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Noted: Defining Success as an Artist

May 8, 2012

by Chappell Ellison handmade and vintage goods

A recent article in Salon cites some nasty figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the past seven years, jobs in the arts have suffered sharp falls: architecture by 29.8%; performing arts by 21.9%; musical groups and artists by 45.3%. What’s most alarming about these numbers is that they reflect a downward trend that began long before the economy crashed. In 2008, professional dancers made an average of just $15,000 a year.  Though the Salon article has a bit of a sour grapes tone that won’t be to everyone’s liking, it brings up a thought-provoking question: as making a living in the arts gets harder, how do artists define success?

“There’s always this sense that art is just play,” says Peter Plagens, a painter and art critic. “Art is what children do and what retired people do.” When a musician sits down to practice or a painter presses a brush against a canvas, their efforts are viewed by many as leisure activities. “We have this Puritan, practical tradition in the United States,” says Dana Gioia, a former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “Puritans would give to the poor, but not to the idle. Artists are seen as these idle dreamers.” With such negative stereotypes to combat, countless artists spend their careers subsisting on unpredictable grants and part time jobs, and even with promising models like as Kickstarter, few achieve financial stability.

So if money isn’t your measuring stick for success, what is? This question goes beyond bank accounts and gnaws at the core of what it means to pursue a career in the arts. While we can create our own personal definitions of success, quitting that day job and paying the bills every month through creative pursuits is a common and compelling dream for many. An economy that devalues the arts makes that dream ever harder to realize.

Why do you think the arts are losing value?

Art Category

4 Featured Comments

  • TheMillineryShop

    Marcia Lacher from TheMillineryShop said 5 years ago Featured

    This is how I know I have succeeded. I was in Manhattan, in a huge crowd of people. I saw a woman in a great hat and well, being a milliner, I had to get closer. And then I saw it. She was wearing one of my hats, handmade by me. It was such a thrill I almost swooned. So did she.

  • arwendesigns

    arwendesigns from arwendesigns said 5 years ago Featured

    This article is so true. I have met so many people who think you cannot have a 'job' being an artist. They think what artists do is easy and frivolous, and we are only doing it for fun, so therefore we should do it for free. They don't understand how much actual work and time goes into making your art into a business. It's not a 9 to 5 job, it's an all the time job, and we do it because we love it, but it is also hard work. I know there are people out there who value art, and Etsy's success proves how many people love art and handcrafted things, it just seems like there are so many more who don't.

  • marystreacle

    Mary Louise Silva from MaryLouiseArt said 5 years ago Featured

    This is something I feel very passionately about. Every time an artist does art as a "favor" for someone for free, it kicks the whole industry down. Now, 99.9 percent of my art "offers" go something like this : "Can you do such and such for me- it's great exposure for you, I can't pay you, but a lot of people will see it". or I need 3 - 18 x 24 panels painted. Don't worry I can totally pay you, how about $100. Or my personal favorite from friends and family " I have this huge wall in my house that really needs a mural. And, I want YOU to paint it. (Like this is an honor) Oh you want money for it? I thought it would just be fun for you. There is a HUGE problem that people want art but don't value it. People tend to perceive the artist's time as not monetarily worthy. It is not "fun" for anyone to work for free. Fellow artists! Your time has value! Stop giving yourself away and quit underpricing your work. It's not a NICE thing to do. You are destroying the entire industry!!!!

  • reynalore

    Reyna Lorele from YIYOdesigns said 5 years ago Featured

    Great topic. A case in point: yesterday, I arrived at a Tai Chi class early, and was chatting with another student. When I told him I'm a writer and fiber artist, and mentioned my blog and etsy shop, he said, "Are you making a living at it?" As if to say, if I'm not making a TON of money at it, I'm wasting my time, or I must not be very good at it. I thought, the fact that I haven't made a ton of money from my creative work is an oversight on the part of our culture. It has nothing to do with the real value of my work, or my very valuable enjoyment in doing it. If money is the only barometer, well, that is a sad state of mind. I speak from experience, and I'm sure I'm not alone!


  • VoleedeMoineaux
  • lassandaliasdeana

    lassandaliasdeana from lassandaliasdeana said 5 years ago

    people think that art or handmade is expensive... sometimes... truly, arts are losing value, it´s a pity! ;)

  • lumieredumatin

    Nathalie from LumiereDuMatin said 5 years ago

    I have never worked harder and longer since I have embraced film photography as a living art ( I call it "Art de vivre" in French). In fact my life and work as an artist flows continually, there is no separation. I do not see it as a loosing value, life is so much richer that way !

  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie said 5 years ago

    When you support handmade it's like getting a small piece of someone else's story in life. I love all the amazing pieces I have purchased from many different kinds of artists. Each one tells it's own story and to me that's just priceless :)

  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    Judith and Raymond from AnnaOliveDesigns said 5 years ago

    I am not entirely convinced that the arts are losing value. Yes, statistically speaking, it would appear that there is less of a demand for certain positions within the traditional art world than in the past. But, all vocations and industries experience cyclical activity in accordance with the economy and where we are in terms of technology. There have been losses in many fields in the last few years...manufacturing, etc. Even in healthcare, a field that has traditionally always seen gains or at least steady employment, has experienced position losses due to the financial benefits of hiring less educated clinicians to do the work that was previously done by people with a higher education level. As the economy continues to improve, the traditional jobs in the art world will rebound, but I believe that the work that artists do still has tremendous value to many.

  • LauraBoyea

    Laura Boyea from LauraBoyea said 5 years ago

    It can feel like a battle at times- making art. Even people close to me don't understand why I draw pretty ladies with flowers or animals with arms.. When so many wonder why you make something that "isn't useful" or "doesn't serve a purpose" or the part you mentioned that people think it is leisure, it can be overwhelmingly frustrating. But there is a reason you make art, you don't have to define it other than that it is a feeling in your bones and pours out through your fingers. And there are and always will be those who come along, can look you in the eye and tell you they GET IT.

  • rosebudshome

    rosebudshome from rosebudshome said 5 years ago

    We owe so much to the Arts our creativity is what makes us individuals. It is a shame that some of us can't make a living on what we love to do!

  • kh1467

    Kelly from KikuPaper said 5 years ago

    For the arts to thrive they have to be relevant in people's lives. Many visual artists create work to comment on an idea or issue. Post-secondary education and art institutions encourages an artist statement. Something that is sometimes so abstract and laden with phrases and ideas that most people can't understand or don't care to. I am in with that group of people. Visual art does not have to be didactic. It can challenge and teach the viewer but I don't think it should leave them completely miffed.

  • thevicagirl

    VaLon Frandsen from thevicagirl said 5 years ago

    Ah, yes, architecture loosing value. One reason I am on etsy. I am in the architecture field, and success there would be getting a job, then working toward actually being an architect (there are lots of tests and such). As for Etsy, success to me is just selling. To be able to sell something that I love to make and having others buy it, that is success. As far as arts loosing value, I think that all arts are valued less than 'real jobs' in our world. And it is always one of the firsts things to go. Sometimes the only ones who value arts are artists themselves. Those who don't get arts never will and value it less and less when they don't have the money for it. However, as pointed out, there are a lot of different kinds of artists out there and we all value each others art, and always will.

  • CindyEllison

    Cindy Ellison from CindyEllison said 5 years ago

    Why do I think the arts are losing value? Sometimes it seems to me we are simply saturated with "art". I am seeing everyone and their second cousins now calling themselves "artists". I see so much crap out there and less beautiful fine art. Just sharing a random thought that came to mind.

  • gippyhenry

    Gippy Henry from GippyHenry said 5 years ago

    Painting and sketching, as well as crafting came to me as a young child. I helped my income by selling commissioned portraits most of my adult life. Now retired, I am painting from the heart and soul--not so rigid or needing to look off something! It's a great, free feeling. I believe an artist 'has to' get their art out, whatever form. If it then sells, or is appreciated, wonderful. Also, I feel that culture changes with the eras. The impressonists, many of whom were poor, were not famous until they died, but they never gave up their art. The present generation making decisions at the top, along with the economy, I believe is not conducive to cultural recognition, sadly for us.

  • volkerwandering

    Jess from volkerwandering said 5 years ago

    I think art is losing value because anything can be copied these days. Almost everything has been done, paintings with food/garbage/etc. Sculptures made of anything & everything. Besides, if you look at history, value usually comes after death. Strange but true!

  • AZCreativeStudio

    Ali from ContessasCollection said 5 years ago

    Success for an artist means being free to express yourself and live the life you choose instead of dying slowly in a cubicle. To do that, it takes a lot of courage as there is a lot of pressure from the family and society to have a "real job". Because of this general mentality and statistics, many high school students do not follow their dream and choose to go to college for a different degree than what they actually want. Fast-forwarding 10 years later, many are unhappy and always having a "what if?" on their mind.  The problem is that for many of the ones who made the wrong turn is too late to go back as they have financial responsibilities and a family to support. I believe that if you are really passionate about what you do, you can be successful and the money  will come as well. The secret is to never give up and work hard to get where you want.

  • Musclesandcrafts

    Melanie from merVazi said 5 years ago

    Art is losing its value mainly because not everything we make is art. Most things are actually crafts. We focus on getting the mass produced pieces that don't cost much, and see 'art' as too expensive.

  • KKSimpleRegalJewelry

    Krista from TheBeadtriss said 5 years ago

    Its not that surprising I must admit... What do people really treasure? There are a few that can recognize true beauty as being apart of art...just some rambled thoughts...~KK~

  • Arthings

    Margherita from Arthings said 5 years ago

    A lady with brushes.. The story of my life :))

  • buenobookshop

    Jo and David from buenobookshop said 5 years ago

    There is a lot of supply and not so much demand. This devalues the art (monetarily). I made a living for two years selling art on Etsy and loved every second of it. I worked my tail off; however, I often long for those days again. I have found it hard to balance a career and have time to paint....I have noticed so much mass produced "art" around lately. A sad trend! The overall solution? Support the arts!

  • studiorandom

    Dana Seilhan from studiorandom said 5 years ago

    There's a LOT of mythology around the arts. People honestly believe they aren't creative and can't do art, because no one gave them proper instruction in technique. The truth is that just about all of us have creative potential but if you don't know what you're doing with technique, you can't really express it the way you'd want to. So they give up, conclude they aren't creative and resent and envy those who do manage to get the training and experience. All they remember is coloring with crayons and playing with Play-Doh from childhood and they think that's all there is to creativity. That's what we have to contend with as far as societal attitudes and it's a shame. They're hurting as much as we are.

  • studiorandom

    Dana Seilhan from studiorandom said 5 years ago

    Oh and I agree with Kelly (who mentioned artist statements). My background is mostly as a crafter and also a portrait artist. But the last time I did any serious portrait art was in high school. Lots of stuff happened in the twenty years between graduation and now, I've been a mess and the art has largely fallen by the wayside. I'm feeling a serious push to get back into it now, but it's intimidating for me; I live in a city with a large arts community, and everyone is all about abstract ideas that make no sense to me. Artist statement? What the heck is that? Just make the freaking art. I don't know why it has to be this hugely elitist intellectual exercise. Make your art. Let people figure it out for themselves. If they can't figure it out because you're basically throwing paint at a canvas, that's your fault and you need to try something else. Sorry to sound snarky but this kind of makes me nuts. I'm old-school representational. If I do something that is not representational, I still need to use symbolism that other people can understand. Otherwise I'm just navel-gazing. That's not what art is supposed to be about.

  • LaurenRoseJewlers

    Lauren Rose from LaurenRoseJewlers said 5 years ago

    I agree as an art painting/drawing major in college I totally understand the frustration. Since I am a realist landscape painter I measure my success in how real and beautiful I can make my painting, Although now a teacher I would love to start selling on etsy but sometimes i feel it not worth it, not going to sell=/ there isnt much of a market anymore=(

  • nadene

    Even Howard from nadene said 5 years ago

    This is a great discussion topic... I agree with Judy, and a bit with Melanie, it's your own definition of success that reigns and as artists we can and should create new and unique definitions of this for ourselves. Continuing education and sharing at all levels helps us all~ how can a client/buyer know the difference between mass produced, cottage industry, copied works, and individually handmade neighborhood sources? How do we as art and handmade culture creators enable this learning journey? For many of us, part of our art life includes education. In a practical and recent example, I've been editing my etsy listings to speak more about what kind of handmade I do, thus subtlety drawing out that there is a spectrum and we can choose our place along it with intent.

  • tarastephanos

    Tara Stephanos from tarastephanos said 5 years ago

    I know this article first hand; why? I am an artist and I have a "job" I work a "part" time job. The "part" time job is close to forty hours a week and I paint the rest of the time and give art lessons and try to find time to sell art. People percieve me as lazy or "easy-going" not caring about "success" but nothing could be further from the truth. Oh by the way I also exercise at least an hour most days of the week. The sad truth is I make very little money and worry about money. I don't like being "poor" but I won't give up who I am simply because I can't be some one or something I am not. I am an artist with all my soul. My first memories are of my mom painting and to stop painting would be like cutting off all my limbs; I might live but it wouldn't be fun.

  • Zaheroux

    Megan Weber from Zaheroux said 5 years ago

    It may sound contradicting and I apologize but it depends on how you view "art." Are we talking about how the world is changing into electronics or traditional medium? In today's world, I see forms of art in quite a few places. People demand art through other creative outlets now, websites, graphic design and the such. In that sense, art has not really lost its value because there is a "use". Today's world I see a thrive of trying to find the unique and different, the art envelope is being pushed in directions I don't think anyone would have considered years ago but it is hard. If you are not out there enough, outrageous enough, that is where I see art is loosing its value because since it isn't outragous or unique, you are over looked unless your work has a "use". Its sad that art is pushed to the back burner in schools and as an activity...creativity is something that should be enjoyed completely and appreciated (very much stop and smell the roses feel) but with how the world is turning....everyone rather have the right here, right now and if it doesn't hold my attention I'll move on...

  • GraciousArt

    Pamela Neswald from GraciousArt said 5 years ago

    Especially in the US, we are brainwashed by the media about what to value. Mainly, this large scale advertising is focused on mass produced items such as cell phones and beer. This is what pays for the advertising. The mainstream media receives no financial input from the arts and therefor pretty much ignores the arts except for an occasional sensationalism such as a newly discovered Da Vinci selling for a kazillion dollars or a daring museum theft. This type of branding leads people to think that the arts are for someone else, someone incredibly rich. While they are educated to believe they must replace their car or their cell phone at certain regular intervals, they also are taught to believe that they "can't afford" art.

  • Waterrose

    Rose Waterrose from Waterrose said 5 years ago

    I don't think there has ever been a time when artists or art has been valued at the time of its creation. If you look to Europe --Monet, VanGogh, Picasso....they all struggled for the majority of their lives. It wasn't until they had died that their art was valued. Much too late. Things have not changed. We have just become more aware of these facts because we can see all around the globe now at the touch of finger.

  • myvintagecrush

    Kathleen from myvintagecrush said 5 years ago

    The arts are subjective; unfortunately we never know what we miss till it's gone.

  • GraciousArt

    Pamela Neswald from GraciousArt said 5 years ago

    Oops, and I forgot to THANK YOU, Chappell, for this pertinent topic. This is very important for us artists out here. Good finds on the quotes, too.

  • kimialex

    Kimi from kimialex said 5 years ago

    I LOVE this article!! To quote Mr. Holland's Opus, "If you keep cutting the arts, pretty soon these kids will have nothing to read and write about!"

  • Parachute425

    Terry from Parachute425 said 5 years ago

    I agree that our society has always devalued the arts. That value was taught in our school when the football field got new lighting and seating while the drama students were tripping over a buckled 40 year old stage floor. Artist are meant to struggle - right? My graphics business took a hit when clients got their own computers, decided they could design their own literature and the business world was flooded with the brilliant initials-in-a-box concept. I do believe, though, that the biggest reason for the loss of creative jobs, at this time, is the economy. The domino effect has touched everyone. Producers can’t produce when no one has the money to buy tickets, musicians can’t play when no one can afford the night out and how can you buy that original painting when you just lost the walls to hang it on.

  • uswatsons

    Sylvie Liv from SylvieLiv said 5 years ago

    To me, success is in happiness and making ends meet. I don't feel you have to make big money to be successful. I find it silly to stereotype artists as people do. What an artist does in his day varies tremendously from artist to artist. Some artists have a lot more difficult job than others in different fields do.

  • RetroRevivalBoutique

    RetroRevivalBoutique from RetroRevivalBoutique said 5 years ago

    Great article! (^__^)

  • erikarossoart

    Erika Rosso from erikarossoart said 5 years ago

    This is a great article that brings up some very interesting points. I agree with many of the previous statements. In my own experience, I have found that it is hard to find support for pursuing your passion. Family and friends often judge the artist for not "working" or for being lazy or dreaming. As a result, we often end up with jobs that distract us from our true calling. Then, the art suffers because there is no time to develop and advance our skills. In addition, competing with cheap prices from overseas makes our job even harder. Through all of this, we need to stay true to our passion! Do what ever you need to do to get out your brushes or your journal or whatever it is that moves you. Success is defined by the happiness that your life brings to you, not how much money you make or how people view you. Live free.

  • RetrofitBecky

    Becky from RetrofitStyle said 5 years ago

    I have never been happier since I quit my "real" job and devoted my life to art. To me, happiness is the measure of success. I think we just have a lot more unhappy people right now who are struggling to survive. Welcome to the world of an artist, ya'll!

  • annyoder1

    Ann Yoder from annyoderwatercolors said 5 years ago

    art losing value? I was once asked by a couple who were both surgeons if I would consider discounting my original painting that they were quite enamered with. You see, she went on to explain "the economy has taken it's tole." I smiled and said I hadn't noticed. The economy has always been difficult for us artists.

  • LaurelCanyonBeads

    LaurelCanyonBeads from LaurelCanyonBeads said 5 years ago

    I believe we are at a point where money is such a struggle, that we are beginning to reevaluate what is "valuable" to us as individuals. This means the art on which we choose to spend our hard earned cash must have personal meaning; be something we believe in, and not just rate as a "good investment". This is an opportunity for all of us as artists to create work that will find a home with people who appreciate and value it- for what it means to them personally- instead of to the "art market" and it's artificial measure of worth.

  • ArchetypalTheatre

    Sarah Pogue from ArchetypalTheatre said 5 years ago

    I totally agree with Pamela's point. Certain products are heavily advertised as essential and it is hard for even the most savvy social critic to resist Madison Ave. It is a sad situation because, at a soul level, art truly is essential. "The role of the artist I now understood as that of revealing through the world-surfaces the implicit forms of the soul" ~Joseph Campbell A dedicated artist has a crucial role in society and deserves support.

  • SusanFaye

    Susan Faye from SusanFayePetProjects said 5 years ago

    Call me crazy, but here's an essential equation that has been lost and abandoned in our education system here in the USA: Art = Creative Thinking. And by "art", I mean visual art, dance, music, creative writing, poetry, even home economics. And creative thinking is essential in every facet of our society if we want to thrive and survive. Even an analytical, logical scientist must engage the right side of his brain and "think outside of the box", ie. use creative thinking, in order to make an important discovery or invention. Smarten up, Education System!

  • peacesofindigo

    Dawanna Young from peacesofindigo said 5 years ago

    The amazing growth of etsy and it's many successful sellers shows that art isn't losing it's value. People who want to support handmade seek out beautiful things, regardless of the fact that less expensive and mass produced things are available elsewhere. It's a lifestyle, a way of appreciating a few nice things vs. buying a cartload of junk at the local discount store.

  • HappyWhoos

    Jessie Friedman from HappyWhoos said 5 years ago

    Great article and discussion! I do not think that art is losing its value - art was never up there to begin with. Most of the famous and most respected artists in history struggled financially, it was only until after death that their art's value increased. I did not decide to make a living as an artist to become rich, that would be very naive of me. I am an artist because I do not know what else to be. :) For me success is just being able to make ends meet, be my own boss, be free, and share my art with the world. It takes a lot of courage to pursue art as a career (especially in the beginning). People do not see it as a career, but a hobby. My belief is if you can dream it, you can be it. Put in the hard work and you shall see success - YOUR idea of success.

  • LiltingWinds

    Courtney Lewis said 5 years ago

    I think that if you believe in your art, and why you started in the first place, then the struggles you face are your struggles. In any other facet of life there will be struggles, in any other career or time frame. Stay true to your art! and i think you will find your way

  • HibouCards

    Anne-Claire R. from HibouDesigns said 5 years ago

    excellent topic, thanks for starting it :) the pressure is real and it's hard to hang on and not give up sometimes but I'm happy doing what I do and I feel blessed that I am able to do it! And for all the people who don't understand you get one who does every once in a while... one who truly gets it and tells you and that is amazing :) Sometimes people will tell me my work made them smile and brightened their day, that's what I hang on to when I doubt.

  • paintmydog

    Justine Osborne from paintmydog said 5 years ago

    The paintings I own (by other artists) are the things I would miss the most if the house was to burn down - irreplaceable and the value to me is more that the cost price. It's fantastic thing to have clients that also crave that feeling of having something very unique, govt funding has drastically reduced for the arts, but I still think individuals value having something they feel is so special. So perhaps never a better time to deal directly with people who love their homes.

  • sutton530

    Joanne Sutton from Claraluzcreations said 5 years ago

    We devalue art because we are a distracted society. We seek distraction in so many outward activities that we have lost the balance of life. To create, whether you are a painter, a scientist, or a plumber, you must connect. To connect there must be a time, place and quiet to do so. We are in a hurry to get someplace, have something, etc. It takes patience and diligence and courage to develop that inner life that expresses itself in art and in our life. It is not something everyone can see, let alone appreciate. But it does exist in all of us and so there is hope!!

  • rubisartnmore

    Rubi Javier from rubisartnmore said 5 years ago

    Why do you think the arts are losing value? - Some mentioned that art was never really given its value here in the American society - True! Other cultures appreciate art much more than most people do here in the US. Many schools have significantly cut back on their art programs, so how does that encourage artistic expression and appreciation? Society here places a great emphasis on financial wealth for success... the majority of artists never get close to that standard just through art, therefore art is generally perceived as valueless.

  • AdamDahlstrom

    Adam Dahlstrom from ADinMI said 5 years ago

    It's a matter of perspective. I don't think the arts are losing value- art's value is intrinsic. If other people want to devalue art, it's they themselves that become devalued- what's humanity without art? Money is not a gauge for artistic success, it's a gauge for commercial success. Artists have always had to find interior means by which to measure the success of their work.

  • rubisartnmore

    Rubi Javier from rubisartnmore said 5 years ago

    Why do you think the arts are losing value? Some mentioned art was never really valued - so True! Here in the US, many schools have cut back art programs; So how would that encourage love and appreciation for the arts? In this society, success is often perceived as financial wealth, and we know artists will very seldom achieve success that way just through their artistic talent. Thus art is generally perceived as valueless by that standard of society.

  • DiReichertsArt

    Diann from DiReichertsArt said 5 years ago

    Art isn't losing its value, nor is it making the artists 'poor'. We have to be business people as well as artists; find the market, be creative in finding areas that need art and will buy from you, and most of all offer different prices. I paint ACEOs for those who want to collect and want original art, to paint fine art for persons who want a 'jewel' on their walls. It is true that retired or childhood offers the most time to artists. That's when we do our best work! Some of the views here are negative, some are just labeling everyone with the same observation, balooney!

  • funkomavintage

    Tressie from funkomavintage said 5 years ago

    It may be hard to see, but the arts are valued...but jobs in the art industry are taking a hit....America, as a whole, isn't an art-loving people. That is why we have The Kardashians, WalMart and Tuscan-style condos, everywhere we look....

  • PinwheelStudio

    Whitney from PinwheelStudio said 5 years ago

    Coming from having studied art history in parallel to my studio studies and work, I have several thoughts on this rich topic, with which I've often wrestled. One thought is that the current art world is polarized between the academic world of contemporary art (the art coming from universities, the art in galleries touting political clout, and overall art that is officially reviewed in art crit magazines and journals (often more abstract and/or conceptual)) and the more common instances of art that are seen in coffeehouses and local fairs (often more representational and traditional). Somehow these two worlds seem to separately keep to their own work and rarely meet in the middle. For those of us who find ourselves stuck somewhere in between the two, the question of measuring success in art can be quite tricky. Do we measure our success by how others view our work? By how much we sell? Or by how we see our own art and the joy derived from making the work? Perhaps a combination of these three?

  • mirabellamorello

    mirabellamorello from mirabellamorello said 5 years ago

    This is a very interesting article because it points out what my husband and I wonder about on a daily basis: why do some countries actually value the contribution their artists bring to the culture of their country, while this one seems to value it less and less? And I use the word "seem" because in this time of economic crisis for our country (and around the world), I know there are many people like us, who have nothing left to bring to our lives but our creative gifts. Having been unemployed from "real" jobs for two years, in the reality of our world, we have had to create our own jobs to survive. We have been so happy to have both been blessed with the creative natures that helped us to plan and organize 18 weekends of garage sales last year, neatly organized and arranged in a shed festively decorated with Christmas lights and colorful old blankets on tables. My creativity comes into play everyday in creating the branding for all three of my Etsy shops, in the photos I take for this vintage shop, in the way I put together the supplies I have left and the vintage items left to me by my mother for use in my hand-made shop and collage sheets for my third shop. Is it a steady income? Not always, but we are grateful for what we have and hope that our culture grows to value artists more from seeing them as innovators and creators of their own successes.

  • TheHandmadeClassroom

    Aly Parrott from alyparrott said 5 years ago

    I don't think there was ever a time where artists were more or less 'valued' in any given society. Artists have always been the oddballs, the ones with the voice and the passion and the clarity to bring a given era to life and freeze it in time--whether this is by representational paintings of clothing and ships or a raw study in the aesthetic trends of the age. They also challenge norms at the same time. There will always be a need for artists do do this, the hard part is keeping yourself relevant in the contemporary do this, you may have to travel outside your comfort zone a bit and sometimes that's a hard thing to do. But I don't think anyone ever became an artist for an easy life! Also, with regards to the idea that mass-produced goods are taking business away from artists..most people have always bought the lowest common denominator. When the sewing machine was invented, seamstresses could all of a sudden make 3 dresses a day instead of 1. So they got cheaper. And you can bet your boots that most people flocked to the shops that sold 'machine-sewn dresses,' because it was new and trendy and less expensive. But there were surely those purists who would continue to make their clothes with a needle and thread. Just like there are people now who make their own clothes when there really isn't a 'need' like there used to be, and who grow their own food because they think it's better than buying food at the supermarket. To me, this says that there will always be a need for handmade :) One last far a small business goes, I do think things are getting tough. But the only thing we can do is persevere and continue to support small businesses when we can, even when it might be less convenient! Thanks for the stimulating article!

  • rowenamurillo

    Rowena Murillo from rowenamurillo said 5 years ago

    perhaps part of the problem is that we live in such a materialistic society and much of the value of the arts is mental, emotional and spiritual, rather than simply things. We value process less than product. The truth is that everyone is creative, it's part of human nature, so everyone does have the potential to make art... the thing that we're not valuing enough is the worth of BEING creative, the challenge, the expansion, the thought, the hard work, the language, the craft. We can turn art into a commodity, but we're still not giving it the true value. Maybe we're spoiled, because it's so easy to watch a show or listen to music or see pretty pictures on line. It's like it's disposable. We just don't see anymore all that goes into making art.

  • SarenaMiller

    Sarena Miller from SarenaMiller said 5 years ago

    While I agree with some of the thoughts here, I am going to challenge the thread of consciousness a little. I am going to totally flip it, actually, and say that there has been NO TIME in history where artists have as much opportunity as they do nowadays. The site we are on is a fantastic example. Yes, the economy has shifted for everybody, yes, we face the same question of appreciation of the arts, (the fine art hierarchy that I am glad to see dissipating) and the debate of form versus function...we no longer must rely on the patron who will find value in our skills. We don't need to apply for elitist grants or face nepotism with those who will dole out the dough, or depend on others to sell our work (for a hefty sum) We can - here and now - take the matter into our own hands!! We can define a market for our work, carve out a niche, expose our wondrous creations WORLDWIDE thanks to the web, and to sites like etsy, online magazines, even pinterest, that will result in millions upon millions of potential viewers and buyers - FAR FAR FAR more than artists from long ago. Like any entrepreneurial endeavor it means a plan, marketing skills, and knowing / learning what people will pay for. (Most people are not immune to that in our society) We can do this according to our own values, and our desire to change the world one bit at a time.... Okay, my little rant is over. Happy creating, friends!!

  • TheMillineryShop

    Marcia Lacher from TheMillineryShop said 5 years ago Featured

    This is how I know I have succeeded. I was in Manhattan, in a huge crowd of people. I saw a woman in a great hat and well, being a milliner, I had to get closer. And then I saw it. She was wearing one of my hats, handmade by me. It was such a thrill I almost swooned. So did she.

  • TheFederalCase

    Matthew Pastre from TheFederalCase said 5 years ago

    I am just a little miffed at what the term art is.

  • AMSkrafts

    AMSkrafts from AMSkrafts said 5 years ago

    I have seen others view the arts as only a hobby, even though artists work just as hard and need to concentrate just as much as in any other profession. Every profession needs some creativity to grow and improve, to complete whatever task is thrust upon you. It is unfortunate that many cannot understand what skill and hard work go into a piece of art; why do you think famous artwork have such high prices? They are more than just paint on canvas, a shape molded in clay or stone. Far too few can see this.

  • arwendesigns

    arwendesigns from arwendesigns said 5 years ago Featured

    This article is so true. I have met so many people who think you cannot have a 'job' being an artist. They think what artists do is easy and frivolous, and we are only doing it for fun, so therefore we should do it for free. They don't understand how much actual work and time goes into making your art into a business. It's not a 9 to 5 job, it's an all the time job, and we do it because we love it, but it is also hard work. I know there are people out there who value art, and Etsy's success proves how many people love art and handcrafted things, it just seems like there are so many more who don't.

  • annyoder1

    Ann Yoder from annyoderwatercolors said 5 years ago

    I Agree wholeheartedly with Diann - we need to be business owners. I went to school with all of those folks oozing with talent, bells on their shoes and no clue as to how to handle any aspect of managing money or their business. My personal definition of success - can not allow for a bunch of excuses on why I can't do this.

  • SyntheticInnocence

    Lauren Sugrue from SyntheticInnocence said 5 years ago

    I'm sorry I have to disagree with a few of you. Dana Seilhan; Just because you can't understand art that is cerebral and intelligent that does not diminish it's validity. There is nothing I dislike more than artists saying things like that. Just because it's not what you do doesn't mean you should disparage it just as you would not want your own work disparaged. I'm also going to say something that will likely get me more trouble than understanding and that is, there is a difference between Art and Craft. Dana Seilhan also mentions everyone being creative, I agree with this however I do not believe just ANYONE has the ability to be an Artist. Call me elitist all you like but there is a big difference between creativity and Artistry. I'm not going to delve further into the subject as this is not the proper setting however I felt that needed to be said. As for my own measure of success, I fell that when I have truly accomplished something in my work, my painting for example, is not when I have a solo show or even when I sell a four or five figure piece but when someone looks at my work and can go away from it seeing the world a little differently. Smiles are always nice too. As for my more commercial work, it's when the customer is happy and the rush you get from seeing the enjoyment in their eyes. I also agree greatly with Sarena Miller, in past decades Artists had to rely almost solely on benefactors to afford enough to survive and be able to create, I'm sure a good deal of Artists from the past would have jumped at the idea of being able to support themselves and show their work for relatively nothing to a worldwide audience.

  • KeelyFinnegan

    Keely Finnegan from KeelyFinnegan said 5 years ago

    Any kind of art (visual, dance, music, writing, etc.) is a measure of a culture's heartbeat, and a relic of the artist(s) living during that period of time. It should really be valued in today's society more than it is. For me in particular, art is about putting emotions into symbols, and on to paper. Painting is like breathing to me...without the ability to do it I would die. So yes, some people may think it's frivolous, or devalue what artists across the world do for any number of reasons, but for any kind of life without that kind of expression would be impossible. An integral part of me would cease to exist. I hope that everyone can relate to the idea of potential loss of an integral part of themselves, and the kind of spiritual (and eventual cultural) death that would bring about. Maybe if we can continue these conversations, we can change some minds. In the meantime I try and remain optimistic, and even though my pocketbook is emptier than I would like it to be, I find ways to support my fellow creative types. I am VERY thankful the handmade movement is gaining ground, and that the internet has been such a vehicle for artists of all kinds across the world.

  • marystreacle

    Mary Louise Silva from MaryLouiseArt said 5 years ago Featured

    This is something I feel very passionately about. Every time an artist does art as a "favor" for someone for free, it kicks the whole industry down. Now, 99.9 percent of my art "offers" go something like this : "Can you do such and such for me- it's great exposure for you, I can't pay you, but a lot of people will see it". or I need 3 - 18 x 24 panels painted. Don't worry I can totally pay you, how about $100. Or my personal favorite from friends and family " I have this huge wall in my house that really needs a mural. And, I want YOU to paint it. (Like this is an honor) Oh you want money for it? I thought it would just be fun for you. There is a HUGE problem that people want art but don't value it. People tend to perceive the artist's time as not monetarily worthy. It is not "fun" for anyone to work for free. Fellow artists! Your time has value! Stop giving yourself away and quit underpricing your work. It's not a NICE thing to do. You are destroying the entire industry!!!!

  • reynalore

    Reyna Lorele from YIYOdesigns said 5 years ago Featured

    Great topic. A case in point: yesterday, I arrived at a Tai Chi class early, and was chatting with another student. When I told him I'm a writer and fiber artist, and mentioned my blog and etsy shop, he said, "Are you making a living at it?" As if to say, if I'm not making a TON of money at it, I'm wasting my time, or I must not be very good at it. I thought, the fact that I haven't made a ton of money from my creative work is an oversight on the part of our culture. It has nothing to do with the real value of my work, or my very valuable enjoyment in doing it. If money is the only barometer, well, that is a sad state of mind. I speak from experience, and I'm sure I'm not alone!

  • KMalinka

    Natalia from KMalinkaVintage said 5 years ago

    great article!

  • nothingtralala

    Heather Parr from nothingtralala said 5 years ago

    Its unfortunate that the majority of people don't seem to value creativity. I was brought up around very practical people who never really took an interest in anything creative, some people don't seem to need it or understand the need for it in other people so it has always felt like a bit of a guilty pleasure. I work full time for a charity so I don't have to justify making art to my family, but little do they know that its actually the thing that keeps me happy and sane. ....And sometimes also drives me mad and does my head in, not sure that makes sense but hey ho!

  • cosmofields

    Keletso from cosmofields said 5 years ago

    Art is not losing value, it is unfortunately, the nature of our western society that dictates that success and value of a worker is in the traditional office job. Yes, some of us may not come out and make six figure salaries at the end of the year, but we still feel we have achieved a measure of success. We do work that we love and its success cannot be measured in dolllars and cents.

  • thesecrethermit

    Micki Wilde from thesecrethermit said 5 years ago

    Some great comments on this topic, and I've found some wonderfully talented artists here too. I currently work full time hours for just under part time wages but struggling artist or not, it's what I personally feel compelled to do and hope I always will :)

  • Augenblickphoto

    Rebeccah Dean from Augenblickphoto said 5 years ago

    Were arts ever all that valued in the US? I studied music in California and was constantly asked "so what kind of job do you expect to get with that?" Things are better here in Germany. The government even has the Künstlersozialkasse for artists, musicians and journalists. It's a program where the government helps pay for health insurance and 401k to full time artists. Hard to get into the program, but rock on!

  • SketchAway

    Suhita from SketchAway said 5 years ago

    Sadly, we're headed towards making the problem much worse: when we cut funding for the arts in schools, we cut exposure and appreciation of the arts for a future generation. It's hard enough for artists now and doesn't bode well for artists of the future.

  • auntjanecan

    Jane Priser from JanePriserArts said 5 years ago

    As it has been pointed out before, artists have always been the "oddballs" in western culture. Look at Van Gogh who was shunned in his day and was very poor. Now that he is departed and his work was saved by his sister in law... well, his paintings are very very valuable. It's not the works of art themselves that have changed, it's the perception of Van Gogh's work that has changed. Art is always valuable no matter what the market declares their value is. And I think that living artists are somehow a threat to the western society that artists live in.

  • abensley

    Alaina Bensley from BiggerSky said 5 years ago

    The education system suffers from poor art training, not just in classes, but hiring qualifed art teachers. The academic system suffers from devalueing successful artists as adjunct teachers or visiting commentators from the field. They are blind to the many high paying careers of creative people in advertings, marketing, movies, internet, television, entertainment industries. Higher institutions are more interrested in pouring millions into men's sports & droping art, music, & other creative courses that are the very foundation of a healthy economic society.

  • auntjanecan

    Jane Priser from JanePriserArts said 5 years ago

    It would be awfully nice if Etsy would support the artists here by having some fine art treasuries on the front page. Please consider doing it!!!

  • Lisarachel

    Lisa Rachel Horlander from ArtfulSoles said 5 years ago

    Im satisfied for now with not having to get a day job:) Yes I struggle daily about under pricing my art here on etsy and wonder how low or high I can price and still sell. In the end I love getting to paint for a living so I find I keep my prices competitive so I dont have to quit this dream job. I think being an artist is a complicated business, but finding satisfaction with were you currently are is the only was to make it better

  • MirabilisColors

    Karen from PlusSizePlus said 5 years ago

    If you want an answer maybe you should think about why you and others focus on current catalog trends so heavily instead of on original work. There isn't remotely as much support for unique artisan work and fine art as there is for things that copy the trends that are already popular.

  • VasiliosAlexandros

    Vasilios Alexandros from VasiliosAlexandros said 5 years ago

    The problem, in my opinion, is that people today rely too much on computers, therefore, the creative thought is dying. Little kids spend hours playing games, but not too much times using their minds and fingers to create something. My little nephews are lost in the screen and have become zombies. However, one day as an experiment, I bought a 'painting by colour canvas' for my 4 year old nephew and he had so much fun doing it and told me: "I want to do this everyday." He proudly displays his art at home. That's because he had to think in order to "create" his masterpiece which he hung on the wall. PULL THE PLUG ON THE GAMES AND GIVE YOUR CHILDREN A PAINTRBRUSH. Let's take back our creativity!

  • Spicewoodfarm

    Spicewoodfarm from Spicewoodfarm said 5 years ago

    I have read Kelly's statement four times and still don't know what she means. Art does not have to be relevant to people's lives. Where did she get that idea? It has to please someone (not everyone) and that someone can be the artist who created it, but it does not have to "mean" anything. Adam Dahlstrom had the best comment - after his comment, I'm not sure why anyone else felt a need to post. Amen, Adam

  • marialopera

    Maria Lopera said 5 years ago

    Money itself is loosing value not art.

  • AllThatGlittersWraps

    Krista Rawlinson from BeeBuzzPaperie said 5 years ago

    Fantastic topic. Somehow arts are losing value in our society. It is ironic because at the same time, everyone I talk to about my shop says how great it must be to be a creative person and to have a career based on what I find to be true to who I am. They support me so much. I have seen some of these same supporters begin to look inward at themselves and their own talents--beginning to embrace their artistic side because they can see the value and the potential in it. So why IS there such a big disconnect?

  • FranceGallery

    France Gallery from FranceGallery said 5 years ago

    One must truly love what they do, to weather the difficult times as an artist!

  • ME2Designs

    Meg from ME2Designs said 5 years ago

    Art = the first language (archeologists found the drawings in caves and those historical finds were the sole expressions of communication left by the earliest inhabitants of our planet). Even if a person finds themself employed in a field not of their choosing in order to put a roof over their head and eat, the right brain expression of their creative soul is a lifelong gift/talent that can always bring some balance to ones life. The global economy may continue to be shaky (and funding support for the arts continuing to shrink), but the arts are as strong as ever all over the planet we share, with the number of artists and arts organizations continuing to grow. I wish that financial support and appreciation for all artistic expression would be restored to former levels, because the arts are essential to sustaining civilization.

  • wendyspb

    Wendy Prather Burwell from WendyPratherBurwell said 5 years ago

    Jane Priser from JanePriserArts made a really good suggestion--it would be great for etsy to feature some fine art treasuries on the front page. I haven't been on etsy very long but don't recall seeing any.

  • IkvothaMashiach70

    Gabrielle Knight from RuffleNBustle said 5 years ago

    Happiness is how I measure success. I'd rather have a penny to my name and be happy than millions in the bank and miserable. Maybe you can't eat happiness but there's always foraging right? Get back to my roots :)

  • luisdiaz

    Luis Diaz from LuisDiazArt said 5 years ago

    I deal with that struggle on a daily basis and currently living back at my parents hose I can see in the eyes of my dad and bother, "What a waste." Even though I've been published in well-recognized magazines and artist annuals. Even when famous people have worn my artwork or have my art on their upcoming music albums. It's a shame to feel this way. I've been depressed and had my ups-and-downs and one big one was during the recession. I couldn't pay my bills which included credit cards and student loans. I think it started before that when I quit my first job. I had a steady graphic design I hated because I wanted to draw and paint and express things more than just daily television graphics for a news network I didn't care for. My dad hasted me for years after this coming to my apartment to tell me what I should do. How can you get out of bed and create when someone visits you and tells you off basically. He would storm out of the house and leave me feeling guilty depress and angry. This year I am finally getting up and leaving the city and them behind. It took over 10 years, but I can finally afford to move with my artist girlfriend. Frankly without her I could even dream of doing it.

  • wendyspb

    Wendy Prather Burwell from WendyPratherBurwell said 5 years ago

    Jane Priser from JanePriserArts made a really good suggestion--for etsy to support artists by featuring some fine art treasuries on the front page occasionally. I've only been on etsy for a short time but don't recall seeing any.

  • iheartetsyart

    Victoria Pitt from iheartetsyart said 5 years ago

    I agree with many of the other posts, people have this perception that art is less a valued skill then some other skilled trade. As a crafter and graphic designer I also get the friends, family, and coworkers (who are most guilty) that want "favors" for free - as if my time alone isn't worth anything on top of whatever I am making for them. In addition, I sometimes do craft shows. A very common criticism I hear is a focus on how long something took me to make in relation to the items price. OK - so I get paid pennies hourly, but that is not why I am an artist. I create because I have to and I sell because the joy of another person who loves your art is priceless. Maybe if you people stopped asking for "favors" and saw value in my art then I could actually sell it for what it is really worth!

  • lion6255

    lion6255 from lion6255 said 5 years ago

    I totally agree with everything being said here. And then there s places like ebay with people so underpricing hand made stuff....

  • theamonnier

    Thea from BobblesByThea said 5 years ago

    I work full-time as a Communications Specialist. this job title includes graphic design, photography, web development, and writing. This "day job" pays the bills but is so fast paced that I have to find other creative outlets just to keep the juices flowing. Jewelry making and knitting! Now something that started out as wonderful hobbies has now turned into a business....I feel like I have two full-time jobs just to make enough product to sell... Don't get me wrong I love both or I would not have done them, but I get really frustrated when I talk to people who think that I have it "easy" or say things like "that must be so much fun!" To be honest if I could win the lottery things would be way more fun!

  • NaviWing

    NaviWing from NaviWing said 5 years ago

    Etsy really likes promoting the dream of quitting your day job, and I've always been skeptical. It's something most Etsy artists would love, but very few can actually obtain. I loved this article for creating perspective on that topic and for promoting dialogue between artists. Thank you.

  • KaiceJoy

    Kirsti Joy from KaiceJoy said 5 years ago

    This was a great article....loved reading through the comments-I tend to agree that people often seem to think that art is "play": I personally have a fulltime job, but need to make ends meet, and I am trying etsy as a way to do something I love: creating!! I just get frusterated when my family and friends don't see this (etsy based business) as something really worthwhile! Can your "job" be fun? Absolutely! Is sucess based on a dollar amount? Nope! But it sure does help!

  • GrandpasVintageFinds

    James Stamper from GrandpasVintageFinds said 5 years ago

    Very interesting points of view. Very true as well! Made me rethink alot of things. I think handcrafted art is the best gift you can give someone and people really don't see the value of all the work that goes into a piece of art.

  • forevereverything

    forevereverything from forevereverything said 5 years ago

    I Love this conversation bc it's been on my mind ever since I left art school… so many amazing and inspiring points... I see a lot going on in the comments in terms of beliefs about money and success, and art vs craft. Maybe these statistics are a good wakeup call for us -- to motivate us to honor and act upon our creative impulses (and not to judge them as being inferior bc a label like "craft" or "fine art"!), especially for future generations. This article mentions our current economic down turn, but I believe it's quite timeless bc I've heard negative beliefs about being an artist since I was a little girl (from my mom, who probably got them from her mom, etc). My well-meaning mom tried to convince me to enter a "stable" profession, but there really is no such thing, and this economic down turn is really proving it. I followed my inner guidance and became an artist anyway, and I'm proud to say that I have created a very satisfying, amazing income for myself. I've done a lot of soul searching and read many books on abundance, and I've found that stability is something you create for yourself -- it's a foundation, and a faith in yourself, and a knowing that you will be ok even in the face of challenge. No job can give you stability (not even a doctorate or mba can do it). It's something that comes from within, and the money you create is just a by-product of that stability. There's no rule that says that if you're an artist, you can't have true stability. The economic down turn can easily turn into a validation of negative beliefs about abundance. But if we repeat the negative headlines in the news to each other, we miss out on seeing tremendous opportunity for exposure and connection with the internet, or other innovations happening right now. I also remember grappling with the notion of "craft" being inferior to "fine art". This is also a weird negative belief, and it's very judgmental of our beautiful impulse to create. There is never a valid excuse to negatively judge your own creative expression as being inferior, regardless of whether you're painting a canvas, or knitting a sweater. It's true that there are paintings that people price higher than a hand knit sweater. But, if you walk into a Missoni store, you'll fine tons of hand knit sweaters that are priced higher than paintings. There are all sort of judgements and labels we can attach to our beautiful impulse to make art in order to put ourselves down, but those judgements are totally baseless. I don't know even how to address artistic success question, bc I don't know that I've fully understood what it means to me. I feel like success is deeply personal, and no one can really define it for anyone else. The reason I make art is not to make money, or to be "important" in the "art world", but because my soul needs to make it. Whether or not people respond to my art, or give me a lot of money for my art, can't be a gauge of success for me bc it has nothing to do with why I make art. I make art because I have to. I make it bc I have to express the what's within me -- joy, power, passion, whatever. I don't know if the concept of success is big enough to hold something like this.

  • SavannahSue

    Susan Milligan said 5 years ago

    Art in it's many forms, has value. Aesthetic and cultural value are two I think of immediately. I took classes from two decorators in Boston 20 years ago.. I asked how to price my work when I'm just beginning and have no real experience. One of the men said, "you have more experience than your client. They are paying for your ideas and your services. They told me to "Never under value your worth or your work." Having a regular job is work, so you can have the means to create. - - - - - - - - - - - - - The Arts on a greater scale are generally funded by people of substantial means, and the economy should have no real effect on their support of the arts. However, the appreciation and support of the Arts by the general public is sometimes (like a day at the baseball game) priced out of the reach of many. - Art in any culture should never be exclusive to class. sm

  • 2TrickPony

    Rachel from 2TrickPony said 5 years ago

    the world would be lifeless without art. and music and dance; and all the money in the world would not fill the void. And many people do know this and value art.

  • ErikaPrice

    Erika from ErikaPrice said 5 years ago

    Thanks for highlighting this issue. My measurement for success is seeing the pleasure my customers get from purchasing my designs, but I'd have starved years ago if I'd had to rely on just my income alone - luckily I have a very supportive husband! Of course artists love what we do, and it can be fun too - but it depresses me when people think it's just a hobby, and undervalue what we produce or disregard the hours of effort that goes into each piece. As someone has already said - it's not a 9-5 job! Even when I'm not physically creating I'm invariably doing one of the many other things that my chosen career requires - apart from the thinking and inspiration that goes into every piece, there's all the paperwork, marketing, listing, book-keeping, tax returns etc etc etc. Thankfully there are still plenty of people who value what we do, and show their support by buying our work from sites like Etsy (well, sometimes, anyway!)

  • amyblandford

    amyblandford said 5 years ago

    Dana Seilhan from studiorandom says: Artist statement? What the heck is that? Just make the freaking art. I don't know why it has to be this hugely elitist intellectual exercise. Make your art. Let people figure it out for themselves. If they can't figure it out because you're basically throwing paint at a canvas, that's your fault and you need to try something else. Sorry to sound snarky but this kind of makes me nuts. I'm old-school representational. If I do something that is not representational, I still need to use symbolism that other people can understand. Otherwise I'm just navel-gazing. That's not what art is supposed to be about. ........... Actually, I think that's a pretty great artist's statement! (...going back to read the rest of the comments...)

  • WingedWorld

    Vickie Moore from WingedWorld said 5 years ago

    I previously worked as a graphic artist and “got to do art all day.” I had no desire to do my own art in the evenings and on weekends. Now I work as a writer, and do art as a sideline. (Of course, now I don't want to do any writing during my off hours.) I'm glad that I don't have to do art all day, every day, year after year, just to pay the bills. My “day job” is what helps keep art fresh for me.

  • blmcdaniel

    Blake McDaniel from blmcdaniel said 5 years ago

    It is extremely hard to sell artwork especially if an artist just started off( like myself). At the beginning, an artist suffer from lack of information, lack of materials, and somewhat a lack of identity. I am still having "problems"with selling my artwork, ;however, i view my "problems" as opportunities. I have fail a lot ,but gain much more in life which is knowledge.

  • GoldenSpiralDesigns

    Lola Ocian from GoldenSpiralDesigns said 5 years ago

    I was talking with my mother about this yesterday, in fact. She's a business manager for independent artists and her feedback has always given me key perspective. I expressed that I'm having a hard time finding my voice as an artist. What am I trying to say with my work? What is the point of being a creative person. We talked at length about the purpose of art and the role of the artist and I found myself getting anxious. I read in one of the earlier posts and I fully agree that "being" an artist is not like being a waitress or a lawyer or a teacher. It's not something I can arrive at, perform, and then leave behind at the end of the day. As an artist, I am an artist all the time and as such, I fear there isn't enough support in our society. Oh the things I could create, were I not struggling to pay bills, etc... Nothing kills my creative fire like the stresses of the modern day. With a normal job, I would collapse at the end of an exhausting work day and have no energy or inspiration for art. Now that I quit my normal job and am relying on my art for support, the pressure to create is almost crushing. Again, I am uninspired and stressed to come up with ideas that aren't just for the sake of creativity, but that will sell so I can pay my bills. I wonder if it's possible to be a professional artist? For some, their art has gained in reputation, notoriety, or skill such that they can sell it and make a living. Until that time comes, I'm stuck making art that matches the drapes, so to speak. In order to do my real art, I have to pump my market full of product that I can sell for a quick buck, but that has no real meaning in my world. Am I cheapening myself by doing this? How else can I afford food and a roof over my head if I'm not selling out in this way?

  • solocosmo

    Jessica Grundy from solocosmo said 5 years ago

    Sometimes it's hard to be taken seriously as an artist...a lot of people seem concerned that this is how I feed my family and put gas in my car. The idea that I rely on my art as my 'real job' seems bizarre to my aunts and uncles. They are always asking where it will lead bout just right here? Where I am now? Now is good. I had an Aunt ask how I 'generated my artwork' (I'm a digital artist) because she 'wanted to do it too'....she bought a tablet and photoshop but her pieces 'were not turning out right'....I explained to her that my work is not 'generated' it's created.... I'm not sure where my art will lead me. I don't want to be rich and famous, but I do want to be able to continue to support myself and my family on my work. I just want to be happy and pay my bills. PS - thank you etsy for making this possible because without etsy this would not be in my future.

  • CafePrimrose

    Amanda Gynther from CafePrimrose said 5 years ago

    I think the reason art is losing it's value is in part due to the change in how we live and consume. We have become a society that looks for inexpensive function and is easily accessible as well as quickly accessible. This is why we have trash barges. When machines started making things rather than human hands the whole world changed for artists and crafters. And not just for us.... But for the entire society. And not for the better. Before, when artists crafted everything rather than complicated machinery running on oil and fumes we had no global warming. Art and artists and handmade are not just of value for their time or their creativeness. We do a service for society. We create beauty from expressions of the human psych. But more important than that, we have helped to keep the world clean since the days of middens rather than trash barges. We get no thanx. And i gotta say, it is troubling how humanity has forgotten it's artists especially in a time when we are needed the most.

  • imaginearts

    imaginearts from imaginearts said 5 years ago

    I have been a professional artist for over 28 years. I have bought a home, own a debt free car and live in a area most people come to vacation in. My parents are both professional artists and continue to pursue their careers well into their 70's. What's the secret? No secret... hard work. I was taught to learn my craft..well. Approach my art as a job, that means 9-5, although I often work many more hours than that. But most of all to be professional. I have worked both sides of the art world as a wholesale artist and as a gallery owner and repeatedly I see artists both young and old miss some of the most important aspects of making a living at their art. Now it goes with out saying that you need to have a salable product, the trick is coming up with something that sells and still satisfies your need to create. Best advice I ever got was to make it so well they can't figure out how you do it for that price! With this economy it requires constant reinvention so stay ahead and make buck. I understand about working a "real job" while trying to make art. But how bad do you want it? I cannot imagine doing anything else and yes I have paid my dues, but there is not a day that goes by that I don't work my ass off to stay ahead of the "Target" mentality. My collectors are dying off and let's face it, the upcoming buyers are more interested in price and if it matches the sofa than buying a handmade piece of art they can pass on to their children. Why are the arts losing value? Because the buyers are uneducated! Make finely crafted art and teach the buyer why they should own it. Act like a professional, sell yourself as a successful artist and keep at it! A world without art is a world without a soul!

  • citizenobjects

    Shae from CitiZenoBjeCts said 5 years ago

    I do not think the arts are losing value- statistics are always misleading and can always be manipulated to suit one's argument. I think that the zeitgeist has momentum to spur an out and out backlash against mass-produced, ecologically unsound manufacturing and built in obsolescence. I see a real possibility of healing through the act of creation- and I am not one for optimism. I see a distinct problem however with a grassroots movement being overwhelmed by corporate interests and capitalization on a popular trend (um, for the record I don't mean Etsy :). Once something becomes marketed as being 'easy', it will indeed devalue the market for the arts. {And I don't think it is isolated to the arts - green-washing, organic-washing; it's happening in our food system too, but with opposite effect- in order to eat well it'll cost you a fortune} Artists are some of the most versatile, resourceful multi-taskers that exist- me included! If it means I have to exercise my skills I learned to make art in some other arena I will- so that I can make art. My measuring stick for success is simply that I have food, I have a house (even if it's rented), I have a studio- and I don't have to sit in an office or work for someone else. For that, I will indeed weld however many tables, stands and fence gates I need to.

  • LizaDeeOriginals

    LizaDee from LizaDeeOriginals said 5 years ago

    Money vs. Satisfaction...I can speak to this....I have always been a painter at heart.....(50 years of hard work, but often,putting my painting somewhere in third or fourth place)....husband, children, that order....In recent years, I began a small jewelry design venture, and to my surprise it became modestly successful..(my pieces are in 17 foreign countries, and 47 states).....and while it was financially very rewarding, I was still was not "a painter!" and....though my clients had always liked to refer to me as an "Artist", I certainly did not feel like one! This month, on a spur of the moment impulse with orders (and MONEY) waiting, I closed the door on jewelry endeavours, and once again picked up the brushes and squeezed the tubes of paint...the satisfaction was immediate and I knew the answer......I am quite sure that this will not be as financially "successful" as the jewelry, but as so many of you have so eloquently said.....What is success.?.

  • cassandraleach

    Cassandra Leach from CassysCrochetandMore said 5 years ago

    I have experienced this feeling most of my life, after high school i had aspirations to write and play music, but was convinced by certain family members to purse more 'career' minded, (ie boring) jobs, which i unfortunately listened to. Now, 10 years later, I have found a new art in fiber and I will no longer hold myself back. I feel that a positive outlook, and focusing on the creative, not a certain amount of money. I do have a day job, but its not something I have any aspirations in. I put that attitude into my art. I will promote myself.

  • ksturges

    Kathryn Sturges from LeisureSack said 5 years ago

    Instead of focusing on the problem, I tend to try to find solutions. Thinking outside the box, trendsetting, staying true to your vision and not giving up...I feel that those are the signs of a successful artist. Today I went to my local art center and admired a Jackson Pollock, a Monet, a Warhol, a few works by Matisse and even had the privilege of seeing a Georgia O'Keefe. All of these artists' works are so vastly different from each other but one thing they all have in common is that they all stayed true to their vision of what they believed their art should be regardless of the financials.

  • BlackStar

    Katie McClanahan from WearYourWild said 5 years ago

    I don't think that the arts are losing value. I have a lot of friends that make a living doing what they love. It may not be the norm, but it's what I'm surrounded with~

  • KevinInmanArt

    Kevin Inman from KevinInmanArt said 5 years ago

    I just try to do a good painting, and that's my definition of success.

  • Shadlyn

    Shadlyn Wolfe from Shadlyn said 5 years ago

    Among other things, I am a writer. I told a girl at work that I had written a novel. In response, she told me that she'd love to write, because she had really good ideas, and that it was just the writing it down part that was hard for her. I tried to explain that ideas you can't put down aren't going to go anywhere, and that she should sit down and do it. She didn't get it...she also didn't see value in my having written a novel, since it would be "so easy" for her to do it to. That's why the arts are declining: lots of people with just enough knowledge to think that it's easy, not enough to actually do it themselves. Another girl found out I wrote, and it was this massive, amazing thing to her. She was hugely complimentary and encouraging, reminding me when I blushed that I'd actually *finished* something and cheering. This is why I have hope for the future.

  • WillOaksStudio

    WillOaksStudio from WillOaksStudio said 5 years ago

    My definition of success shifts with different achievements, BUT being able to pay my bills, to live off of the income I make with my studio work, and not having to work at other jobs is hard, but wonderful....yes, Etsy, this is my day job, lol--and has been for many years!

  • uniquefabricgifts

    Unique Fabric Gifts from uniquefabricgifts said 5 years ago

    I like/want to believe that people still value and appreciate art, but that unfortunately, due to our current economy they cannot afford them all the time.

  • studio2355

    Margaret from studio2355 said 5 years ago

    imaginearts I agree with you, make it complicated and no one wants to try to copy it. I will read this all again thanks everybody.

  • amyblandford

    amyblandford said 5 years ago

    I think this quote from the Salon article fits with what Shadlyn said. (The 'anybody could do that' type of thinking.)............................................. "Because distribution has been democratized by the Internet, we tend to think that talent has been democratized as well.” If everyone can post their videos on YouTube, why are some filmmakers richer and more famous than others? “I think it’s changed the way we look at the contemporary creative class. A lot of it is resentment: Why are you up there when I can do this too?”

  • AmandaThonMetalsmith

    Amanda Thon from AmandaThonMetalsmith said 5 years ago

    As handmade items and skill based trades slowly trickled out of society - the value of the labor + skill required to make the item also fades. Brightly, our nation's awareness of "making" , DIY, and handmade is on the rise. We are fortunate to be seeing the merging of craftwork + technology despite global economic hardship. In this one small way we can think of this economically brutal time as spurring (and encouraging) a more handmade life. And perhaps encouraging ties to our history.

  • amyblandford

    amyblandford said 5 years ago

    ...continuing (so it's not one giant block of text)......... I have to say, I get the impression that a lot of Etsians feel that way too. (resentment, I mean.) Frequently in the forums, there are people who get attacked for questioning what really counts as handmade. "Oh, so your Handmade is better than my Handmade!" Sometimes the answer is YES! But we're all supposed to believe (or at least act as though) every shop is exactly equal, no one is any better at anything than anyone else. People brave enough to post that some artists actually do excel above others are jeered, same as the "cultural elite" in the article. ...........................For the arts (or anything else) to have value, they have to be measured in relation to some standard. We can't insist that it's all the same and then complain when the rest of society believes it.

  • wroscoe

    Wendy Roscoe from WendyRoscoeDesigns said 5 years ago

    For me, the definition of success as an artist comes from the joy it is bringing into my life. Strangers are buying my art. That is a phenomenal feeling! On a positive note, because of Etsy and other creative people and organizations I believe that there has been an upswing in interest for hand made goods. So many in my circle of life are turning to Etsy as well as local venues to buy unique and special items. It is wonderful!

  • Earendil7

    Shiloh Lenz from EarendilCollectibles said 5 years ago

    I define success as doing everything to please and glorify Jesus.

  • ConfettiCandy

    ConfettiCandy said 5 years ago

    Creativity cannot be outsourced or done by computers or machines, as far as I'm concerned art is one of our most valuable resources. As the world becomes more industrialized I believe the value of art and creativity will grow, and I've noticed a lot of cities that are trying to revitalize are turning to art as an answer.

  • flossyparticles

    flossy-p from flossypArt said 5 years ago

    Though I identify myself as an artist, and work longer and harder than ever before, I tell people I'm an illustrator because most people associate illustration as a profession. Still I have friends who drop around in the middle of a work day, hoping I'll babysit their kids because I'm an "artist", and that to them means I spend my days daydreaming with a pencil tucked behind my ear.

  • susanaredding9

    Susan Anne Redding from susanaredding9 said 5 years ago

    Artists, and all occupations have to realize that all must support one another. For example, recently Philadelphia put billions of dollars into the arts as a means to draw tourism into the city. Philadelphia also has an extremely successful mural program. Unfortunately, society cannot support the Arts and ignore human beings. Philadelphia has dangerous schools, has had to close libraries, has laid off a number of the police and has created NO jobs. People can't be what they want and ignore the rest of the population, including artists. If artists supported other occupations, and the other occupations supported the artist's right to create art, it would work.

  • gilstrapdesigns

    Debra Gilstrap from gilstrapdesigns said 5 years ago

    This is such a good a thought provoking article. I have always wanted to be able to make a living doing what I love to do each and everyday. I feel that it is so sad that it can and is sometimes hard to make a living doing the things that we love to do such as create. I would love for my work to get to a point where I can pay more bills with it. I now do this full time after being laid off in 2009 but my husband is disable so we mostly live off of his income now.

  • peaseblossomstudio

    Caroline from AnchorRoad said 5 years ago

    I don't necessarily agree that arts are losing their value. On the contrary, it is now easier to be successful than ever before. I have heard it said that success is about 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. And perhaps a dash of luck. Hard work seems to have gone out of vogue and we haven't the least idea how to sweat our way to success any more. Also, gone are the days of patrons, so to succeed these days, one can't just surround themselves with adoring fans who are supporting the arts. We must go out and make our way. We have to be marketable, remarkable, and sweaty. :)


    Diana Parkhouse from DianaParkhouse said 5 years ago

    I think that there has been a shift, and that the arts haven't lost their value, so much as there just isn't the money to go around like there was. One of the first things to go when times get tough are the pretty things in life. From beautiful architecture, to a handsome painting on the wall, if money is tight and is needed elsewhere, basic needs will win out. Having said that, I am now working in the arts and doing OK. It's the bet job I have had financially for years.

  • originalfashionart

    Sonia Stella from originalfashionart said 5 years ago

    Please continue to buy art you love, this is how you keep it alive, without it we are lost our entire human species would die, it is what moves our earth, continue to draw, continue to paint, and to do what you love, others will love it too, and appreciate you for it. I started selling my illustrations in 2008, i couldnt believe people loved them as much i did in making them, and to see they hang them on the walls, and they appreciate them so much, that in itself is so fullfilling and its what keeps me going in creating pieces.

  • leftofcentergirl

    dipsterdeb said 5 years ago

    My most treasured possessions are handmade. Wish I had the time to pursue my own creative passions, but caring for my family and elderly parents must take first place. So for now, I am creating in my head. Hopefully, someday soon my dreams will be set free... :)

  • freshplatypusmilk

    F. Johnson from freshplatypusmilk said 5 years ago

    Salon and a lot of art crits miss the point and mislead a lot of would be artists into thinking sales, recognition, and the shining halo of genius is what makes you an Artist with a capital A. If you're a dancer, you're dancing even if it's with the same no gig choreographer you joined up with in college. Painters paint. Musicians can't wait until their instruments are tuned up and ready to jam. If we waited until we knew we had a brilliant PRODUCT to market there would be no Arts. stop waiting to be anointed and get to work.

  • ZentasticThings

    Zenaida Barrios from ZentasticThings said 5 years ago

    I think I started considering myself an artist is when I didn't want to part with one of my knit pieces. It was bittersweet to sell it. I think it's great that Etsy brings that value to handmade pieces. Time is priceless, you can never earn it back. You truly give a part of yourself when you sell or give something handmade.

  • KathrynDesign

    Kathryn Heim said 5 years ago

    There is an added challenge these days. Everyone calls themselves an artist and few have training or exceptional talent. Take Pinterest for example, I recall when it first started and now it has boomed to the point that everyone is on it. What was once a tool for designers and maybe artists, is now for everyone. Everybody can make a mood board. The taste level has declined. People are posting mass market stuff. The problem is that everyone thinks they have good taste. The real challenge is making yourself stand out and finding ways of attracting people to what you have to offer. Maybe check out Art Biz Blog. People think art is a blessing and happens by magic. They do not see the hard work, years of practice, the bad days, the editing, changing, tweeking, the accidents, the decisions...They see it as effortless, Some people compare your work to prices of what they find in a store; forget these people. I have a some beautiful jewelry that I purchased here. I treasure them because they are of good quality and unique. I have a ruby necklace that I wear nearly every day. (I originally saw it on a mood board on a design site. I wanted it and knew it had to have come from Etsy. I search and I found it!!) It's mine! Art and design is the best profession. I work full time as a designer and wish I could be selling stuff here and elsewhere. Eventually... Instead, I buy your stuff. Thanks

  • Sanmarcianart

    Jeska Savage from Sanmarcianart said 5 years ago

    A few years ago I was making a sculpture of a water dragon for my yard. It looked like it was undulating through the grass, just like I wanted it to But for some reason I really didn't think about doing art, I was just making a dragon. A friend of a friend stopped by to take a closer look, and asked what other media I worked in. My response was....uh.. whatever it takes to get it out of my head. The man had been making his living in art for years, met me, saw what I was doing and immediately I was an artist in his mind. Had never occurred to me I was an artist. But then I thought about it and even though I have a double B of S in Chemistry and Geography and a minor in Physics, for the past 20 years or so I've made the money for the bills designing Cd art, band posters and helping with the appearance design of my husband's amplifiers and doing extreme tie dye. I worry sometimes that if I pay too much attention I'll get hung up. So I just keep floating along, something or someone new always comes around and so far it works out fine.

  • FreshFromtheFlame

    FreshFromtheFlame from FreshFromtheFlame said 5 years ago

    Arts are losing value because in today's society it seems to me that people want things, whatever it may be, a coat, a painting, a piece of jewelry and they want it fast and they want it cheap. You always hear when people find things to buy that are cheap because it is common place to brag about this, but you do not often hear someone bragging about how beautiful, artistic and original a...coat, painting or piece of jewelry is that they purchased. Art is a beautiful thing and there are those who feel good about buying it. Then there are those that just want it now and want it cheap.

  • artistinthearctic

    Amy Komar from artistinthearctic said 5 years ago

    All I can say is that I think it is pretty fantastic to be an artist in 2012. We have the internet at our fingertips bursting with a global audience. How incredible is that? With sites like Etsy, Flickr, Paypal, Facebook and Twitter; as well as digital cameras, smart phones and photoshop, it has never been easier to be an artist entrepreneur. Success is sure to follow as long as we take daily, consistent steps towards our dreams. Wouldn't you agree? Even though the road has not been easy on the way to full time artist - - I have waited my fair share of tables that's for sure - - I still relish that I am an artist living in todays time. Opportunity is everywhere. We must show up every day and do the work. I very much enjoyed this thought provoking article, however I feel that the ending question keeps us focused on 'lack' and continues to tune us into a negative slant on the whole thing. I think a better question might be, "How can we continue to create a global community that values and appreciates the arts?" "What can I do to help shift the status quo's "starving artist" to "thriving artist?"

  • FrancesPhotography

    Frances Seward from FrancesPhotography said 5 years ago

    Sucess is when we believe in what we do and keep going. It is tough and there is so much more to it than making the art I have come to realise! I create a lot of new imagery but I cannot be static in the market and there are more and more artists out there - more competition but let us not lose focus. Just because when i don't sell for a while does not mean I am no less of an artist than before. Art is healing and in a tough economy art is seen as a luxury and in a way it is. Also, good art that is undervalued by the artist is the fear of the artist. Do not undersell - buyers pay more attention to properly priced artwork so perhaps you need to double your prices.

  • TCaponePhoto

    Tracey Capone from TraceyCapone said 5 years ago

    I participated in the One of a Kind Chicago Sale as part of the Etsy Pavilion last year and had someone come up to me and tell me that she has had my shop bookmarked for over a year because my, "work makes her smile" and she was so happy to have been able to meet me. She got choked up when she said it which, of course, got me choked up. That was just one of a number of amazing reactions to my work that I got to witness that weekend. In 15 years at my corporate job (with it's very nice paycheck) I never felt the pride and sense of satisfaction that I did that weekend) I decided then and there that I would be quitting my job and did so the following Monday. Money aside, my success as an artist is defined by my level of happiness. I was lucky enough to be able to quit my day job December 31st after all my years in a corporate environment (with all it's pitfalls/backstabbing/negativity/etc) which made me quite miserable. Now, I am so happy to be able to wake up every day and do exactly what I want to be doing. There might be times where money is tight but, in the end, ramen noodles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are ok if it means I smile every day. So, to me, the arts aren't losing their value because it doesn't necessarily have to be measured by money; at least not to the person doing the creating.

  • karenanne

    Karen Anne Glick from KarenAnneGlick said 5 years ago

    Success is showing up and doing the work you simply HAVE to do...because you're the only one who can envision and bring to light the voice of your soul. Just that easy. Just that hard.

  • maudepress

    Dee Cutrona from maudepress said 5 years ago

    Obviously this is a very important discussion, something that I am quite passionate about and yet sometimes in a hard month I find myself not quite giving my design and services away for free, but for less than what I should by commanding. Why? Here's the bottom line, art and design is clearly in huge demand. Technically, it's a designer's market and the only reason we feel uncomfortable commanding a fair price* or rate is because we can't stand losing a client to a less expensive designer. We love what we do and we want to work on that project. We've all heard the crickets though--the I just lost my potential client to a cheaper artist crickets. They have moved on to Door No. 2. Here's my question: What if Door No. 1, 2, 3...1001 were all priced the same and instead our Door was chosen based on the needs of the client, our experience, style and talent? We can all turn this industry around, but we ALL have to do it or we will be compared to those offering a lot for peanuts. I don't know how many times I've been tempted to ask, "Do you work for free?" and as far as friends and family wanting free work or a deal--it's always nicer if they at least offer! In short, we've put ourselves here, but we can turn it around--we just need to come together. Good luck out there! xo, Dee *when I say "fair price", I mean now I can pay my rent and put food on the table this month.

  • artl8dy

    artl8dy from ArtL8dY said 5 years ago

    As an art educator, I am dismayed at the attention ` or lack thereof~ of the arts in schools. Creative thinking is at the core of any logical or analytical thought. I teach drawing and spend the first few weeks convincing students they don't have to be "good", just be themselves. Too many young people get shot down early on because they don't conform to somebody else aesthetic. What an artist needs to possess is PASSION, in order to overcome obstacles placed in their path by society. Carry on all you marvelous creative talents at Etsy!!!

  • FullCircleInventions

    Maria Dorta from FullCircleInventions said 5 years ago

    Art has always been, before humans could talk they were already drawing on caves, as's who we are and what we do. Don't look to the left or the right it has nothing to do with you. Success is being true to yourself and expressing what comes straight from the me there will be those that will really see you and you really care about the ones that don't get it? As for money, PLEASE it has always been thus for us! :}

  • CopperheadCreations

    Sarah from CopperheadCreations said 5 years ago

    Whew! This is a good question. For me, it is constantly improving, learning something new or perfecting something else, looking at something and really feeling satisfied with it, getting a sense of pride from a job well done.

  • andraswhimsies

    Andra Johnson from andraswhimsies said 5 years ago

    Success for me is looking at a new painting, sketch, piece of jewelry or accessory and thinking "WOW, I just made that!!", knowing that it is a step above what I did the day before. Anytime I can get something from my head and turn it into something tactile for the rest of the world to see than I know I have succeeded. I don't create because it will make me money, I make art because it is what I was born to do. However, when someone is drawn to something I have made and falls in love, there really is nothing better than that!! I am very thankful to have a wonderful supportive hubby, who works his bum off to make our meager ends meet so I can stay home... however I do not stay home just to "play", I also homeschool our two children on top of "playing" with my art. Talk about living a lifestyle that very few appreciate!! But that's another conversation for another day =). I think we get too caught up in what other people think. Live the life you are supposed to live, the one that makes you happiest! =)

  • branchcake

    Sarah from branchcake said 5 years ago

    Art is losing its value because of things like Walmart. People don't understand the value of things because they compare them to what was made in a sweat shop in Asia. I never understood the value of labor until I worked for a stained glass studio. People look at a $400 painting and wonder what size TV they could get for that cost. Another signal of decline: the only art jobs out there involve computers. Yeah, no thanks.

  • needlenerd

    Bonnie from needlenerd said 5 years ago

    great article. success to me is feeling good about what you've created knowing you've put your heart into it. It's making your artistic mark in the world. nice to hear so many voices out there - thanks for sharing all your thoughts.

  • irenehastings

    Irene Hastings from HastingsStudio said 5 years ago

    Awesome question. For so many success is defined by dollars and cents. Sometimes it's hard to get past that in a world that puts so much emphasis on money. Throughout post modern history the arts hasn't been viewed as a sustainable career choice, and that opinion is being reinforced with budget cuts to arts programs in schools around the country. Art is the foundation of creative thinking, of problem solving. Where would science, math, engineering, be today without creativity. The world needs artists to help others see options outside the box. "Your ability in painting is the way you see things come together-our metier is not paint and brushes, it's our ability to see." -Charles W. Hawthorne As an artist I find it difficult to define success. I suppose though in light of this question i would define my success by the response my work creates in the viewer. If I can connect with my audience then I have achieved my goal.

  • makepienotwar

    Alana Little from makepienotwar said 5 years ago

    i think people are losing their overall contentment and joy either from the post-modern era, the economy downturn, lack of art education, etc. or all the above! its hard to keep remembering the beauty in life when you're having a hard time making ends meet at the end of the month!

  • PokeberryToyBox

    Pokeberry Mary from PokeberryToyBox said 5 years ago

    I have made wayyyy more money that Vincent Van Gogh ever did in his lifetime. :) Not as great an artist, probably can't live off what I make now--but I'm working at least and it is useful in our household. I don't think this is an 'american problem' or a 'recent problem' I think it is what it is, very few creative folks really make a lot of money. That doesn't mean it can't happen, or that you have to be 'best artistically' to make it happen. There's no doubt a great deal of 'chance' involved--but chance never happens to people who aren't working at it. My wee bitty 2 cents.

  • tiialin

    Tiia Lin from tiialin said 5 years ago

    My time is just as valuable as yours. It's really that simple.

  • HandmadeIsAllAround

    HandmadeIsAllAround from iammieOWLshop said 5 years ago


  • Linelle10

    Linelle10 from Linelle10 said 5 years ago

    I believe that the pursuit of art is exactly that a pursuit - I still work in order to get that one painting or image that I envision just as I envision it. The definition of success would be the arrival to that state where most of your work is of the quality and message that you envision. I remember reading somewhere that Picaso only signed work that he was proud of. Success in that sense would mean a stage where you are proud to sign most if not all of the work you do.

  • UpsideDownFrowns

    UpsideDownFrowns from UpsideDownFrowns said 5 years ago

    thank you to those we meet on etsy, arts markets, art shows who have an appreciation for our time and seek to buy handmade.

  • kzannoart

    Kristine Zanno from kzannoart said 5 years ago

    What an interesting topic and something I struggle with everyday. I have a BFA in painting yet I have been waiting on tables for 25 years to pay my bills and afford my art supplies. This is just the way it has always been for me. I just can't justify being a starving artist.

  • fancytails

    Sue from fancytails said 5 years ago

    An artist has to value themselves before others will see their value.

  • emilywren

    Emily Wren from emilywren said 5 years ago

    For me, success is when I feel happy, content, and excited about the work I'm doing. Follow what feels right to you (not all those little voices out there!), and you'll find your creative path. Making money (that is, enough to live on) is a whole another challenge. My mom and I own a retail store (with a focus on handmade items) together, and it has been a real learning experience to watch what sells. In a nutshell, the item needs to be beautiful/interesting (special), priced correctly (not too much, and not too little...don't undervalue yourself!), and there needs to be a need for the product. Not everyone understands the value of handmade (and why it's more expensive!), but a gentle explanation can go a long way. I don't think that art is losing its value's just always changing. It is alive, and it changes with each new generation of artists.

  • MySweetieBean

    Ivy T from MySweetieBean said 5 years ago

    I think art is losing value because it is ALWAYS the first thing to get cut in school districts that are suffering budget shortfalls. It's really sad. An entire generation of children has grown up without being exposed on a daily or weekly basis to the creative process. Children don't get to exercise their imaginations and flex their creative muscles in their formative years. It's no wonder that jobs in the arts are seeing a dearth of interest in those particular fields.

  • sinbadssister

    jennifer from sinbadssister said 5 years ago

    This is such a great discussion. I have lived for art, but not from art, all my life. Now, at the age of 59, I never do any jobs for anyone unless a fee is discussed up front, and I try to charge by the hour like any professional. Needless to say, this has not led to great wealth, but I feel better. My sons have taken other pathways; one has given up art and the other works as a designer but still has the soul of an artist. Why does the world not value art more? We will never know, but keep doing it!!!

  • StarTribe

    Penelope Neil from StarTribe said 5 years ago

    Are these worldwide figures or just the US? I suspect they're just US figures, to which I would suggest perhaps people who show great drive AND talent are seeking out other countries to practice their happiness in. I know here in Australia we lose a lot of dancers and musicians to London and New York (recently one of our best classical recording companies lost all it's government funding) - even speaking for myself I am planning to be un the UK fulltime in a year, because I see more oppurtunities for community-based art involvement. I don't think the arts are losing their value at all, and I don't think people have stopped appreciating them. We are soaked in DIY culture now- perhaps the reason people don't pay artists to produce work for them is because they've learned to do it themselves. What we need is to get people to appreciate the investment of art- spending $200 on a small canvas might not be as appealing as a $50 one from IKEA, but in 5 or 10 years that $200 canvas will be worth more (perhaps much more) while the IKEA job would barely pull $5 at a yard sale. We need to stop hiding behind the economy as spend as much money as we can when we buy something. Granted for some of us 'as much as we can' is $20, but I think when we all investigate our spending and consider payment plans, we can afford more than we realise. I also champion the idea of arts retail spaces, where 'ordinary' people can aquire art as easily as they can go to Target. Most people consider the arts to be elitist- can you imagine the average housewife popping in to the local gallery to investigate what would work in her living room? The accessability of art needs to change dramatically. As to what makes me a success as an artist- whenever I look at something I've made and I'm pleased it's turned out as I wanted it too. That's success as an artist, success as a money maker is really down to me putting into practice what I already know, that the reward is directly in proportion to the work I need to put in.

  • TmanV

    Tiemen Visser said 5 years ago

    I dont really agree. there are a lot of in my opnion "failed" artists who easily pay their bills with practicing art. ofcourse I dont define what is or isnt art but I really don't think that making your art a commercial succes so you can live of it should be the way you measure your succes as an artist. that way you measure the quality of art by how many people buy it and thus you only base yourself upon a very small layer of society, willing and in the position to buy art or a ticket.

  • buttonsandstars

    Clare Mountain from xThreadBEARx said 5 years ago

    As a slight side note: monetarily, the most frustrating thing is when artists themselves don't actually price their art according to it's worth. That means that the whole market is thrown off a little, and other artists who have priced appropriately end up having to lower their prices. But I agree that money doesn't mean success. A success for an artist could be finally deciding to actually allow themselves to create. I know that so many people worry that creating is just a frivolity, and that they must do something useful instead. What a success to let go, and express the creativity that is inside of them! I imagine I will never make huge amounts of money from my craft, but it is a joy to spend my time doing something I adore. Creating makes me feel alive! And if I was stuck in a job without that creative release, I would feel so stifled. Of course, not everyone has the luxury of being able to create full time, but even if it's just a hobby business, creating from the heart is a success in itself.

  • BloodstoneBay

    Suzy Fieldhouse from TheHolloway said 5 years ago

    "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." - Henry David Thoreau This is why I intend to leave this job as soon as I can and do everything I can to further my artwork - because I don't want to go to the grave with my song still unreleased into the world.

  • peacefrogdesigns

    peacefrogdesigns from peacefrogdesigns said 5 years ago

    As an artist I am so frustrated by the attitude that art is no way to make a living, because for me it is the only way. I dropped out of college one class away from my degree because it was not right for me, and it really is a struggle every day to try and make it doing what I love when it is financially so unrealistic. I am a believer that you should follow your heart and your soul, you can not place a dollar sign on true happiness. Anything that is worth having at all is not going to come easy, but as artists we need to first believe in ourselves and value our work more to make our dreams come true.

  • harbingerjane

    Smyth Wolfe from harbingerjane said 5 years ago

    Beaten by Monies's measuring stick more often than not, and fully tasting superiorly crafted failure in almost all dimensions, I tend to embrace the common no-brainer that our universal woes are due to Social Tyranny – not "the economy" as rumored. The purse strings are in the hands of The Punishing and they are spiteful in their greed for decorative "feel good" crafts & adornments that flatter them. All else is superfluous. Thats bad news. Thats my story and I'm sticking to it for now.

  • Isobelvonfinklestein

    Isobel Von Finklestein from Isobelvonfinklestein said 5 years ago

    you have to assimilate and become part of the modern culture to survive as an artist. I work full time as an artist doing portraits, alternative 'art' logos, art for bands and tattoo designs. There is a huge movement of young (and not so young)people wanting to have art done for them and about them. I dont do work for free and rarely am I asked to - thank goodness! I dont get to make art for myself as often as I would like and I find that I am stuck in front of a computer for long hours photoshopping instead of drawing but I feel successful in that I have achieved my dream of working for myself as an artist. Now I just need to work out how to market my etsy store!

  • earthtoartceramics

    Diann Adams from earthtoartceramics said 5 years ago

    You are so right about the publics perception of art. Preference for example: $12.00 for a few cups of coffee instead of your own handmade one of a kind coffee mug. I think as artists the only ones measuring our success are other artists...a shrinking group. After all many public schools have cut their art programs leaving fewer pursuits.

  • mayaruhi

    Pearl from mayaruhi said 5 years ago

    Success as as artist comes when you are able to move someone, I feel. And why the arts is on a constant devalue is because our lifestyles are so fast that there isn't time to properly absorb anything and fully appreciate. Sad, but true.

  • jewelsbymoon

    moon from jewelsbymoon said 5 years ago

    Great article. It made me think about measuring success on many levels no matter what medium. I believe there will always be people who support the arts and artist who will create, and that is the measurement of success overall. When and if, and I dont think it ever will disappear, Art is no longer supported or created. We have all failed as a species. Creation is art and when we stop creating we stop living. Personally we will have a measurement of success and for me it was the first sale.

  • thistlebeepottery

    Carolyn from ThistleBeePottery said 5 years ago

    The arts are disappearing in our schools. Many school districts will cut the art classes before they even consider not building that athletic complex. If our children aren't exposed to the arts they won't grow up with any appreciation for it and therefore, won't seek it out. Our culture is starting to have no culture. Very sad.

  • my2handsstudio

    Donna from my2handsstudio said 5 years ago

    The value for the arts gets smaller depending on the economy, people actually get angry when you tell them you work as an artist, but I could no more do something differently if I tried! I was born an artist!

  • andreavonk

    Andrea ( Bea) Vonk from MyAuntAgatha said 5 years ago

    I have both worked as an artist, and outside the artistic world- in a completely non- arty role as a multi lingual project manager, and am now working/starting my own design and art business again.Of all the people I knew at art school, only a few have succeeded in carving out a real well paid career for themselves as painters, by being part of a well known gallery.If you have to pay your bills, you don't always have the choice to continue painting or creating- as I did not for quite a while- if you are not being picked up by a gallery or a shop or an art patron- but then I think this has always been the case.I don't think art is not being valued... but you will probably never be stinking rich :-)

  • sweetseasons

    sweetseasons said 5 years ago

    I have to agree with many of the other comments here that part of the problem is that art programs are disappearing from many school districts across the country (although I have to say that many schools faced with shrinking budgets ARE cutting sports programs along with art programs, -everything is potentially on the block when budgets are being slashed.) It's a very sad situation and potentially means that generations of kids could be raised with almost no exposure to art, unless their families make a big effort to make sure they are. I'm very thankful that my son's school district still strongly supports the arts, both visual and performing and he has had the benefit of receiving instruction from some AMAZING art teachers. He's in 5th grade now and completely absorbed in sports but he still gets excited about his art classes. Additionally, the curriculum strongly supports incorporating art into learning. For example, they were just assigned a book report in which they had to read a biography of someone who interested them, and make a puppet of that person to be presented to the class. My son and I really embraced the project and we're making a marionette out of crayola air dry clay that's coming out fantastic. We're having a great time making it together and I think he''ll always remember this project. We're very fortunate.

  • Sweetlandarts

    Sweetlandarts from Sweetlandarts said 5 years ago

    We are souls in bodies. Without food our bodies will dies, without art our souls will die. And by art, I do mean creating. When a person creates he or she connects directly to God. Just as many children follow in their parents' footsteps and take the same occupation as Mom or Day....creativity is following in the footsteps of the greatest creator. Yes, we do still need money, our bodies must be taken care of...or the soul has no home here on earth. However, even if many people have to supplement a "career" in the creative is so important to keep creativity a part of your life. Just like staying fit and eating well, having love and friends in your life, those who consciencely include art in their everday life are more joyful, happier, less stressed than those who don't. It seems sort of obvious that art is not just an "elective" in life. There is a fantastic poster making the rounds....EARTH, without ART, is just EH?....and I'd like to point out another creative, artistic, and spiritual fulfilling way of looking at art. Not only is it in the very center of the name of the place we all live...EARTH, but rearrange those exact some letters and you have we all know the many beautiful meanings and thoughts of that ....kazzazzle, as I transform earth and heart into its ultimate power: EARTH E (ART) H HEART HE ART You can call it coincidence. I call it the Creator of everything letting us know how important we are to him, how important this place is, how each of our hearts are unique and precious, and how HE ART....and if that doesn't explain why so many people love making, seeing and supporting art, than I don't know what can....oh, and He (though the Creator is neither He not She) never was into making more money than you need for your place to live and your daily bread. Smile, art is JOY.

  • twillobee

    Tina Willoughby from twillobee said 5 years ago

    When I felt that others knew I was an artist, was when I attended a stained glass guilde and I seen someone trying to build a picture similar to one I had done in the past. I asked her about it and she said that the previous year someone was making a beautiful white peacock and she just loved the flow of the lines and the grace. She didn't remember who and just kept talking about the picture. I smiled and told her that it was mine. It felt good to know people who worked in the same medium thought my work was good enough to try and copy. As a whole, most people can't understand why we charge so much when they can buy a cheap version at Walmart. I no longer feel I have to justify my price (since truely - we never get back the hours we put into something). Something I learned off of Etsy - remember who the target audience is. When my items sell, they are for people who see something in the picture and they appreciate the flow and beauty. They are a part of me and it would kill me to "cheapen" it and see the person garage sale it later. I went to a flea market one time and see a handmade tiffany style lamp that was beautiful. It wasn't a "china" made mass produced item. The people didn't appreciate it and was selling it for $12. The stand alone was work over $100. As an artist, everything is in the details. I have to admit that in order to keep paying for the materials on my panels, I have gotten to where I make less expensive items to sell. Even with those, I want them unique so that people will reconize the artist. My "real" job pays the bills. My art is what will show who I really am.

  • oddcollage

    Nell from oddcollageshop said 5 years ago

    I don't think the arts are losing value. I think that people are allowing the stresses of life to direct their attention away from the value of creativity as a whole. I am including artists in my theory. If we doubt our worth so will everyone else. If we adhere to notions of lack and listen to the constant noise of negativity regarding the economy, I believe that energy will affect our ability to work and sell at our full potential. We need to stop listening to the outside stuff and listen more to our optimistic instincts and create for the love of creating, live more in the moment and the money will come.

  • AstralArts

    Jennifer Greenfield from AstralArts said 5 years ago

    Success, this is a very personal term and though I have felt very successful always strive to be and do more. When did I first feel really like a success? When a guitarist from a very major band saw me after a show and told me (and anyone else that was nearby) of the placement of my artwork in his house. This is not my greatest accomplishment. Not in the least, but it made me think of the other things I have done. Being successful to me is sharing your passion with the world, and I have. Having paintings and other creative endeavors being enjoyed in Australia, Switzerland, England, Ireland, etc although my creativity does not support me financially it helps things along. The happiness and vision shared worldwide could not be called anything other than success.

  • cerwin1

    Cathy Erwin said 5 years ago

    Why is art losing value? In my opinion the big box stores have devalued so many things that we as artists create. People want things at garage sale prices. I witnessed this at a woman's craft show I recently attended. Although my pottery was price reasonably, nothing sold. The things selling for other artisans that day were $10 and under. Sad. Thanks for your article. And I'm still waiting to quit my day job to pursue my arts! Regards Cathy

  • cdeeryart

    Cyndi Deery from cdeeryart said 5 years ago

    The question at the end of the article... 'Why do you think the arts are losing value?' My question in return... 'What is value?' Monetarily speaking, it is difficult for many artists to make enough money to live on solely on their art, but does that mean the value of the art is less? Not in my opinion. The moment a piece of art or a craft is born, there is instant value through the eyes of the creator of it. Equally so in all forms of art- dance, music, etc. If we only gauge our creative success with money, then we, as artists are devaluing ourselves. If money is the driving force behind creativity, creativity always suffers. Think of the health care system in the U.S. It is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, moneymakers out there. Yet, the core of health care is suffering. It's difficult to find a doctor who actually CARES about your health- the money is the driving force. Of course we are stuck in a system where we need money to survive- I doubt that will ever change. What can change is our attitudes about our own self worth and money will never have anything to do with that. It is up to each of us to find our balance in what we do as artists and how we continue to thrive as a human being. My spirit is lifted reading through the comments here... many understand the value that comes to them simply by the creative process. I tend to think that art is becoming MORE valuable and not LESS as it is a powerful teaching tool to those who are willing to school themselves with it.

  • Ebrown2503

    Eleanore from FiberBeads said 5 years ago

    It's funny because some artists have been wildly notorious for art few cared about. In my story, I do what I love and then if someone likes it, I am surprised and amazed at their love and acceptance for what I have created, 'EVEN THO I FEEL THE SAME WAY ABOUT IT. They become inspired. The money is wonderful because it allows me the freedom to buy the supplies and tools to create more. It's the success of that entire process--loving what you do, someone else loving what you do, bestowing inspiration, and creating a well of possibility from that inspiration. Maybe we need to nurture inspiration more. I believe inspiration is the driving force behind the value of art.

  • Ebrown2503

    Eleanore from FiberBeads said 5 years ago

    Shadlyn, I've sold books and been a librarian all my life. Putting a book to paper is the art and most people don't even go that far...the art just sits inside their head, or as Sweetlandarts said, inside their souls. But in writing, it's only 10% of the process--you have to inspire someone to print your work so it can be read. You have much work ahead of you to find your publisher and then, bless us all, the hardest part. Promotion. Recognition. 'Publication' and 'promotion to sale' is 90% of the art pie, something all the artists on Etsy have firsthand knowledge of because they've experienced it. I wish you all the very best!

  • anthropomorphica

    Melanie Ashton from anthropomorphica said 5 years ago

    I'm in complete agreeance with Adam Dahlstrom and Sarah Pogue, an artist's success is measured by an inner meter, it's a soulful journey. To me success is listening and creating with the souls voice, no compromise. Whether you are commercially successful or not. Very interesting subject and comments.

  • Gypsymoondesigns

    Gypsymoondesigns from Gypsymoondesigns said 5 years ago

    I have really enjoyed enjoyed reading everyone's comments. My husband is a mixed media painter and I make jewelry. I feel successful in spirit. Left a cubical, corporate job in 1994 and never looked back. My husband donates his paintings for auctions to worth causes. He has helped to raise many thousands of dollars and gotten his work out into the world. He even donated a few paintings to the Surreal Museum in Santiago, Chile. Yeah, he isn't making a living from his art and that is to bad. But, I think his generosity has made a small change in the world. I agree with another poster here about how we value ourselves is important. I felt like I had 2 choices, either work a job with benefits and have my creative self stifled or pursue a life of creativity and have sense of being true to myself. At the end of the day, being true to self makes me a success.

  • debhillart

    Deborah Hill from DebHillArt said 5 years ago

    Until artists stop allowing critics measure what our success should look like there will always be a perceived lack. If a person can spend the majority of their life immersed in their interests is that not success? Ignore the critics and their job will go away, then who is successful? I prefer to define my own gauge rather than seek a form of measurement that is ill suited to my ideals.

  • iowajewel

    julie macneil from iowajewel said 5 years ago

    I guess I do not care if someone else (or anyone else) thinks I am artist or not. I do not create to make money, (even though it is wonderful if I do) I create because it makes me happy and it is apart of me like breathing. Art will always be a part of our world as long as there are people alive on this earth. Cavemen were painting on their walls and Egyptians were making incredible art long before there were classes, grants, art appreciation etc. It is part of who we are, embrace what is inside of you. Be who God intended you to be, don't let anyone or anything stop you! And thank you Etsy for making my dreams come true of being able to share my creations with the world. Art is not dying, i feel it is being born anew!!!!

  • missmissyanns

    missmissyanns from missmissyanns said 5 years ago

    I run a small resale shop on magazine street in New Orleans. I sell handmade fabric art, paintings, art chairs, and honestly all different sorts of original art for low low prices. I have local artist come in and say you are devaluing art by not making your prices higher. I have to make and create or I am not happy. I live modestly in a tiny apartment and don't even own a vehicle at this time. It is sad, but I go into the galleries where a work is priced at thousands of dollars and I say "Good for them'" but, always there is a but- I also feel there is so much politics going on in the shows and the selling of art that it is knowing a circle of rich customers that make or break the place an artist ends up on the food chain. If rich people say wonderful that is so fantastic and pay thousands of dollars for it- then the public says this person is a "real" artist making a living type artist. If a regular guy falls in love with a small piece I have for sale and forks over fifty or so bucks because he truely loves it and that money is all he can afford for art- why isn't his opinion worth as much as the people giving thousands? He may be very educated in art- read all the right articles- seen all the right shows. I just feel way too much emphasis on the success of an artist ends up being his W-2. Art is a part of someone they wish to share- or maybe just an uncontrolable desire- either way money has nothing to do with the need to perform it.

  • CelesteCollier

    Celeste Collier from CelesteCollierArt said 5 years ago

    I really appreciate this conversation, as this is a topic that has often crossed my mind. For me personally, I came to the realization that, even if I don't sell much of my work, when I am gone on to the next life... my work will still be here. My kids, and hopefully grandkids and who knows how far down the line... will appreciate it. I am leaving a piece of me here in each painting. How many people pass through this life without actually leaving anything behind that can be enjoyed years later? It's an honor to be an artist and create, even if that is to a small audience.

  • patriciagarrington

    patriciagarrington from PGarringtonDesign said 5 years ago

    I've been a fulltime working artist for 30+ years. Besides making an adequate living I've always found great value in teaching art to students around the world. Beyond the value to me personally of feeding my soul while making a living, I've always felt the importance and value of paying it forward.

  • dkruegerbotanicart

    denise krueger from dkruegerbotanicart said 5 years ago

    We live in interesting times where we've been forced to become even more creative as artists because of our slow economy. Thanks for the thought- provoking article and intelligent commentary.

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage said 5 years ago

    Interesting. The ultimate definition resides with the artist.

  • lovelyfeverboutique

    Jessica from LovelyFever said 5 years ago

    The fact that traditional, paid positions in the arts are on the decline is not surprising at all. Even before 2008, there was only one creative job for every 10 people who have a creative personality type. The arts serve a vital purpose in our lives on a spiritual and emotional level, but not always on a materialistic level. With the economy on life support, so many people are sticking to just the necessities (shelter, food, health care, etc) and have to skip what they consider the luxuries in life, such as going to see a play in their community or purchasing a new painting for their home. That being said, all types of artists and writers have had to struggle to carve out their definition of success. It would be so much easier to just pursue a career where there is a clear path, such as working in the medical field or accounting. But the artist or writer has an insatiable urge to create and express. If it is neglected, they will often experience a sort of spiritual malaise. So, they must do what they were made to do. Even if they have to work a part or full time job outside the arts to sustain themselves. While many people seem to be somewhat unwilling to shell out money for the hard work of artists, their is a true need for dancers, artists, musicians, poets, actors and all breeds of creative souls. Whenever I doubt the value of my own work and dedication to create something beautiful, I think of this D.H Lawrence quote: "The human soul needs actual beauty more than bread."

  • AllThatGlittersWraps

    Krista Rawlinson from BeeBuzzPaperie said 5 years ago

    I just love reading everyone's comments on this--creates such a great discussion! All the different viewpoints are really giving me a lot of food for thought, further questions to ponder, encouragement, and tips for how to be better than before! Thanks everyone!

  • serem1000

    serem c from serem1000 said 5 years ago

    Appreciation marks pinnacles of accomplishments opening new innovations, inventions, and ventures.

  • toriska

    Tori from toriska said 5 years ago

    I don't think it's a new thing that artists don't receive the same respect as other professions. Artists in the past had the same struggle against people's preconceived notions. I actually think that these days, there are so many more opportunities for artists than ever before, and a wider variety of ways to make a living with your art. There will always be naysayers, no matter what your field.

  • CookiesandHookies

    Anne and Joan from CookiesandHookies said 5 years ago

    I'm 72 and have been an artist my entire life. There were times when I created art full time and made a little money. I learned to paint cars along with custom painting to support my creative habit. Most of my life was spent at a "day job" that paid the bills and benefits. Through it all I used art in many ways. I make a point of doing something creative every day. It may be a simple line drawing or adding a secret ingredient to a meal. To me, success is doing what you love even if you don't get paid.

  • CookiesandHookies

    Anne and Joan from CookiesandHookies said 5 years ago

    Mary Louise Silva, I totally agree with you. Along with other media, I did wall murals. Most were free as if the paint or my time had no value. But, if I agreed to do the job, I always gave it a thousand percent.

  • TinfenaStudio

    linda Tinfena from TinfenaStudio said 5 years ago

    I think art is losing its value because we are becoming a trash culture. People don't care about craftsmanship, creativity, rarity, real value, because they are being fed trash all day and since there's hardly anything else available, they think it's great. Our standards and values are being lowered on all fronts. It's an alarming trend that I see growing and multiplying and a sad state of affair for our society as a whole. Art is just another casualty of a society loosing its core values and aspirations. There, I've said it !

  • shuqi

    Emily Lim from shuqi said 5 years ago

    I love this article. Art is my soul and life. Maybe some of them think art is unrealistic. Art will made your life colourful.

  • robertaroddy1

    Roberta Roddy from RobertasRoom said 5 years ago

    I started college planning an art major many years ago. By the second year I realized that if I wanted to be sure of a sufficient income to live on I would probably have to enter the commercial art field or become an art teacher. Neither appealed to me. I enjoyed more freedom to choose my media and subjects. I ended up in the nursing profession, always with a desire to pursue my art in my free time. It sadly got lost in the mix of career and family. But we all make choices. I really don't think this under valuation of visual or performing arts is anything new. Food, clothing, shelter and of course money itself are always going to top the list of priorities. We who appreciate and pursue art have to make hard choices and hope for the best. I'm now retired and trying to bring my art back into my life.

  • bethwillett

    Beth Willett from ArtByPaper said 5 years ago

    I think a big part of the de-valuation of art is the ability to buy it cheap and easy at any big box store. A lot of people don't care if they have the same mass produced art hanging on their wall that 2,000 other people have. They just want to slap something up there and call it good. And I'm not even saying that there is anything wrong with that. To each his own, it just isn't something that everyone universally cares about, unfortunately. But those us of that do, we should support each other. Every time you have a gift to buy or need a supply for your own art or craft, look to your art community. Cost isn't really a factor. You could pick up a cute mass produced canvas print at Target for about the same price that you could find something completely unique on Etsy. So where would you rather put your money? Be a part of the solution. Great article, and I really enjoyed reading the comments, too.

  • RippleEffectPhoto

    Adva Ringle from OneRipplePhotography said 5 years ago

    I think this is a great question. Success is so personal, even if everyone else wants to tell you what success "is". To me, success is simply being content. Knowing you are doing enough, have enough and have joy in your life. You know, I think we can all speculate and muse about why the arts are losing value, and it's surely an important debate. Yet, what I want to know is what can be done about it? How can we as individuals and as a group help bring it back to prominence? How can we make art appreciation and support a cultural habit?

  • ArtsyFlair

    Michaela Bowles from ArtsyFlair said 5 years ago

    Thank you for this wonderful article! Definitely made me ponder. Success seems like a far away dream to me rather. Just doing what I love really matters to me. :) That someone would even love my work would make my day - make it more worthwhile too. I've always been artsy since a kid - hence my business name. :)

  • havier

    Javier Avalos from javieravalos said 5 years ago

    Very nice article. I wonder myself If I really need to quit to pursuit my dreams on art, because, it's only on arts where I find myself. However trying to find a way to pay my bills, and dreaming for a better life, seems hard on the artist way. I had the experience like some posted here: when I give some of my products as a gift, they always tell me " wow your artwork is just remarkable and bla bla bla !" but when they want to buy it it's like " OMG I thought this would be cheaper than this, because chinese mugs are cheaper than yours" However my Mugs are very different and unique, as many other Mugs I found here at Etsy. Now my problem is the freaking shipping cost that increase the price, even when I'm paying part of the shipping cost. So I find myself stuck in here. And I can't look for other job, where I'm quite sure, I'll die from bore ! when no creativity is express. Have a nice day Etsy community.

  • FlaviaTastybucket

    FlaviaTastybucket from FlaviaTastybucket said 5 years ago

    In response to: Reyna Lorele "Are you making a living at it?" Having experienced this question many times, I have arrived at some conclusions. 1. People ask this question because money is a unifying element of all careers. They are trying to discern if you are talking about a hobby or a career. 2. Also, they don't know what else to say. People can't imagine what making art means. 3. Some people are really asking if we are self-employed, which is something they covet for themselves. 3. This is a naive and rude question, and I try to discourage it. I ususally answer that I have made some money making art, and that I love making art. At that point I try to change the subject by showing them some art. This takes people beyond the limited realm from which they asked the question.

  • AfrochaDesign

    Angela da Rocha from AfrochaDesign said 5 years ago

    It is true to some extent that many people view artists as being dreamy and not realistic. It really comes down to how you market yourself and where you invest your talent. I'm an interior designer and enjoy designing homes for people and coming up with new solutions for homeowners. Aside having a full-time job during the day, I never stop giving up my interest in Chinese watercolor and painting. I just opened AfrochaDesign and BananaStudio. Even though nothing promising has come yet I still enjoy producing paintings as a hobby. My suggestion is never sell yourself short to friends and families who are expecting a cheap deal. I've encountered many of that. Friends and family: "Oh Angela, can you design our kichen, bathroom, great room, etc..." for free or as gift. Just stand strong and believe that you are worthy like a diamond. Always remember that your work will live for many many years and people will remember what you did when you're alive. Thank you for this wonderful blog and etsy.

  • LittleWrenPottery

    Victoria Baker from LittleWrenPottery said 5 years ago

    I think the arts are largely overlooked during times of austerity because of expense, why have something beautiful when you can have something thats inherently functional and cheap? I'm not sure success is always measured in money though and thats the rub of it.

  • Wisherwood

    Cynthia Bonneau-Green from Wisherwood said 5 years ago

    Art, in whatever form it takes, is part of what defines us as human. It is the part of us that taps in to the power of creation as well as reflects where we are as a society, as a species. The more we experience the world as a fearful and contracting place, the more artists are compelled to create from that place within that is unhinged from fear. The more they have the responsibility to do so. I am a fiber artist and doll maker. My husband is a woodworker. Some months we fall behind on paying bills. We are learning a lot about gratitude and the power of creating in the face of financial scarcity. These are, truly, more than just words. Money is not the measure, even though we also have a responsibility to value our work so that others will understand its value. In the long run, the creative process and the object created has a value that transcends numbers in a bank account.

  • Eonsvintage

    Eonsvintage from Eonsvintage said 5 years ago

    I think this is a very thought provoking article and the comments have been very interesting to read. But I don't think it's very helpful that while trying to price fairly and be compensated for handmade or artistic work; the very venue that we are selling on is becoming more and more of a "big box" store selling the very items that folks can get anywhere. Literally thousands of cheap items from China are being purchased right here on ETSY every week. An economy may have something to do with arts being devalued, but I think we could also ask ETSY-- Why do you think the arts are losing value?

  • cbdolls

    Martha Varner from cbdolls said 5 years ago

    One of the biggest problems is that our nation doesn't support arts as something important. Florida schools are eliminating all art programs next year. In this world that we've made for ourselves of degrees and education we've lost sight of the fact that art is important as well.

  • PetrinaCaseStudio

    Petrina Case from PetrinaCaseStudio said 5 years ago

    I am so lucky to be able to make a living from my Art. Do what you love, and love what you do. Success will follow, I think. What kind of Society is it that has no Art? I enjoyed the article. Thank you.

  • inspiredart1

    Inspired Art from GhoulmetShop said 5 years ago

    Nosy rude person: "Do you make a living at it?" Response: "Oh yes...I'm making a lovely life." (said with warm contented smile then fleeting puzzlement followed by gentle astonishment, distaste) "Oh my...Do you mean MONEY?!" "Getting kind of personal... aren't you?" That generally ends the line of inquiry. The question is most intrusive and distasteful. At best it could be said that some people have significant boundary issues. Poor boundaries...poor social skills.

  • Dicentra

    Dicentra from Dicentra said 5 years ago

    Thanks so much for posting about this article! It is increasingly difficult to be optimistic about American society and survivability of the creative class when you understand what is going on politically in America as the wealth continues to move away from the retirement plans, home equity, and college savings accounts of the 99% to the trust funds and Swiss bank accounts of the 1%.

  • ivision

    Maan from ivision said 5 years ago

    i love make thing anything maybe everything...i have heard people saying your place is beautiful but when it comes to anything handmade hanging around home by myself they say"ya its different". Every time i go to wall mart i go n check magazine in case if i'm in there:) That day still has to come ....m happy m dreaming & making. I am happy really i am...

  • kladr350

    Kaitlyn Ashley de Valencia said 5 years ago

    I think the reason that art is undervalued is because the society we live in frowns upon people actually thinking for themselves and that is what art is...thinking for yourself. If people start thinking for themselves then the people in control have a little bit of a problem keeping their machine running and are usually only interested in paying artists who will support that machine. The common people are basically taught from a very young age that art isn't valuable for this very reason and unknowingly look down on creative pursuits which could actually benefit their lives much more than working a 9-5 job that they have no interest in whatsoever/sucks the life out of them but pays the bills. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that art is the difference between blind slavery and still having a bit of humanity left in you. Whether you make money from it or not (not everyone is going to like you!) it allows you to actually live as your own self.

  • BeatriceCLaNore

    Brittany Hodgson from BeatriceCLaNore said 5 years ago

    My philosophy on success is if it makes you happy and you learn as you go then you are successful :)

  • rollerwriter

    Jane Flis said 5 years ago

    I love buying from etsy and have made the effort to make the majority of my gift giving to be items that have been hand made and artist sold. Would it be so terrible to explain the number of hours that go in to a piece of art or to explain how you came to determine the price of an item? I have fallen in love with pieces and spent $ on them but everyone has an amount that makes them uncomfortable with the price. Since art is hard to value how about some help?

  • Furiousdreams

    Victoria Webb from Furiousdreams said 5 years ago

    I'd have to disagree that the arts are losing value. While performance art, architecture and graphic design seem to have been hard hit, visual fine art and sculpture are doing fairly well. When a Munch pastel just outperformed any other artist in history at auction, it's obvious that fine art as an investment is still strong. I also think that ironically, the demise of some galleries has allowed more artists (like those of us who use Etsy and other retail sites) to market their work directly without a middle man. Yes, galleries still have a place, but some people are intimidated by the idea of walking into one and having to ask for a price list. That said, it's never going to be easy to sell a non-functional piece of art. Marketing, education, and having a receptive audience is part of success. Revitalization in any town or city always begins with the arts. Atlanta now has the distinction of being a city with the most arts-related businesses per capita in the country. We're in an arts boom and I've lived in the city off and on, since the mid 1970's. In the May 7th issue of the New Yorker, arts writer Peter Schjeldahl notes that auctions of art have soared back to their pre-crash 2007 records; 31 billion dollars. Only China is spending more than the US on art and antiques at auction. Art Fairs are also popular. Amanda Sharp, co-founder of the Frieze Art Fair, who brought it to NY this month, says: "Many, many, many, more people are buying art than in the past". Sounds promising to me.

  • Furiousdreams

    Victoria Webb from Furiousdreams said 5 years ago

    Gee, why can't the blog keep our paragraph formatting? What I just wrote above now looks like one big run-on blurb....

  • PattiTrostle

    Patti Trostle from PattiTrostle said 5 years ago

    I know several artists that make a good living painting. I too am a full time artist. It takes a lot of work and dedication. I have to not only paint, I have to think in terms of "running a business". It is an almost 24/7 job. Painting..teaching..promoting. Not easy, but possible.

  • FreakyPeas

    FreakyPeas from FreakyPeas said 5 years ago

    great comments everyone!

  • sjegan

    Sarah-Jane Egan from FragmentDesignsEtsy said 5 years ago

    Personally I value art, but I can't afford it or justify the money to myself, crafts are a different matter. I've just gotten my first few items of clothes off etsy; they arrived last week, and the quality of them compared to some of the rubbish I could buy in the local shops is amazing! And not a big price increase actually! ...but I'm waffeling, what really really gets my goat is the fact that society cares too much about trends and labels, the people who have the money want to buy brand name items which are often worse quality and shady ethics and they don't want unique and inspiring. That mindset has to change. I also think the problem is that we're used to mass produced cheap stuff and we expect handmade to come with the same price which is unreasonable and unrealistic. We need to get away from the throw away society we live in and start supporting each other.

  • Oohsparkly

    Oohsparkly from Oohsparkly said 5 years ago

    Great blog and great comments! I've just added my own two cents on my personal blog ( Basically, thank goodness for Etsy providing a place for all of us to bond and share our talents and knowledge. There's nothing better than having a place to commune with like minded people who share a passion. Keep creating, everyone!

  • ShereesAtelier

    Sheree Schattenmann from ShereesAtelier said 5 years ago

    Well, I think Peter nailed it when he talked about folks putting value on the arts and creativity. I happen to have a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from MIT. I also happen to own a fabric shop where I teach hundreds of folks (old and young) how to sew and create art from fabric. And I happen to have a line of handmade goods, all 100% made by me. I see value both the arts as well as science and my kids are lucky enough to attend an arts and science academy. I don't know they will decide to do as a career in the future, but I am glad they are getting great exposure and education in both areas. I think the future leaders, innovators, philosophers and visionaries will be combining art, technology and science in very new ways. Look at Steve Jobs, most people think of him as a techie, and while he was in many ways, I'd argue he was an artist first and foremost.

  • Krystyna81

    Kristina from Krystyna81 said 5 years ago

    Victoria your comments are always so well informed and thoughtful - I'm so proud that you have brought up Atlanta and our strong Art scene. I am making a good income as a full time artist and teacher, able to rent and maintain an amazing studio while still creating work that means something to me. I am also very grateful to Etsy for opening up my Art market to the whole world - not just my city. For me, that is part of success. There will always be the next benchmark , the next goal (magazine cover? national prize?) which is part of the thrill of being an artist - always striving to improve.

  • dgart

    David Gough said 5 years ago

    What gets me is that a "Fine Arts Society" will ask artists to DONATE works so they can raffle them off to make money for their organization.

  • atomicblue

    Sayra from atomicfiberco said 5 years ago

    Hogwash. Income is down across the board, I find the article to be only an opinion. I quit making hats, because it wasn't as rewarding to me. Plus the economy had changed, people didn't have as much expendable cash, due to inflation. Success to me, is happy almost raving feedback. I read mine weekly here on Etsy. I have great customers, thank you Etsy!

  • AuraRosesTreasures

    Aura Rose from AuraRosesTreasures said 5 years ago

    With all of the gorgeous art being overproduced in developing countries through slave labor, people are going for the baskets, geegaws, art and furnishings that have their outlets at Target, Walmart and other bargain basement stores for cheap. This devalues our art and decreases demand. The economy is also an obvious culprit, not good for most products.

  • ChristaEllen

    Christa Hirneisen from ChristaEllen said 5 years ago

    Yes, Yes! I too was out and about in my own town here in Pennsylvania and I saw a cute little toddler in one of my hats!!! I spoke to her mother and she even knew my name! She had remembered my name from the tag I had on the hat. Wow. The mother was so thrilled to meet me and she wanted to know if I knit sweaters. Oh, boy. What a fun day that was!

  • ladybughugs

    ladybughugs from ladybughugs said 5 years ago

    I remember one day, a lady from my church approaching me to do a necklace for her AND her sister. She wanted TONS of details, and special colors etc. and I love a challenge. So, when I quoted her (what I thought was a reasonable price - of 15$ each - each piece hand turned/eyepins handmade etc.) she said, oh, but I can get one at a yard sale for 50cents. (ever had one of THOSE slaps?) so, I looked her dead in the eye, and (for the first time in my life stood up for my art) and said, well, then, by all means! Go right ahead. and turned heel and left. and she could NOT figure out why I was offended. REALLY? I have other friends who berate me for selling too cheap. :) but the price (for me) often depends WHERE I sell. if its in the boonies, people will not pay much for a nice piece. I don't care, I've learned to price my stuff, and to stick to my guns!

  • marpet3425

    Mary from marpet3425 said 5 years ago

    Necessity is the mother of invention: process over product is the creative intrisic value and measure of ideas. Our post gluttony product based economy imploding once again is proof in the pudding of the lack of meaningful value in an extrinsically based economy. I agree with the following: stick to your guns, know the value of original ideas etc, don't give it away - barter for a same rate services, etc etc. All of these suggestions mean we value and measure our own intrinsic value as artists and creators. The hell with the rest of's gone to hell in a handbasket anyway. It's up to the creatives to turn the tide....

  • NicoleNicoletta

    NicoleNicoletta from NicoleNicoletta said 5 years ago

    great article. i think it all comes down to being true to yourself and what you want to do. if creating makes you happy, that's the only thing you should be doing. i spend all of my free time working on my shops...and i wouldn't have it any other way. even if i'm not making a ton of money, i get enjoyment out of it...that's the bottom line for me.

  • Chrisgrant1

    Chris Grant from 1RamblingPaintbrush said 5 years ago

    The fun of being inspired to continue to create art work can come at rare moments that you never forget. A friend and customer of mine bought a Christmas cake cover painted with Santas all around for her Mother-in-law. She wanted something unusual for that "person who has everything". The following Christmas season I went to visit my friend, and there sat my cake cover smack in the middle of her kitchen counter. She just shrugged and said she loved it so much, she kept it for herself! Who knows what Mom got, but I was thrilled beyond belief at how much she valued my art. Great works of art are a labor of love that come from the heart.

  • Joyelleful

    Deborah Bruner said 5 years ago

    Many great points have been made here and I would like to add one from a sociological/humanitarian point of view. When I have traveled in third world nations my priority and focus revolved around helping people practically. Food, clean water, clothing, health care, these are basic needs that billions of people go without everyday... but you know what? In some of the poorest places of the world creativity is still seen. People hand craft goods from junk into something not only functional, but beautiful. The human NEED to create and be creative will never diminish based on funding or salary associated with an artistic pursuit. I dream of a world in which every person has a full belly, a roof over head and ample opportunity to express themselves creatively! :-) We need to recognize how lucky we are to have these things available to use, and try to provide the same to others that don't...

  • shawnstpeter

    Shawn St.Peter from shawnstpeter said 5 years ago


  • ArtFromEden

    Erin from EarthenStargazers said 5 years ago

    I would never think of art being a waste of time. Just as every person needs to breathe, just as athletes need to run, just as every culture needs art to thrive, we NEED to create. It's not a matter of money or how we spend our time - it's a matter of purpose. A large portion of our world just doesn't understand that, not yet. :)

  • ValhallaFarm

    Deb from ValhallaFarm said 5 years ago

    All these comments are so true and hit right on spot! I was recently told by a young friend who works at Dairy Queen that at least I don't have to work for a living. I don't have to work!? I do all of the chores on the farm by myself (except on weekends - That includes pigs, chickens, baby chicks, steers and heifers) - I milk a cow, make cheese, garden, can almost everything we eat, sell the excess at the Farmers' Markets and still find time to pursue my true love - creative expression! When I sell this created piece of my soul, it leaves me feeling truly successful. Hang in there, fellow artisans! Our creations are, indeed, an extension of the light within us!

  • televised

    televised from televised said 5 years ago

    this is an interesting discussion! I too have a hard time defining "art" and "value" intrinsically. a situation I experienced gave me a new perspective not too long ago: I was selling at a craft event and someone commented negatively on the price of one of my lamps (I hand-paint art and calligraphy on frosted glass lamps), stating that she could buy the basic lamps at some discount store for a negligible price. I smiled politely and said, "oh, really? that is nice." after she left I began pondering, at first feeling so cheap and disheartened by her comments, but then took a hard look at the vendor across from me who had been busy all day selling mass-printed duplicates of her artwork. it got me thinking... would that same person who commented on the price of the lamp scoff at the price of a Dali drawing, stating that the *paper* could be bought for such a small price? no. I started looking at art in a refreshing new way after that. it is not the thing or material that the creativity is upon that is the art, it is the concept, execution, love, dedication, et al of the artist that went into it that gives it such beautiful and infinite value. every civilization needs the artists that provide hope, legacy, and understanding of the culture and personality of their era and life. that is the most valuable. the spirit of humanity isn't in how much money is possessed, but in the creativity that is shared. my thoughts anyway. :]

  • pinkpoppies1991

    Pink Poppies from pinkpoppies1991 said 5 years ago

    Thank you for this interesting article! I have enjoyed reading the resulting discussion

  • lauraprill

    Laura Prill from lauraprill said 5 years ago

    Great discussion! As a full time artist, I have a hard time explaining to people how I could possibly do art full time and find that I have to really stand by the work boundaries that I have established. With the availability of mass produced art and diy kits, etc. some could think that art is "easy" when actually it is a discipline. A joyful discipline. I believe that it's short sighted for society to undervalue such things, when we should be funding arts now more than ever. Our souls and hearts are fed by art of all kinds and that is what enables us to carry on.

  • wescoatart

    Natasha Wescoat from wescoatart said 5 years ago

    It's been incredibly difficult since the economic dive in 2008. I've watched as even the most successful artists and painters have gone from making hundreds of thousands of dollars to just barely selling a piece for at least 100. Not only has it been the culprit of this dive, but the ever growing need of social media standards - paying it forward, etc. People force us to think that donating our art to charities is helping others. Then there's the rise of the foreign factory style painting mills that have flooded eBay and other online art sites. Another culprit is the niavety of new and young artists who have taken to their desire to work, cutting the costs of their original art down to such a degree that it has taken down the market with them. We need to stand our ground, establish boundaries that not only protect our work but our financial livelihood, and to educate other's on the business of creative mediums. I believe we can bring it back. Slowly, but surely.

  • socalartgal

    socalartgal from socalartgal said 5 years ago

    As a galleriest who shows mostly conceptual work in my Southern California gallery, I think that the current state of the economy is responsible for the loss of creative jobs as well as a big decrease in sales. While I do see steady support for performing arts and music in my community, the visual scene has definitely been adversely affected. The decision to purchase a piece of fine art can be a difficult one to make even in the best of economic times, but most anyone can afford to go to a concert, play or some kind of music event. I support my friends in the performing arts and they, in turn, support what I do. Thank you, Etsy, for this fantastic forum. I have read many relevant comments from both artists and non-artists.

  • rebacorddesigns

    Reba Cord from rebacorddesigns said 5 years ago

    I can totally relate. All of my life I have been told that my art is not important. That what I do is not valid and "you'll never make a living being an artist" from my parents, siblings, former friends, strangers on the street, anyone who thinks their opinion is important to me. What people don't realize is that art is fundamental to life. My sister finally realized what I have gone through all these years when her youngest daughter inherited the artistic ability from myself and my mother, every generation has at least one artist. She finally understood what it is to be artistic and have non-creative types routinely dismiss your abilities and your talents as not important or valid. She has been more supportive of her daughters

  • rebacorddesigns

    Reba Cord from rebacorddesigns said 5 years ago

    What always irritates me is the fact that no one expects to have to pay a

  • rebacorddesigns

    Reba Cord from rebacorddesigns said 5 years ago

    What always irritates me is the fact that no one expects to have to pay a fair price for my artwork. They always exclaim at how expensive it is. They wouldn't dare walk into a Porche dealership and tell them the prices are too high, they would be laughed out of the store. People don't value art the same as other goods and services because art is thought of as frivolous by some. People need to be educated as to the true value of art as something that will endure. Look at the Mona Lisa, chick is still rockin' it several hundred years later! I had a boss once who asked for my opinion on investing in art for his children. I told him to buy what he liked as he would probably be looking at it for a long time(his kids were small) he came back to me after looking around at what he liked, complaining about how much it cost. I tried to explain that the piece he wanted would increase in value over time because most art does but he did not want to listen. He wanted something to buy low and sell high like stocks, instant gratificaton. How irritating. Art is not pork bellies or orange juice, it is a product of someone's itelect and emotions. I tried to argue with him to no avail. I no longer give advice about investing in art.

  • AshleighElizabeth4

    Ashleigh Havermann said 5 years ago

    Hmmm, as a writer I find that what other people say about the fact that I write doesn't really bother me. I know what I want to get out of writing and while it can be difficult earning money from it, writing for blogs for free and offering free samples of writing can be great for exposure and is a great business technique. Estee Lauder was one of the first business women to start offering free samples of new products and including gifts in cosmetic orders way back in the day when the company was first beginning. Even moreso in society today, the market belongs to the customer because they create value in the product. Stick with it! Success doesn't happen overnight!

  • AsianBrocade

    Bex from AsianBrocade said 5 years ago

    Why do I think the arts are losing value? Actually, I think they're increasing in value. As people get more and more lost in society, it's an artist's job to combat the dark places, and share light with the people they come across, both personally and indirectly thorough their work. Though I don't sell my paintings on etsy, I love going 'plain clothed' and mingling with people who are experiencing them for the first time. Their respite from darkness is the greatest satisfaction there is. When I come across people who want more, and who start a healing path for themselves because of something they saw from that canvas, or I see the shadows of 'I'm all alone, no one understands how different I am' lighten off a person's shoulders- there's nothing like it. Perhaps the pay's falling, but the gifts are increasing. My local area is seeing a steady fall in industry and income, but an increase in the arts, and an increase in community and bonds between people. As we share with each other what we have, all our needs are met. In the end, isn't that the point?

  • joonijewelry

    Jooni Jewelry from JooniJewelry said 5 years ago

    It would be difficult or impossible for me to stay in this creative business if I paid too much attention to what the others think and those statistics.... I find it hard to always stay positive in this economy and society but I believe in the end pursuing our true passion brings us a true happiness. Through Etsy experience, I've been learning a lot that I never did from any other jobs that I had in the past. Passion, patience, confidence, and strength.... I never paid as much attention to those things as I do now. Expectations shouldn't exceed these precious things. Let's stay positive!

  • theoriginalartmama

    theoriginalartmama said 5 years ago

    I think it depends on where you are and what you do. Some cultures really value their arts, some don't. Handicrafts, architecture, interior design all traditionally can guarantee more steady and predictable income than fine and performing arts. My parents were big business, my dad a VP for a credit firm, my mom an independent stockbroking consultant -- with very traditional prejudices against the arts. I still remember Dad's reaction when I told them I wanted to get my BFA in Creative Writing and Visual Arts :"Great! So you can starve at 2 professions instead of just one?". But the perception has held true for me -- many of my pieces which I spent painstaking amounts of time crafting were only accepted for the price of publication. My church often calls on me to produce works for them for charity. I know some artists would probably blame me and get angry, but there's almost a tacit agreement about "paying your dues" just to get your work out there. And then there's all the volunteer work you do w'ithin the arts community for the recognition and to keep the machine going despite cutbacks on all governmental levels to funding and grants. It sucks, but it's true.

  • LillieoftheValley

    LillieoftheValley from LillieoftheValley said 5 years ago

    One way to make a lot of money as an artist is to TEACH art. I know a woman who is a painter and didnt not hit the jackpot so to speak until she started teaching after school art classes, which later translated to a full-time position in a highly rewarding school district. Just an idea.

  • dloustalot

    Danielle Loustalot from SomethingFromTheSun said 5 years ago

    As a small time artist, I do not attempt to make a living off my art but simply enjoy each opportunity to paint something for someone. While it would be a dream come true for me and many others, I believe it's important to remember that you started being an artist because you love it, and you're great at it. Let that be your motivation--even simple compliments from people are something to be treasured...many people would give anything to be the least bit artistic.

  • anascrafties

    Ana Hernández from Anascrafties said 5 years ago

    That’s a very good question indeed. I think it’s really hard to make a living, that is a “good” living, out of art. At least I don’t think I could. My inspiration is limited and cannot be pushed, when it comes it is beautiful, but if I force it to come then it is not so beautiful. Ideally, making money shouldn’t be the aim of art, because if it is your creativity is tainted by things not artistic or creative and that is always a negative influence for any artist.

  • anascrafties

    Ana Hernández from Anascrafties said 5 years ago

    The arts are losing value because nowadays they are becoming part of an "old-fashioned" way of life. Look around you, young people are into the new technologies like never before. Also, in times of economic crisis like this, people need to be more pragmatic than idealistic, so, again, beauty is secondary in today's society. People are always in a rush, art is part of a slow way of life. Luckily, some of us are still fond of the old ways, but making a living out of it ... that's something different, not very realistic, so, yes, art today is often linked to having the extra time for it, but that's no reason to despise artists. Could it be that people are envious of those who in such a frantic way of living we have today find some free time?

  • flbproductions

    FLB from FULIBU said 5 years ago

    'Quitting a day job' does not necessarily mean the featured artists are making a regular salary like in a regular job. Monthly income varies from time to time for each seller on Etsy, and so there is no rigid consistency in 'financial success' for anyone. That said, it is quite possible to make a decent income from an online business like this. In my personal opinion it is best to couple an etsy store along with a part-time job (or even a full-time job) in order to balance immense job satisfaction and happiness that comes from working on your own art WITH the peace of mind that there is a 'consistent and guaranteed' source of income coming from another established job. All day jobs are not necessarily killing the true artist in us, it is possible to find a job that lets us be creative and also offers a consistent income, giving us the time energy and motivation to continue an etsy business and the freedom to take risks!

  • shalomdan

    shalom dan said 5 years ago

    Where can I buy Anointing Oil

  • susanaredding9

    Susan Anne Redding from susanaredding9 said 5 years ago

    Artists rely completely on demand, if they want to get paid for what they do. If someone is a combination artist/entrepreneur they are going to be much more successful than someone who does not pay attention to supply and demand. Most artists who make a living doing art shape what they do to fit the wants of the market. I know this and do what I want to do. I am not a business person. I am a teacher to make a living, and I love doing it, and I incorporate art any way I can into teaching. It's very easy, and completely nourishing. I think it is great to get away from the canvas and all the other arts I do and get out in the world and find inspiration, and make a living for myself. If you know your art history, artists notoriously through the ages have lived off other people, their families, sponsors, lovers, etc. I think an adult has to make their own way....

  • Pysar

    Yuri Pysar from Pysar said 5 years ago

    This article is so actual. As I began my independent artist career I couldn't believe that I could make living with it, but I didn't have a choice, I couldn't help but panting. At first I created paintings that were shouting "Buy me",they were so market oriented that I stated my first sales.It was good, because I could pay the bills & I began more confident, but it wasn't satisfacting, because it's not a creative process for me to paint that the others like. I wanted to reveal my inner world, to find my own manner of painting. With a cause of time, I managed to sell "my world" paintings in my manner. Almost every 2 month I have a solo show in different pat of Ukraine, of course there is still a lot to achieve, & I work really hard but I believe that one day it will pay off. So, dear artists, believe! Who will believe in your art if you don't? Once you set the goal, go for it!

  • LeynaB

    Leyna Bansbach from TheMusings said 5 years ago

    This is so true. i just recently completed a research paper on what constitutes as art, and used Damien Hirst as the artist in which i researched. coming from an artistic background and going to school, he worked at the galleries and had dealings with them. his success was based on this fact, and how he could manipulate these instances to his favor. I am somewhat on the fence as to if this is considered "right or wrong," but it has worked for him. his promotional strategies and who his connections were, are what made him one of the most wealthiest artists of our time. it's hard to think that it is all of who you know, but that is almost always a stepping stone for many artists to get the audience in which they want.

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