Fine Art and Illustrators

Gallery Snob
Gallery SnobAs I spend more time studying this “Fine Art” thing, I’ve come to learn that fine artists don’t sell nearly as many pieces of art as I thought. Here’s what I’ve learned about the fine art world so far..

Illustrators to Fine Arts

Those who come into fine art from Illustration are more prolific, but less respected in the gallery scene. I am finding a great respect for illustrators approaching fine art personally, but the “classy world” seems to hold contempt for artists who make money and pay bills. Brom pops up in my mind as an illustrator breaching fine art, Frazetta could have held his own in galleries too. Many modern fine artists have worked as illustrators and I think it has helped their personality and work. The fine art world doesn’t readily agree.
Yeah, yeah… there are exceptions to this conclusion. I know I am making a sweeping generalization, but I need to find the ball field before I can learn what a triple play is.
I have recently had a fine artist put a local tri-fold pamphlet in my face about three times in a week. I am not sure if that’s intentional or not, but honestly, yes, thank you. lovely, I saw that, you did that piece on there. I think there was some bitterness, I should never have shared that I was selling work, publishing, or carrying out commissions in this person’s company.

Artists Making a Living

It slowly came into focus as I trolled through numerous fine artist sites, and gallery sites that fine artists, at least the ones I’ve come across, are slow to sell work. Maybe one every 2 or 3 months! I’ve seen some who sell as little as one a year! How do they get those swanky studios in the cities?
Grants and benefactors. Yeah, there’s a lot of money chucked around to “Support the Arts” but the grant money is VERY specific. Grants are frequently written by businesses and benefactors with specific artists and studio s in mind. The requirements are so narrowly focused that it gets a little crazy.
I.E. Requirement:
“Any female artist, red hair, blue eyes, that wears green crocs on third thursday of the month who have grandfathers with the middle name Wintersworth, born in Oxford County in February, when the temperature was 37.8 degrees F.”
Okay, I made all that up, but it isn’t far from how things are set up to work. These artists then troll openings, social swank gatherings as the “quirky eccentric”… but not TOO eccentric. They push the disgust of artists who make money with their craft as bastardizing the art intent.
It’s job security.

My Vision was WRONG

I honestly thought that working artists sold FAR more original art works, prints, and products than they actually do. Mid level artists are very slow to sell work and frequently have well to-do spouses, grant money (with grant writers at hand), or some sort of flowing income that is not art generated.
Yes, busy art studios in downtown New York create A LOT of work. They also turn into a factory for production. Two dozen craftspeople churning out work directed by the vague vision and instruction of one or two artists is approaching factory designs.

Skill Sets

I have also begun to see a separation of skill sets as I look closely at the work of fine artists. A fine artist in America doesn’t necessarily learn fundamental rendering skills before hitting the title “Professional Artist”. I understand that photo realistic rendering of a figure isn’t required to be an abstract expressionist. Even though, I think it would help. It’s not that all these artists are breaking through these barriers to new places, many seem to not be able to reach the ability and use the “Break through the barrier” verbiage to avoid the skill set.
Illustrators who breach the fine art world have a deeper tool set to express their intent and make work with purpose.

To Fail and Be Wrong

I am happy to be completely wrong on any of these observations. If you feel I am heading in the wrong direction, please direct me and educate me otherwise in the comments below. You can put links in these comments for examples.

My Take Away

Fine artists don’t necessarily create and sell large amounts of work. It’s okay to have slumps in sales, but it ISN’T ok to sit idly by and not paint or produce while sales slack. Andy Warhol had interesting ways to drum up business and buzz. The advertising and social media marketing world has a new face. An artist can make waves and move artwork that has a statement.
I am now creating a handful of action plans to blaze a trail through this. I sincerely hope to change the art world for the better. Minimally, I will change my OWN small art world for the better and become the best damn artist I can.
Art Tribe