When you are an artist you have to sell yourself. When I say “sell yourself”, I mean be a prostitute. Now it is up to you how you view that.
There are different levels of prostitutes. There are whores, of course, but there are also call girls and courtesans. They all provide the same service. The difference is that they put different values on themselves. Artists have to do this too.
When I say “artist” I mean any creative person. Musician, painter, writer, whatever. If you create, you are an artist. If you are just creating for yourself then life is easy. You can create whatever you want. It is when you start selling to other people that things get complicated.
Consider Jackson Pollock’s art. It’s just paint, dripped on a canvas. It sells for millions of dollars. A child could do this. The only difference between him and any other artist is that he didn’t blink when he told a buyer his expected price, and the buyer agreed. And then he kept doing this.
If he’d sold his works for the price of the paint and the canvas, we’d never even know his name. You, as an artist, have to demand more for your work too. Don’t just give it away. Otherwise you are being a whore.
I don’t price my jewelry nearly high enough most of the time. Sometimes I cringe when I price something. I think there is no way that people will understand the value of what I made, so I under price it. I’ve done this for years. Every now and then I’ll find someone who appreciates what I make and pays full price.
But otherwise I feel like gutter trash. And I’m just going to have to get over that. I do stand up for myself when someone asks for a discount on something that is already very reasonably priced. I’d rather not sell it at all than be insulted.
This stuff doesn’t sell itself. Being an artist isn’t like working a regular job. You have to be the boss and the hired hand and the janitor. You have to get the sales and make the art.
Now, I’m not in business of making jewelry. It is a sideline. It isn’t my livelihood. I do it because I enjoy it. But I still have to hustle to sell it. This alone can be quite daunting, and overwhelming. Making art is very solitary, and perfect for an introvert. Selling art is the exact opposite, however.
This “prostitute” motif makes a lot of sense. You have to look for clients. Sometimes this means going into unfamiliar or even dangerous territory. It often means creating relationships with strangers.
You have to show off what you’ve got. The client needs to see an example of your work before he will consider looking at more.
You have to schmooze with the client. Flattery helps. It is up to you how much or how little you do this. But there is certainly some energy exchange.
You have to put a price on your goods. This is the hard part. You have to value yourself, and be willing to take no sale at all rather than a sale at a price that is insulting to you.
In short, don’t be an artist who is a whore. Sell yourself like a courtesan. Put a high value on yourself. If you demand it, the customer will rise to the occasion.