Dreams… Denial… and The New Darlings of Selling Art

It seems that every morning when I open my e-mail there are several pages to read about the new darlings of art marketing:   blogs, seminars, e- books, and newsletters about artists needing to learn the “how to’s” and facts on “selling their artwork.”

We have things I had never heard of years back… Career Coaches… Webinars…Social Networks… Internet Conferences…and all sorts of things to help us sell our paintings and have fun doing it!

These guys are persistent and they aren’t afraid to throw out words like MONEY… SUCCESS … BUSINESS…TIME MANAGEMENT… DISCIPLINE… all the dirty words most artists only embarrassingly “whisper” to their other artsy friends, and usually  then only under cover of the late night telephone conversation.

They are not going to let us live in denial any longer. It hurts to know that our cover has been blown… and this marketing stuff just exposes the hard truths that we don’t want to deal with.

Truth Number One

We are terrible salesmen…and most of the time even worse at business strategies. But this marketing success stuff is always jumping out and reminding us over and over that we can’t just paint and bask in the beauty of being an artist; that the bills may be the only thing for sure that will  ever come to our “field of dreams.”  We actually have to do work and sell some of it in order to live LIFE…

Truth Number Two

There really is not anything about the “Starving Artist” myth that is very romantic or creative.  Face it. When the water and heat have been cut off, it’s hard to get motivated to paint with a heavy parka on, and when your fingers are frozen around your paintbrush… and you’re without water, it is extremely hard to create those flowing washes you hope to be famous for.

Artists are “Dreamers.”That is one of the strengths that keeps them going… (even when their parents are suggesting that they get a real job). We thrive on the illusions of Creative Talent and discover after all, illusion is what we paint, and realities like marketing is a very rude wake up call.

Can we really balance it all, creative energy plus business sense. The Career Coaches say we can. I don’t know, somehow after paying bills I usually want to run away for a week… not go on a creative binge at the easel.

But that brings to mind coaches from the past and their favorite mantra …If you played sports, you’ll remember this hated bit of encouragement. “NO PAIN>>> NO GAIN,” they would scream. They always called that one out when your face was ready to explode from the lack of air.

No pain, no gain. I hated it then and I still hate it now. But I knew then and I know now that it means. You can still dream of being successful and your work being whisked away by a concert crowd of buyers or you can face the stark pain of truth number 3.

Truth Number 3

We have got to get on the web-train… sign up for the career coaches, spend more money on Webinars and e-books, because the last and final truth is number 4.

Truth Number 4

There is only one way to really enjoy being an artist. That is when you can pay the piper, the muse, and the bills, and still go to your studio and paint. Amen.


  1. Jamie, you are so generous with your art, in many ways.

    First, you stay at the easel and produce much beauty for others (when the economy recovers, many others)and that feeds the need to paint, followed only by the hope that we’ll get paid to do it.

    Second, you pass skills and excitement on to your students, in person and now on the Web.

    AND MOST AMAZING OF ALL: you stay nice.

    I might be able to teach one class once, but I wouldn’t be nice before, during, or after.

    You also lend all your wisdom to the Guild, as well as your students. Thanks!

    You are my hero,


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