artists who were active a few decades to a couple of centuries ago. Because art is sometimes taught as something of a pastime at institutions such as in schools, society’s attitude towards art becomes just that. Society sees it as nothing more than a pastime or a hobby and generally it’s almost like society feels that when it supports an artist by buying a piece of art they completed, they’re doing them some sort of favour.

“Get a real job” is something the typical artist would be likely to hear from their parents, whom in all fairness are probably only just worried about their child. For all we know our famous artist who is being taken to town about clearly not demonstrating his astuteness by painting at night instead of during the day, could very well have had a daytime job since artists really struggled to make a living out of their art back in those days, if any of them made any money at all.

Things have changed a lot in this day and age however with art getting the recognition it deserves and artists having a blank canvass with which they can pretty much fill with any income generating path they choose. There are many avenues through which to pay the bills with your art and not only that; if you endeavour to find a way to make your art pay you over and over and over again, you can really build up some wealth through your art.

If I had to name every single industry which forms part of the arts, we’d be sitting with what is an online version of an encyclopaedia of careers instead of a mere blog post about paying the bills with your art, so I’ll only briefly touch on some of the careers which fall under the arts bracket.

Yours truly is a graphics designer, which is a field of the arts offering many exciting opportunities, from working on TV commercials to designing the labels of everyday consumer goods. We also have what many believe to be the original form of what an artist is, such as painters, pencil sketch artists, etc, whose skills these days are required in the likes of animation and illustration.

Now I personally believe writers are artists too, in which case there are opportunities galore, so too photographers and storytellers.

The digital world we live in widens the career pool for artists infinitely because you can work on projects with people from all over the world and never have to leave your little makeshift studio, if that is indeed where your creative juices are allowed to flow.

Shaun Greaves

Blogger of arts and liver of life. Singaporean at heart, but living in the UK. Life is art, appreciate it.

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