What is the point of being an artist?

The following is an article that I have written for publication by Access Arts and ArtDeadline.Com. It is essentially addressing and outlining the problems and difficulties that most if not all new contemporary artist face in the modern world. It was not only based on my own personal experiences as an oil painter, but also featured the ideas and thoughts from other artists who I have known, who are facing similar difficulties in their careers.

So here it is:

What is the point of being an artist?

What really is the point of being an artist? It is very often one of the first questions that people tend to ask when you first mention that you are a painter or sculptor. But I suppose to a certain point they have a very good argument to be had. Of course, there's the variety of modern inventions such as home personal computers, the television, the Internet and video games, which are all extremely heavy competition for the contemporary artist in the modern world. But the one point which they usually argue the strongest, is the huge financial expenses sometimes involved. With the cost of being an artist today, it is more difficult than ever before and the difficulty in succeeding as an young artist has been made financially even harder.

In my experience as a self-taught painter, I have found that most of the art galleries with any kind of a reputation for handling the modern contemporary artist very often do attract interest and do often sell artworks extremely well and effectively. But the catch with this is usually how much commission they take and how ultimately that affects the price that you need to charge to the collector that purchases it. Otherwise it doesn't leave you with much of a profit margin. But then again, I do know of galleries that charge huge fees to the artist before hand and take 0% commission. But this can be very expensive for the new young artist, who is very often already in a lot of debt. There's a gallery local to me that charges £400 (which is about $600 US) a week doing it like this.

To add to the frustration of any new painter, some people fail to realise how financially difficult it is for the modern contemporary artist and how hard sometimes it can be just to make art. They really don't take into consideration the costs of materials and equipment, plus then all of the additional costs involved in displaying and exhibiting work. Some seem to think that if you charge £1000.00 for a painting you must be rolling in it! Even places like art stores and galleries must take a similar attitude. For instances why do canvases and paints cost so much and why do galleries need to charge such great fees, when most artists are struggling to stay afloat? There's also the other point to be had, that they fail to realise and that is; that for every painting that you price at £1000.00, you also have to have a collector with £1000.00 in their pocket.

The opportunities for most new contemporary artists are far and few between, with most having to donate a large portion of there work and plunge themselves even further into debt. The one advantage that we have now better than any of those before us, is the possibilities of easy self-promotion. With about 80- 90% of people with access to personal computers or other web based platforms, the Internet is a life line. But a huge amount of work is included. In other words the jobs that they have to undertake are the creator, the artist, the promoter, the advertiser or marketer, the sales person and then the retailer. This ask quite a lot of one person!

I don't mean to suggest that the new painters or sculptors working their way up the art ladder, should change their career path or change their technique in any way. On the contrary. As an artist myself, more specifically an oil painter, I fully support any other artists trying to survive. But I only wish to outline the problems that lie ahead for the young artists in this modern era and suggest that they should have more care and support or at the very least a change of attitude and perception towards them.

Written by: L. E. Gav Thorpe

L. E. Gav Thorpe is a contemporary artist from England and specialises in painting the legs, feet and shoes. He turned professional in 2011 and is completely self-taught. His website is www.legavthorpe.blogspot.com