Since last month, I’d been attending the Business of Art workshop facilitated by the Center for Culture & Innovation in Downtown Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. Every week, we focus on the different aspect of having a career as an artist. Last night, we tackled “Marketing & Self-Promotion” and Rochelle Fabb from Loudmouth Production was incredibly helpful in terms of tackling the publicity side of holding any artist event.
I used to think that being a “starving artist” is alright. The world had seen so many of them around that it is such a norm. I think it was four or five years ago that I had a mental shift when I started reading the book, “How to Survive & Prosper as an Artist.” The book primarily supplements the idea of the Business of Art workshop that having an art career is like having your own business. Being an artist is being in business for your art.
“..the myth tells us that struggle, complexity, and suffering are necessary components of creativity, and without these key elements an artist will stagnate. The myth tells us that the desire for comfortable lives and financial success will ultimately poison and distort art, that a true artist is concerned only with art and anyone else is a dilletante. The myth tells us that real artists do not discover themselves. Other people do, preferably when the artist is dead!” — “How to Survive & Prosper as an Artist” by Caroll Michels
Can you imagine if historians focused on how artist of the Renaissance period like Michelangelo became successful in his time, who had a business sense and learned to leverage his talent with the Pope and the Medici? People would have a different impression of the word “artist.” Can you imagine if Van Gogh learned the business of art earlier in his life? He wouldn’t have gone crazy and had tasted the fruit of his success! There’s so much romanticism about being a starving artist that it doesn’t do any good to the individual artist themselves. And yet, individual artist has contributed so much to the economy. According to American for the Arts study on Arts & Economic Prosperity III: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations and Their Audiences:“Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $166.2 billion in economic activity every year—$63.1 billion in spending by organizations and an additional $103.1 billion in event-related spending by their audiences.” And this is just one piece of the pie. Artists contributed so much economically to the different related industry in Entertainment and Media, Construction, Manufacturing, Tourism, etc.
So, can you imagine the world without an artist even in a business sense? There’ll be no job for construction industry building schools for the arts and cultural buildings or museums, nobody will be employed as teachers who teaches art or no cultural workers in related fields, no singers or actors, no manufacturing industry that makes paints, easel and other art supplies. Everything will be plain, no color and shape. Commercials will not even exist – no funding for your favorite tv shows like “American Idol.” The world indeed will be different. It is something to think about.