Who Wouldn’t Want to be an Artist?
Isn’t it a grand life standing at an easel all day painting away without a care in the world with your beret, gown , brushes and palette . Then someone comes along and takes your paintings, sells them for lorry loads of cash, then brings you back the cash less a small percentage taken as commission. Even better still the buyers flock to your studio, don’t disturb you and leave piles of cash on the table. Great work if you can get it. I’m joking of course but it’s amazing the number of people who have this romantic notion or some variation on the theme.
It is a great life standing at an easel all day except for the times when you have to change the bed linen, do the washing, do the hoovering, sweeping, mopping, polishing, cooking, shopping, ironing, grass cutting, hedge cutting, leak fixing,exercising, eating, phoning, texting, Facebooking, Tweeting, meeting and all the other things normal people do plus all the things artists really do like writing statements, completing endless application forms for Arts Council funding, making submissions to galleries and Art Centres, visiting galleries, buying materials, researching, recording reference material and finished work etc. etc. In the months leading up to a solo exhibition the pressure intensifies. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. It really is a great career and very rewarding. How rewarding? That’s a whole other debate but I’ll leave you with one short story of how rewarding it can be.
This year I had the honour of exhibiting at the Royal Academy’s Summer exhibition in London. They have a very democratic hanging system with Academicians and ordinary artists like me sharing the same space. One of the rooms ‘The Small Weston Room’ is generally reserved for small paintings usually hung in a salon style ( very close together).
Very few of the paintings in this room are by Academicians as they tend to exhibit large for this show. On this occasion there was a small painting by Tracey Emin just to the right of mine. Mine was for sale at £450. Tracey’s was for sale at £66,000. Mine sold but Tracey’s didn’t. But before you all say Ahhhhh poor Tracey save it for a minute. In the very next room Tracey had three prints for sale in limited editions of 100. At the end of the exhibition she had sold about 70 of each print for a giveaway £375 each. That adds up to nearly £80,000. Nice one Tracey.
Who wouldn’t want to be an artist?