Artists, Why Selling Your Work Does Not Mean You're Selling Out


Art is self expression. It moves the way you think and transcends the things you believe.

No matter what form, whether our interest lies in music, painting, writing or fashion, we all play a part in the world of art. For most of us, our payment is by our own choice. However, the cost of creation is far from a choice; it's a necessity.

Simply being active in your life costs money, which is why original work, instead of mass-produced work, tends to cost more for buyers.

Each time we pay, we contribute to the world we create for ourselves. Despite what one may think, human beings have more control of their lives than they usually think. People tend to live vicariously through one another, giving even more reason for why we choose to recognize and appreciate other people's work, regardless if we actually respect any of their political views or personal opinions.

Crowd-funding and pay-what-you-want scales have given our society an outlet for creative work to be expressed. When you buy a song, you are helping that artist make more songs. When you buy a t-shirt, you hope that there will be another shirt made for you next season. Whatever work it is that you do and take part in, you deserve and should demand to be compensated adequately.

About five years ago, it was not so easy to just simply obtain or stumble upon art as it is now. With the expansion of the Internet, including social media and access to iTunes, Netflix and Spotify, the current society in which we live in has allowed for much freedom in regard to obtaining art at a moment's notice.

With these new expansions comes more financing. Securing funding for art is one of the most difficult tasks, as you must convince the investor that your particular creation is worth it. Even Michelangelo needed the Italian bank, the Medici, to help fund his paintings and sculptures. It's the same thing as hip-hop artists needing a record label, or an actor or actress needing an agent.

The ability for the Internet to take on the majority of this funding now brings along a new challenge for artists: They must not only be aware of their creativity, but also develop it from an economic standpoint. How can this make me enough money to never work again? That's the question on everyone's mind, but it now introduces a new standard: If you're good, you better be getting paid.

Wherever you come from, there are multiple viewpoints on the subject of money. From an economic standpoint, money simply represents your time and effort in the system we live in (to a certain extent). Art has never been about playing by the rules, but for some, they have been able to own this as their form of making a living. Those critics who claim these artists are "selling out" tend to either be mediocre artists themselves or are probably just haters.

Why does high-end fashion work? How can artists make a living off of one painting alone? This kind of success simply comes from vision you can instill in other people's lives.

Art has recently become a topic of serious debate in regards to business and economics, but in no way can art be defined by numbers. The news is consumed by high-profile artists making a certain amount of money and fame from a painting, mural or album. It is easy to relate success to numbers, which is why our society is so obsessed with it.

The street art world is one that has come to terms with its massive expansion. In recent news, founder of Obey Clothing, Shepard Fairey, has been called a sell out due to his commercial use of street art in order to pursue a profitable gain. On the other side, many "loyal" street artists have found solace in world famous Banksy. Remaining anonymous, no one knows who the real Banksy is, but some may argue that his art is worth more than many small countries, thus, also making him a sell out.

Our modern day and age has sparked a rise of ambitious artists eager to make it big. That should be the goal for every artist and person everywhere, while realizing if this is your dream and passion, that success is only relative.

The choices you make with your money can correlate with the control of your surroundings. Your money is your time; it is simply a tool for creating the world you want to live in.

Photo via We Heart It