On the Topic of Commodifying Art

artist doing a sculpture
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It’s been a long-standing debate about whether art done for money is art at all. This argument is not easy to resolve, nor is there a definitive answer.

For starters, humans still struggle to define “art”. The Cambridge Dictionary defines the word as “the making of objects, images, music, etc. that are beautiful or that express feelings.” Additionally, there are philosophical, poetic, and romantic views of art. Art and beauty are related. The former is all about the artist while the latter depends on the audience. They say art is how humans make sense of the world–a reflection of themselves and their perceptions.

Art requires a tremendous amount of passion and a glimmer of creativity. At times, creativity is a Eureka moment while other times, it’s like approaching the light at the end of the tunnel. What keeps artists driving through the tunnel is passion–but for some, it’s money.

Using Art to Earn Money

It’s a lot to figure out because an artist — especially one without connections — will struggle to find clients. Thankfully, there are online platforms that can help.

Freelancing sites, such as Upwork and Fiverr, gathers a pool of freelancers and clients. They categorize freelancers according to their specializations so that clients can find them easily and view their services right off the bat.

Posting on social media can also help, especially with gaining clout. When a post is successful, more people will know about open commissions because of the unlimited exposure the internet can provide. Future clients can also message the artist directly. Social media is also a great way for networking and collaborating, as it makes meeting other artists easier. As a result, the artist can be part of a community.

Artists can also have a website as a virtual business card and portfolio. The website should be complete with a bio, contact information, rates, services, and the portfolio. They can link the site to their emails, social media, etc. They can also boost traffic on their site by using SEO. They can ask an experienced SEO consultant so the artist can be educated on the best practices on how to create content that will generate leads.

Side Hustles

man working while sitting on the floor

Nearly 44 million U.S. employees have side hustles. In a study conducted with 1,000 employees with side hustles, the research found that 45 percent of employees have side hustles for financial reasons. More work equals more money. 34 percent report they do so to escape the repetitive nature of a day job.

Time and time again, artists have been told that there’s no money in art. This pushed them to be scattered in different fields that don’t exactly include their passion. Others would find it dreary and alienating. At the end of the day, this “practical” career is necessary.

Because of this, artists result in a side hustle that includes their passion. They could be freelancing or employed in another firm as long as they can exercise their passion and pay the bills at the same time.

The Problem with Turning Art into a Job

People always say that when a person loves their job, they never would have to work a day in their life. This may not be the case with an artist. It’s a frustrating learning curve, and it creates a weird relationship with something that they used to love.

Creating something is an entire creative process. Ideally, the artist takes all the time they need from the germination of ideas to the final product. However, this is not the case with taking on a job. There are deadlines and production of several pieces in a short time. At times, there’s no artistic freedom because the artist needs to appease the taste of their clients.

The Role of Passion Projects

In the commodification of art, artists can lose their individuality. They may lose touch with their own creative freedom because they have molded themselves into something the clients want.

This is why passion projects are important. These projects remind the artist of their love for the craft. It anchors them to why they started making art in the first place. It’s something that they can do to please themselves and not the taste of other people.

The passion project can be a collaboration between a community of artists. It can also be a fun post on social media. It can even be a meme. The point of a passion project is to not have limits and inhibitions. Just make something and see where it goes.

On the topic of whether art done for money is art at all, it’s not easy to tell. In a world where rent, prices, and commodities are increasing, this inquiry may be a non-issue.

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