Are You A Starving Artist? Art in The Times of Change.

And the times they are a changing. Life and an artist’s life are full of change. Change may be one of those elements that are necessary for success as an artist, however, creative people like to dance to their own drummer and therefore, often resist the change. Here are three stories to relate to this change.

Story 1- Mad Hungry Artists
I had a recent conversation with a very good artist friend who was distraught because he was getting messages from the list serve in his e-mail box regularly with threads from fellow artists, seasoned, professional artists in their field. (This field requires very specific training.) The artists were distraught with the field and were ready to throw up their hands and give in, even take on other jobs that were not related to art. Many of these artists have had no work for months.

My friend said the posts bothered him so much he thought about quitting the list serve. It is important to point out that this friend has more work than he can handle. So what is the difference between all of these people and this friend? I’d have to say they have “resistance to change.”

My friend embraced new technology within his career. Some of those artists want to create traditional pen and ink illustrations or watercolors. It is honorable but that industry is demanding more technology out of those artists. My friend embraced that and made it work for himself.

Story 2 – The Law
While examining the new Copyright issues that are involved with the creation of 3d artwork I was speaking to a lawyer. He said that indeed, this new technology could play havoc on the legal issues surrounding digital art. He mentioned that it is the same as it was for musicians who had mp3’s come out and their music was being distributed without compensation. He mentioned that the musicians that did well with this imposition were those who didn’t fight against the inevitable change but instead embraced it and tried to figure out how to use it to their advantage.

Story 3 – The IRS
The IRS website made this simple statement that has stuck out for me. It was based on the questions to ask yourself if you need to decipher if what you do is a business or a hobby. The question that stuck out for me was based on this thought. Have you continued to improve or change your methods of creating or doing business in order to increase the profits that you receive? I wonder, how many artists are willing to do this? There is a great deal of emotion involved in our day-to-day business. We have attachments to what and how we create. Are we so bound by those that we “resist change?”

Story 4- My Story
This last story is my own story. I am a traditional portrait sculptor creating bronze sculpture of loved ones for memorials, homes, prayer gardens and the like. But recently I have been exploring new technologies and tools surrounding my craft. Instead of just sculpting with my hands in the studio I’m exploring such things as 3d sculpting, 3d scanning, and additive and subtractive manufacturing and other areas, that not only add to my tool set, but also expand my market for work. Now, I not only can create in bronze, but I can create in stone, wood and other ways, that I normally would not think of or have access to.

The conclusion is to look for ways to change your process, your market, and your toolset. Don’t resist it and insist on creating what and the way that you want. There may be some that will do this in their studio and hit it big with a unique experience displayed in a visual form, but those are far and few between. You can actually resist, but you should not expect to make a living that way. The IRS requires we change, the lawyer suggested we embrace it. Let’s try to be creative in finding ways to embrace change and make it work for ourselves, and the work we love to create!

Bridgette Mongeon is a writer and a sculptor embracing change.



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