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Hey, im studying Fine art an illustration on a foundation level, and time is slowly running out for me to decide on my chosen career. I am still at a base skill level, so all doors are open, i have not overstretched myself in a single direction.
So what im asking is, how easy is it living off of your work? What type of work do you do? How much do you charge? Is it the good life?
At this stage i am wondering whether to move into graphics and illustration and use my design and photography skills to try for a steady job. Would this be wise? I would really appreciate any help in choosing the right path.
Define the good life.
You have to get your head around the fact that we live in 'the browser culture' and that fewer and fewer people buy paintings. The easel painting is slowly becoming an anacronism, a sort of high end version of craft fair knick knacks. When Leonardo Da Vinci was alive, paintings were incredibly rare and therefore sought after. Today we have trillions upon trillions of images flooding the system along with superb yet dirt cheap reproductions. The person painting away in their garret is to this world as is the crow pecking at the edible litter on the freeway to the rushing cars.
Get into commercial art work if you have the slightest doubt. If you want to be a 'painter of easel pictures' you are going to have to be prepared for a really, really rough ride.
You have been warned!
From Gegarin's point of view
I disagree. In NYC, where many people have more money than they know what to do with, galleries have proliferated, and sales are good.
The real problem is artistic freedom. Fine art is often treated like everything else these days - it's easier to promote you if you're known for a particular subject, and once you're known for that, some galleries will pressure you to keep producing what you're known for.
If you want to be representational, and have excellent skills, it seems to me that working freelance in concept art or matte painting might give you $ to do your own painting and maintain your artistic independence.
I haven't tried it, but think that selling through the internet is probably also a viable option.
Maxine, i think you are in a privileged position. I have considered looking at a career in concept art, but i feel that it would leave very little time for my own artwork. Im sure if i lived somewhere like NY i would have a much easier time choosing, but if im honest i do not want to leave where i am now. Im at a university without an amazing reputation in fine arts, but a fairly positive reputation in graphics and an outstanding reputation in design. In that sense, have already come to terms with the fact i would have to travel to promote my work. All of my lecturers stress this regularly.
Chris, your insight is really compelling, but it almost turns me on to choosing fine art. I want my art to be worth buying. Producing commercial art isnt what drove me back into education, and im not sure how much more rough my life could become.
I feel like i should take this risk, and if i fail, at the very least i can say that i spent a few years studying something i loved, not slaving away in an office, even if that is ultimately what i end up doing.
Any more replies would be welcome. I still have a week or two to decide.
When I was young and in art school they always told us to have a skill that paid high$- carpentry, plumbing, something to support yourself because, indeed, fine art has always been a tough row to hoe. I found I was a natural teacher and for many years supported myself by teaching 2 days a week (contract- no benefits), and selling my work. I had a tremendous compulsion to paint and couldn't not do it. There were definite stresses, but at least I know I've done with my life what I wanted to. When Max the Mutt happened to me, growing almost by itself out of private classes I was teaching, I never would have believed it would lead to me to a point where, at least temporarily, I'm not doing my own work...but that's another story.
BACK TO YOU! If you will regret not having tried, the decision is already made. The next question is where and what you are going to study. The final question is how to ensure that you have a way to earn maximum $ part time - so that you will have the time to paint. Can your school give you the fine art training you need to liberate your vision? Many skills are common to both fine art and commercial art, design and composition being one of them. I don't know your school, but you do. Plot and plan- and the best of luck to you.
Was it worth it? For me, there was no other way to do it.