WHY SELLING YOUR ART DOESN'T MEAN SELLING OUT.
Click play below to listen to Lilah read this blog post... passionately.
Has anyone ever told you they didn’t want to market their art because they felt like they were selling out?
What a weird mindset and one I frankly don’t understand.
If we are called to create, as those who use the hashtag #waketomake believe, than why would placing value on our art in exchange for feeding our families EVER be considered selling out.
Selling out means that you’re compromising your morals for something cheaper. It’s defined as “Compromising of a person's integrity, morality, authenticity, or principles in exchange for personal gain, such as money.”
It is the role of artists to share their work with the world, yes? It is common knowledge that it takes money to survive in this world, correct?
Selling your art and putting a price tag on it means that you value it enough to not just give it away for free.
There are plenty of ways we give our art to the world for free, from our emotional expression to how we interact with co-workers and the ideas we bring to the world, all the way down to our very presence in a room.
Artists are world-changers. Culture shifters. Revolution starters.
Is it so much to ask that the work we bring to the world compensate us in some way?
If you had the power to change society (you do, by the way) by putting brush to canvas, thread to fabric, or pen to paper, wouldn’t you want that power to, for example, feed you in return?
Selling out isn’t when we place a price tag on our work. It’s when we do work we don’t believe has value.
There are plenty of ways that artists can bring in income from their work without compromising their morality.
I personally believe that art should be expensive. It can shift culture for goodness sakes, why can’t we demand to be taken care of in return?
How does art change culture, you ask?
If you’ve ever stood in awe of the Mona Lisa, or been moved by the toiled over lyrics of Carl Gustav Boberg in How Great Thou Art, or lost yourself in the threads of a falsa blanket, then you understand the value of art in our world.
Art shifts culture because it strums at our emotions. It drives movement. It causes us to see beyond the brokenness to what life can really be like. In many ways, it shows us God.
“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Pablo Picasso
If we keep this soul-changing power to ourselves, we are selfish.
If we flippantly throw it out into the world, speaking worthlessness over it, we are insecure.
I believe there exists a perfect pitch that we must find when it comes to fine-tuning just HOW we place our work into the world, and that definitely does not mean not asking for money in return.
A skilled plumber doesn’t do work for free because he’s afraid of being seen as selling out. He humbly does his job and isn’t too proud of invoice people for cleaning up their poop.
Not that art is cleaning up poop, but sometimes it feels as pointless and unseen.
As artists, we have to realize our value and, as artists, we have to realize the power we hold and overcome our fear of marketing the work of our hands.
You are not a sellout if you put your hand-lettering on a mug.
You are not a sellout if you invoice someone for your design.
You are not a sellout if you decide to change direction with your art.
You are not a sellout if you want to make something that costs less than $100.
You are not a sellout if you try new styles just to see how they sell.
You are not a sellout if you want your work to support your family.
You ARE a sellout if you compromise WHO YOU WANT TO BE with what you’re doing.
But here’s the thing. NO ONE ELSE can tell you who you want to be.
You are a Maker. And being a maker means that you probably want to make all the time. If you want to make all the time, then you have to bring in income. If you bring in income, YOU EAT.
How dare artists’ want to eat.
Being a maker is about being industrious and clever and shrewd with the most beautiful things that you create.
It’s about standing up and saying, “I have value. Therefore what I make has value.”
Value is worth exchanging. Value is worth sharing. Sharing that value isn’t selling out. It’s world-changing. It’s culture-shifting.
So go change things, maker. Starting with the idea that selling your art doesn’t have to mean that you’re a sellout.
Because you’re totally not.