Maria Brophy

HELPING ARTISTS MASTER THE BUSINESS OF ART, ONE STRATEGY AT A TIME


  • and make good money doing it!

    READY TO INCREASE YOUR INCOME? Get my FREE
    ‘Strategies for a Successful Art Business!’
business of art / Creativity

Waiting tables vs. Painting Dogs – whats the Sell Out

If you like this article, please share it!Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn

Honest poverty is a gem that even a King might call his own, but I wish to sell out.”  Mark Twain

A bright young artist I met on the beach yesterday was concerned about “selling out”.

She’s fortunate enough to get commissioned work from local buyers in her her community, but the subject matter that some of her clients ask her to paint worries her.

I was impressed when she told me that she quit her job waiting tables so that she could paint full-time.

She took a loan to get her business started and she’s taking the leap into being a full-time artist.

That kind of committment is what leads to success.  I have no doubt she’ll go far, as she works to figure out the rest of pieces of the puzzle.  She had a lot of questions.

Am I selling out when I paint what they ask for?”  She was taking her career as an artist very seriously, and didn’t want to make big mistakes that might hurt her future.

Every now and again the Big Sell Out Question emerges, and I’ve written about it before, on a different topic, as well as on the question of Should an Artist be Paid for their Work?

She mentioned that a lot of people wanted her to paint dogs and particular landscapes and other subject matter that she isn’t drawn to.

I pointed out that many people paint dogs and love it, because pets are their passion; but she said that’s just not for her.

I asked her what she is drawn to, what would be her preference to paint.  She said she’s working on finding her niche and her own style.

The one thing she’s sure of is this:  her passion is painting, and she’s good at it, and that’s why she has no problem getting commissions.

In the hot South Carolina sun, sand blowing in the wind, we talked about what it means to “sell out.”

Selling out is not what a lot of people think it is.

Selling out is when you agree to do something that goes against your personal values, just for money.  For every single person, selling out is different.  We all have very different personal values.

For example: a person who doesn’t believe in drinking alcohol would be selling out if they accepted a commission from a liquor company.  A person who abbhors corporate America is selling out when they accept a large grant that’s funded by Microsoft.

Painting subject matter that isn’t your favorite isn’t necessarilly selling out.  I look at it like this:

An emerging artist, still working out their niche and their style, will benefit from the opportunity to paint in different styles, mediums and subject matter.

They may be asked to paint something they normally wouldn’t, only to discover a spark of energy, one that wakes up a part of them, and through that exercise they discover something that they love!

Experimenting can open an entire new world of possibilities for an artist.  And at the same time, you don’t have to go back to that old job that doesn’t do anything for your art career.

Waiting tables vs. Painting dogs:  At least with painting dogs (or any subject that’s not your favorite), you’re getting time in the studio, practicing dealing with clients, learning the business, working with colors, getting paint on your hands.  Waiting tables contributes little to your art career.

So what do you think?  Should an emerging artist abstain from painting what she isn’t drawn to?  Is it selling out?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Maria xxoo

Pin-up girl image above courtesy of http://www.zazzle.com/pinuppro

PS:  I’m on vacation here in South Carolina, beaching it every day, and writing a book that will help artists with art licensing contract langauge.  I’ll keep you posted on the progress!

 

If you like this article, please share it!Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn

54 Comments Waiting tables vs. Painting Dogs – whats the Sell Out

  1. Alli

    I’ve often thought of this myself and encountered it not very long ago. I was doing a drawing for an old friend, and the subject matter was his car & guns. I’m not really big into cars, and really don’t care for guns, but I did the drawing anyway because I like this person, enjoy the style of drawing, and eventually learned a little bit about a subject matter I wasn’t very familiar with.
    I really do think it depends on the situation, the person, and the morals being discussed, but I do think it’s okay in some circumstances to go a little against something you aren’t totally comfortable with, as long as you aren’t doing it all the time and end up getting stuck in a pattern that is upsetting to you.

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Alli, thanks for your story! And, I totally agree with your last sentence “as long as you aren’t doing it all the time and end up getting stuck in a pattern…” Absolutely!

      Reply
  2. Daniel Edlen

    For me, I’ve seen selling out. It’s a kiosk in the shopping centers of the Vegas Strip. Mass production.

    I think when one has found one’s art, in whatever form its artifacts take, one feels out the boundaries, the definition of the art. If lines are then crossed from inside those boundaries to the outside, out is sold.

    I don’t draw inspiration from other’ paintings. Photographs, yes. Hand-filtered portraits, no. I used to paint, with a good story, family members on a special album. Used to. Didn’t consider it selling out, just don’t like the complaints from people about things wrong with their own face.

    So that’s the difference for me. Serve your art. In both senses.

    Peace,
    @vinylart

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Daniel, great to have you here on my blog! I’ve been reading yours, and I love your writing style.

      Your comment reminds me further that selling out is different for everyone – it depends on your personal feelings and values.

      “Serve Your Art” – great title for another blog post!

      Reply
  3. Cboards

    Im always amazed with the many stories of artist and not only painters that let there own conditioning get in the way of there true passion and inspiration. When one follows what he or she truely enjoys doing, then why is it one resists feeling good about themselves abiut getting paid for what they love to do. Selling out is working only for the money. If one truely enjoys what they do and gets paid for it, then it is not work, its inspiration.

    Reply
  4. Alli

    “Selling out is working only for the money. If one truely enjoys what they do and gets paid for it, then it is not work, its inspiration.”-Cboards

    I totally agree!

    Reply
  5. Diana Delosh

    Agree 100%. Sometimes I think this whole “selling out” myth is something fabricated to keep the Starving Artist myth alive along with the myth that art & commerce don’t mix.

    There’s nothing wrong with learning your art and your trade. Making a living as an artist means learning the skill & biz end of it.

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Ah, Diana, the conspiracy to keep artists starving! Yeah, sometimes I wonder about that myself! You make a great point about the importance of an artist learning the skills and business of art. The only way to learn is to keep doing, and trying new things, and expanding from where you are.

      Reply
  6. kara rane

    Hi Maria-
    selling out a gallery show, selling out my Etsy store, selling out my ideas- this allows me to Live and continue to paint-create.
    When you are an artist You have your own vision. If I paint a dog, a mural, or a Spanish style courtyard scene >>
    http://www.lucky2bu.com/2011/01/made-4-u.html
    each subject is in my style, not painted from limitation, but painted from experience. Waiting tables will teach you how to deal with people + the food business, being a professional artist will teach you how to create and get paid for it.

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Kara, thanks for the comment. Very well said: “Waiting tables will teach you how to deal with people and the food business, Being a professional artist will teach you how to create and get paid for it.” That’s what I wanted people to get out of this post!

      Reply
  7. Mars Dorian

    Heey Maria,

    very cool post. I agree – selling out only occurs when you go AGAINST your values. Trying different stuff and working for different people is a grrreat experience, and any idiot who’s against that should be slapped in the face 😉

    It’s challenging enough to get started with your artistic career, so DO what you can that aligns with your values !

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Mars, thanks for the comment and for reading my post! I like what you said: “Trying different stuff and working for different people is a great experience” so true; it’s what breaks us out of of comfort zone, for sure. And that’s where the learning is.

      Reply
  8. Chris B

    OK – full disclosure – I am not a working artist. I just like art and hanging around with artists and have all my life. But I have never understood this question. From what I have seen, often it comes from the rarified atmosphere of the university where everyone is encouraged to “paint what you feel”, etc., and in that situation, having the room to explore is fine.
    But, out in the real world …? You’re a painter, right? Someone is offering you money to paint something, right? Paint the darn thing, see what you can learn, collect your money, try and repeat the experience again, make a living as what you want to be – a painter.
    Done.

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Chris, it’s awesome to get the perspective of someone outside of the working artist world! Thanks, I love the way you put it into words!

      Reply
  9. carolyn Morton

    I’ve had a similar dilemma this year. I’m sculptor working in bronze (now!) mostly on commissioned work and I am very lucky. I was asked by a commercial company, who provided me with the work where I ‘cut my teeth’ making figurative sculpture for reproduction in bone china to make a sculpture for them. It was a prestigious enough project in content ( the Duchess of Cambridge) and fitted with one branch of my current work which is portraiture BUT…….it is commercial, an edition of 4000 of pieces and I usually limit my bronzes to 12 max!
    I agonised over it with my husband viz career damage and decided in the end that 1. I like portraiture, historical costume and would in fact
    enjoy doing it for a change and 2. not to close doors. I think this is very important because at the end of the day, if we are to earn a living from our art, which I do, we might at some point be grateful for this type of ultra commercial commission rather than do the waiting tables job! I don’t think we should too self important about this, as you rightly say, as long as it does not compromise our beliefs. Thanks for the blog on this!

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Carolyn, first of all, congratulations on having the ability to create something that so many people want! I think it’s great when artists make their work available to large numbers of people (i.e. in the form of 4,000 pieces) – this enables you to bring joy to so many more people with your talent! (And who would have a personal value against bringing joy?!)

      Reply
  10. Meltemi

    It is not selling out. Each sale made allows the next work of art to be started. There is nothing wrong in having art that sells and those artworks that are just for you.

    Reply
  11. Daniel Sroka

    By some definitions, I have sold out. Years ago, I started an online business selling ketubahs (fine art wedding certificates) I designed from my abstract nature photography. http://modernketubah.com

    Started on a whim, this little business really took off and has become a major part of my career. But at times, I admit, I resent it a little. It is a labor- and customer-service-intense business, and takes a lot of time away from making my “true art”. And I often worry if I am riding my own coattails, selling and working with art I create years ago.

    But… this “selling out” brings me enough income to live as an artist. This “selling out” brings my work to new people every day. This “selling out” make my art a focal point of the most important day of people’s lives. This “selling out” has taught me how to run an efficient and productive art business.

    So, when I start to resent my business, I really have to shut up, and appreciate how lucky I am!

    Wasn’t it Frank Sinatra who said, when someone who asked if he got tired singing his old chestnuts, that we should be so lucky as artists to make something that people want to experience again and again.

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Daniel, thanks for sharing your own story. I think we all get worn out from doing the same thing over and over, even though we are good at it and people want it. I agree, that we should be so lucky!

      You bring a lot of happiness to people with your ketubahs, and that’s a great thing!

      Reply
  12. Sari

    A waitress can buy her first new home after 8 years of waiting tables…The one that I am speaking of went on to take a loan from the house she owned, & bought her first restaurant…She now owns a very successful restaurant in Toronto near the lakeshore…Artists can be creative in their own environments without quitting to do a more traditional form of art…One can create in one’s job wherever that may be…Richard Florida speaks to creativity in the “non-art” workplace…I am more concerned with people who are earning steady incomes dropping everything to pursue an idea of what an artist is, rather than seeking to unleash their talent in the very place where they are…The product of that kind of creativity is so much more interesting than another painter with subject dilemmas…

    Reply
  13. Lisa

    I have been making a living solely in the arts for 17 years. The recent death of my also recent ex husband has forced issues on me deeper than any depth I have known. I have taken a leap of faith to rent a home with a large studio space. With that comes enormous payments/and supporting my son as a sole parent comes into play. BALANCE is key. I am persueing a job as a waitress while also working as a Ceramics Studio tech and studying studio arts as my major in college. I personally am doing everything it takes to ensure a successful future. I function as a glass artist in my studio at home. I am not planning to take any loans out soon, I am planning to work hard for what I want. <3

    Reply
  14. Susan

    As you said, selling out would mean different things to different people. There is a big difference in doing something that goes against your values (what I would call selling out) and just working from a subject matter that might not be your first choice. I don’t think anyone should do things they feel bad about doing. For artist, the subject isn’t usually as important as the process. Similar to learning things when working in one medium that can be applied to another medium, changing up subjects can give you a fresh eye. Don’t compromise your values. Do enjoy experimenting with new subjects, media, tools, etc. And enjoy, not just the monetary rewards (which are totally okay) but also the personal satisfaction that comes from creating.

    Reply
  15. Kim

    This post really hit home for me. I like in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and began painting as a full time job last year. My paintings didn’t take off until I began painting…………..dogs. Whereas I love dogs, it wasn’t my first choice in painting. As I reached more and more people in the community and thousands of tourists I’ve really enjoyed their response to the dogs. I’ve brought two things they love together, the love for their dogs and their love for the beach. I began feeling like I was selling out in the beginning, but now I relish in the reactions and the joy it brings people. It has become a really great business for me and it allows me to continue to be creative. I still get requests for more dogs and I will continue to do so. The dogs have opened other doors to the rest of my art. I guess what I’m saying is, it isn’t a sell out because you never know where it will lead.

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Kim, thanks for taking the time to share your “painting dogs led to good stuff” story! This will be helpful for the artist I talked to that’s struggling with this right now.

      “You never know where it will lead” is right on – and that can be applied to so many things in life. I try to remind myself to “go with the flow” so that I’m led to new ideas and experiences, even those that seem uncomfortable, or unlikely…sometimes it leads to new possibilities that I didn’t even imagine!

      Reply
  16. Michael Kocot

    Michaelanglo was a sculpture who painted for commission, no sell out there right? As long as your creative juices are flowing it can’t be a sell out. I went to Art school to illustrate but found I can make a living with computer graphics. The computer is a tool, just like an airbrush or pounce pattern. Selling out is waiting tables if your an artist. Painting a portrait if your an landscape artist is not.

    Reply
  17. Kay

    This is a great article and the responses are wonderful too. I was always concerned about being taken “seriously” as an artist. So I tried to “get in touch ” with the feelings that would lead me to paint what people would buy! Oh the starving artist myth played into it too. I was having a hard time and certainly not having fun. Commissions? Never had any. But I decided that I wanted to have fun and do appealing art and I finally got a one woman show for next Feb. I also work a seasonal job at a National Monument where everyone is happy to work there. What a difference the job is when people are happy..It leaves me with a desire to do more art and I am inspired by the wildlife I encounter. I think selling out is not an issue if you are happy and excited by doing art. When I hit on something that sells..yes I will do more of it and hopefully get even better at it. I can see that the more I do the better ideas I get and my technique gets better too.
    Quick story..a traditional watercolorist friend came by my studio to see the giant fish paintings I was doing..for fun. She had a commission to paint fish and never had. Now she has a really good client because she chose to learn how to paint fish. Of course I told her fish were fun to paint!!! Don’t think she sold out..she upped her game!

    Reply
  18. Sari Grove

    http://www.witi.com/careers/2004/creativeclass.php here’s a link to one of Richard Florida’s books The Rise of the Creative Class…The salient point that I was talking about was: (here’s a quote) “One is that all jobs have a creative component (even blue-collar jobs as Toyota demonstrated), and as individuals we will have an opportunity to bring more of our selves to work.” Which refers to a new paradigm for creatives to bring creativity to the workplace they are in… Maybe being a waitress or other bread & butter job was selling out in the past, but the idea is that this may no longer be true…All this to say there is no harm in waitressing part or full time if you are a creative, & that might be a way to earn a living & be creative simultaneously… New paradigm…if painting portraits on commission is not bringing in enough income, even if you don’t mind whatever the subject matter is that is requested, there is no loss of face in going back to your old job…Just saying…

    Reply
  19. Dennis Poirier

    Great timing on this article! Two of my best local patrons just had me do portraits of their dogs! Having waited tables and been a bartender in the past, I can tell you I enjoyed painting their dogs much better and they were pleased with the results.

    Reply
  20. Sari

    Heck, if you can make as much money painting dogs as I did bartending, then by all means…I’m just saying that art is not exactly lucrative even if you try on all the hats…(for the record, I love dogs- so that is a non-issue for me)…

    Reply
  21. Barbara

    I participated in an inaugural show this summer with about a dozen artists from our association represented in one large booth. Only one painting sold over two days. It was an inexpensive, simple painting of a common mass-produced food item. (I can’t say exactly what, because it may identify the artist.) This common food item is ALL that this artist paints. Ever. But apparently, people like it, so she keeps producing them. The item is always the same, realistic color, but the backgrounds sometimes change. To me, this is a sell-out.

    Reply
  22. Jeff Dolan

    Great post! I think the key you point out is that it is better to be doing something creative than nothing at all, as long as it doesn’t conflict with your values. Defining values is the hard inner-work that must happen first.

    Reply
  23. Rick J. Delanty

    This is such a key issue to artists of every kind, in every medium. It’s not what you’re selling, or making, or for which market, it’s what you’re contributing to others that makes one’s work valuable (as Maria addressed in a previous post). There can be no price on that. “Selling out” has no impact greater than that on one’s own conscience and creative gift, and no one truly knows that except the artist himself. To be true to one’s own vision and beliefs, to be genuine, to create for the contribution first and not the cash is Job One for the artist, as Jeff D. so precisely writes. Thanks, Maria!

    Reply
  24. Sari

    You can also separate…Earn money & keep your art pure…If it hurts you to do something in the art side of you, something that you feel is wrong, I don’t see why you can’t keep the art pure & do something unrelated to put your bread on the table if you must…I chose not to compromise on the art side & that has worked for me ethically…A luxury perhaps…But I have been able to work in unrelated disciplines to keep that going…

    Reply
  25. Dennis T Panzik

    I know it’s been said that one should have a certain style and subject matter but one of the things I love about being a freelance artist is that jobs vary one to the next. It breaks of the monotony.

    Once I worked briefly with an artist who was airbrushing motorcycles on the street during bike festivals which is what he follows around the country. He refused to do skulls! I mean I guess if that’s not what ya want to do but I thought it mind boggling to custom paint motorcycles and not do skulls which a LARGE percentage of bikers want. However, he continues to paint bikes and not paint skulls as far as I know.

    Reply
  26. Archan Mehta

    Spunky,

    Nice to have you write a post for us after what seemed like a dry spell.

    I appreciate your point of view: and I drooled over the photo provided!

    It seems like a complex case, but it really depends on the individual.
    Also: remember that an individual’s tastes and preferences can change over time. What may be considered “sold out” at 18 can help you to put food on the table at 48. Thus, you opinions can change.

    There are people out there who are quite happy to do whatever it takes to get their show on the road. You will find many potential actors in LA waiting for their chance to be a movie star in Hollywood. And they have no problems waiting tables or working as a valet in parking.

    On the other hand, you will also find many “creative” types who are not willing to compromise at all. They want to focus on creating art at any cost and will not cut corners at all.

    Human history is replete with stories of “starving artists” who died penniless because they could never figure out the business angle of art. My point is, there are types and types of people and every situation is unique and different. It is easy for us to stand and judge while others are trying to stand and deliver their messages to the world. This question, therefore, really needs to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

    “Sold out?” Really? On whose terms and conditions? Cheers.

    Reply
  27. Barney Davey

    Making money from making art you love to make is not selling out. Letting your art be used for commercial purposes that go against your core beliefs is selling out. Otherwise, listening to any self-righteous blather about how it is selling out for any artist who has enjoyed commercial success is just noise from little people. Please ignore them. Or, better yet, insist they generously and immediately donate to your kid’s college tuition and your retirement funds.

    You can look, but you won’t find examples of successful people complaining about an artist selling out? When you look at other art forms, such as books, films, music, and theater, we applaud success and don’t look down on artists who make it big in those fields. There is no reason why any visual artist should ever be shamed for making a living selling art.

    Reply
  28. Carol McIntyre

    Hopefully this young artist is experiencing the joy of making collectors happy when you deliver a dog portrait that makes them cry, laugh, etc. 4 years ago I never thought I would be painting dogs, but I love it! I also paint abstracts and enjoy painting using both sides of the “coin.”

    Reply
  29. Judilynn

    I’m an unemployed artist who hasn’t yet found her market. Like many today, I’m unable to find employment and am committed to making my way as a painter. To this end, it has occurred to me that I must satisfy the buying public on some level if I want to remain housed and fed.

    I think the key word in “sell out” is SELL. I can paint what pleases me all day, but it won’t put food on the table or pay the rent.

    If you are financially supported by someone or something else, you have the luxury to paint whatever you want. But if you are dependent on your work to house you, painting puppies is the order of the day.

    Reply
  30. Erik Abel

    “Selling out” is a feeling I often struggle with as well. The key, I have found, is to make up for it in other areas of your art. After completing a project where I have compromised my true artistic expression and direction in exchange for $$$, it helps to dive into a personal project that inspires me. It’s all about finding a balance if you aren’t one of the few who actually gets paid for pursuing their true artistic direction. Selling Out definitely still offers a chance to think creatively… which is very important.

    Also, I’d much rather paint dogs all day long in the comfort of my sunny studio than serve somebody food or sit in an office with the bossman dictating when I can go surf or eat! Cheers to self-employment!

    Reply
  31. Sabrina

    I’ve often thought I was selling out because I gave the 9-5 more time than my creativity. Only recently (last few weeks) did I realize that it was a choice to be Sabrina after work but someone else while at work. It seems as soon as I had that notion, the universe opened up and opportunities to express my creativity were presented at work.

    Much of my hesitation was fear but as it dissolves I’m more and more immersed in what comes natural but not always confident. For me, creativity is my voice in an overcrowded room of chatter and I choose to speak in various languages. Singing, voice overs and writing would be considered my native tongue while I’d like to accent my life with colors like I did when I was young.

    I finally see the possibilities are endless and the money part…well, I got a feeling I’ll be crossing that rickety bridge real soon. But at least I know what ownership does so whatever my first “product” is I expect to be proud to ask that people pay for it.

    Thanks so much for this post Maria, very enlightening!

    Reply
  32. Jay Alders

    Great topic Maria! I think “selling out” is based on the artist’s intentions.

    It’s not so much about the “what”, more about the “why” to me. If a project coincides with an artist’s purpose and intended outcome then it’s not selling out.

    Reply
  33. Amy

    Maria- I have just read about 10 of your blogs in the last hour and i can’t stop reading them. They are so helpful and so inspiring. I am a senior in art school and trying to do what i love best -Art. I love mural painting and really want to get into it…but just like the above stories..i find myself at a restaurant 30 hours a week trying to make my money for paintbrushes and food. How do you make the jump?… The quote “Waiting tables will teach you how to deal with people and the food business, Being a professional artist will teach you how to create and get paid for it.” …. really inspired me. I want to get out of the food business….it does nothing for my art career…but how do you do it without going broke??….

    Reply
  34. Kim

    I don’t think painting subject matter you aren’t drawn to makes you a sell out. I’m studying art and have been asked to draw all kinds of things that would never have crossed my mind to draw, like heating duct tubing and various hammers, tools, etc. I think it only expands your skill set and gives you another perspective. I think it could possibly act to improve your work. Just my 2 cents.

    Reply
  35. Kathleen

    That was spot on Maria! Anytime we are able to hone our craft, we are gaining ground. I have been doing commissions for twenty five years and those wonderful clients have paid my bills. Even now that I am feeling the need to explore other subjects, I will still do commissions, just find time for both. One of the benefits of a slow economy is time to experiment, learn and grow!

    Reply
  36. Phyllis Tarlow

    Wow! What a lot of good responses. I’ve been an artist for many years and started out as a free-lancer doing paste ups and mechanicals before the computer took over commercial art work. It was my way of being in the art field and working with my hands which I loved to do. I gradually moved into illustration and then portraiture and then landscape painting.

    In the past few years, I started to feel uncomfortable about doing portraits on commission and wanted to only paint landscapes. I started moving in that direction until the economy went sour. Thank God for commissions! They have kept me afloat these past 2 years and I’m suddenly much more grateful for the wonderful people I have met through my commission work. Many keep coming back for another painting or drawing and I love the variety of subjects I get to do–adults, children, dogs and cats (even an owl in a tree), homes and even a boat in the landscape.

    I continue to do landscapes and make sure to set time aside for them and I’m spending time developing my landscapes as prints and notecards so I can reach a lower priced market. That’s working too.

    All of these efforts have resulted in my being a businesswoman, writer, and marketer as well as an artist, and I seem to thrive on the whole mix. For me, it sure beats working a 9 to 5 job.

    Reply
  37. Kendra

    OOOOoooh what an interesting topic! Yes, I have asked myself this MANY times… And I agree with your take on selling out, that doing something you love, even thought topic isn’t on par with what your would like is still ok, that it helps you grow as an artist. I don’t find commerical art (animation, game design, advertising) as selling out either because personally I grew as an artist DOING advertising! (I learned the key lesson that sometimes LESS is MORE and true artistic maturity is conveying a LOT in VERY little!! It’s quite the test.)

    Another thing I would add, something I think is selling out IS taking the waitress job, sorta. I think if you take the waitress job and are still doing art on the side, it’s ok because you genuinely are using that money to put forth your art… but getting a waitress job or a degree in a “Safe” field because your family has put pressure on you to do things the “safe” way is 100% selling out. It also shows you don’t believe in yourself or your art— and you will never grow as a person…. and if you DO believe in yourself, it’s WORSE– now you really ARE a sell out because you have went against what you know is true inside your heart.

    Reply
  38. Isabel Forbes

    What a wonderful post! Maria, that might as well have been me with you on the SC beach. With this slow economy I’ve painted my share of dogs, which are really family members to my clients and though I LOVE dogs felt conflicted. I decided it was my ego and to be grateful for the practice and opportunity to bring some joy in people’s live. After all , bringing joy to people’s lives is part of why I paint. Happy New Year from SC, come visit us again soon!

    Reply
  39. dj pippenger

    I got an offer to paint a simple mural for a nursery. I sketched out the idea and added to it since the website she directed me to was an interior designer and I did not feel right doing a copy of her work. I then find out she offered the job to another artist and stopped emailing me about it after seeing my additions to the idea. Should I have to steal others ideas to work? I would have said no but the more work I lose out on because of it makes me think I cant paint murals people wont pay for.

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Dear DJ, thanks for the question. Often, people will ask an artist to copy another’s work, not realizing that it’s unethical. By gently pointing out that legally and ethically you cannot do that, but you can do something similar that gets the same results, they come to understand.

      In this case, if I were you, I would take the time to call the person and ask them why they ended up not hiring you. It could be any reason; your pricing, they ended up hiring a family member, or something else that we aren’t aware of.

      The information will help you in the future when dealing with new clients.

      But, don’t let this bother you. In this business, as in many, “tire-kickers” are common. For every 10 art projects I quote, we only get about half. It’s how things work!

      Reply
  40. Jason Wallis

    While I photograph campaigns and commercial work that I love I still take on the occasional wedding and even events. Why? It is extra money which I can apply to vacations guilt-free and, like you said, it’s practice.

    Reply

Leave A Comment