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On being a "fine artist" and a do-it-yourself-er

Doing art for self is at once fulfilling, but is fraught with the danger of STARVATION. So what is important I believe is to find a balance...at least until and if you make it as a recognized and sought after fine artist, be that balance one of working at an unrelated job, or working at art on a commercial level to pay for the fulfillment of doing your own art on your time off.

Of course you can always just do your art as a personal avocation, but most dream of doing it as a full time profession. And that is the problem. It requires a commitment to self and to marketing. The question is: can you do it, especially in a era where creating art for one's own project is achievable by the untrained masses for their own pet projects.

I recently observed an indie artist who, well-funded by her divorce settlement and the sale of property, went out and created her entire CD professionally...sort of. She had it recorded and arranged in a professional sound studio, a studio that basically took her 3 chord "songs," arranged them (as in rewrote them and worked up all the back-up sound to enhance them - an art and the actual "making" of commercially successful music, by the way...at least in this case.) She had a professional photographer take candid shots, sent those to a trained artist, and had her album professionally designed. She "launched" the CD on a quasi well-advertised live gig in a public venue that included radio spots, newspaper stories, and the works. She then convinced her network of friends and supporters to show up and purchase tickets for the affair. It was a moderate success, and she sold a goodly amount of CDs.

Next she decided to "do it all herself."

So what happened? She printed out "do-it-at-home" advertising flyers, posting them around the town she decided to descend upon. She called in markers to get bigger, more known name artists to join her in the venue. And a moderate crowd of people, including the above named supporters and friends, appeared...and left when her act, the last act as headliner, took the stage. (The majority had come to see one of the other artists.) she did manage to make back what she put into it, plus enough to pay her hired backing band. What she made for all her effort was exactly $100. For 3 months of intensive work coordinating and producing the affair. Not a good, living wage for 3 months of work I'd say.

The point of this is: This is what the majority people with start-out projects out there are now doing (usually badly) with computers as "do-it-yourself-ers" what the professional did before. That means that professional artists, sound studios, etc., have to wait until the do-it-yourself-er figures out that it ain't quite as easy as it seems before the do-it-yourselfer decides that it might be worth hiring the professional to do what will take them months to learn. What usually happens (if the do-it-yourselfer doesn't just quit) is that they go out and find a top agency to produce them...if they can.

So that is what you are fighting on both ends as an artist. Are you a top name agency or a top name artist? Can you do the entire production package? Probably not. So they ain't going to come your way, are they?

And another question: Are you yourself a do-it-yourselfer? Probably. Yet you want others to beat a path to your door and pay you for what you yourself won't pay for - a trained professional to do what they do that is going to best further your cause within the means you have, enhancing what you do WHILE you do what you do best, in this case art?

Just thoughts and questions.


Excerpted from post originally published on Jan-20-02, 12:06 PM (GMT) on http://artcritiquegallery.com/dcforum/DCForumID16/17.html

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