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Defining Your Success as an Artist

by Jason Horejs on March 6, 2014 · 777 comments

There is no one-size-fits-all definition of success for an artist

One of the great advantages of pursuing art is the personal freedom you enjoy as an artist. As an artist, you are master of your studio, and what happens there is completely up to you. No one can tell you how to create, and no one can define success for you.

Having spent twenty plus years in the gallery business, I’ve met and worked with hundreds of artists, and every single one of them has different goals. Each uses different metrics to define success.

There are several common goals many artists strive to achieve, however. As you think about your future success, I would encourage you to consider each of these areas and decide how important each is to you. Your priorities will help determine how you approach the business of art.

Artistic Achievement

At the deepest level, many artists create for the sheer love of creation. They will spend years studying and training to hone their craft. Time spent in the studio is focused on the pursuit of excellence. Every other consideration is secondary.

Recognition

No artist creates in a vacuum, and many would argue that no work is complete until it has been shared with an audience. Many artists hunger for the opportunity to share their work. Art is communication at a very emotional, and often visceral level.

For some artists, the prospect of an award or critical praise of their work is more important than any monetary gain that might come from the sale of the work.

Monetary Gain/Financial Stability

Many artists aim to create a business around their art. Art sales, while not easy to attain, can allow an artist to gain independence to create more art. An artist who successfully sells his/her work earns the freedom to focus more time and energy on creating.

Artistic Motivation Venn Diagram

Artistic Motivation Venn Diagram

 

Finding Balance

For most artists, motivation lies in a combination of these factors. It is important though, to understand your personal motivation priorities. If artistic excellence is the overriding priority, you may sacrifice your marketing and business time to find more time to devote to your work. If recognition is the priority, museum shows and juried competitions will take precedence over gallery representation or shows. If sales are the priority, production and gallery representation become far more critical.

Leave a Comment

I encourage you to think about your personal artistic motivation. What is the driving force behind your creativity at this stage of your career? Are there motivating factors that I’m missing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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About 

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of ARTsala. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.

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{ 776 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim Longwell March 6, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Wow, as always Jason, you find a way to make me delve deeper into why I do things the way I do. I like how you encourage one to dig down in our motivations to get to our core reasonings.

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Richard Smith March 6, 2014 at 1:43 pm

What’s my driving force? I haven’t got the foggiest idea, I sure wish I knew. I do my art stuff because I don’t like doing anything else. I’ve got to come up with a better reason than this. :)

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Nancy July 13, 2014 at 10:43 am

That reason seems good enough to me.

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Justin Dancing Hawk July 14, 2014 at 3:54 pm

You’re not digging Richard! “I’s better than a stick in the eye” inot being honest. . .with yourself, OR us! If there’s no more depth to you than that, PERHAPS YOU’RE NOT an Artist a at all! Just sain’ !

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David House July 17, 2014 at 9:25 am

You really need to curb your tongue. I don’t believe anyone profits from such judgement.

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Will L. Eskridge March 6, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Ever since I graduated college, my motivation has been located in the inner shape of the Triquetra where all three intersect. However, the past few months I feel a shift moving towards the Vesica piscis shape formed by the two circles, “Artistic Excellence” and “Financial Stability”. As I slowly transition to art full time, I think this is the smart areas to concentrate on. I also think that the recognition part can be born from the other two.

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Coleen June 13, 2014 at 8:37 am

Financial stability and (through?) artistic excellence are my motivations as well; recognition would/could be helpful to make more money (branding, marketing, etc.) so I see the merit in still striving for that inner shape.
Thank you for teaching me some new words, by the way. Now I can stop saying “you know, those overlapping circle thingies”.

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Coleen June 13, 2014 at 8:41 pm

On a Google-image-let’s-see-where-this-takes-me, I ended up on sacred geometry. More “computer-assisted serendipity”…

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Kim Jones March 6, 2014 at 2:35 pm

I think for many artists it follows the path you laid out. You start out honing your skills and then take the next step of entering competitions and shows. When you start getting into some really good shows I think it is almost logical to think of selling your work. It seems very validating when that happens.The idea of being able to do the work you love even more and not have it piling up in corners of your house is a very motivating idea. The more you sell, the more you will push yourself to do more. So I think for most artists it is a combination of the 3 motivations you listed, if their goal is to produce a large body of work. It is a circular motion, one often leads to the other. I think the bigger issue is how to find motivation again when you get to the selling stage. What artists often don’t see at first is that the work that wins awards, your very best work, is not necessarily the work that sells in galleries and online. Not the work people are going to hang in their living rooms. Often an artist is faced with the question of whether you keep doing your very best work, which may not be the current “soup du jour” or do you do what is popular. Some artists can do one style for galleries and do what they consider their true work on the side, some can’t. That’s when finding another motivation can be critical. Do you do your very best work and give it away so you have room to live in your house(humor intended), or do you change your work to fit the current market and hope you can do the work you really want to do at some point? If your goal has become that of a professional artist you may face that question. I am making no judgement about any one artists’ decision of how to deal with that, because I think that only a small few artists never have to face those issues. So for me, it would also be very interesting to know how people re-motivate when they do reach the point of wanting to sell their work. Every time a gallery owner tells me (sincerely I think) that they love my work, but don’t think they can sell it because it is different, not what people are buying right now, I have to find a new motivation. I also am not picking on galleries , as I get they are a business, but would be very curious to know how others find motivation at that stage of the game. So far I have motivated myself by a belief that all I need is one or two galleries and a willingness to accept I am putting far more time into my work than I am getting back financially. In fact I would say I probably am in the hole most of the time by the time I figure in time and shipping, etc. So I guess after this long winded post I would have to say that for me the biggest motivator of the 3 is the first, excellence in my work. So far that need has kept me going, but the thing that can erode away that motivation and confidence is the last one, trying to sell. So any motivations in that area would be of great interest to me.

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jimmy graham March 9, 2014 at 4:28 pm

im going through this very process right now and what ive found is that my work does pile up and take over my home and i did at one point just give it away….but then i decided on unconventional means of sales opertunities…i started working with local music at a starting point….ran their merch booths and acted as driver and wanted nothing else then to present my creations along side theirs and their music and my art combined on many occation….now ive out grew that life but still have the connections on a local sceen…i do not compromise what my art is for the sake of a dollar but instead take what i do and give it a shade or spin on that venue what ever it may be.i dont ”sell” my art….rather i create an enviroment no matter how large or small to present what i do.if people enjoy my world they then ask me how much fer a peice of it and then it becomes monitary.my advice i sappose is to not sell or even think of it as the means to an end rather let people see your world and if they have any liking to it will want to add it to their own.

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Maggie Smith March 10, 2014 at 8:09 am

Thank you for your post. For those of us who have entered the selling stage there are many obstacles to overcome: 1. It costs too much. My artist friends are always faced with this as we are not connected with people who love art, need it, and have extra income to afford it. 2. The non-artist public seems to have no idea of the time, talent, skills required to accomplish art work. They admire and even envy the talent, but seem to think it is worth about 5cents per hour of work, if that. 3. Venues to show art: Galleries come and go in this town, and many want money to hang the work – sorry, I stopped paying gallery rent a long time ago. If having a gallery is your hobby, you are probably not going to actually sell work. I am compelled to be an artist and compelled to paint what moves me. I have a 4×4 foot piece called “The Family” and shows 5 people that are the family unit and for me the painting has a deep pollution of nature meaning, but most people don’t see that. Without exception, everyone loves this work, but when I ask if they would want it to hang in their homes, I am met with silence. It is a piece that belongs in a public setting or a museum. It is one of my better works and I am not going to let go of it for next to nothing. Storage of work is a problem. If I die and someone else has to deal with all of this, what will become of it, and I feel it would only be someone else’s burden. Do I love being an artist? Most of the time, but sometimes I wish I had the mind of an accountant, as I’d probably be financially better off.

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Kim Jones March 11, 2014 at 10:51 am

I really appreciate the replies and comments about my post. What I came to feel after reading all these great posts is that the common denominator, the true motivator behind all the areas in the venn diagram is that we want our work to be “seen”. Art is visual ( obvious right?) and needs to be seen in some venue to be fulfilling it’s intention. So whether it is on someones’ living room wall, or in a museum or coffee shop, or in a gallery, we as artists want it out there expressing itself and being seen. We strive to improve our work because that is what creative energy is about, always changing and evolving. We enter shows and competitions to validate those improvements, not to prove we are better than other artists. Then we try to market it because that tells us something about the energy we are putting into our creative work.More motivation and incentive to improve even more. Many years ago I was a Reiki therapist, a type of body energy work like therapeutic touch that nurses do. The biggest struggle I had was taking money for it. It felt wrong to take money for helping people. My teacher told me that not taking a fair “energy” return , which is what money really is, took away from the work I was doing because it created a debt with the person (karma). They then got less from the experience because of that “debt”. I have had the same struggle taking money for my paintings. I think because we are told that creative energy is a gift , whatever area it is in, we have this inner struggle with taking fair energy return for it. Maybe the public sees it that way too. If we are fortunate enough to have a creative gift, shouldn’t we then gift it away? How to overcome that and create value for our work is what a lot of artists face when they get to that selling stage. I personally see artwork as a form of visual healing. To me that is the intention of visual art , to express yourself in a way that connects to other people and they in turn get something from that. We all need to feel that our work is accomplishing something., and that is why selling some work ( or exchanging for fair value) is so motivating. If you go to school for years for a certain career, but then can’t get hired anywhere, you are most likely going to lose some of your driving force. Selling keeps the driving force going more strongly I think for many artists. It is part of how we feel fulfilled to have our work valued that way. I fight the battle of wanting to give up on the selling part all the time. I came to that point in my life of wanting to start selling a lot later than some artists, after raising 2 sets of children, and sometimes wonder why I put myself thru this angst. You do start to lose some of your confidence when you keep hitting roadblocks, but I also know, that for myself, if I quit trying to market I am going to lose a lot of my incentive. When I have just about talked myself into giving up, I try a new strategy. That tells me that at least in my creative world I need the validation, right or wrong, of selling some work. That may not be true for all artists. If packing up your art supplies and trying to walk away makes you physically unwell and depressed, then that is clearly not an option for you, you are a lifer. So we either pile it up in a room and hope someday to do something with it, or we keep hitting the roadblock until it moves out of the way. Being an artist isn’t just a job, it’s part of who I am, so I will keep trying. I am an artist who also has the mind of an accountant, having done corporate bookkeeping and accounting for years, and I wouldn’t trade back. Now if I could just find a way around that pesky “financial” thing.

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Claire March 30, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Hi Maggie – nice to see another reiki therapist – artist out here. I have the left brain, engineer thing for a job but it didn’t come easily or naturally like art. Reiki and Healing Touch energy healing is now a part of who I am, whether or not I am getting paid. I, too had to overcome the guilt of getting or even asking for money and work though asking for amount of what I thought I was worth. For art, I paint for myself to find and to express the beauty and peace that I see. I like to paint what makes me happy. It is an an incredible feeling for someone else to like and to appreciate your work and want to offer money for it. I would like to create art that creates happiness, peace, and healing for others.

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Don Beck March 14, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Understand fully!

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Wanda H Bellamy April 21, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Kim, that’s a great post!
Motivation to paint is a major issue for me. I sell and think, ok, now I really need to start pumping out some more pieces. Problem, it just doesn’t happen, at least not until there’s a deadline I have to meet, then I’m in a frenzy trying to get it all done.
I’ve won awards, including Best of Show, and yet most of the winning pieces never sold. Not all the pieces that won or sold were my very best. Although I always try to achieve excellence in my art, I have struggled with it because not everyone who buys a piece from me knows what goes into one of my paintings. They couldn’t care less about composition or color, etc. They just know what they like and that it would go well with the colors in their home. On the other hand, I’ve also had customers who were so taken with a particular piece/s they really did want to know the motivation, the story, the process. When they ask questions and keep delving – that motivates me to keep talking which I think motivates them to buy, and when I sell, that motivates me to paint…but only for the moment. I was in a three woman show at a gallery last December and I became so engaged in a conversation about my art – a conversation that started with just one person turned into a conversation with four. I sold a piece to one of those people that night – the one person I had started out talking to. I must have spent at least 45 minutes walking him through the gallery while he asked question and I answered them. He then said to me, “I’m going to buy something from you tonight.”, and so he did. I was ready to paint up a storm after that, but it never happened, at least not until I had another show to get ready for. Sigh The moral of my story, conversation motivates people to buy; selling motivates me to paint, but only temporarily; and deadlines force me to get my butt in gear. My #1 goal I would say is to sell. I think the rest will fall into place on their own with #2 being recognition since most awards come with a monetary prize and earns the respect of fellow artists, then #3 being excellence since practice does make perfect.
BTW, I have always been in the red and although I made a lot more sales last year than the year before, actually ever, the numbers all still remain in the red. Hope my husband never loses his job or I will be toast! lol

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Sue Williams June 16, 2014 at 12:23 pm

This one speaks to me too. I spent years in the artistic excellence sphere, some time in the sales in the form of art fairs and did fairly well. I liked the recognition, but not the weather. I: I tried the recognition arena, but found it very expensive to send willy nilly, so tried to figure out how to focus on what the jurors would want and it was not satisfying at all. I also am of the opinion that recognition sometimes comes from and with success in the selling arena. I found at art fairs that people buy what they feel some emotional connection with or from the artist because they like you. That kind of recognition trumps awards for me right now.

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Victoria S. July 14, 2014 at 7:51 pm

Kim – I did not find your post long winded at all. This was so concise and captured what I have witnessed and experienced and put into words what I (as well as many of my artist friends) have struggled to understand. Not sure there are any easy answers to what seems to be an age-old problem. The majority of Frida’s work would not be something that someone would buy to match their sofa. Thank you for your eloquence.

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Alison Philpotts March 6, 2014 at 2:40 pm

I think, Jason, you have named the three driving forces for me. Definitely financial stability/freedom is my goal, to prove to all the disbelievers, that being an artist is a ‘job’ , and deserves the respect. Recognition is my reward, and encourages me that I am doing what supposed to be doing, and always striving and developing to be the best artist I can ( till I die!).

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Dan Snyder June 30, 2014 at 9:00 am

I tend to agree with you, Alison, and thank you Jason for getting me to actually sit and delve deep within myself for answers that I have always found so difficult to put my finger on…
For as long as I can remember, I have had this voice in my head that compels me to create… and although I never really went after the physical awards from art competitions, I have sold some pieces, although I never was able to really turn a profit… considering the time and effort involved in not only producing the piece, but also the time involved in learning the techniques and researching the subjects and framing and materials and all… But I just can’t turn away from the driving force that keeps me striving to produce each piece better than the last…
For me, the greatest thrill is in learning the techniques and polishing my skills… everything else seems to take the back seat…
I have strived to make this my lifelong goal, and I sometimes feel it is more of a curse than a benefit, because achieving financial stability has always eluded me…
But still I keep going… trying different methods, different tools, different subject matter, all the time working hard to master new skills.
Problem is, I really have no clue how to market myself successfully, so the sales aren’t what I would hope, yet…
I try to keep informed on new marketing strategies, but there are so many ways to go about it that it just gets confusing, and I find myself spending so much time trying to figure it out, that I don’t get to spend as much time doing what I want to do… Paint…
That’s why the instruction you are offering is so important to me… I’m hoping with your insight into the business, and what I need to concentrate my time and energy on, that I can overcome the demons of self-doubt that I have spent a lifetime trying to conquer, and accomplish my life’s dream of making my career a success…
I am so thankful to you for giving of your time and energy to help all of us who after reading these posts, are going through the same questions as myself…

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Sandy July 14, 2014 at 7:02 pm

I appreciate what Dan said. I love to learn and try new things but what to do with all that art just sitting around. I try to market it and have no idea how along with a lack of confidence. I could probably sell someone else’s work better than I can sell my own.
Recognition is not that important to me but I do see the importance of it in the selling process. How to achieve it is beyond me.

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Katherine March 6, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Thank you Jason for the concise thoughts! and the great visual graphic! I do find some of each area in my motivations. Since art has been part of my life since childhood (1950s) I have gone through several stages. Idealism, motivated by greats, despair with disappointment, and now seeking to be true to who I am as possible.
Many goals at once now…finish what I started, do more/better works, learn marketing…it is all good because when one finds balance and consistency, the structure is powerful toward new creativity. I think you might add – “Have to because that’s who I am”.
Thank you.

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Aletha March 6, 2014 at 3:27 pm

I can identify my motivation very easily: it’s what you’ve called artistic excellence. It forms all the reason I ever wanted to do art. Trips to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC during my childhood brought the old masters into my life, and when I decided that I wanted to paint, just as surely I ached to learn how to paint at a level of skill like the great artists of the past. So the first challenge was learning to draw. Drawing is still a challenge, will always be a challenge. I had a natural affinity for color, yet I had to learn how to use color through countless sessions of experiments mixing them. Later on, I realized that it is possible to be “all dressed up” without knowing “where to go,” and then I sought to figure out invention in art. How can art be simultaneously modern and traditional, answer the challenges of skill posed by great artists of the past and still address thoroughly modern ideas?

I have neglected the business aspects of art, and chasing after awards never appealed to me at all. My choices have created problems that didn’t need to be there — I mean that a better focus on business wouldn’t have harmed my efforts any — though it’s also clear that digital photography and the advent of the internet makes everything a gazillion times easier now than in the past. Simply taking a decent photograph of a painting was a complicated endeavor when I was a youth and required a significant investment in time and money.

In short I can understand a more balanced approach — one that matches personal vision with PR and business savvy. But too many artists today are content to create a kind of art that fails to meet the minimal skill sets of even the second or third tier artists of the past whose works now live in museums. That is, I think, sort of tragic. It’s a failure of vision, of ambition — a failure of taste — it lacks guts. And if there’s anything that I could persuade a younger generation of artists to embrace it is skill and daring. Go shoulder to shoulder with Monet, or Hokusai, or Ingres, or Giulio Romano, or Domenico Tiepolo. There is no artist living today who has the pure chutzpah of Domenico Tiepolo. At least give it your best try.

I’m not lauding any particular style, but am making a plea for ability and boldness. Make a sort of art that could sometimes compare with a Hollywood movie. Wouldn’t it be exciting?

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Catherine Jo Morgan July 5, 2014 at 7:37 am

Aletha, I appreciate your urging us to a bold, inspired art life. Your whole blog looks very interesting indeed.

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Natalie Briney March 6, 2014 at 3:52 pm

I have just stumbled upon your blog. I cannot wait to devour all of it’s content.. I just read this post and I think it sums up so beautifully what so many of us feel. What if we want it all!! Is that possible. I hope so.

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Nicole Royer March 6, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Kim Jones, you are intelligent. I loved reading your post.
I am an “Abstract Action Painter”. My focus is on Sales this year.
Last year was my highest sales year yet, although I focused on getting into galleries & unfortunately that didn’t happen but I had some nice “no thank you at this time” replies.
It’s definitely a combo of the 3 but I think one’s focus shifts from time to time after re-evaluation.

I struggle with creating work I think will sell (using less pastel colors, more fluid lines and brush strokes, etc) and staying true to how I feel in the studio. I paint from emotion so whatever comes out is what ends up on the canvas.

I’m going to focus sales first, galleries/shows second and new work third. We’ll see how this year goes!

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Kim Jones March 6, 2014 at 6:12 pm

Nicole, thanks for the nice compliment! I think you are very right, constant re-evaluation is necessary.
Kim Jones

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Janet Glatz March 6, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Jason–coming at a time when I am re-evaluating my personal goals, your post was very welcome. As a confessed positive feedback junkie, I’ll always go for all the acclaim I can get. However, I’m tired of breaking my back over marketing with relatively little monetary gain. So I’m taking matters into my own hands and will soon be opening my own gallery. Stay tuned!

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Mary Manning March 6, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Jason, For five years, I have been chasing a balance between all three areas; artistic skills, chasing awards and galleries, and trying to establish an income from my art. In the end, learning how to stay true to my vision, to paint from the heart, is the hardest lesson to learn. Personal life is chaotic right now; we are in the middle of transitioning from one home to another, our daughter has had major health problems in the the past six months, and through it all I have continued to paint and create art. But, instead of dashing off paintings like an assembly line, I am learning to slow down, take great care with each piece, and to keep experimenting with materials and ideas. It’s a grand ride. I’ve seen modest sales, enough to start a Sold! folder for my portfolio. And each day brings an excitement and renewed vision to my work. For that, I am thankful and humbled and excited.

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Carolyn WarmSun March 6, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Jason, as always, a thoughtful and balanced piece. I have just recently realized that I paint as a path to self-discovery. I paint from my insides, and as I see what I have painted, I know me on a deeper level. There is a convergence right now in my life of painting as self-exploration, Mindfulness Meditation as another path to self knowing, reading Buddhist philosophy, and for the first time in 50 years participating in a radically liberal church in my community. A Spiritual journey I didn’t even know I was taking until recently when all the puzzle pieces clicked into place. Exciting at this time in my life to continue to explore and grow and become more of the person I am and wish to be. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want my work out in the world, but as a way of communicating and perhaps, once in a while, finding that kindred spirit who just walks into my work and tells me stories about it. Who “gets” it. Such a satisfying connection.

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Joyce Wynes March 6, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Thanks Jason for another thought provoking post. I feel that those 3 are phases an artist must go through to achieve monetary gain and financial stability, if that is your goal.

I found that I followed that pattern to get where I am now – ready to go to approach galleries and gain gallery representation in all regions of the country. Before I got to this point, however, I had to achieve artistic achievement and excellence. Along the way, as I was honing my skills, I gained recognition by putting my paintings in juried shows and museum exhibitions/competitions. Now I am being recognized with juried solo shows (have 3 this 1st half of the year). And I am selling some work. Galleries aren’t really an option for most artists until they reach this point.

So I have reached the point now that I am ready for gallery representation because of the level of recognition I am getting. I don’t think it is really that healthy to continue to always be in juried shows, etc. At some point you have to grow into the next level. But that doesn’t mean that I will give up on honing my skills because I think every good artist grows (past, present and future artists) by doing what comes naturally to them and that is always perfecting and experimenting with their work on a gradual slope in a way that your collectors still recognize your work but grow with you as your creativity expands.

Your art has to be you however. I don’t think you should create art to what is selling in the market. There is a large market out there with a lot of collectors that like all different types of art. So create what comes out of you, your style, and is true to your spirit and talent. Then find the target market for your work and not the other way around. It never works when you create what is popular or by copying other people’s work. To create a consistent body of work, you have to feel a part of what you are doing and that doesn’t come out in the art if you aren’t really feeling it.

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Maggie Smith March 10, 2014 at 8:17 am

I agree with the comments about juried shows. It usually costs money to enter these shows, but they can be of great value to see if your work holds up against other artists. I have never felt that I had to be in competition with other artists, as we all are unique. I do study other artists to see what of their work sells, and I do the same with my work. At some point, one needs to concentrate on having one’s own shows of a full body of consistent work and hope for the best. I think it’s all about connections – the more the better. Keep trying and sometimes the right door opens or the one person loves and buys your work. Just keep at it, and from what I’ve observed of who does sell art in this town – the more exposure, the better.

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Kim Snyder March 6, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Jason, thank you. You always provide thoughtful and helpful topics. You came to San Luis Obispo several years ago and I’ve been following you ever since. You came up last night at my studio’s artist meeting and we were all in agreement on how we enjoyed your posts. I thought you’d like to hear it:)

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Jason Horejs March 6, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Thanks Kim – my ears were burning last night, now I know why!

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Carole Belliveau March 6, 2014 at 7:13 pm

I too enjoyed Kim’s post and Aletha’ plea for bold vision, something to which I aspire. It’s hard to be brave and go your own way, and hard to achieve what the masters of yesterday and today do every day. But we must try. Excellence is as a goal is sorely lacking in the world. Isn’t it our job to provide it?

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Aletha March 7, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Carole, thanks for the mention. Yes, “bold vision,” you put it in a nutshell. It’s hard and we must try. And there is an intrinsic reward because of what the artist learns along the way. And at some point somebody somewhere does something astonishing.

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Julie Bernstein Engelmann March 6, 2014 at 7:33 pm

This post explains a recent, perplexing conversation I had with a fellow artist. He asked me why I like to enter shows and win awards. He was perfectly content to create the best paintings he could, and if by any chance someone liked one, he might sell it or give it to them. I was taken aback. Was my quest less pure than his? After sorting out my reactions, I realized and told him, “I want to be part of the dialog of art.”

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Pat Musick March 6, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Thank you for yet another good, clear, thought-provoking post. There’s a motivation that I don’t think you mentioned: that of one’s work being “in service to something greater.” In Europe up until around the Baroque period, the Church was the major patron (aside from royalty) and artists who made a living from art generally did religious art. For many, it may have been “just a job,” but for some (Michelangelo in his later years, at least, for example), their skill and vision were in service to their faith. This has been true throughout a lot of traditional cultures, as well. I’d really love for my work to serve “something greater” but have only “tasted” that experience a couple of times (for me, the “something greater” is the inherent wonder of the natural world; this beautiful Earth, creatures, wilderness…ecosystems…geology, stars, interconnectedness of life…) –one of my murals on a science building, and an environmentalist “guerrilla fine-art installation” project. I’d love to find a context in which this motivation could flourish. I imagine that a motivation of excellence and dedication is what has led some artists to gain the recognition and financial reward that creates more opportunities for their work to be “in service to something greater”. My conundrum, for a number of years, seems to have been that I’m trying to “pay the bills” with work that doesn’t spring from this main motivation–I enjoy exploring my medium & craft; appreciate recognition; rely on commissions and teaching to pay the bills–but none of these holds the fire & spark of major motivation that the notion of sharing and ideally igniting interest in/love of/a sense of wonder about “that which is greater”–in my case, nature (for others, this might be religion, etc. ) –very much pursuing excellence in the work itself, possibilities of a medium, craftsmanship, etc. but in a context beyond the work in & of itself…. …Again, thank you for a post that created an opportunity to try and figure out (similar to what Richard Smith said–”I do my art stuff because I don’t like to do anything else”–I could also say I don’t feel I have much else in the way of “marketable skills”)– and also articulate–these feelings/thoughts about motivation.

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Ruth Koh March 7, 2014 at 6:31 am

Thank you Jason and thank you Pat for posting. I question myself all the time–why am I doing this? I knew something was missing from the motivating factors for success. When I read your post this morning, I realized I too share your motivation to touch and “ignite an interest in/love of/sense of wonder” about nature. It may sound lame, but I am awe-struck by cloud formations, water, fog, mist, woods, you name it. I’m not particularly religious in the traditional sense, but I feel that wonder and try to capture it on canvas. Success comes to me in my studio with my last stroke — when I think I may have nailed it. All kinds of art, including non-objective and abstract work can capture the same thing…it’s what I feel when I look at color, marks, composition, etc. — as if it is nature under a microscope.

As for the other motivating factors, they are important to me. If I’m trying to send a message, then somebody has to see my work in order to get the message. Sales are great–they help to validate my message and pay some bills. And sales require marketing and business transactions. That’s just the way it is and none of it is easy.

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Pat Musick March 14, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Thanks, Ruth–it’s good to hear this motivation echoed. (obviously, for me being awestruck by cloud formations and all doesn’t sound the least bit “lame”). You’re right about those other nuts-and-bolts motivating factors (marketing, etc.) of course. Thanks for speaking up as a kindred soul–best wishes with your work.

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Janet March 6, 2014 at 11:38 pm

I do agree that a combination of all of these motivating factors are present with my artistic process. The one other ingredient for me personally is bringing joy to the recipient of my art. This is so important in my commission work. When my client is happy I feel fulfilled and joy is contagious!

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dema March 7, 2014 at 12:23 am

When a painting flows, this is good. When it becomes work, I walk away or else it will be a struggle. I feel that I have passed the stages of artistic excellence and recognition. Why, because my paintings are connecting with the viewer, and sometimes brings tears to their eyes, opens the flood gate to their soul, or leaves them speechless. This doesn’t happen with everyone, but a few. Recognition, I’ve won the awards and certificates, and had write ups in the newspaper and stuffed them in the scrap book. The recognition which is more precious to me, is the child that runs up to show their masterpiece because she was allowed to paint with me, the old man who says the picture is still over the fireplace, or the young crippled woman, who tells me that the pictures were very comforting. Or someone commissions me to do a painting for them.
I still need to work and chose to become a successful artist.
I have stalled out in being productive, because I don’t know how to market my work. Thanks goodness that Jason has this course available to learn marketing. I really believe this means working smarter instead of harder. I will follow his advice and produce work which will make money for both of us. I am so serious about marketing that if needed, I will set up in a parking lot to sell my artwork.

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Sharon Sieben March 7, 2014 at 12:45 am

I’ve got to believe that Excellence and Recognition are the most motivating drives for an artist. And while Monetary Gain may be a necessary part of it, the underlying importance, as I see it, is that it is a tangible evidence of Recognition!

Thanks, Jason, for the thought provoking topic.

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Keith Barnett March 7, 2014 at 2:05 am

It seems to me this issue ultimately boils down to one of time. How much time would you like to spend creating your art? The more time you would like to devote to your work, the more you have to consider all three elements: finances, recognition, and excellence. All three must be given consideration if you want to pursue art as a career, and it is hard to place one above the other as they are interlinked with each other. Excellence leads to recognition which leads to increased sales which leads to more time to devote to better excellence, around and around it goes. This breaks down if you are independently wealthy or do not intend to make a living from your work. If you do not require your work to provide a standard of living, you can reallocated your time to focus on what you consider to be the priority.

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Sue Contessa March 7, 2014 at 5:00 am

Thanks Jason, I think all of those goals are shared by all artists, although some take on more importance at different phases of our artistic development. I’m fortunate to have gallery representation in NY and have work in a museum’s permanent collection, that was a goal that I’m very proud to have obtained. In order to not become discouraged, I’ve found it helpful to set a big goal and then several small goals . You can feel that you’re succeeding when you meet each small goal on your way to the big goer one

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Jane Wilcoxson March 7, 2014 at 6:27 am

I’ve put in the time to hone my skills and style now its time for my creative work to bring in some income, so I’ll be getting myself gallery representation. Too many years have been spent earning my income else ware and trying to find the time to paint as well as look after the family. I’m ready to break out of this situation and have the art support me.

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Trina Gunzel March 7, 2014 at 7:17 am

Thank you Jason for sharing and inspiring us to reflect deeper on our goals and drive. I enjoyed visiting with you at our Payson Art League meeting and studio when we lived in Arizona. We have since moved to Branson, Missouri and have really been trying to focus on using our specific skills and talents and follow where that leads us. By building on our strengths, background, experience, and passion, I have found myself finally finishing writing and illustrating children’s books and my husband is able to professionally photograph my work. I feel like for me, action is my theme this year and I’m excited to finally be doing something purposeful I want to use to make a difference using my two favorite inspirations: art and writing. While we enjoyed owning our gallery and portrait studio, we have found we needed something more flexible while our kids are little so I think adapting is part of that process too. Thank you for always sharing something significant.

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Susan N Jarvis March 7, 2014 at 7:38 am

Recognition motivates me to paint, monetary gain pays for my supplies and framing and artistic excellence fuels my sense of pride for my work. This blog post put it succinctly and simply. I made a copy of the venn diagram to hang on my studio wall. Thanks, Jason!

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Judy Jones March 7, 2014 at 7:46 am

Thanks for this post. It is so timely for me as after 24 years of being in the “Sales” mood category I am in a period of considering where I want to be with my fiber art. As it gets harder and harder for me physically to continue selling in the same way, I am also thinking about how I want to do my art and how I want to present it. This is food for thought.

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Marie-Louise McHugh March 7, 2014 at 10:16 am

I have beeen working as an artist for 30 years and always had to juggle one area vs another. The main effort always goes to the work in my studio and that is what sustains me and my creative drive.Without true commitment to that part of the equation you get nowhere. That said you need to adress all facets of your career which fluctuates as times goes by. I always embraced means to promote my work because I thrive to share my work with people, be it with gallery shows, advertisement or now the internet. Recognition and sales are important to me and would qualify as my measure of success. Have I achieved this? Some years, yes, some others no. It constantly changes and I am determined to balance work and family life. At this moment, my family needs me (I am part of what is called the “sandwich generation” and I need to scale back my gallery shows. Thanks to the internet I can still be “out there” somehow. Still, I need my studio time as my creative outlet. So maybe right now, just working regularly in my studio is “success”.

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Emily June 22, 2014 at 7:55 pm

I value your post and I can definitely relate to you! In my case, my family needs me a certain amount but I realize as a mother of a toddler and preschooler that my home circumstances will change as I enter different phases of my life. I am realizing that I must, simply put, make time for my pursuit of art..at the moment, for me, my motivation is primarily artistic excellence first and recognition by my peers second. However, I don’t want to lose sight of a time in the future when sales will become a more important factor. Jason, what can an artist do ahead of time, in a phase of my life when marketing is NOT the primary goal, to build towards that time? For me a major part of artistic excellence has to do with creating work that is meaningful, not just to me but to viewers and, hopefully, owners of my work.

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Pam March 7, 2014 at 10:45 am

Jason, Once again, your insight is greatly appreciated. I feel your clarification will help me have a bit better communication with the artists I work with. Regards.

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Marian March 7, 2014 at 11:29 am

Because I cannot not paint.

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Johanna March 7, 2014 at 12:15 pm

What do you think about Malcolm Gladwell’s idea that it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert? To the general audience, how long has everyone been painting? I had a shock last weekend at a workshop when I realized I have only painted 2,500 of the 10,000 needed (and that included a college education!). We all could improve in these 3 areas, but as a whole, perhaps especially in artistic excellence.

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Bob Ragland March 11, 2014 at 5:44 pm

I like the idea of practice. I like the idea putting in the time on making the art.
Most of all ,I like the hours of doing masterpiece business.
I have Gladwell’s book The Outliers.
Cheers!
Bob Ragland -Non starving artist in Denver, Colorado

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Stephen Hall March 7, 2014 at 12:17 pm

In my commercial art career, I had the opportunity to sit in on a sales meeting given by the CEO of one of my clients to his sales staff. He charged them to “make the main thing, the main thing.” I think it also applies to fine art.

Fo me, the “main thing” is the joy I experience by creating art. As you noted, Jason, every other consideration is secondary. I think of Vincent Van Gogh. He died without money or recognition. Thomas Kinkade, on the other hand, died with millions of dollars and millions of collectors. Both are notables in art history for very different reasons. Yet, I’m sure the main thing for each of them, was the joy of creating art—everything else was secondary. I believe that from joy, comes passion. From passion, comes success—but, perhaps not in one’s lifetime.

Note: The quote, “make the main thing, the main thing,” is a distillation of Stephen Covey’s quote, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing,” from his book, written with Roger and Rebecca Merrill, on time management, “First Things First.”

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claudia stewart March 7, 2014 at 12:23 pm

I find something else as an artist which is one of the most satisfying aspects; it is process. The act of making art creates excellence, which comes with experience. I care about excellence, sales, and recognition, however the process is really one of the most satisfying parts of what I do.

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Aletha March 7, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Pat Musick touches upon another element (one that also relates to bold ideas). Not wishing to put words in her mouth, but for me, I’d say the insight is that certain ideas are ascendant in a society at a particular moment in history. Artists could endeavor to participate in big ideas that ripple through society as a whole. Arguably, though, for much of the late 20th and now early 21st century contemporary art has set itself in distinct opposition to the public or to “most people,” or to ordinary life — even to extraordinary life, when the latter refers to experiences that thrill us in direct and comprehensible ways. “Art” often stakes out a special claim to have access to meaning that is so profound as to be virtually invisible. Hence, docents “explain” modern art to head-scratching museum visitors when the art is opaque, as would seem, to ordinary comprehension. And we take it upon faith (sometimes dubiously) that there is meaning in objects that are sold for enormous sums of money, but which cannot make claims upon the ordinary human heart.

However, there are realms of experience that transcend particular cultures. And the kinds of big ideas that pass through societies at that deeper level are always available to each generation to explore. I guess part of my plea is also for artists to look toward more transcendent goals, to take possession of larger themes. We live in such exceptional times. We have devices that peer into the cosmos and bring information about the unimaginably distant past of the early universe or the incomprehensibly small world of subatomic energy. Against that backdrop, what are artists doing? Are they engaged in an inquiry into “the nature of things”?

Compare even a very small work like Giovanni di Paulo’s “The Creation of the World and the Expulsion from Paradise” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The little panel, so jewel-like in beauty, depicts the origin of all things according to the ideas of c 1445. What is comparable to it today? Few artists today treat large themes of myth, philosophy, adventure, or nature.
http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/458971

Even Rembrandt’s famous etching “The Three Trees,” takes on a cosmic sensibility — and has what the Romantics called an “oceanic” feeling in what purports to be simply a landscape that includes a little artist on a hill gazing into distant horizons.

Great art doesn’t even have to be big. Rembrandt’s etching is very tiny in actual size. But its vision and idea is panoramic. Even without Panavision or surround-sound, even without popcorn, without Oscars and red carpets, Rembrandt creates something that delves really deep into the human heart — so much so that it can dazzle us across centuries.
http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/354633

Really. Dude. Some of our artists should be seeking this sort of rockstar status. And I hope some of them will!

Oh, by the way, if you’re wondering where the artist is — he’s on the far right at the hill’s edge. The Met website has a feature so that you can zoom in to see details. And the artist (Rembrandt perhaps?) significantly faces away from the landscape depicted as though to tell us that he sees stuff we don’t. Take that message to heart, artists, and think big.

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Pat Musick March 14, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Thank you, Aletha, for taking my thoughts further; your eloquent discussion in support of your “plea…for artists to look toward more transcendent goals, to take possession of larger themes.” Personally, I think such an approach would stretch and inspire any artist, in good ways–at least, if sincerely motivated and truly pursuing those larger themes. If I recall my art history well enough, I think Rembrandt did seek rock star status as an artist in his younger days…but it’s the self-protraits in his old age, and the works like the etching you describe, that carry so much heart–the status we give him now is a by=product of the genuineness of his delving deep… Anyway, many thanks for sharing your thoughts (and for the links to the images!)

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YoHana - The Heartist March 7, 2014 at 4:56 pm

I am in a very rich point in my career as I feel that a momentum is coming any moment now.
The driving force is my mission to share with the world the inner/spiritual meaning of the Biblical stories.
My inner artistic endeavour is in creating my soul. The art that accompanies this process is a tool that allows me to manifest insights I receive to a visual image that can inspire the observer to open his/her heart.

I AM a heartist and I heart with you about anything that is connected to your heart.

Its exciting, fulfilling, interesting and full of depth.

A success? – yes.
A flower that blooms after 30 years of external and internal labor.

I invite you to LOOK at my last video clip about THE BINDING OF MY ISAAC
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w5Whz7fgFg

Warmly
YoHana

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Darlene Mowatt March 8, 2014 at 11:05 am

Jason you are so insightful these are definitely three main motivations yet there is a personal aspect that becomes part of this journey which requires skill, growth, and determination to develop your voice and share your passions.

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Suzanne Frazier March 11, 2014 at 2:01 pm

What a well-balanced article, telling the truth. If one is to be an artist today, in the fullest sense, then one has to utilize all three aspects of “artist”. Of course, the challenge is to keep a balance. I balance my artistic time against the business side of my profession by designating Mondays as “left-brained Mondays”. On Mondays you will find me in my office, balancing my books, writing my blog, writing my newsletter and answering emails. If I get all the work done on Monday, I have the rest of the week to paint! It’s a strong motivation to stay at the desk and get the work done that contributes to being a professional artist. (But today is Tuesday, and I’m still at my desk, ready to return to my studio tomorrow to paint all day!) Can’t wait.

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Richard Bell Smith March 15, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Compartmentalizing one’s activities is a great idea, and scheduling each on a definite timeline is even better. Then, during times when you are busy filling commissions, etc., you can spend more time in that area, when sales are down you can put more effort into marketing, and when you burn out on that you can work on new themes, ideas, techniques, and so on. There is always plenty to do for a professional artist/businessman. In a prolonged business slump you may have to fall back on teaching, making crafts, or even…..getting a paying job until you see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or you can whine and give up. Being a professional artist is not for the faint of heart!

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Bob Ragland March 11, 2014 at 5:40 pm

My success points are as follows- I have paid for my home studio, I get to set my own work schedule, I raise money by selling art futures, I use the money to travel and research subjects to paint, I keep cash, I do out reach by letter, I send career updates, I read business books o selling, I sell on a steady basis, I work on the subjects I am interested in, I have an art bank ready to show on short notice, I have low overhead. Last of all I have great business tactics to have the art life I want.
See me on You Tube. Hear me on NPR-Google for One Artist’s Secret To Success.

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gina M. July 14, 2014 at 10:39 am

Great, courageous, advise and proof hard work pays off. Thank you.

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Donna Elliott March 14, 2014 at 11:22 pm

I love to paint and love to give back by teaching what I know. However, I lost my husband a few months ago and now must deal with settling his estate, taking over the financial aspect of this home and my business and trying to keep up with all the repairs and investments, etc. I had no idea how much help he was by taking care of all this stuff of daily living. Now I must learn from scratch, so have little time to paint. I am still showing in local exhibits and at our local co-op gallery where we pay a monthly fee + 30% of any sale and the painting sales are few and far between. Have trouble getting people I know to even go to the gallery or any of the exhibits. The openings are attended mostly by other artists who seldom buy another artists’ work. Most gallery sales are jewelry, clay sculptures or fused glass pieces. Very few paintings are ever sold. Also everyone in the gallery must work at sitting the gallery 1 day a month. At 82 years of age, my primary concern now is what will happen to the hundreds of paintings, original prints, and drawings I still have from all the years of working. I have only one son left alive, and he is not particularly interested in art and would not know what to do with all this work. None of my 4 grand- kids have any interest or any place to put any of it either. I have won many awards and my work is in several corporate collections, though not in any museums as yet, so I don’t think it should be destroyed. Does anyone have any ideas about what I can do with all these artworks which represent my life?

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Kim Jones March 15, 2014 at 10:11 am

Donna,

If you have a church, hospital , or some other organization you support, they will usually be happy to get artwork donated for their organization. Sometimes even using it in fundraising activities that benefit many people. It is just an idea for you to check in to.

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Jane Hoffelt May 3, 2014 at 11:43 am

Donna, I am sorry for your loss and the subsequent changes in your life. My personal motivation is similar–placing work of an artist I represent into places that will appreciate it. I agree with Kim… I’ve found that some public buildings such as government offices, libraries, churches, hospitals, etc. have art acquisition programs. Many public spaces are grateful for a painting or two. I donate whenever I can to charity fundraisers and other worthy opportunities. The estimated value of these donations remains high so I don’t feel as though I am giving anything away but contributing to make the world a better place through art. I also try to auction a piece or two regularly through several high-quality auction houses. Lastly, I have acquired some good gallery representation, each of which have agreed to take a group of paintings and keep them as long as it takes to market them until they are sold. Good luck to you as you work through this… You are definitely not alone!

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Sandy lindblad March 15, 2014 at 4:56 am

I find creating cats dogs and other critters gives me great satisfaction watching the animal come alive on canvas. I create to please myself and others and to increase my income. The more time I spend in the studio the more chances I get to sell something new.

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Laurie Adams March 16, 2014 at 7:14 am

Love and appreciate all that you do to help us as artists… Thank you, and continue the pursuit…laurie

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Alix Dunn March 20, 2014 at 6:22 am

I’ve been focused on connecting myself to God’s will.
I believe once I accomplish that connection I will be able to establish a connection within the other spheres Jason speaks of…excellence, financial stability and recognition.recently I finished a portrait of my mother who was the first woman on the court of Appeals in Texas.

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silvana soriano March 25, 2014 at 8:39 am

what is your primary motivation at this stage of your art career?
Now my financial stability talks loud. I have always pursued my artistic development, and wishing for recognition but I realized that frequently I have to postpone or change ideas just to fit in my budget. In the end, I just put on my artistic work behind the scenes to meet priorities of life, like raise my children, pay my bills and etc. So now, I think the next step is to find a financial stability to be able to create freely and with more intensity.

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Erica Hollander March 25, 2014 at 8:46 am

Sharing my sense of wonder.

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Connie Eberle March 25, 2014 at 8:50 am

I have to say that my motivation is for personal delight. I show my work to my family and friends and I am motivated by there pleasure in my work. I have never sought to market my work on an advance scale; however, I have done some commission work. I do not like the stress of trying to please another person, I like to do a peaces and then someone like it. I can’t see my self ever being motivated by commission work. I am; however, a little curious as to where my black and whites would stand in the market place. I am motivated by your mentoring to perhaps move into that direction.

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elle-jé freeheart March 25, 2014 at 9:33 am

I am a creator. It is my job to create and release not to create and keep, collect or horde. To maintain the life in my work, to keep artistic momentum, it is mandatory that everything I create finds a receiver either through sales or gifting, so each creation comes full circle…. leaving my hands and moving into the space and hands of It’s intended, completing its creative purpose.

I definately want personal recognition and achknowledgment of my abilities to master my medium, and create emotionally charged art… in order for that to happen it needs to be seen and experienced. I prefer to achieve that through exhibitions, sales or gifting events.

The more my work is seen and sold the greater my recognition, the more I release, the more space I have to give life to new creations, and the more sales I have the more money I have to maintain my dreams as an artiste and a traveler.

So what to choose? what to choose? Sales or recognition? They simply seem to be two sides of the same coin. Can I please pick both?

Artistically speaking,
elle-jé freeheart

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Magga March 25, 2014 at 11:43 am

Every scene changes with time.To capture a certain moment in time that is beautiful and memorable is motivation for the next creative endeavor. To inspire others to tap into the creative process is simply the best feeling.

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Caroline Lifshey March 25, 2014 at 1:25 pm

I have always enjoyed drawing and painting. Right now I would like some financial success. It feels like it is just something fun and relaxing to do and I want it to be more.

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Carol Es March 25, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Thoughtful article!

I haven’t read all the comments yet (I will), so this may have been well gone over already, but I don’t care.

Driving force, eh? And you’re speaking in terms of success? I’m stopping for a moment to think about this.

Okay, I’m back.

That was really weird. Something started to come up from inside of me, like a volcano was rumbling. Then I felt like I was about to puke. My eyes started to bug out like one of those kooky, rubber squeeze dolls you grab when you’re stressed out and its eyeballs pop out because of the pressure — you know what ones what I mean…

Then suddenly, I just got super tired. As if I was nodding off from too much Oxycodone.

So, I think my driving force just comes from within, and I define my success a lot differently (and separately) from my motivations in regards to art.

I will read the comments now and maybe come back and comment again about how I define success. Probably, I will do that. :)

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Carol Es March 25, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Okay, I am back and I am feeling very motivated. Great conversation going here!

I hope I don’t type anything too long, but I’d love to talk more about goals, well, let’s use a different word: intentions. I like that better for this subject. The subject of art.

I am all about the process of art, and I think that is where I really hone in to define my “success,” and not within the Venn Diagram *as* much, since it is what I would call Second Life heavy.

Dang it. I knew this would get to be too long.

Let’s just say that I see the work as having two lives, and I am more concerned with its First Life. Not to say I’m oblivious to its Second Life. I’m not stupid. I have to sell. I need validation. La dee da, etc., etc.

What I’m talking about is back in step one somewhere – where it all really matters and that is with the work, and you. *That* relationship needs to be a successful one, for you to have real success down the line (IMO).

If you begin with an intention, and end with satisfaction, you did something right! I’m talking about when no external voices came into that studio room, nor those stupid doubts in your head that told you not to go there, not to turn, not to try – none of those voices were present, no one was beating you up, no parents in your head, no audience, no viewers in particular, no list of tasks tapping your shoulder, or wonderment of what your sixth grade teacher might think, NOTHING! That’s when you can take the risks. That’s when you will find real satisfaction. And *that* is real success. :)

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gina M. July 14, 2014 at 10:42 am

I relate to that last paragraph and have to add, that when that happens, parting with that piece, at any cost, is difficult.

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Kathie Sumpter March 25, 2014 at 8:34 pm

For me painting is a deeply moving emotional experience .l would expect the finished work to evoke strong feelings in the person whocommissioned the work not only my expectation would be in the future ,say three years time having not seeing the painting for this period of time when viewing I would hope to be blowen away by the work and wonder how I achieved it,when this happens you know you have infiltrated the core of your creative self,opened up the magic door a nd its there looking back at you .

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Kaye E. Mero March 26, 2014 at 5:21 am

I’ve experienced, what I consider to be the natural progression from creating for love of creating, to desire to share for the purpose of receiving critical praise and recognition – validation, to a focus on selling. But, cognoscente of an underlying need to always include creating for the purpose of creating and communicating something that has personal significance.
Thanks. This was an excellent exercise in reflection and the opportunity to define my artistic endeavors.

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Gill March 26, 2014 at 8:42 am

Having relatively recently produced my first real body of work, I’d say I’m currently motivated by a combination of:

A need to create
A curiosity to explore new techniques
A search for ‘my’ way of working

I also LOVE selling my work….I LOVE it when people love my art and are prepared to part with their hard-earned dosh for it.

My current work is specifically inspired by Greece – a place I have loved for most of my life, and it makes me feel good when others connect with my work and tell me it reminds them of their heart’s home as well.

So, although I am constantly exploring new techniques and steadily improving my skills through practice, right now my main motivation has to be selling and recognition…..

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Consuelo Okdie March 26, 2014 at 10:25 am

My main motivation of the three is monetary gain/financial security . However. That doesn’t preclude artist excellence and recognition. All of them are important to me but what I would also like to learn is how to find a balance among the three.

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Susan Huntington March 26, 2014 at 11:15 am

I measure my success by how my paintings make people feel. If I can make someone smile and enjoy painting, I consider that success. However, I would absolutely love to be making decent money doing it. My husband has worked too hard and we have struggled too much. I have a degree, but was a stay-at-home mom (of 4) for 20 years, so I’m not marketable in my field. I’d like to be able to help my kids with their student loans so the don’t have that burden coming out of college.

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jacqui binford-bell March 26, 2014 at 12:37 pm

I stopped painting for almost two years to consider this question. I think I got into a gallery, and art fairs, and obtained a level of financial success entirely too early and let it (and the gallery owner and juries) dictate the direction of my art. I came to hate it and so quit painting.

At that time I devoted myself to photography and shunned fairs and galleries but entered exhibits. I have rarely been denied entry and seldom do not win some award. Without trying I even sold works.

I now play around in both fields and am enjoying painting a lot more because I am painting what I want to paint. But a certain amount of financial success would give me more freedom to explore in painting and photography. I would love to achieve an easy balance.

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Rob Manaraze March 26, 2014 at 12:42 pm

At this point my focus is to increase my body of work. When I started a silk screen printing business at 20 yrs old the business completely robbed me of any consistent personal time to develop my own art. Now, 28 years later (Wow! I’m getting old) I am determined to scratch out some time to create. Along with that, I am motivated by the desire to sell my work. It would be very satisfying to be marketable. I can sell a t-shirt but selling my own work may be a daunting challenge. So of the 3 categories, artistic excellence and financial stability would be my primary motivations.

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Chris Erickson March 26, 2014 at 5:17 pm

I have always created–whether sewing, painting, fusing glass, or making jewelry, but have not supported myself with my artwork. I have recently begun to paint more seriously and would like to achieve financial stability by selling my art.

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Kathleen A. Letona March 26, 2014 at 5:44 pm

At this stage, my motivation would be artistic excellence. Financial stability would be a close second as it would give me the luxury of time to create more.

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Diane March 26, 2014 at 6:21 pm

I am a therapist for the love of helping people help themselves and an artist for the purpose of my therapeutic outlet. However that includes recognition and dollars. Yes want to increase my knowledge and ability always but initially I am recognizing something in myself which I discovered others are now enjoying. They don’t seem too keen to recognize the value however but all good things in time. I have developed a successful private practice and believe in time I will develop a successful approach to selling my art. At first (14 years ago) I wasn’t willing to charge too much for my therapeutic services as I lacked the confidence to have others value it the same, now that it not a problem! I won’t repeat that with my paintings, but value my work enough not to give it away for peanuts.

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Robert McElwee March 26, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Easily, I believe that my main reason to paint is the pleasure that I get from it. The planning, sketching and then painting gives me great happiness. And I have had limited success in sales and small shows in my area. But I have had a full time job in another field for almost 30 years that pays very well, so my art has just been created for the fun of it. I am not a starving artist–but one who loves the process.

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Marti Estep March 26, 2014 at 7:56 pm

My motivating factor is creating and the process of creating. I think of it as soul breathing. I am driven to create. That said, I love for my art to be admired and chosen for either an award or purchase. I sell and want very much to sell more. I do not create to sell. Yet, selling seems to be a critical piece for me or I start wondering what is “wrong” that no one is choosing my art and giving it that ultimate compliment, that of purchase. I believe I fall pretty evenly across the circles of excellence, recognition, and monetary gain. I want to sell more plain and simple.

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Donna Manaraze March 26, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Since I’m nearing the end of my teaching career, I’d like my art to help provide some extra financial stability in my retirement years. So, between loving to paint and wanting my art to provide extra income, those are my 2 leading priorities.

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Suzilong Long March 26, 2014 at 10:43 pm

My motivation is survival. I’m a self-supporting artist and I started earning money to support myself as a mural painter in 1979. When the events of 9/11 put me out of business I took a few years off and eventually found a wonderful space in a small Northern California town where I opened my own gallery. The declining economy is taking a toll however and I find it more and more difficult to make the money that I made eight years ago. I paint in pastels. I teach classes, I make donations, I give back to the community, I make my own giclee prints to sell, I share with people who come to my gallery and try my best to inspire people who are artist wannabes. I continually study and strive to improve my painting skills. But I need to get into some galleries where there are people with money to buy my kind of photorealistic waves art. I would like more exposure and acceptance by way of fame and fortune! I’m tired of working so hard and of chasing the ever loving dollar to have enough money to pay the rent. I’d like enough money so that I can travel and paint wherever I am and whatever I see and be able to sell the work that I create.

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Victoria Storey March 27, 2014 at 12:29 am

My main motivation for creating my art is lifting others spirits through my visual art. To bring the beauty of Gods creation through my eyes to the viewer. I enter juried shows and non juried shows to gain exposure and be part of the artistic community. Before beginning each painting I contemplate my approach and ask for Gods guidance. I am more interested in bringing joy and peaceful contemplation to the world through my art than winning awards. Therefore I have donated many prints to different organizations for their benefit. Over time I have realized that I must sell my art to continue to create so I would like to be represented in a gallery.
Victoria Storey

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MiMi Stirn March 27, 2014 at 4:05 am

Jason,
This is a great read and the content encouraged me to really think about my motivation. I simply love to study art and paint. Having been juried into a large art show this year, I decided – I love to show the artwork and talk to people about what they like or don’t like. This helps creat a perspective of my audience – who they are and why they would buy an original art piece. Realistically, though – I want to be able to paint and subsequently sell my artwork as my new career.

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robert Tarzwell March 27, 2014 at 5:11 am

As a new artist my main goal is to establish a NAME, I give a lot of art away , I sell a few pieces, and started to show and market my better work. I am also trying many different types of art to define, hone my skills and know my weakness, and learn what is art faster. over the 3 years since I started painting and carving I have seemed to define a style although don’t always stick to it , I do like variety. I agree with the three circles and I bounce between and through all of them, never seeming to stay put at any point, which is part of the fun and strangeness of art.

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Rosie March 27, 2014 at 6:00 am

I am ready to take my art to the next level and learn how to support myself financially. I have the accolades, the awards, the positive comments, have sold a few pieces, however I want to know how to SELL my art.

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Carol Benner March 27, 2014 at 8:47 am

Not sure what my real motivation is – I think a combination of all three. When a painting begins to take on “life” I get very excited. It is also very satisfying to sell a painting. I doubt if I’ll ever be featured in a museum & haven’t entered many juried shows.

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Margaret March 27, 2014 at 9:43 am

I find that my motivation is artistic excellence and some financial stability. I am one of the lucky one who have an income with early retirement so am not as concerned with the security of selling things. I would like to bump up my income somewhat but mainly to be able to afford my artistic side.

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Red March 27, 2014 at 10:13 am

Currently my focus is establishing the appropriate art gallery representations as well as identifying additional outlets and forums to sale my artwork. Of course all of this is based on learning the successful techniques to approach galleries as well as interfacing with the public at receptions, art walks, etc. After all, no matter how you shape it, we are all in sales regardless of whether you are entering a contest, describing your painting to friends / acquaintances, or working with a gallery.

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Mary Ciofalo March 27, 2014 at 10:58 am

Artistic Excellence and recognition are the ones I would emphasize most for myself. I am fortunate to have other sources of income (social security, part time work that I love) which keeps monetary gain from being as big a pressure for me as it would be for someone who needed to have art take care of their financial needs. But gallery support would be a form of recognition for me.

To Donna regarding the question of what to do with your life’s art work: consider approaching a university library with it. A friend of mine, who is a photographer, has done this successfully.

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Leana de Villiers March 27, 2014 at 12:44 pm

My motivation first of all is to create art as I am truly passionate about it and it forms an essential part of the person I am. I have to create, because if I don’t, I tend to become irritable and moody as there is an area in my being that is left void and the artist in me needs that flow of creativity and allows me to be really me. Artistic Achievement is always present with every single painting I am working on. Most artists are aware of the Artists’ Curse – an artist will never be 100 % happy with their work…we will always find areas that can be improved and therefore “The Artists’ Curse is part of the daily struggle, however at the same time the driving force that pushes oneself and one’s abilities further and further, striving to satisfy the Artist’s soul.”~Leana de Villiers. My motivation this year is Financial Stability, it will enable me to continue to create and enjoy the process as a whole. Recognition for me is the cherry on the already iced cake :)

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Joy Guthrie March 27, 2014 at 12:50 pm

My primary motivator at this stage of my art career is to develop my artistic abilities and have fun creating art, only because I have not sold any artwork or know how to go about selling it. However, I would like to be able to sell some of my artwork so that I have more time for art. So although creating art is my motivator now, I feel that I would be more motivated if I could sell my artwork.

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Michael Porter March 27, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Reading all the posts has really made me consider myself from many different angles. Here’s my take on where I am at in terms of these three factors in artistic motivation. Although I am a landscape painter, what I want to create is a positive emotion or feeling as well as something artistically beautiful. It is personal. It is primarily for me. I prefer to work outdoors. This allows me to capture the mood/feeling of the moment. Sometimes the sketch stands on its own. Sometimes I work from it to create a bigger piece. If the sketch or painting creates a positive reaction in others… whatever that positive reaction is, then that is wonderful. I have no desire to create anything negative… only things that are positive and full of beauty. At this point in life, I could also use the financial gain/stability bit so that I can help take care of others. For me, artistic excellence is primary because it allows me to create and preserve emotions, feelings, and/or moods at a precise moment in time. I cannot do without painting. Financial would be second and recognition would be last.

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Kay Baker March 27, 2014 at 2:41 pm

These three circles have really caused me to think about my motivation for painting. I would say that it is a combination of all three. At this stage of my life, mid-seventies, I just want to keep improving my painting ability and to learn to invoke an emotional response to those who see my work. I want to have enough money with the sale of my work to pay for my supplies and have some left to contribute to the Christian ministries that I support.

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Stacie Flint March 27, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Authenticity of expression through following my innate creative urge is my primary motivator. Sharing my creation with my audience and continuing to build that audience is next. Money is the last thing I think about but that is because of my impractical nature and because I have spousal financial support, although there are issues. I dream of becoming financially self sustaining.

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Jay Johnson March 27, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Jason, I always enjoy “assignments” because they cause me to closely examine aspects of my life that I might ignore. For most of the past 37 years (since graduating from the university) making art was just involuntary – something I could not help but do. I had some success and recognition with shows and people visiting my studio, but after becoming a mother and being obligated to work a full-time job with benefits, showing my work and gaining recognition drifted into the background. All along, I kept painting and making objects, viewing them for awhile, then tucking them away in archival boxes. I feel like a re-emerging artist at this point, more sure of my quality and quantity that before, and ready to seek a broader audience for my work. While it would be wonderful to sell work again, I have never been a person motivated by money, and I have been fortunate to make some wise decisions or lucky choices along the way.

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Tna Fernandez March 27, 2014 at 6:56 pm

I find art a release – from the day-to-day stressors, and, also, the positives. I focus more on perfection, getting “it” right to my mind anyway. I am not a person who easily sells “self”, so selling my creations is hindered. That is one area I definitely need work, getting confident enough in myself and my art to effectively sell.

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Jenni March 27, 2014 at 9:15 pm

I have to agree with Jimmy Graham at the beginning of this blog, the reason I create art is not for a financial gain but more so to allow others into my mind and soul. When someone finds an interest in what I have created, it’s then that I price it.

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gina M. July 14, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Letting others in is the reason I show art too. And with the making of it, I can see my inner world clearer.
However, pricing the art for me is the difficult part. Also parting with it or letting it go to someone who will not take care of it is a problem.
I learn things as I look at my pieces. They often contribute ideas and inform other pieces so having them around for a while is positive, until there are just too many things to catalog and store. I’m at that point now where selling them to people who appreciate them as I do would be wise. I gave permission to myself years ago to consider anything and everything as an art project. So there will be more than enough inventory for a gallery. Or two.
Look forward to that help here.

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MITAK March 27, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Since my car accident in 1986, creating art has been my healing force…and still is my refuge. But accumulating many art pieces in every possible place around my house is very stressful and often my art is damages by careless packaging and storage places. And so, over the years I have donated most iof my art to clear the clutter and I now create small art works which are easy to store. Since art is therapeutic for me and storage is a problem, I’d like to be able to sell my art to be able to continue my theraphy…so to speak…creating even more. I am not successful with Ebay or Facebook…and would like to gain more knowledge about marketing my art. Thank you.

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Alev March 28, 2014 at 3:45 am

When I started, I had a full time job. Engaging in art was emotional, if not for spending quality time. I enjoyed the occupation and the applause. The warm feeling of appreciation lead to the need for ‘recognition’. I entered some group shows, built a web site and even had a solo exhibition.

In time, my love for art grew deeper. I took it more seriously than ever. ‘Artistic excellence’ became my top priority. I wanted to spend more time doing art. However, If I were to put all my time in art, I needed some monetary return for survival. Then, ‘financial stability’ came into the picture.

So I agree, motivation is a combination of the 3 factors you have raised_but how about the dependencies?

One may gain immediate financial success with tactical marketing. However, if there is no solid foundation beneath the work, the success will collapse very soon.

Likewise; If he spends all his time perfecting the work, he may end up alone in the studio. Self evaluation is limited to personal taste and present knowledge. The artist needs interaction with the World to grow.

Time is a big pressure, yet even a bigger challenge is balancing your rhythm. The studio time is alone and quiet in nature (i.e.:planning, problem solving etc.). Social networking is lively and breezy. Sales and marketing is a complete other task; a serious business that requires planning, correct pricing, steady marketing and dedicated follow up: from seeding to delivery.

In summary; artistic excellence is my top priority. Recognition is a bi-product which would arrive in time_with maturity of the work. Financial Stability, on the other hand, is essential for survival.

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takesha Powell March 28, 2014 at 4:03 am

I have enjoyed reading everyone’s posts on this thread! For me at this point in my art career, I’m focusing on getting more of my work sold. My studio is loaded with art that I sometimes fear will overflow, languishing in a storage facility as my daughter ages.

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Brandy House March 28, 2014 at 4:24 am

I believe my main motivation is to ‘hone my craft’ with a side of making money. I find I am improving with every piece I do even when I thought there was little room for improvment. I’ve proved myself wrong. There is a passion to create that is ever present and the need to make some money while creating is also there.
There is also the need to better my marketing skills but they are not over the passion. Every day is a learniing experience and I am never too old to learn.

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Lorena O'Barr March 28, 2014 at 7:43 am

Life is full of priorities and so we should decide what is more important in life, work, art, etc. Everyday has its own challenge and great events to touch our life and create something from it, inspiring us to do so. So I think that your triangle is a cycle that repeats, but success could be just creating for my own pleasure, just creating to sell, just create for recognition.
I am a person that recognition is not so important and rather to just create. At school the professor will have critique time in front of the class, then later once a year would have an “art show” by the students, I didn’t like it, never liked it because I was forced to do it. So now I can decide if I want my paintings be shown or not.
Anyway, thanks for helping me to see better what my priority is which is creating and if somebody is interested in one and me to make a dollar that sounds good too.

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Betty Kay Price March 28, 2014 at 9:09 am

My motivation for this course is mainly financial to support my art. My artistic motivation is the love and joy of expression and exploration of media and technique. I love to play with art and try new things and push the limits. It is a true joy to me. I also love the response of visitors to my studio who feel better after viewing my art. That response is also a motivation for me. I paint and paint with colors that are strong and warm to warm the hearts of those who live in a chilly climate. I do need to do a much better job at the business of art. This is my main failure in art, selling and business.

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Lana March 28, 2014 at 9:59 am

my primary goal now is for recognition and financial stability, and I have a feeling that this coarse is going to be very beneficial thank you.

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Lillian March 28, 2014 at 10:00 am

Hi Jason,

The following is my answer to your question, “what is your primary motivation at this stage of your art career?”

I believe that finding balance among the three success categories you outlined (artistic excellence, recognition, and monetary gain/financial stability) is the key to maximizing my potential as a professional artist. I’m striving to complete 18-20 paintings in 2014 with the intent of approaching galleries for representation of my work in early 2015. I look forward to learning what I need to know to prepare myself for this next big step through your e-course.

Artistic excellence has always been a driving force for me. It is the reason I pursued a BFA (93) and an MFA (97); and, why I continue to take a weekly class with a master teacher working in oils. My on going dialog with my instructor(s) continues to inform my technical skill set, allowing me to execute my ideas on canvas proficiently and with confidence.

As important as technical skills are, I think an artist maintains a higher level of excellence in his/her work over the long haul when he/she is motivated by and connected to his/her own ideas and creates in his/her own voice. If we allow ourselves to move too far from what drives us to make art in the first place, we tend to end up with a diluted version of what we really want to say. When that happens, our work looses its impact and uniqueness, and we end up doing work that is not authentic. Paul McCartney of The Beatles said, “Your responsibility is to your idea…not in trying to satisfy an audience.” Staying true to who we are, I believe, plays a big part in maintaining our drive and capacity to create authentically over the course of a long term career as did McCartney and The Beatles. Unfortunately, money (rather the lack of it) is what often keeps an artist from pursuing his/her true voice. It’s not an easy decision, but one we sometimes make to survive in the arts doing what we love.

When our work develops to a level of excellence, we are encouraged to share it with a larger audience and garner the recognition so necessary to promoting a personal and artistic brand. Entering juried competitions helps to build a resume as will getting work published in one of the national/international art magazines. All this is part of the process of becoming a professional artist, not to mention that this process is expected in many professions. Working this category can lead to gallery representation and potentially monetary gain / financial stability. The down side is too much time spent here will affect production and selling, so each artist will need to consider what is most important.

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Robyn March 28, 2014 at 10:53 am

My definition of success is:

Monetary gain/Financial stability
and
When my work is exciting and unique to me.

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Sue Waugh May 16, 2014 at 2:13 am

Absolutely! Robyn, you’ve hit the nail on the head.

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Judy March 28, 2014 at 10:55 am

I think what mostly motivates me to paint is to express my feelings. I love nature and just yesterday I went out for a hike in a forest that has a lot of pines and trees that were uprooted from a previous storms. Seeing this beauty, the sun light streaming through the trees or the huge size of the tree’s roots that were uprooted, is something that a camera just can’t capture. This is what I constantly try to convey on paper or canvas to viewers.

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Michelle Jones April 26, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Yes! That’s exactly how I feel too!

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Robyn March 28, 2014 at 10:57 am

I forgot to add this one ;)

My third criteria for success:

Passive income through prints and licensure, etc

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Donna M March 28, 2014 at 12:27 pm

I think my primary motivation is to touch someone on an emotional level with my work. Of course if it sells, that is humbling and a huge bonus!

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Terri Cabral March 28, 2014 at 2:36 pm

My primary motivation is to get my creative juices flowing again – I feel stifled and dead. I need to find the joy I once found in painting and creating. Life has been one downturn after another. Painting again would bring back a reason for me to get up in the morning and start another day.

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Linda March 28, 2014 at 3:53 pm

As an artistic novice-in-training, my goal right now is to perfect my ability to express something through visual images. Although the reason I want to improve these skills is to be able to show my art and share it with others. I want to be accepted in shows and I want my creations to be seen. I want to talk with people about my art. But if I am honest, I want people to like what they see. I want them to find technical work they can admire or see a place where they wish to linger or feel something in response to what they see. Now if someone liked a work enough to want to own it, I would be so encouraged and flattered and energized to work even harder! But I also want to reach a level satisfaction with my own work, so that I am not shattered when someone doesn’t like it or misunderstands it or dismisses it out-of-hand as not worth their time. I guess, like the others, mine is a complex hierarchy of motivations.

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Teena March 28, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Motivation for me is an inner voice directing me to express a feeling or capture an experience. I spent many years as a graphic designer/illustrator, but always worked on my art. I was busy making a living so my personal expression was pushed to a back burner. At this stage of my life I am lucky enough to be able to truly follow my dreams of being a fine artist. I would love the recognition that comes from others resonating with my art. Fine art is a whole different ball game than commercial art. I always got new clients by word of mouth in my graphics business. Fine art is harder to break into. I get many compliments (and requests for donations of my art), but sales (though growing each year) are harder to get. I will create art just because I’m driven to do it, but recognition would be nice.

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Tony Hamilton March 29, 2014 at 8:30 am

I love doing huge installations taking up the whole environment of a room. Creating a space filled with 3d awareness of light shadows and color. Having my art take up a whole room including lying on the floor. When your in the room your presence and interactions become integrated with the piece during the moment. Success for me would be to be able to sustain that habit.

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Jennifer March 29, 2014 at 11:36 am

“Artistic excellence” is what drives me while I work but the financial side of things is where I hope to grow.

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Connie March 29, 2014 at 11:47 am

A web-site or a means of exposure is what I am wanting now. I have spent years working and thinking of the direction of my art. I tried sales years ago and was pleasantly surprised at the reaction from the public and the sales I did. But I was doing it with advertising and that got real expensive. I also need more time to work on my art.

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Lorraine Maher March 29, 2014 at 12:06 pm

My first motivation at present is to establish the business side of my creative accomplishments in a more organized and professional manner. The purpose is to ensure that I will be able to continue to produce and present my work with the highest quality of workmanship. It is my expectation that when I offer my art to the public, that they are totally satisfied with the painting itself and the way in which it is framed and preserved. I mean to operate within the perametres of covering my costs while expanding my networking.

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Lia Kass March 29, 2014 at 12:08 pm

At this point sales & financial return are very important to me in my work with glass especially.
Perhaps this is because glass has demonstrated its ability to earn me a living in the past (under someone elses marketing)
I continue to paint from the impulse I will probably never shake. It would be nice for it to have a market as well but this is not my primary focus right now. It is very redeeming for art to go out & have a place where it will be appreciated. This is true with or without payment but payment justifies the continued habit. Which is an addiction.

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T. Angela March 29, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Thank God for you. I been painting for years without any financial satisfaction. My motivation is my father and grandfather who were artist. I always want to bring back the golden days of the Harlem Renaissances. I want to help children discover their creative process. It is important for me to have finance to be able to live and support not only my passion of painting but my purpose of breathing.

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Jeanne Burris Johnson March 29, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Asking me which of the three motivators is the main driving force for my art is like asking which I find more important, food, water, or air. It seems to me that each informs the other. People want to do their work to the best of their ability for their personal satisfaction and to be recognized. People need to be recognized in order to get known and more recognition to sell to a wider audience. People need money for supplies and and said promotions. It’s an ecosystem of sorts. That said, my main motivator is to find a balance between all three because a deficit in any of them means my painting, by necessity, has to be brought down to the hobby level.

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Maria Coronado March 29, 2014 at 3:03 pm

The driving force behind my creativity? Good question. I always just liked drawing, it was second nature to me growing up, an escape to another realm. When I first saw the Hudson River School Artists my work took a turn, I wanted to show the future the world we live in now through my eyes and boy is that difficult. I want to put on canvas ideas that come to me. Lately I have been working on more cultural work from my heritage as well. But in the long run, it is to leave something of myself behind that would last centuries as did for the Hudson River School Artists I so admire.

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Myra Lawson March 29, 2014 at 3:24 pm

The balance of 3 are probably optimal for sane living. For some of my friends and I, the value of creating and striving for excellence in the medium used has overtaken the others . Bringing balance on the business end and being able to bring your vision into a public format more easily are skills I’m sure I will be working on for my future.

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Emilie March 29, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Donna
Art associations always need money and there is usually one in every city, call and speak to the president and let them know you would like to donate say 20 pieces you can choose for them or you can let them choose and you might designate where the money they would get from sales would go maybe for classes or art supplies for schools also if you have books or art supplies they would most likely be welcome.
Before my teacher passed we spoke at length and she decided what was to be done with her art, supplies, drawings, and frames.

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Emilie March 29, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Jason,
My teacher taught us to be true to ourselves to make our main focus bringing out the art within us and that is my main goal. Recognition and financial gain is good but they must never be the main focus and never be allowed to influence the artist within.
Emilie

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Sudipto Chatterjee March 30, 2014 at 12:31 am

Artistic excellence is the ultimate thing which I want to achieve. There is no human being who does not want recognition. I am also one of them. But financial stability is the main issue, I am concerned about. Because If I am financially stable then only I can pursue artistic excellence giving full time as an artist. As time is the only hindrance in my life being an artist.

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Ling Strube March 30, 2014 at 10:40 am

Financial stability is my primary goal.

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Veronica V. Bahman March 30, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Thank you Jason… and I thank life and my husband to give me the freedom and support to learn, create and paint as free as my hurt desire takes me. I believe the driving force behind my creativity is my passion for God, life and beauty, I really don’t care much about what anybody thinks, no offence…only meaning that I want to be myself during the whole process of my creation. I just paint what I feel in the moment, I do try to reach the best of my abilities when I am in my project, but I always want to improve myself and try to reach the Artistic Excellence. I do appreciate recognition like I guess anyone does, but what is Recognition if I can’t reach my Financial Stability?, I believe the 3 together work and I will make it no matter how hard it is…This is my challenge in life right now being the Artist I want to be.

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Vicki Visconti-Tilley March 30, 2014 at 10:53 pm

When I create, the marketing business side suffers. When I do the business side, I run out of time for creating. My goal is to find a way to do both well and have financial stability.

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Lorraine Burt March 31, 2014 at 8:12 am

I want it all!!! I DON’T want to produce paintings that sell but I consider mediocre and cliched so I guess creativity is more important than money. I want to produce art that I feel is worthwhile and has that special something. I would like recognition from people knowledgeable about art whose opinions I value.

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Joan March 31, 2014 at 10:37 am

First priority is artistic excellence. I need to love what I create. I feel I’m working toward this goal, but it has not been easy or rapid. Still in this category and at this level of priority is producing respectable work at a pace that keeps me energized and inspired. This has been even more difficult.

But what I love I want to share. And I want you to love it also. That is the ultimate validation for an artist — to have others appreciate what we create that we love. Art is a form of communication. Part of that is having our artwork displayed alongside artwork that we love but that has been created by others. So yes, community with other artists, juried into selective shows, election into groups with artists we admire, awards, — it’s all good.

As a retired middle manager, art is an avocation and secondarily a second career for me. Selling is another form of validation, and it’s nice to recoup some of the expenses of materials, show entry fees, framing, etc. I also think about the business side as a fallback position, should I need it. But at this point in my life, this part is tertiary.

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Rachel March 31, 2014 at 11:47 am

Wow braking it up like that really makes me start to think. I never really saw it as separate motivations but thinking that way does make it less overwhelming. I know that I started out with my prime motivation being recognition. Its because of a piece I did in college, that my family and friends loved that pushed me to paint more. If it wasn’t for all that love and support I would have never wanted to and would have never thought I had a talent in painting. From there I naturally moved on to artist excellence. With a goal to better my new found skills. That drive continues today because as an artist I believe that if you stop striving for better then whats the point. At least for me if I just stopped and continued to paint the same level with no enrichment then I would hit a boring plateau and slowly lose my love for the art. Which brings me to my next stage which is Monetary Gain/Financial Stability. The thing that keeps me striving for better and keeps me motivated is the goal of getting into a gallery or eventually owning my own gallery someday.

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tony whibley March 31, 2014 at 12:35 pm

I’m now retired (perhaps I should say retarded)
apart from some classes in 1952 in Joburg,I have been a pro photographer using film from 1951 to 2014
Now I intend to digitise some stock negs and try to make giclee prints
Does this class me as an artist?
tony.

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Meryl Shapiro March 31, 2014 at 1:50 pm

While at different times in my life as an artist, all three areas have at one time taken center stage, gallery representation is my current priority. Most recently I have illustrated a children’s book which will be published in April. Prior to this opportunity, I had just graduated with a B.F.A. (drawing emphasis). My return to student life came as a career shift from being an educator and educational consultant. However, throughout the years, I have varied my art instructional experiences to gain more knowledge and technical expertise, as well as exhibited my paintings and other artwork in several group shows. I have won a few prizes, and had some sales success as well as commissions. At this point in my art career, I would welcome gallery representation and exposure. My aim is for more frequent sales opportunities and the development of a large and consistent body of work to be exhibited by a gallery.

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Sharon March 31, 2014 at 10:28 pm

I am motivated by the need to create, always have been. The goal is to sell the things I create.

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Emily Eales April 1, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Thinking about this gets me going around in circles as all three areas overlap. If the work is good it will sell if it sells you get recognition. In saying that I agree with a previous post from Kim Jones “we want our work to be “seen”. Art is visual ( obvious right?) and needs to be seen in some venue to be fulfilling it’s intention. So whether it is on someones’ living room wall, or in a museum or coffee shop, or in a gallery, we as artists want it out there expressing itself and being seen. We strive to improve our work because that is what creative energy is about, always changing and evolving. We enter shows and competitions to validate those improvements, not to prove we are better than other artists. Then we try to market it because that tells us something about the energy we are putting into our creative work .More motivation and incentive to improve even more.” and also from Kim ” Selling keeps the driving force going more strongly I think for many artists. It is part of how we feel fulfilled to have our work valued that way” I could not have said it better. Thank-you Kim.

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Karen April 1, 2014 at 5:43 pm

I guess my driving force is to understand how the colors work together to show up front, off in the distance etc… how it all works together . I want to see and understand, maybe even grasp for a minute longer, the beauty in the world. It’s my meditation, my passion. While I paint it, I’m there.

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John April 2, 2014 at 8:43 am

I started out years ago painting with the hope of being a full time artist. Now my goals are to improve my technique and sell some of my art work for a little extra income. I am fortunate enough to be retired with a pention that I can survive on but with the cost of living rising everyday it would be nice to generate enough income to pay for materials and help justify the time invested. I see some people struggle with paying commission fees, I would rather have 10% of something than 100% of nothing.

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Donna April 2, 2014 at 9:49 am

While I am primarily a person who is motivated by excellence in all that I do, I’m not opposed to making a dollar either.

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Bridget O'Doy April 3, 2014 at 9:06 am

Thank you, for inviting me to contribute to this blog – My very first experience “blogging”, I admit!
I read a few of the previously entered comments, and was impressed with so many intelligent and eloquently composed view points on the topic of Success and the Artist. Why do we continue to create? I am beginning the path of returning to the production of art, after a very long hiatus due to putting my family responsibilities first and full time in my day to day life. I have recently set up a small studio space (in the dining room, of course!), and have completed/begun a variety of paintings. I’d say my motivation at this time is to challenge and awaken my creative self – to set some goals for myself. Success at this time would be creative excellence, pleasing myself, fulfilling my intentions…but I admit, I do need the input or recognition from other people who I respect to reassure me that what I have created is reading with life. Better yet, it’s the input of others which helps me to view my work through different eyes. My biggest goal, at this time, is to create a body of work to present to galleries/art shows – with the ultimate goal of becoming financially secure. The business of art is unknown to me. So, how do I define my success as an artist, or what area I am more inclined to strive toward? I’d have to say that recognition and artistic excellence go hand in hand in order to arrive at financial success – sort of like Dorothy and the Scarecrow skipping down the road to the Land of Oz, with a lot of twists and turns along the way.

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ruth sears April 4, 2014 at 5:04 am

I think when I started painting,about 5 years ago,it was just for the satisfaction I got from being able to capture a likeness,with animals being my primary focus,then as I got better,I wanted to share my work with other artists and feel part of the art community,a real artist,and able to get juried into shows and artisan fairs.Then I found that I also wanted to sell work I deemed worthy of hanging in someones house or business,as like every one else I could use the money and to off set the cost of art supplies,framing,shows and membership dues.I have only done about 3 works in over two years,I think the lack of sales at shows and fairs had an impact on doing more work as I have so much framed and unframed,I started to feel like,why do any more,art was piled up everywhere and I seemed to lose my purpose for creating any more.

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Yvette Michele Booth April 4, 2014 at 6:31 am

I have this gift,
That is to be shared
It is recognized with the God of my being first
And through continuous study and creation (artistic achievement) there is this flow or state that occurs that keeps going until the first recognition happens.
P.S. It never stops 

Then it is released and shared with others
In this sharing they can feel, they can relate to their own experiences and sometimes ponder over mine. Yet instill this is an outward recognition (secondary) that was invoked because the art was shared.

If the art is shared and it achieves what was intended in its creation; then the possibility for a new flow (monetary gain) can be achieved.

I always thought when funding an Art life.; the Art itself should be sold without regret. It should always have a price that provides a reaction from me that has the feeling of joy, delight and gratitude.

So the goal of my Art is,
I have this gift and that is to be shared.

The success of the Art is that it serves others in an experience, it allows me to continuously create and can provide a flow that gives me joy.

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Valerie Woelk April 4, 2014 at 9:58 am

Artistic Achievement – I have always, even as a child felt a need to improve my art abilities. Working on any piece begins a journey from idea to shape, color and stroke till I get the feeling and representation I am searching for. I will repeat studies over and over searching for that look I envision. My studio has stacks of studies made to arrive at a finished piece. This drive is the core of my being and always present.
Recognition – I am a true introvert. I attend art show openings loving to talk with other artists and kids looking at my work, and exhale a breath of relief when I can go home. After a show I feel tired. I have won enough awards, recognition feels empty to me. I joke with my friends, if I want exposure I could walk around naked easy enough. LOL I don’t want to be known as much as I want to be financially stable.
Monetary Gain/Financial Stability – This is the ringer for me. I have inconsistent sales, which seem to depend on the location I am at, with the more expensive outlets seeming to work more reliably for generating sales. The most consistent interested group for me are always art students but they do not generally have the funds to purchase. I get more invitations to teach classes to kids from parents, than I can count, but how do you do that when you are away from home? I feel comfortable teaching small classes and just simplly love to draw and paint. If I could find an outlet for my work and be able to concentrate on producing work 75% of the time I would be immensely happy.

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Norma Riegle April 4, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Since my husband and I are both in our late 60′s, financial stability has become very important. Recognition is nice. I have won my share of awards, but blue ribbons do not pay the bills. However, I believe wholeheartedly that artistic excellence is paramount in gaining financial stability.

My dream situation would be to spend my time painting what excites me, have someone to do the housework, and someone to sell my paintings.

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steph a. April 4, 2014 at 7:00 pm

I think at this point, I am my motivation for “doing” my art. I want to create for myself. And, I really want to make money doing it.

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Patti Frinzi April 6, 2014 at 11:55 am

What motivates me? It is very intrinsic. I have to do something with my hands. Originally it was to connect my hands to my soul, to “let my soul out,” as my teacher and mentor Jorgen Hansen used to say. But since I am artistically introverted, that connection, I learned, has always been inherent. I find myself occasionally asking the question, will this sell? But I quickly dismiss that question, because I couldn’t create for the market if I tried.

I don’t like being the center of attention, so recognition is not a great motivator and I am always taken off guard when I do get recognition. I have to admit the most endearing recognition, however, is when high school or college age art students get excited by my work. As solitude seeking as I am, I do love talking to other artists and especially the younger generation. So working in a studio environment is very rewarding. To inspire and be inspired by other artists is a great motivator.

I am learning to accept the third motivator, money, and find the balance between financial reward and working for the intrinsic joy of the work. I would like to find soul in the art of marketing and selling and make an intrinsic connection there. As life situations change and as I spend more time and money in the studio, it is becoming increasingly important to bring in cash to cover both my art and living expenses. However, I want to keep control over how public my life becomes.

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Joanne April 6, 2014 at 11:58 am

My motivation is also a combination of all three: I want to keep learning to improve technically and creatively, not stay in a rut, but ultimately I love what I do and it’s so rewarding to see how happy people are when they buy my art! Unfortunately, I do need the financial stability to grow my business – materials and getting out there in the world costs money :-(

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Jackie Eliason April 7, 2014 at 6:51 am

For me, artistic mastery is the primary motivation. I’ve been spending more time on developing my skills than I have been on marketing as I’m still trying to find my “voice,” so to speak.

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Marcia April 7, 2014 at 1:56 pm

I had to ponder your question for a while. There is always a great tension to write down our life goals. It is like a to-do list. If we write it down, we have to make a commitment to attain that goal. Many artists have trouble even calling themselves artists. That is the 1st step. I have been painting and marketing art since 1979 and teaching art since 1980. Teaching really helps us to think about our long term goals. We can’t be content to just rest on our laurels and accomplishments. When we do that, we are just settling and not driven to improve our work. I participate in a large art show and over the years, I see the public come, they want to see what it new that you have created. They want to see you always pushing the envelope. Trying new techniques, new subject matter, and keeping an excitement in the work we produce. If we fail to do that, and just rest on our laurels, I think the public will lose interest in that artists work. The public invests in an artist and they want to see their investment appreciate not depreciate.
I personally like the painting process. That is the greatest high creating a work of art from nothing. The large majority of my work I sell myself and I have a few small galleries. I participate in Museum shows and submit to competitions.
I have found so many galleries failing over the years and I have been somewhat gun shy in trying to find new galleries
that I can’t readily visit.

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Ocie April 8, 2014 at 2:43 pm

I have been working on the mastery of painting and my current task is to develop a cohesive body of work that is available for sale. My ultimate goal is to have gallery representation and SALES. With sales, I will be able to pursue painting without the need for my current income producing job.

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Carla Palermo April 9, 2014 at 1:17 pm

All of the above. Definitely financial gain is a priority. However, mastery and recognition are both important as well. At some point, after having spent have a sizeable sum on creating the art, it feels like some financial gain should be forthcoming in order to warrant the continued expense of producing such.

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Brigitte April 9, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Firstly – I’m striving for “excellence” (different things for different pieces) , some recognition & wouldn’t it be great to be selling too but without compromise….

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Susan G. DeVan April 9, 2014 at 10:13 pm

My goal at this point in my life is to hone my skills, and to choose subjects that are meaningful, i.e., themes that are dear to me emotionally or are beautiful in their reflection of nature and man. In order to share my art with others, I aim to place the paintings in galleries that can give them good coverage. Finally, my hope is that enough collectors will appreciate the paintings for their beauty, craftsmanship and message, and they will invest in them and cherish them always. Lately, I have decided to make every painting become a statement or message about something that I feel passionate about, not just cleverly done pieces of fluff. In other words, I will not paint just to sell; from now on, the picture will give wordless messages to the viewer.

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Kathleen Durst April 10, 2014 at 1:17 pm

For many years while teaching public school art, I felt stifled as an artist. Once I retired, great ideas are lining up, waiting to finish one series and start another.

“Getting it all out” is the easy part. Artistic mastery is not a high priority, although I do love learning and practicing new techniques. With my first solo show, I gained some recognition and encouragement with high attendance and excellent sales.

But in this new career choice, I have to make sales. So, it’s a combination of all three. Loving the work, loving the kudos and really loving the sales!

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Jeffrey S Thornton April 10, 2014 at 8:17 pm

From the earliest in my art career, ” artistic achievement ” as it is called here has been my driving force. But now in my upper 50′s & tired of struggling, I now balance & juggle the artistic with the monetary. In the end, I would never trade the on going journey for greater art just for monetary gain.
It is hard to find the time without the monetary momentum behind you, but I still make time for marketing myself. Entering shows, contests & appling for grants. Also creating & maintaining my website, along with maintaining my Xanadu page & the artist registry page I have with the local 5 county arts association. Along with artistic achievement, other goals are the ability to have sales that would be year around & let me be somewhat self sufficient even in a low income way. Recognition is also something I like to have in my life. Even though I feel being an artist is somewhat of a lonely affair, one needs that good comment or pat on the back once in a while. A little of the energy goes a long way.

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Samar April 13, 2014 at 2:11 am

Dear Jason, the more i read the more i feel i am in a different league here. I have started painted not too long ago and i am very unsure of my work. I live in Lahore, Pakistan, a country trying its best to fight the fundamentalist mentality. As i am self learnt, i have no one to judge my work, friends and family are my only critics and i see when i have done something well as i see it framed and hanging in a friends home. Should i keep doing that? I mean give them away for free, my husband says free art never finds is value, is he right?
To your question as to my primary goal … I want to be recognized… that alone will be enough for NOW.

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Michelle Jones April 26, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Just keep painting!!! The big things happen from little tiny increments. As you learn more, you change or add something to what you are doing, then a little more and more. We’re all here to learn something! So you are in the right place :)

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Wow April 13, 2014 at 11:32 am

Over time I’ve realized that money, I.e, sales, is one of the less important aspects of being an artist.

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Ruth April 14, 2014 at 5:00 am

Definitely a combination of financial stability and artistic excellence.

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RON BARTCZAK April 14, 2014 at 3:58 pm

The primary motivation at this stage of my art career is to continue to develop my unique interpretation and presentation of how I feel Sailing and Sailing Yacht Racing art should be presented to the general viewing public as well as to private and corporate collectors. I hope to generate excitement and interest in art works depicting the sport of 21st Century sailing and Sailing Yacht Racing. I want to “show” the viewers an alternative image of what I consider to be today’s lackluster,uninspiring depiction of sailing and racing . I want people to see and “feel” the excitement of the art. Sailing and Sailing Yacht Racing is truly, wet, wild and exciting and should be depicted that way. There is nothing wrong with “old School” sailing art. But there is much more to the sport and I want to capture that and present it to the world…..even possibly inspire new,young painters of marine art to look at the “traditional” presentations and move beyond that to possibly a new 21st century school of sailing and sailing racing art……………ACTION SAILING ART….art for real sailors and those who dream to be.
(that’s not too much to strive for at 79 is it?)

Sincerely,
R.Bartczak

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T Storey April 14, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Throughout my 16 years of Visual Art production, my key motivator has always been Artistic Achievement. Creating art works as an expression and communication of my experience and sharing my aesthetic sensibilities. Recognition is a strong motivator specifically when I am enrolled in an academic course; my natural goal in that environment is to excel. Outside of study, it’s a lesser motivator. My work is an acquired taste and I am accepting that some sectors of society won’t like it. Recently, I am watching myself shifting much more towards Monetary Gain/Financial Stability. I want to earn more income from my creative work and transform some of this into a business. I need to think more about my potential audience and what will appeal to them. It is important to me to do this in an intelligent way that, while expanding my approach, captures my unique artistic integrity and standards.

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LaMerle Deca April 19, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Wow, this really puts things in perpective. I have been honing my skills, but when I sold a few things, I wanted to be better and make more sales. I really enjoy knowing people are brought into my work. I am not that interested in competition type shows other that that was one way to put my work in other venus. Thanks for you generosity in presenting this class. I have been truely taught and helped. I have not found this type of help from any of my other teachers. Thanks.

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Sue Bernon April 20, 2014 at 6:10 am

I am striving to master my drawing/painting skills, and to develop my own signature style. Be confident in my own ability, and to overcome challenges, and to be an artist that is not restricted< politically and socially. I am striving to be successful, both in recognition and financially. I do think they go together. Also have the urge and need to train and help other artists, to develop and aquire creative skills. Sue Bernon

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Gary Rubin April 20, 2014 at 11:22 am

As others have rather eloquently stated, I believe all three areas are intertwined in my motivation. However, as I think more about my current motivation, I would have to say that foremost is creating works that please me–followed closely by the pleasure from others admiring the work and ultimately offering to purchase. While the money certainly helps by paying for expenses, the most important part of the transaction is exciting a buyer and making room in my studio for more production. Therefore, I am motivated to find ways to increase these sales.

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Bonnie April 21, 2014 at 9:08 am

I enjoy painting. I love color and like the challenge of putting something on canvas that not only I enjoy but that brings some sort of peace or pleasure to others as well…

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Sandi April 21, 2014 at 9:57 am

Having been laid off in January at age 64 I’ve had to search inside to see what is truly important to me. How do I want to live the rest of my life? What consistently delivers peace and satisfaction? The answer is always: my faith, my family and my art. I want my art to reach in and touch the beholders heart! And, to be honest, I want to be able to make a reasonable living doing just that. That’s my simple answer to your question….what is your primary motivation at this stage of your art career?

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Matthew Sheek April 21, 2014 at 10:36 am

I have been setting goals and meeting them since I started pursuing art seriously. Getting to the point of making a living making art is important. Being active in my local art league and building relationships with my community are important to me too.

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Magdalena April 21, 2014 at 1:00 pm

My objective is to have financial freedom and have enough cash flow so that I can do what I do best. I had not considered the other option and short of getting a Patron to fit the bill I need to survive. My goal has definately changed in my 4 years as a professional and the desire to be know is not an issue. Creative freedom has always been the goal but now I want this to be a business. Thanks so much for the info.

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Marzelle April 21, 2014 at 2:10 pm

So much good reading in this blog! It all been said for me. I agree that it’s about all three at some time or another. I’m moving into the third circle even though the business side is unpleasant for me. I look for opportunities to show, I’m in a new local gallery hoping it will succeed at selling. I’m preparing a web page, and participate in local shows and festivals. I’m getting a few sales. The best was this past year. Selling enforces the desire to produce. Recognition validates what I’m doing. Excellence and recognition are the main driving force but sales eventually become necessary. I want to share my creations and grow my audience.

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Rebecca Hartvigsen April 21, 2014 at 4:20 pm

I need to sell art. Both as an income and to validate what I do. As things have slowed in the gallery scene I have had more time to enter shows. I’m heading to Scottsdale as a matter of fact this Thursday for the awards ceremony for
The Western Federation of Watercolor Society’s show. This is fun to do but it gets expensive. I got a piece in the American Watercolor Society show in New York in 2012, but I haven’t entered since. It cost me just under $500.00 just to enter and get the painting back there. It’s hard to know what to do. I have had three of my galleries close in the last two years. I’m down to one right now. It gets discouraging .

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Helen K. Beacham Fine Art April 22, 2014 at 8:57 am

Financial Stability. I quit my day job 8 years ago to pursue my art career. I didn’t make the decision in a void. I had dual careers for 23 years prior to that and knew what to expect. Have been happy with my decision!

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Tracy April 22, 2014 at 9:41 am

As financial gain is #1 out of sheer need ( recently divorced) I am finding that all my efforts to create and all the commissions I have been doing have created more excellence and efficiency in my work.

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Michelle Jones April 26, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Isn’t it amazing what we can do when we have to? I made a nice career as a commercial artist (faux painting, murals commissions etc.) for myself once I had to support 3 kids and myself!
After 10 years I’m ready to paint the things I love to paint and move into the fine art realm.
Best wishes to you- you can and will succed- because you have to :)

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Jill Hoddick April 22, 2014 at 9:51 am

My motivation comes from wanting to have my work seen and be appreciated. Fiber artists tend to feel they must also educate the public about this medium. That is important to me as well. My entire career as a costume designer my work was on display to support the director’s concept and the actor’s choices and the words and theme of the play. My job was to help the audience respond to the performance. So immediate recognition for my work has and is important to me. But in order for my work to be accepted into juried shows, it has to be good art. So the process of creating art and artistic excellence motivates me as well. I love fusing the elements of color, line, and texture to create an art quilt. I am still exploring styles and techniques to discover my voice. I am not one to stick with just one process or style, so improvisation and experimentation are a big part of what I enjoy about the artistic process. So I guess two of the three motivators are of greatest importance to me as an artist.

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Holly April 22, 2014 at 10:16 am

There is an innate need for me to create. It is a part of who I am. My motivation at this point is a bit more monetary in nature. I do need to develop my style, perhaps focusing my energies on a series of paintings, rather than jumping from one project to the next, but I would like to develop the skills to market these works as they are completed.

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Elizabeth Bonura April 22, 2014 at 10:48 am

At this point in my life, art has two main functions for me:
1) Financial – I need to make money so I can stay at home with my young kids.
2) Relief – As a stay at home mother of three young boys, I have to have a way to get away from it all and stay in touch with myself. Creating art does for me.

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Scott Perry April 22, 2014 at 5:41 pm

For me it is all about having a creative outlet. Recognition might be nice but Im not willing to face the rejections. I dont need art to support myself.

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Sharyn Lightfoot April 22, 2014 at 7:54 pm

I think I have the balance equally of yearning to be perfect[ excellance.]
Recognition..praise.Love that, but I can take constructive criticism to the extent I want to destroy anything that has had a negative comment and do a better version. Maybe I am not confident enough.
Financial need. As soon as my poor husband retires, I will be strapped in buying supplies. Got to start selling!!

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Ann Wallace April 22, 2014 at 8:06 pm

My original motivation as an artist was simply the love of creating. That still is a major factor. I love painting. I guess I can say that I HAVE to paint. It is a fulfilling experience. I feel more complete. It brings me joy. And as with any achievement, the more one grows and develops the more satisfaction one gets from the process. I’ve worked hard to hone my skills and grow as an artist. I’ve entered into juried shows and have received a few awards, which has been satisfying. But at this stage of my career my motivations for painting have expanded into the desire to market and sell my work as well. Getting into my studio to paint regularly is not a challenge, but figuring out the mechanics of marketing and selling is. I’m motivated to learn about the techniques of creating more exposure for my art and the business of selling it. I sell very few paintings. Increasing sales is a high priority for me.

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Adeline Halvorson April 22, 2014 at 8:26 pm

For the first 35 years of my career I focused on Artistic Excellence. A certain amount of recognition has come with that, which is nice. Though painting has always been my source of income, now I feel it’s time to veer the focus a bit more toward the money. But the art, continuing to challenge myself to improve, will always be #1.

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Christina Youdan-Pfistershammer April 24, 2014 at 8:54 am

Adeline, I’ve looked at your website…at first the quality of your work felt a little intimidating to me. You have all my admiration, but then I read 35 years of career. Well, I just started 18 months ago, never painted before…so I stay hopeful to achieve more Artistic Excellence over the years. Just wanted to pay you a compliment!
Christina

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Julie Wishmeyer April 22, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Ideally the intersecting bubbles would indicate that you are on tract in your artistic career. I would like that for myself, kind of being at ease in all phases. Definitely.

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Ruth Collis April 22, 2014 at 10:28 pm

Success

What drives me is fascination with seeing what else this thick paint can do! It’s been 3 years of one experiment after another & I still keep discovering new sculptural forms coming into existence with all the gel mediums on the market now.

I do not need recognition, as much as financial stability while doing what I love that makes a difference in other’s lives too. No, this motivation has not changed over time, other than being more determined to find a way to make money while doing what I’m passionate about.

What I see as artistic success is probably a dream of grandeur, but still focus on having it with all my might: Having an organization sell/ship/handle returns/customer service of my 3D paintings while I paint them, to where I can quit my corporate job with benefits and enrich other’s lives in doing so.

Success is where I have a studio large enough to fit all my needs plus room to grow, where I’m not tripping over stuff & banging my head hurting myself from injuries of nowhere to put things.

Success is where I can paint large sized paintings and have room to store them all until they are sold. Success is having enough income to have a home of my own.

Success is Where other people are inspired by what I do and not want to get away from me for my push to excel.

Success is a studio with room for supplies, painting storage, painting room, shipping supplies, and a photography station with natural sunlight all the time to get quality photos, that stays in the same spot each time that doesn’t require moving each time and waste of time setting up, just to photograph a piece.

Success is a website that’s a dream to update, is visually appealing, functional, room to grow without server hassles, pictures and video selling each painting, and most of all, a website that’s drag and drop easy.

In distant future: Being able to design my own artistic garden resort where people come from all over to see these gardens, stay in the birdhouse hotel, take a painting class, walk through the bird aviary, eat at the garden cafe near the glass peacock house, and finally make that place of peace & quiet I so desperately long for, and somehow have fake grass so no noisy lawn or garden equipment will ruin the peace and quiet.

Really dreaming: Having an online gallery that’s interactive, where customers click to enter galleries of mine and can navigate a modern floor plan and look at each painting on the wall and get even a virtual assistant to answer their questions or tell them facts about the piece, and where each painting can be updated with a new one somehow.

At least being able to support myself doing what I love, and living in an environment where I don’t suffer, is success to me, and seeing the fascination with the new forms this thicker paint style keeps showing me is motivation to share the secrets I’m discovering. That’s what success and motivation is to me.

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Robert April 23, 2014 at 4:41 am

Where my wife are at , at this point is to have some Financial income from our art , to allow us a little more freedom to create more and expand . Im sure once we find that balance of recognition and excellence ( though excellence / perfection doesn’t really exist ) Our Financial energy will shift to a more positive flow.

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STEPHANIE VISSER April 23, 2014 at 8:23 am

Motivation…..hmmmm…at this moment is financial security. I am tired of working for others and having to put my artistic goals second or even third when in my heart and soul they are first. I also have a need for artistic excellence which comes from painting painting painting. So….my hope is that being able to live well on my art will lead to growth as an artist and recognition. Unfortunately I live in one of the most expensive cities in the US and there is no option to change that. And being the sole and only provider of income to myself I have had to put having a roof over my head and food and health insurance and all the other musts ahead of my art. AGHHHHHHH

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Alan B. Tuttle April 23, 2014 at 8:27 am

Long pondered, never answered. I have spent years in which I entered dozens of shows and spent thousands of dollars doing so without substantial financial gain. In those times I suppose I was seeking validation of what I do. I roam the genres with pleasure and satisfaction but much to the schagrin of galleries that want me to repeat yesterday’s successes. That does not inspire me for I know what sells quickly and the price point for those works might pay 20-50$ an hour yet I do not pursue these simple quick pieces unless I am inspired. This leaves the real answer of seeking artistic excellence and letting the rest fall into place as it may.

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David ODell April 23, 2014 at 8:47 am

Jason, I think we all strive for success in all three areas to some degree. I personally strive for Artistic Achievement and Monetary Gain more than recognition. As a printmaker having additions rather than a single piece allows me a bit more leeway in that when I sell one piece I have others to follow it. The down side is time, some editions have up to 30 colors and can take months to print. My challenge is to create a new best piece each time. An old saying from my childhood still motivates me: Good, Better, Best. Never let it rest. Until you Good is Better. And your Better Best.

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Hildos April 23, 2014 at 9:54 am

I a believe a balance is the right way to go but for me getting gallery representation and selling my art are a tad more important as not only they will help me in getting my independence and pay my bills but also get recognition from collectors, critics, other fellow artist and push to compete with myself and do better for every next show.

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Marlo Montanaro April 23, 2014 at 11:57 am

My motivation? It has changed over the years. Originally, I was inspired by the rock and roll posters I hung in my dorm in college. I thought “I can take better photos than these.” So my goal was to create photographs that could be printed large and hung, and that people would look at and say, “cool.” That was the reaction I wanted… “cool.” The success of an image, to me, is measured in its stopping-power.

When I was working side jobs, the motivation was similar. When I stopped working, well, let’s just say the importance of making sales is that much higher on the list out of necessity. But I think that adds a great dimension to art. The fact that someone is willing to part with hard-earned money so they can possess and view your work is a great motivational tool. I don’t think, in today’s day and age it should define success though. Unfortunately, too often, we display our work everywhere… several social media sites, personal web sites, 500px, Deviant Art, etc. allow people to view your art work for free whenever they like, making the sale unnecessary.

So I think that the driving force to display your work everywhere, all the time, is often self-defeating.

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Arthur Benjamins April 23, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Jason, one of the points you mooted in ’10 mistakes artists make when approaching galleries’ is one of the multitude of presented styles. Speaking for myself and the fact that I have been painting for 40 years and more, I would have to admit to possessing just as you mentioned.
My first subject was motor racing, followed by Science-Fantsasy, aviation and surreal. Some years ago I added my own “Abstract Iconography”, which is in full swing. Before and after that – I changed my motor racing style on several occasions – ALL which are liked by viewers. Very recently I expanded in my own manner, Neoplasticism – which was propagated so famously by Piet Mondrian in the 1900s.
Yes, I have a very healthy range of subjects and styles which should and could be expanded to international success.
Unless one’s marketing is of a superb quality – like Keith Haring’s – galleries will only be too happy to jump on the band wagon and to further that marketing success with both hands.
Until that exists, all artists will be necessitated to contact galleries – who remain stoically resistant to submissions. In order to gauge interest in galleries, artists will be more than likely to present a myriad of styles – not because they want to boast about their painting prowess but to give galleries a very good choice which they might feel would become a success. It is rarely in an artists’ ability to second guess galleries’ opinions in what will sell and what won’t. Hence the quantity of offered styles.
Also, presenting galleries with a work modus operandi is paramount I feel. Offering fresh approaches and directions in which one is meaning to travel, plus a guarantee of continual stock, is far better than a gallery owner having to continually sweet talk his artist out of a bars.
On a good many occasions, I have presented myself to a gallery with a concise and clear directions in where I feel I am and where I plan to go. I offer a scenario where all parties are facing a successful future. In short – I am confident in myself and my work and have NO doubts in matching the freshness and ethos of my works with already famous and succesful artists like Lichtenstein, Koons, Ruscha and others.
Presenting galleries with just one style in the hope they will Google the artist is just a vain hope.
Kind regards,
Arthur

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Karen Cole April 23, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Well…I’ve change my body of art, from oil realism, to acrylic abstracts.
It’s a mid career change.
Now I want to get some feedback on my new work, so I guess recognition is important at this point.
I love it, but I want to get an idea if it is marketable.
I’ve been working in an art gallery part time, for money.

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Gail Saukas April 23, 2014 at 3:41 pm

A great question. What is your goal as an artist changes over time, I think. At this stage, I am more oriented toward both financial gain and excellence of craft. I think recognition comes along with financial gain (or maybe before it), but excellence of your craft is a lifelong goal that lies beneath the surface of the other two.

I have found it frustrating that as the economy struggled people really tied the purse strings for non-necessities. I don’t think we have really rebounded as the middle class continues to be squeezed and shrunk. Galleries that sold a lot of my work in the past are not selling much of anything by anyone. Several have gone out of business. And therein lies the reason I am joining this learning adventure and discussion because we are about to move to another state and I am struggling over whether I move my studio because it is going to be a huge expense and hassle to move bathtub size kilns and all the equipment. I cannot imagine, most days, not being creative and spending time doing what I love.

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Bev Brazelton April 24, 2014 at 11:23 am

I have been motivated by the healing power of art. I studied and practiced Art Therapy for a number of years My focus was on the process of making art and the connection between the end of my brush and my feelings. This is who I am as an artist. It remains constant.
Teaching art journaling and altered books felt to me as a continuation of that practice. Neither demand a finished piece and are both are connected to feelings.
Now I am committed to working consistently in the studio painting. I am finding that I am prolific. As the work piles up I ask myself “what next ?” What do I do with these pieces ?

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joi April 23, 2014 at 4:37 pm

My primary motivation at this later stage of my art career is to create for the pure joy and love of creation. Creative energy is all about expansion and evolving so improvement is just the result of the process. For me it is about the journey, the “what if I do this” and “isn’t that interesting.” When I am doing what I am passionate about the money shows up. Someone buys a painting, I get a check in the mail from somewhere, the world is here for me, the Universe supports me and I am grateful. Books fall off the shelves for me to read and this course showed up in my life for a reason. Ever expanding and evolving. As I share my art I plant seeds for sharing my secrets. Thank you Jason, I am grateful:)

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Dan Kiselev April 23, 2014 at 5:48 pm

My primary goal right now is to sustain myself through my art sales. My long-term goal is to be exhibited and recognized internationally (pretty lofty, I know, but I’d rather aim too high then too low). I think that through learning how to market and sell my work, build relationships with dealers and galleries and improving my artistic ability in that process I will put myself on track to achieve my long-term goal.

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Christina Youdan-Pfistershammer April 23, 2014 at 7:00 pm

First I concentrate on bringing my skills in watercolor to excellence, at least trying to. It is hard for me to sell any of my work unless it was a commission to begin with. Just when I finally convinced myself to let go and put my paintings up on the market one of my daughters spoke her veto. Ha, that was quite a surprising experience and a marvelous compliment. She likes and appreciates my work so much that she wants me to keep most of my private collection. This cuts my potential portfolio in half and I will have to create a lot more. Although my home is running out of wall space by now. So my solution is to sell giclees or prints instead.
A balance between those 3 bubbles is what I attempt to achieve but I have one bubble in addition: If you look at my art and it makes you smile I’ll have accomplished my main goal – you continue your day with a lighter heart, inspired by beauty and a humorous touch.

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Margaret Glew April 24, 2014 at 8:32 am

No question, the pursuit of artistic excellence is my primary motivation. I think that perhaps separating goals in this way, although in some ways useful, is basically flawed. Recognition requires artistic excellence, and with recognition (unless your work is unsellable, i.e. performance or certain kinds of installation) comes representation and financial rewards. While it is perfectly possible to make money without the first two goals being met – I could easily name names here but I won’t – making it at the highest level does require a measure of excellence – at least as that is defined by the current art world powers – and certainly requires recognition. (from the same folks) As for the division of labour, I probably spend close to equal amounts of time in the studio, and in the pursuit of sales. I could no doubt benefit from going after recognition more. That seems to me to be the most difficult goal to define clearly.

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Patty April 24, 2014 at 9:27 am

Recognition and financial success. Not necessarily in that order!

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brad nuorala April 24, 2014 at 9:41 am

I continue to experience the creation of visual ideas in my abstract work. The motivation is that it seems to be a need for me. I’m in the studio almost daily. At this time, marketing and selling work is the part that is difficult for me. It takes time away from the work and I lack marketing skills. I need a gallery who really believes in me and can promote and sell my work.

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Susan Bennett April 24, 2014 at 9:46 am

I love making art. Time in the studio is where I am the most centered if you will. I have exhibited in many juried shows and do love that experience. But as good as that experience has always been, it’s time to sell my work.

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Lee Robinson April 24, 2014 at 12:34 pm

When I started my main motivation was to get paid for doing what I love for a living. I like to say that is still my motivation but lately I’ve been honing my craft and now my motivation is to see how realistic I can make my paintings look. If I get paid that’s just a bonus. I learned early that if you get into this field just for money your in it for the wrong reasons.

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Carol G. April 24, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Jason,

I enjoyed reading the post about the three types of reasons to produce art. Though I certainly can identify with all three, I think that from where I am in my life right now, I need the validation of selling works to keep me motivated. I have continued to enter shows and do enjoy competition , but for me, selling a piece of artwork gives me the greatest validation that my work is worthy enough for someone to pay for and hang on their wall. I get a real boost from knowing that the buyer “gets” my work.

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Brenda Belfield April 24, 2014 at 3:56 pm

I am motivated by working to surprise myself, to achieve excellence according to my idea of what that is. Abstraction is a powerful creative force that continues to challenge and inspire me. However, I have a huge inventory, and now I realize I should put more energy into exhibiting and creating a business plan.

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Brenda Belfield April 24, 2014 at 4:01 pm

I will add that when I had gallery representation in the past, I was free to spend my energy painting . I hope to focus on creating and not on selling.

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Sandrine alias Sanya April 24, 2014 at 5:47 pm

What I’d like to do at this point in time: gain independence to create more art. In the future, I’d like recognition for my art. I have been doing a bit of both: trying to sell my art so I can make more and getting my name out there. I think that you would gain independence to create more art faster if you are known for your art so that’s why I try to balance both.

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Jerry April 24, 2014 at 7:45 pm

I would like to think I have got to the point where I have a defined product that is saleable. That has been my motivation for the last few years. I have a small amount of recognition in the local art community. My dream has been to make a living selling my art. I am now ready to turn my dream onto a goal. Although I am not ready to quit my day job.

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Ileana April 24, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Finding a balance between these three factors is important to me though, at this juncture in my life, Artistic Achievement and Financial Stability are more of a focus than Recognition. Some years ago I worked as an artist for a year. I produced a cohesive body of work, I entered juried shows and I exhibited in a number of non-profit galleries. However, I was unable to find representation in profit-making galleries. Even though I gained some recognition in the town I lived in and did some commissioned work, I was never able to make ends meet financially. I had to give up making art and return to teaching full time. Now that I have retired from teaching I want to try again.
It is important for me to improve my skills, to once again find my voice, and then seek gallery representation. How to deal with the business side of art is probably my weakest area at the moment and one that I need to work at to attain my goal for financial stability.

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J. Kent Stewart April 24, 2014 at 10:17 pm

Why do I paint? Hmmmm. I was an art ed major when the state I live in cut art from the curriculum so I changed to a science ed major. I just quit doing art for about 20 years after that. Then in 2004 I began painting. Then I took a few years of painting classes. And I just kept painting and painting. After filling most of the empty spaces on the walls I got up the nerve to do my first art show. It was very difficult to put myself out there. Rejection is never fun. But I was accepted and sold some paintings. In Oklahoma art is not a priority and being that I found I really enjoyed selling painting I let the market dictate the price. I found I love to create but I love for my work to be bought. Thus it is “reasonably” priced. Which is often resented by other people at the art shows, but that is their problem not mine. At this time I have sold about 200 paintings.

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Stefanie Graves April 25, 2014 at 8:54 am

Actually this is very akin to my post about my challenges, because lack of sales, absence of gallery presence weighs down on my motivation — which I find is primarily monetary gain with a secondary motivation of recognition. I think recognition can help drive sales so in my mind they are interconnected. But I don’t need to have national acclaim as long as I have steady sales to keep me motivated to do the work.

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Debora Gillman April 25, 2014 at 9:07 am

Having created from my heart for many, many years, I now want to share my art more in community and gallery and also sell it. I want to sell my paintings, my paintings as giclees and prints and greeting cards. I have invested a lot of time and money to build my collection and now I want to live off the income that it will generate. How can I do that in this economy?

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Michelle Jones April 26, 2014 at 6:19 pm

I read somewhere that the universe has room for everyone and a place for everyone and htier passion- I think that holds true even in bad economies.

During the worse times 2008- I did have to do stuff I didn’t like – like window painting, teaching classes, and painting things I didn’t want to paint for a commission check- but I also feel that hard times made me more resilient, more persistent and more dedicated to my craft. But I never worked a 9-5 desk job or for minimum wage :)

I’m on the blog because I want to do as you, sell painting from the heart, prints etc…I have actually noticed that in hard times people seem to still spend on art.

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Katharine Weber April 25, 2014 at 9:35 am

I need the monetary gain to give me an excuse to create more, invest more, and hone my skills. Gearing up to approach galleries hasn’t been cheap!! I need to feed the creative machine.

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Bill Donaldson April 25, 2014 at 10:28 am

Jason:
Although I recognize the three motivations for artists all play a part, I think the one which most important for me is Artistic Excellence. I believe an artist must be pleased with their vision, their work, and their sense of accomplishment. Only when the artist himself/herself is pleased can they hope to extend their vision for either recognition or monetary gain, and be true to themselves. However, I stated I strive for Artistic Excellence…for I also believe that achieving the “perfect piece” is probably not achievable. As an architect, I can look back on each of my projects and find that one thing that I wish I had done a little differently.
That’s what keeps the artistic process exciting for me…it’s that pursuit of perfection that I keep looking for.
Having said that, I would also welcome the recognition and financial reward that comes from people liking and appreciating my work.

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Ron Kenedi April 25, 2014 at 11:54 am

Well I can’t add much to what has been written except that motivation changes over time. Now I firmly believe that a painting is not completed till it is seen and appreciated…..I do not mean liked or loved but observed and thought about.

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André Grigoriev April 25, 2014 at 12:57 pm

As a child I sat in my grandfathers lap and he taught me how to paint, perspective, how to mix colours etc. What he didn’t show moi was how to sculpt? I was born with that ability a gift. Somthing about clay or more correctly dimensional structures modeling just plane building. All my teachers in school knew I was diffrent. I don’t know why I create? But I’m always diddling with some new project.
Most of my work I’ve just given away I hate selling! It takes away from the creative spirit. My g-pa spoke no english n my baba Zina did all the selling. I grew up in Studio City. Surrounded by the motion picture industry.
I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame! After a time joined the Imagineers at the mouse factory. It was like a narcotic couldn’t get enough! Hell, I would have paid them for the oppertunity to work with the most tallented artists and trchnicians in show biz. And I didn’t have to draw anything! It wasn’t work it was pure joy. I was editing circle vision, 3D, omnimax, etc. The execs at Disney saw it too. Apparently they liked my aesthetic oppinions and they sent me all around the country to get my take on any new technologies they could use in their various theme parks around the world. After awhile I had carte blanch! I neve concerend myself with how much it would cost and I spent oodles of their money! Two problems? Firstly the better I did the more enemies I made. Second I had to deal with overblown EGOS!!! Eample: Disney is very big at PR and I talked one of my directors into including one of my effects into his film. So at the screening of specially invited Hollywood movers n shakers right in the middle of this rather pedestrian scene my effect hits them smack between the eyes. Suddenly over a thousand of the most influencial folks in show biz give a rousing standing ovation. That was my payment for a job well done. I had tears in my eyes as they cheered. Of course they were applauding the director for my brillance. The next day he came to me and said pull it out! That ego thing again it was my effect not his! It left a bad taste in my mouth. Millions of people have seen my films around the world and know one knows my name?

So for me it’s about creating not politics over the top egos or even making money it’s about blowing minds! That said, practicallity demands I start thinking about marketing my personal work. But I’m torn between creating what I think will sell verses what I’d create just because! Because of my background I’m used to creating on a large scale and I certainly know how. But at this stage in my life materials are way beyond finances. The work I’m forced to do just to survive is so uncreative it leaves me with little time or energy to paint or sculpt. I’m one of those guys who’ll spend money on tools and materials before I feed myself. I wish I could find a balance in my life. Right now I am the quintessencial starving artist. Acceptance is what I seek money is only a means to and end product.

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Nancy Lane April 25, 2014 at 2:39 pm

I agree with Lee Robinson. My main motivation right now is achieving excellence in my painting, with the goal and close secondary motivation that the money will follow. Painting is something I must do– I find it so satisfying and also challenging, as I try to create work that will have larger meaning to its audience and speak to the big themes of our lives. I DO need to make money while painting, but thanks to a year’s worth of savings, I have a window of opportunity to paint for myself and build up a body of work.

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Myriam Lys April 25, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Well, when I started painting it was just for me, for my self fulfillment. Some years passed and I started thinking that it would be nice to share my work. I hang some of them in my own house and friends wanted to buy them. I also gave some to friends that I liked. Then friends of these friends commissioned some works. Thanks God money was not an issue. At some point I realized that I needed to have some kind of recognition and I entered Art shows that I found at the internet but I soon realized that most of this shows were just a way for the galleries to getting money out of the entry fees. I was disappointed and stopped sending entries. For long time I stop painting because I was feeling I was a fiasco as an artist. Lately I started painting again and have some works displayed in a very prestigious furniture store and people like what I do so I will keep on painting and selling this way until I can find a gallery that is interested in representing me.

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Dede Farrar April 25, 2014 at 7:02 pm

For me, success as an artist at this point in time would mean a growing amount of sales and more recognition. I’m doing pretty well on the recognition end, but I have miles and miles to go. I made the mistake of stopping my production for a years. I got discouraged, and I lacked a focus. Last year, I made a conscious effort to focus on creating beautiful images of animals. I knew this was subject matter that I would never tire of, and that could pique the eye of the public. After earning a Master of Arts Degree, I was left feeling confused. The academic art world is much different from the art world supported by actual patrons, buying art. I want to actually sell art. I also want to be true to myself and not become a hack. I can do this. I believe I can sell more art, I just have to find the buyers. That’s why I’m here. I think if I keep creating and getting the word out by using social media, entering shows, getting some gallery representation, and learning more about the business of art, that I can achieve what is success for me.

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Phil April 25, 2014 at 8:32 pm

My primary motivation is to live a beautiful creative life in my old age! That translates to financial stability…in my old age.

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Michelle Jones April 26, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Where’s the “like ” button? Good for you!

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Carmen Beecher April 26, 2014 at 5:20 am

I have to paint. I paid my dues, raised a big family, worked at non-art jobs, have a retirement income, and I am free to paint. I earned the privilege. Becoming a ‘daily painter’ has given me impetus toward my 10,000 hours, even though I won’t live long enough to achieve that goal. But my main motivation is: I have to paint. It’s my joy. I have tried to figure out my goals every year, and I think that it all comes down to making art that makes me and my customers happy. Their joyous feedback after they receive a painting pleases me very much. My retired friends do nothing but travel, play mah-johng, and shop. They are having a great time. I look at how hard I work and wonder: is something wrong with me? But I must paint. This is my only chance to get good at it, and while selling is validation, I don’t need the money; selling and awards are great, but there is not much joy in selling something I don’t think is my best, so the crux of it all is: I must paint, and I am chasing excellence. That’s why I have never heard of a “retired artist.” The pursuit of excellence never stops.

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Michelle Jones April 26, 2014 at 6:09 pm

your story is inspiring. And you have earned it!

It’s like breathing- you just have to do it. Sometimes it’s labored, sometimes it’s effortless, but you still have to breathe/create!

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Suzy Mehrer April 26, 2014 at 6:24 am

I think that for me I am at the point in my artistic journey to start experiencing some financial security. I always say that I didn’t chose to be a artist. It wasn’t a choice but rather it was just who I was and I realized that it was up to me to define where this path would lead. I quite my job 3 years ago and I had some money saved. But as we all know, sometime it doesn’t last forever. I work in my studio 5-7 days a week 5-10 hours a day. I feel I have diligently worked my art to the point where I am confident enough in what I do to take it to the next level, which for me is showing my work in a retail situation where my hope would be to make enough money so that I would not have to go back a ‘real job’. So I guess my biggest motivation comes from the fear of this. I can’t imagine having to leave my beautiful mountain art studio, my completely inspired and content existence, oh yea, and my puppy everyday to drive down the mountain to a big city to spend a entire day doing something I know I could never love near as much as what I am already doing. Every artists wishes this I suppose. The fear of this possibility has become a major driving force for me. It encourages me to work even harder then I already do!!!

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Dawn Hunt April 26, 2014 at 9:04 am

I have gleamed much from this blog post and reading the comments and replies. I often feel isolated in my studio practice and I have been actively seeking ways to stay connected and supported. I find the trifecta between these goals a constant ebb and flow and balance. I recently found myself off base from my own style and goals. Commission work, gallery shows, international shows had left me creating for my audience. I cleared the calendar last week and spent my time “art journaling”. I was able thru this loose intuitive process to remember what it is I have to say as an artist, how it is I approach my work, and finally rekindling a joy about what I do.

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Michelle Jones April 26, 2014 at 6:06 pm

I hear ya! Creating for an audience- or in my case a commission check, begins to fill unfulfilling after awhile and it’s easy to lose your true style and goals.

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Kathleen Hill April 29, 2014 at 6:11 am

Dawn, I totally agree with what you said. I have been art journaling for a long time. All I need to do is reread some of my entries and I can find my “true North” again easily!

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Gretchen April 26, 2014 at 10:40 am

Without making this too long, I think I can explain my feelings regarding this fairly easy. When I first began my pursuit of life as an artist, it was for me about artistic excellence, I wanted to not only feel good about what I did but also feel it was maybe not at the highest level I could achieve, I always continue to work at that but that it had artistic merit along with all the emotions I put into it.
Then I think after I’d been in quite a few shows, won some awards had some good confidence going I started wanting more recognition. Naively I believed when I moved to NYC following a divorce that because of the minimal recognition I already had, it would be not easy but a transition into the world of art and galleries and representation.
Here is when it became hell…….. I had no marketing skills, had no real gallery contacts, was working with zero balance continuously and all doors seemed closed.
So I took jobs, long hours still not enough money, always tired, intermittent art events, lack of supplies etc….
Frustration took hold and now I am at the point where I want to make $$$$…. I feel I know how to paint, the starving artist is very old to me and not at all fun and I no longer get motivated by rejection, I ask myself WHAT am I not doing that better things aren’t happening for me. People saying they “love” your work does not pay your bills or buy you canvas and paint. I look all the time for other venues, restaurants, bars, private businesses to show my work and keep pushing along even though it seems to be getting harder all the time.

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Judith Keefer April 26, 2014 at 10:56 am

Right now my primary motivation is just to get the pictures out of my head and onto paper.
But a very important secondary motivation is to increase the number of people who like my stuff
and like it enough to purchase it.

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Annie April 26, 2014 at 11:23 am

For me the #1 priority has been and always will be becoming a better painter, the work is always #1 then I think recognition and sales can go hand in hand, the more well known you are the more sales.

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Cathy Vigor April 26, 2014 at 11:59 am

I’ve really enjoyed reading all the responses. I have been creating art for many years and I realize there’s always more to learn. I taught school for many years (art and special education) and am now retired. I’m recognized as a regional artist and have been happy that my work paid for itself and my studio space. Now I’m motivated to expand my horizons. I’ve learned over the years what I don’t want to do. I love to exhibit. I want to work toward selling my work on line and though more galleries. To me the most important part is creating the work. I’m happy to have others do the selling part.

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Judith Keefer April 26, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Having now read (skimmed, anyway) the comments above & looked at a few of my fellow artists’ websites,
I have to say this is a most interesting & diverse & motivated group of people. I look forward to hearing more from each of you.

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Michelle Reid April 26, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Art has not changed for me. I am a storyteller. My art tells a story that I see through my minds eye. I don’t do it for money. I do it because it makes me alive. I have not sold many in the past I would give my art away. Since my heart attacks and surgery I have found myself needing to sell my creations. I know I need a promoter, agent but finding one, well, I am finding it to be impossible. You have to be referred by someone before an agent will even look at you. So, I do a lot of praying and hope that someone will share my site with others. Truly, if I had my way I would never sell anything I love my work and have a hard time giving it up once it is finished. I am in the middle of 3 commissioned painting at this time but they are so good I had a hard time letting the first 2 of them go. You can see them on my fine art America site if you would like. I often wonder if the great master had this problem…

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EdiNelson Ramirez April 26, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Although all three are very important to me,. I am now retired and on a limited income so finacial stability has become a priority. Not having to worry about money would enable me to completely focus on artistic excellance and futher develop recongnition, which in turn would enhance my financial stability.

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Michelle Jones April 26, 2014 at 6:04 pm

My motivation has changed over the years. I couldn’t make art without financial motivation in the past…but because it became my real job the financial and recognition areas were satisfied- and because my work was a commercial platform (murals, custom pieces, faux finishes), I lost a bit of Artistic Excellence along the way, and control over what I wanted to paint. Really- painting lettering on the side of a semi-truck is fulfilling on a paycheck level but not much else.

So, now I’m wanting to feed my soul by painting for my own self, and hopefully that work will resonate with an audience. I’m confident in my paintings, I’m confident in my dedication and perseverance based on my past history of beating challenging odds. Once I develop a body of work and understand the fine art/ gallery marketing field more, I feel I will be able to get all three areas- maybe initially out of balance but eventually in balance.

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B. D. James April 26, 2014 at 6:31 pm

I guess my primary motivation with art is to, eventually, gain some financial reward and to be respected as an artist.

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B. D. James April 26, 2014 at 6:34 pm

…caveat to my statement, as soon as I posted it: art is an inner release, to me, and I gain much pleasure in the doing- so another big motivation is to have my art as an outlet for my spiritual ‘voice’ or unspoken need to create.

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Deb Mongato April 26, 2014 at 6:36 pm

So many interesting comments here. I am just discovering why I paint, and I believe this “why” will evolve as I do as an artist. For now, I paint to satiate some intense need for clarity of who I am. There is a message I need to hear, to learn, to impart through this process of connecting with my art.

Of course, all those things you mention Jason are so important.

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Donna Williams April 26, 2014 at 9:04 pm

My initial motivation was completely Artistic Achievement. My desire was to explore my artistic/creative abilities. I still have much to learn and practice, but the more I expose myself to the arts the more I find fascinating so I know there will always be much to learn and practice. Now that I have had some positive experiences under my belt of creating pieces I am proud of that have been praised by customers and mentors I respect, I am ready to learn how to better price/market my jewelry.

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Brandie Butcher April 26, 2014 at 9:52 pm

I wish to do what I love, create my art. I have been doing this as much as I possibly can while balancing work outside the home to pay the bills. I want to structure a goal that when met, I will be sustaining myself solely through my artwork sales. Recognition is good as well. I have won awards that will look good on a resume. I am hoping they will help me in attaining this goal. That being said, I would have to say that consistent sales have to rank over recognition at this point… While lovely and validating, an award will not provide continued financial support.

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Cindy April 27, 2014 at 6:02 am

I do not know exactly why I must draw or paint. I do know I have always needed to learn as much as possible and to spend as much time as possible to be better at what I do. It is an internally driven motivation, whereas, I believe recognition and earning money are external forces. All of these are certainly factors in considering art as one’s life work. Art exhibits and shows are subjective determinants as far as recognition and sales go. Where one lives and the connections one makes within their own environment are, therefore, factors in the equation. It can be quite complicated, and one is left deciding just how much time can be afforded to the external motivators. I was not able to devote all of my time to being an artist. Being a part-time artist does not lend itself to great achievements over many years. Now I am playing “catch-up” so to speak and cannot determine where this path will take me in the time I have left. I am making progress albeit slowly. I must accept the fact that years were lost and I have no choice but to move forward. I am still primarily motivated by the desire to be better, while exploring some options. I know I can learn from others, be recognized by others, and make money from others. I have been disappointed by some of these, but not by what I can sometimes achieve.

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Leni Levenson Wiener April 27, 2014 at 8:40 am

Since it is too hard to do everything at once, for the past several years I have set a career goal for myself every year and focus on achieving that goal rather single-mindedly. I might focus one year on getting a contract for a book and completing the book; or experimenting with perfecting a new style, technique or even finishing methods. This year I set myself the goal of a solo museum show and am thrilled to say I have booked the venue and am busily working on the pieces for the show.

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Ann Baldwin May April 27, 2014 at 10:16 am

I am a long time quilter and a newer art quilter. I did my first art quilt in 2009. It won a merit award the next yr. So I was encouraged to continue. I am confident in my skills.I am focussed on developing
my resume by entering shows.
I have done 6 solo shows with the last one being in a highly coveted gallery in Santa Cruz,Ca.

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David Downs April 27, 2014 at 11:32 am

I paint to hone my craft. Money is always a perk, but as long as I can continue to paint I feel like I’m doing my job. In fact, just reading this I feel as though I’m taking valuable time away from my work. So, back to it.

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Nancy Ellen Walker April 27, 2014 at 12:01 pm

When I took up art about 5 years ago at the age of 60, I expected to be – and was – a hobbyist. I enjoyed creating art and learning the skills required to be competent in several media. Over time, that entry-level interest in art has morphed into striving for artistic achievement, particularly in the portraiture genre. I am passionate about creating portraits in a variety of media and organizing those works into themed shows such as “Faces of Poverty,” “Hats, Hijabs, and Chadors,” and “The Famous and the Infamous.” In my former fulltime career as an academic psychologist, I earned several awards for teaching, research, writing, and mentoring. Enjoying those accolades tells me that I’m also motivated by recognition. But, at this point in my life (with likely another 25 or 30 years to go), monetary gain is becoming a stronger and stronger motivator. Having additional income from my art will permit me to travel in order to meet interesting people who could serve as paid models for my portraits. For all of these reasons, my goal is to be an artist accomplished enough to merit representation by one or more respected galleries. Achieving the goal of gallery representation requires that I pursue excellence, earn some kudos along the way, and develop considerable business expertise – in other words, that I achieve a balance of the motivators Jason described. Whew! Really feels like a tall order.

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Sawyer Rose April 27, 2014 at 12:04 pm

At this point in my career I’m looking for a new gallery: I want to work much larger so I can spend more time on the details of a single piece. I want to find a gallery that can sell this larger (more expensive) work so I can afford to work this way. And, I’d of course like it to be a gallery with an aesthetic that I feel proud to be a part of.

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Bill Dill April 27, 2014 at 12:50 pm

The driving force behind my creativity is being able to enjoy my insanity and dissolve into my work unconsciously. The results are not always consistent, but very satisfying. I regret that the current physical limitations prevent me from pursuing other artistic expression other than painting. Yes, I want recognition and I want to eventually sell more of my work which also means I must increase productivity. Although I am well connected in the Dallas art society, I am not recognized as an artist. My next move, besides learning the business of art, is to compete in juried emerging artists exhibitions as well as get to know more of the gallery owners, the collectors and those artists exhibiting around the area. Increasing exposure and subsequently financial rewards are increasing in importance as I move further into retirement and enjoy the benefits of the art communities local and around the world.

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Jock Ireland April 27, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Jason, my primary motivation is artistic excellence. As you point out, there’s some overlap with recognition and monetary gain. There’s also some sense in which striving for recognition and monetary gain get in the way of artistic excellence.

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Dale Sparage April 27, 2014 at 7:29 pm

I’m sure I’m interested in achieving success in all three areas! With that said however, my area of concentration has continued to be Artistic Achievement, I think it’s because I believe that this is at the heart of achieving the other goals. If my work is not compelling, if I am not completely absorbed in my creative concepts and process and end result than how can I present my work to the world with integrity and pride?
My belief however is keeping from balancing the three areas and is probably the reason I have not sold more of my work or have not achieved my goal of exhibiting and publishing more.

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Ann Marie Bucchino April 27, 2014 at 8:25 pm

I have achieved recognition to a point in my immediate market. I continue to study and work toward artistic excellence, to explore techniques to help find my niche, if I am to find one. The majority of my motivation comes from making myself happy and producing a high quality piece of art that people will want. I hope to help educate the public about what quality art is and to reap the financial rewards that go along with producing recognizable quality art.

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Heather April 28, 2014 at 8:17 am

I am most driven to make something with my hands. That is where I have always found peace and pride. Once I found clay, (at 30), I found making things with my hands could be art and a new career. The first focus and most important, has been artistic excellence. Improvement. I have more focus now on recognition than ever before. I have received some, which has brought more opportunities to exhibit and teach, which has led to income. I don’t want money or fame. I want to make things with my hands and always be creating new opportunities.

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Judy Albright April 28, 2014 at 8:24 am

Thanks for this perspective, Jason! I have been painting for seven years and I think I spent the first six on trying to achieve skill and excellence in my artwork. Now I am moving toward a more focused, more meaningful body of work that expresses something bigger… not sure what yet. I am searching. Therefore I am seeking to study with certain artists who I admire and know I will learn from.
While that is going on I have been entering juried shows and have won a few awards recently. That is encouraging, but only a beginning. I do want to pursue that more, but I am holding back in some areas as I think that I still need to develop my body of work to a higher level of significance.
I am very interested in improving my marketing because getting out there is important to both exhibiting, selling and teaching (which I love).

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Barb Kielkowski April 28, 2014 at 8:55 am

I create my art because that’s what I love to do. I don’t want to get into production mode where I have to create art to fill an order, or mass produce only what someone else wants me to paint. I am happy with working toward artistic excellence, but at some point I would like to share my work on a more regular basis and ultimately sell it. Those are definitely not my driving factors to why I produce art, though. I hope I can always paint freely what I want to paint. Those pieces are always my best. When I try to recreate the same piece it never has the same feel.

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Dan Philips April 28, 2014 at 9:09 am

“What is the driving force behind your creativity at this stage of your career?” – - – hmmmm, good one.
At first, in 2012, it was the sheer energetic joy of making art again. I had ceased drawing and painting many years ago. I had come to accept (almost) that the art-creating part of me was dead and gone. So, I have been coasting on the complete high of creating again for about two years now.
Next is settling into themes I want to paint.
Have done homage studies, and Bajan interpretations, and now have looked back to the 1960′s to paint the 60′s whilst in *my* 60′s. Next will be JAZZ WOMEN, and then . . . then, I think, THE REAL WORLD – from my own pov . . . I think.http://danphilips.wix.com/artwork
https://www.flickr.com/photos/danphilips/sets/72157643036989435/

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Roslyn Ross-Hoffman April 28, 2014 at 9:18 am

My greatest frustration right now is finding
Outlets to sell my work. I love creating a painting but I am not emotional
Attached to it. I need to know how to approach gallery owners. I sell privately but
that is not enough.

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Tony Pachak April 28, 2014 at 9:45 am

I definitely strive for the balance of the three, however, the most important for me now is selling enough works to quit the day job so I can devote myself fully to getting as many good quality pieces out there.

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Kirk G. Forster April 28, 2014 at 10:01 am

Man, has this aspect of my artistic arc ever changed the last few years.

For many, many years of my early artistic pursuit, I was almost solely focused on my “unique artistic expression”, which was about as undefined as a cosmic nebulae. It was as ego driven and misunderstood as any ever has been. I reflect back on it now, and shake my head at the absolute silliness of it all.

I know now that the art will almost drive itself into its own definition, and that the actual DOING of it will be the guiding force for that definition. My motivation now is to DO, and put it out there for the public to partake, and hope that it finds an audience.

My secondary motivation would be to make a living as an artist, to support my family, to garner some sort financial security from said pursuit.

Hmm, financial gain AND recognition? Never heard those from an artist before….

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Sheree Nelson April 28, 2014 at 10:16 am

Wow! Motivation! What a great question Jason, so much to ponder.
Haha, in keeping with my lack of direction-this question becomes forefront! The ART itself is my motivation! It’s all I know, in some form or another. That doesn’t get me very far, does it?! Heaven forbid I should ever have to go into “witness protection”, because my need to create would be having the agents rippin’ up papers and movin’ me again! Financial security would be nice of course, but it rivals notoriety. The kind of notoriety that comes from 1 out of 100 people would say, “Oh, I’ve heard of her, or I have one of her creations”! Ultimately, if I delve deeper, when I create a piece, I just want people to smile! Sounds corny, but that is almost as rewarding to me than the purchase of the art!
Apparently, asking myself this question makes me feel motivationally blurred. I will definitely work on that more!
Thank you Jason for the boost!!
Sheree Nelson

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Mary Jean April 28, 2014 at 10:33 am

All three things- recognition, excellence and financial gain are all motivating factors for me. When someone likes one of my paintings enough to purchase it, it’s like getting paid to eat ice cream. I agree with Ron Kenedi that a painting isn’t complete until it’s observed and enjoyed by others.
Thanks from another non-starving artist! :)

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Laura McClanahan April 28, 2014 at 10:37 am

Hi Jason, I am working on all three, but mostly need help with the business side. I have one gallery representation that gives me a solo exhibition every other year. I have created space in my life to work this way more and I think I can handle at least two shows a year, perhaps more. I was teaching art and architectural design full-time for 17 years and left that BOX to work full-time as a professional artist. While teaching I was able to get an MFA degree over four summers at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) graduating in 2007. After that I was never able to put the time in I desired, so I decided to make the career change and go for it. So here I am listening to your advise with eagerness. Thank you, Laura

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Cindy Grisdela April 28, 2014 at 10:58 am

Defining success has been an issue for me from the beginning. It always seems to be a moving target–first it was creating a cohesive body of work, then it was getting into a show, then getting into a gallery, then getting into better shows, then winning an award–the goal is always changing. But maybe that’s not a bad thing because hopefully it means I’m growing as an artist. At this point, I’d really like to create a situation where I can make money by creating work that I love, selling it at shows, doing some writing, and possibly doing some teaching. I don’t think just selling the work at shows is going to give me the financial stability I’d like to have, although that would be nice!

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Elizabeth April 28, 2014 at 11:44 am

This is an interesting question. What is my primary motivation? Is it artistic excellence, recognition, or monetary gain/financial stability. I want all three. Yet, I have to know and understand on a visceral level that it is not possible to accomplish all three all at once. I think this is where I am. On the one hand, I would like to have some monetary gain from my efforts. On the other hand, I have liked the recognition I have achieved when my work is juried in to an art show. And yet, as a practical matter, I have spent a significant amount of time and energy in an attempt to achieve some level of competence and trust in my work. I have worked towards ‘finding my voice’ and have committed (to myself) to produce a new body of work over the next 14 months. This happened after working with a mentor to analyze my work to date looking for its strength. I’m thinking that once this current work is done, perhaps I will have more concrete ideas about achieving some monetary gain.

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Dave Berryman April 28, 2014 at 11:47 am

To be brutally honest, I am trying to find a way to make money doing what I do. I love making my pictures, and I love the attention it brings, but I find myself wanting to bring in a bigger, more international audience, and I desire to make money in the process; this way I can us the money to fund wells in Burkina Faso, Africa (see web site for more details), fund new equipment (camera gear, printer), and to fund travels to new places for more material to work on.

I look forward to learning more.

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Nancy April 28, 2014 at 12:01 pm

As an artist, my goal is primarily recognition. I view recognition as my artwork being desireable and people willing to spend money purchasing it. My desire is for museums and businesses to purchase my art.

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Yufen April 28, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Selling my art. It tell me: people love my art.

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Deborah Parks April 28, 2014 at 12:37 pm

I am fortunate to have the time and money to just focus on my art now. Having sacrificed over twenty-five years on the “8-5″ I am ready to bring so many ideas to light. My priority is completing a series of drawings from which I hope to gain recognition primarily. With recognition I believe I can then start to market my art which should lead to some monetary gain. All the while I will concentrate on the continuation of artistic excellence.

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Simona Counts April 28, 2014 at 1:03 pm

For me it all started 9 years ago with the revelation that “Hey, I can do that!” Something that began as a hobby turned to be more alluring than imagined, so I started walking the learning path – studying, training, trying new technics, etc., a natural evolution of things. A few years down the road that led to recognition of my work by other people. Recognition brought on sales. So it is almost logical to think that one goal leads to another and in the end the motivation is to 1) always get better at what I’m doing, 2) get the recognition I desire, and 3) establish a fluid income from something I really enjoy doing. I can’t really decide if any one of these goals is more important than the other, so I will continue to focus on all three at the same time. However, I find it more and more challenging to balance the time between doing my craft and at the same time doing all the activities associated with marketing. I do not enjoy as much the business tasks that do not involve creativity, but they must be done and I do them without complaining. I learned along the way that success does not happen overnight and it requires hard work. I also understood that things don’t always work out the way we expect. Making mistakes is inevitable, but I always try to focus on solutions and not on regrets. I learn from each experience and experiment to improve on any success I have. In the recent years I have had a few accomplishments that I am very proud of, but as we all know, the desire to always fly higher is written in our genes…

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Peggy Wright April 28, 2014 at 1:50 pm

I have been a fiber artist for many years, but mostly I have done the work for my own pleasure. For the past 20 years, I have been making a living as a writer and editor. From about 2002 to 2007, I also taught a craft nationally and designed and sold kits in addition to working 30 hours per week. I was extremely burned out at the end of that time.

I have always been concerned about artistic excellence, but financial stability is a main driver now. I was laid off in 2008, and the economic collapse has left me struggling. Because of my age, I found it difficult to find a new full-time job, and now I probably never will. I have been working as a freelancer for the past 5 years, but finding enough work is a constant struggle. I have to admit that it’s partly because I don’t want to spend the time to do enough marketing to work 90 hours per week. I would have to give up making art if I did so. I would rather work at marketing my art.And given a choice of what to do, I would rather make art than write and edit. Last summer, I applied for social security early, which helps. I will continue to do what writing and editing I can find, but I need to earn some income from my art as well.

I been making art quilts now for only a few years. I find that I am putting all the knowledge I have gained over the years into that art and am working hard to establish a body of work, the lack of which I know is a barrier to selling in galleries. I want to share my work by showing it, and to that end, I recently joined WARM, Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota, and showed with them during the St Paul Art Crawl this past weekend. I will be in another show with them in May.

My freelance work as an editor and writer is erratic, and sometimes, I have to work long hours to get something finished, but I have been trying to make art every day. I am doing better with that goal. I also have been reconsidering all of my activities to see what I can cut to make art a priority.

I really like the work I have been doing lately, which is small, and plan to work larger in the near future.

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Linda Moore April 28, 2014 at 5:00 pm

I love to create and while I feel I can improve on my talent that does not drive me. My secret motivation is that I like to be recognized for my work. The financial gain is nice but not a motivating factor for me. Although I want to be sure that I am not underselling my pieces as I fear I am now.

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Buff McAllister April 28, 2014 at 5:06 pm

I create art because I have to. Even if nobody saw or bought a single piece, I would still create art — the best, most inspiring, most beautiful thing that I possibly can. That said, I want recognition and money, too. In fact, recognition and money go hand in hand. Like it or not, our society uses money as a means of recognition. As others said in the last post about confidence, I too wonder if my work stands up in the company of other works in the same category. A sale vindicates my belief in my work and increases my confidence, leading to more productive work. (I’m talking about my real work here, not the scarves and placemats that I churn out for craft fairs.) Yes, I’d like to make money at art, and do less law work.

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Joanne Shellan April 28, 2014 at 5:14 pm

My goals have changed over my fifteen years as a painter. Growing up in a family retail business, I was trained from an early age “how to retail” so it came naturally to me to apply the same to my art business. From the beginning, barely wet behind the ears, I began selling my work and setting up shows. Now fifteen years later and still suffering from that damnable recession, my work is so much better, sells for so much higher and I’m in fancier galleries but sales have slowed to a glacial pace. Now I focus on becoming the best painter I can become and looking for different ways to get my art out in the world especially ones that can help the world in some way.

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Shirley Carter April 28, 2014 at 5:21 pm

My first priority, I think, is obtaining artistic excellence followed by a desire that others (on both a local and national level) see and appreciate my artwork. Of course, too, I’d love that my artwork produce a nice income for me.

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Anne Smyers April 28, 2014 at 5:55 pm

I would say that a combination of the three motivates me. I love the making of the art for itself and the pleasure it gives me; but I want others to see it and respond to it, and I’m not there yet, but I sure would like to make some money at it.

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Christopher Gendron aka ARTmuffin April 28, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Just recently joined your online course…my assignment is to post my “primary motivation at this stage of my art career”. My motivation started purely because I love to draw and paint, and has turned into doing that same thing and getting paid more than enough to live off of. I want to be an artist that creates what he enjoys and is rewarded for that, be it monetarily ( a prime motivation) or otherwise. I know I’ll continue to sit in this studio and create what I love no matter what. I’m just trying to be more focused on a few project themes that will hopefully support me financially as an indie artist doing what he loves. I know some of my stuff is a smaller niche market, but I’m also working on a second market of linocut work that I’m hoping will also be of interest to the “general” public. I’ll always be doing my own work and adding my style to everything I do, but I’m learning to spread my own style across several different kinds of media. I’m hoping this pays off! It seems to be coming around here and there.

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Deborah Butterfield April 28, 2014 at 10:32 pm

I have given this question a lot of thought since first reading it this morning, knowing that I would respond tonight. As I reflect upon how I worked today (which is how I work when I work), I find I am about 65% Artistic Achievement, 30% Monetary Gain/Financial Stability and 5% Recognition. Awards are nice – and I would continue my work if I never received another one. I am not even looking to see if there is a bar or how high it is – I just do what I do and if it is well received that is great. However, if I didn’t feel like I was achieving something and/or growing as an artist, I would lose interest (that is why I gave up coloring in color books and paint-by-numbers). Likewise, if there wasn’t a market for my work, I wouldn’t continue to invest time, energy & money in this direction. I have a strong business mind and common sense, so while artistic pursuits are vital to me, I would find another one if it wasn’t rewarding or lucrative. As I reflect further, I think if it was merely lucrative, I would also lose interest – it woudl become boring and meaningless. That is probably why I don’t get artistically excited about commissions. I find the more the customer is involved in the process, the less motivated I am.

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Margit April 28, 2014 at 11:20 pm

My barometer of success with my art is “does it sell?”. I love the recognition, because it feels good, but if my art doesn’t sell, then I want to move on to create something else. I am not motivated to create things for a specific market, as it is vital for me to create what is yearning to come out of me…my heart…my being. For example, it does not interest me to create functional things just because I might sell a few. I desire to create one-of-a-kind unusual/unique pieces that cause people to self-reflect a little. If I come up with a “bread & butter” series of pieces, I still have to love creating them as I create them and not dread the time spent in the task. Bottom line for me: financial stability AND loving what I create while I’m creating it.

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Kathleen Hill April 29, 2014 at 6:20 am

As I developed over the years as an artist, I began to realize the implications of an art career. There needed to be a balance of all of the areas to be successful. I think it was easier to stay balanced before social media came on the scene.
It has become much too distracting, even though it is very helpful for marketing. Currently I feel a huge need to return to the art and work on the “artistic excellence” circle!

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GalleryMOM April 29, 2014 at 7:14 am

As a Non-Profit Arts Administrator, my goal with the limited time I have is just to create ‘good art’ when I can. I have found creative ways to do this and make extra money by being my best example to others, experimenting, using social media for promotion and taking full advantage of my resources. I am constantly marketing my product, using my product and SHARING my product with those who will further promote and market for me. Volunteering and networking have proven very successful for me.

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Jennie Becker April 29, 2014 at 9:32 am

As an artist I have had success by shifting the core of my work and applying it to various artistic processes in meeting expectation for art commission and sales in the mid-west. My ceramic work is in porcelain and I am very painterly with the glazes, yet the forms hold a constant delicacy whether it’s a public/private mural installation or a decorative bowl, platters, etc. I also paint in oils with a similar feel as the ceramic work. At this point in my career I would like to better connect with markets beyond the mid-west. I travel a lot and can recognize that I have had financial success. At this point I would like to expand my exposure.

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Kathleen Fowler April 29, 2014 at 10:25 am

I want paid recognition as I continue to hone my skills day and night. I guess that means I am becoming more balanced. I used to create for my own satisfaction and the expression it enabled me to create. Then I entered and won a few awards and spent more money entering shows and the like to be rejected by one jurist and given tops by another for the same piece! I absolutely love the sale of my art. Nothing satisfies me more than to connect with a patron on the emotional level of sharing my noncommissioned creations.

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Susan Elle April 29, 2014 at 10:47 am

The overlapping circles illustrate my motivations. My art has been a business for 3 years. The award winning motivation is becoming less important because I receive great recognition when someone reaches into their pocket and buys a painting.

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Viki Horat April 29, 2014 at 10:57 am

Wow, my head is spinning. Where to start. I feel I have been through 25 years of an artists life in 25 minutes! I have experienced all the emotions, problems, joys, and conundrums that have been discussed above. My art has moved forward. I need to move forward. I am looking for gallery representation that will help take some of the burden of marketing off my plate so that I can spend more time keeping my inventory at an appropriate level. These days that is my constant problem. I have done the fair circuit, exhibited in public places, entered shows, shown my work in small neighborhood galleries, even exhibited in a museum, now I just want to find a nurturing gallerist that I can turn my mailing and collector list over to and spend more time in the studio while they sell my work. Is this even possible?

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Melody Sears April 29, 2014 at 11:24 am

Artistic excellence tops all, certainly. Recognition is also nice, but in my mind being able to afford to do what I love is becoming increasingly important. With a limited income and living in rural NM, I find it financially difficult to attend all the shows I’ve been juried into, or join other artists on paintouts in distant areas with the plein air groups I belong to, or attend an occasional workshop, or continue to frame my work in the way I think it deserves. I’m not looking to get rich with my art, but I want to find a way to make it affordable, which will in turn help me improve my work. It all hinges on increased sales.

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Seth April 29, 2014 at 10:17 pm

Greetings!
How’s things? Defining my success as an artist is a two-part answer. There would be the financial success, generating enough abundance to allow for the work to come from a state of pure being. Of not having the unconscious thought of survival creeping into the conscious thought of creativity. Then there is the success one feels when completing the mere task of a finished piece. The knowing that through the use of my talent and inanimate materials a transformation of spiritual growth and personal satisfaction was achieved. It is the latter I find most rewarding, unfortunately that doesn’t put food on the table, let alone organic food. Thanks and have a great day! Excelsior!

Good things!
Seth

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Seth April 29, 2014 at 10:33 pm

That would be subconscious thought of survival, I must have been unconscious when I typed my reply! Good things!

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Alison Saunders April 30, 2014 at 12:09 am

My current motivation is to produce work of a high standard to be sale-able, but my long term goal is those sales. Along that path i would like to achieve recognition!

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Sara Drescher Braswell April 30, 2014 at 5:37 am

I think my definition of success as an artist is primarily based on the creating, but the recognition and money are a close second and third. I want my art to matter and also to be something that inspires others, but I like to eat and travel and pay my bills. :)

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sue bleiweiss April 30, 2014 at 6:23 am

I spent most of my 20’s and 30’s climbing the corporate ladder striving to get the corner office and when I did realized it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be so I walked away from it all in search of a way of life that was more satisfying and joyful. Since then I’ve refined my dyeing techniques, found my artistic voice, authored several books, numerous magazine articles, been juried into several international shows and been award ribbons for my work. I love being in the studio everyday and I think at the core of it all, the reason why I do what I do is that it makes me happy and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Would I like to sell more of my art – of course, who wouldn’t?! But there are a couple of things that seem to be in my way. First I’m just not sure how to position my artwork in a way that it appeals to a potential buyer or how to find that potential buyer. And second, my work is done in cloth, not painted on canvas so how do I get a potential gallery to treat it as fine art and not as a “quilt” that hangs on the wall.

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Susie Gadea April 30, 2014 at 8:40 am

Why choose? I want/need them all Creative Excellence, Tons of Money and International Recognition.
Anyhow, they feed off each other: creating every day requires money, a large body of work contributes to excellence and therefore to recognition which in turn should translate –at least in theory– into abundance. Those 3 are inseparable!

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Roopa Dudley May 1, 2014 at 10:08 am

Love your analysis. I agree 100% Susie.

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Judy Dunn April 30, 2014 at 12:53 pm

I am glad you used a Venn diagram, Jason, to illustrate your point, because there definitely is overlap between these areas. I am reminded of the spinning disks of color on my Google tablet when I start it up. They move in and out, from white to distinct colors. Sometimes these things are all a part of what I am doing, and at other times one area seems to need more attention than the others. Right now it seems that the financial aspect is the area that needs the most help. Generating more consistent sales is a goal I have right now. But, it does not take away from my desire to continually improve my work, and have my work be seen and recognized.

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Sara Johnson April 30, 2014 at 1:27 pm

I strive for the “WOW” factor, thrive on the praise, and of course, appreciate the sales., but sadly, the need for income has become a bit more consuming lately. Thank you for this reminder to maintain balance! I’m finding that creating art out of necessity takes a bit of the love out of the equation and it feels more like work. Don’t tell anyone I said that though.

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Roopa Dudley May 1, 2014 at 10:06 am

It is the labor of love. At least we get to do what we are born to do and not what we are told to do. Keep the faith Sara.

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Mary Montgomery April 30, 2014 at 2:20 pm

The TriFecta that’s what I want. I’d like to achieve creative excellence, recognition and money, not necessarily in that order at all times. But certainly all three in my present day life. I work hard. I’ve sacrificed much. I’m always willing to share with those who want to learn and give back to the greater community. Not everyone feels that way.

I understand and appreciate the business side of art. I feel that In the art world just as in the corporate arena many are called few are chosen I know that I still have a lot to learn, what I want more than anything else is a fair shot.

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Karen Iacovetta April 30, 2014 at 4:09 pm

I make art because I am not happy unless I do. I try to do the best work I can. Profit doesn’t motivate me. I go in the hole. In the future, my goal is to make a little money at it, but if I don’t, I will continue making art.

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christine norris April 30, 2014 at 6:20 pm

I would love to be able to support myself financially with my artwork but realistically my main motivation is to paint because I love to paint and to continue to gain experience and better my skills.

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Meg Breiter April 30, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Jason, I have to say that at this time my primary motivation is ‘artistic achievement. I love to create Art. I love detail, but I am trying to create more sponteneity and freedom in my art. However, I realize that marketing is a very important part of the process, and this is where I need help. I am looking forward to the next step in this journey. Thanks, Meg

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Debbie April 30, 2014 at 8:56 pm

We are a husband and wife team who create stained glass mosaics together. Larry was recently diagnosed with PMA Progressive Muscle Atrophy aka atypical ALS. He stopped working at the beginning of this year and I opened a booth inside the Pittsburgh Public Market with my daughter called Jenn’s Jems.

When Larry was a young man his father had died and a friend asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up and he replied, “an artist.” The friend told him that you can’t make a living doing art so Larry became an engineer. Larry is now able to devote his time to being an artist and he enjoys creating. Larry’s disease effects his hands so he does what he can I fill in the detail work.

So the question was, what is your motivation at this time. We enjoy creating art and have sold several pieces and have done some custom work. We are able to sell our less expensive smaller pieces rather easily but we really enjoy creating the more expensive large art pieces as well as custom work and we are trying to find those buyers.

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Elizabeth Bamberger May 1, 2014 at 4:43 am

Jason, the diagram you drew illustrates the dilemma nicely. It’s all connected. Yes, it would’ve be very nice to sell, but to do that, people have to recognize you as an artist, and they won’t do that until you hunker down in the studio and do enough work to become, hopefully, a good artist. For me, at present, just becoming a mature artist, with confidence that I have found my artistic voice, has to be the priority; recognition by others helps to increase that confidence, and selling would be the icing on the cake. One thing I have found is that small pieces of art provide a good opportunity to test and push my skills, and people seem to like them; maybe offering small pieces for sale would be a good start, while
Putting most of my focus on working in the studio.

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Mindy Dennis May 1, 2014 at 6:24 am

I just want to start by saying I’m so glad that I found you online…it’s comforting. I have been an artist now for about 20 years and always being interested in it I never thought about ever doing it for an income. I got into doing mosaics by just trying it and fell in love with it but since then I’ve moved into painting and refinishing furniture and so many other things. I’ve participated in gallery showings, shows etc and everyone loves what I do but can’t seem to keep a flow of money coming in. I was fortunate to decide to do my art full time for about a year now but I’m getting discouraged because I’m not making the money I thought I would with devoting all my time to art. My problem is you need money to make money and I don’t have a lot of money to invest in my passion so I feel trapped and frustrated. I have so many great ideas and organizations I want to start to help others and get my name out there but my hands are tied not having the funds. So right now my main interest is how I can generate and income. I donate a lot of my work for charities and want to continue to do that because it’s so important to me. Art is my life and I’m desperate for help and advice on how I can continue to do this for my career. Thank you

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Bill Rodgers May 1, 2014 at 9:50 am

Feedback: My primary reason for taking landscape photographs is the sheer joy I derive from capturing magnificent light in magnificent landscapes. Sharing with an audience of one is rather pointless, so I also enjoy sharing my photos with friends, and the enjoyment they seem to get from an especially dramatic image. Remuneration being one of the highest forms of praise, I am also interested in actually selling (instead of giving away) my prints. A few extra bucks here and there would be nice, and I would enjoy building a second (retirement) career as a noted and well compensated landscape photographer, as long as it remains fun and continues to bring me joy.

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Roopa Dudley May 1, 2014 at 9:58 am

My ultimate goal is to be a “World Famous Chess Painter”. I kept my goal this high so that I cannot slack off, become complacent and be satisfied with a few sales every now and then. I am relentless and obstacles in my path makes me even more resolute to succeed. I have heard NO so many times in my life that I have developed and immunity to it and move on to knock at another door. Surprisingly, many doors have opened up over the years and have welcomed me in a warm and receptive way. I love studying art history (have a degree in it) and made it a point to do so every chance I get. The common element I find in any major artist’s success is not just their vision, but also their singularity of purpose, persistence and a firm resolve to succeed. In other words ‘Will to Power’. That is such an exciting concept to me along with another one that deals with ‘it is the end that justifies the means’. Everyday brings me closer to my ultimate goal in fulfilling my destiny and that keeps me creating more and more.

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Jolene Scott May 1, 2014 at 11:48 am

My goal is to successfully build collectors of my art work. To be able to constantly be moving pieces off my walls and into new homes. In the beginning I painted for the sheer joy and the joy it put on others faces. I moved from that level into the recognition stage.
A true dream is to be painting for a living. I know it will be hard but I believe I can do it. I just have to remember to be patient! I still paint for the love of it…..I believe that you should truly pick a job in life that you love and enjoy. If you can find that you will find success.

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Denise Van Balen May 1, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Thank you for this site! It’s comforting to be in touch with someone that can help and answer questions. My motivation for creating encompasses all three, but the top priority is sales. So I am ready to do what ever it takes to be a successful!

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Deb Leilani Parks May 1, 2014 at 7:01 pm

i want to be technically excellent and i want my work to be artistically good enough to make people stop physically and mentally and look
i also want to inspire people to tell me the stories my photos evoke from them
realistically i need to make money

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Sharon May 1, 2014 at 7:06 pm

I have always felt a real need to create. It has taken many different avenues over the years but at this time I think I am striving for excellence in painting. The recognition is also important. I like to sell my art but financial security seems to be a long shot. So I guess excellence, growing, and recognition through shows, gallery representation, and competitions are important to me. Selling is a bonus.

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Cheryl Pettigrew May 1, 2014 at 7:34 pm

I am constantly working on my art. I have entered shows and have had my work in exhibitions but much of that was before I came to the level of painting I am doing now. I still seek opportunities to show my work and have an exhibition in September at a local gallery. I have had several pieces published and am still working toward this end. I must admit I struggle with the financial side of art. Living in a small town with limited transportation, I believe, has impeded my progress in this area. Because of this I have had to rely a lot on the internet for large scale exposure but have seen little financial gains.

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Mindy Dennis May 2, 2014 at 6:05 am

I’m extremely motivated and more determined than ever now that I’m doing my artwork full time, that is why I’m seeking your help. I’ve been an artist for 20 years and really would like to get advice from professionals. I tend to get discouraged because of course money is a factor and income is not consistent but hopefully I can learn more about that.

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Fran Dodd May 2, 2014 at 8:47 am

Jason – Tough question! After finishing art school I thought I was ready to hit the gallery market, but learned that art school taught nothing about the career of an artist. Many workshops and private study later, I entered the gallery scene and artistic excellence was secondary to selling, selling, selling! And I did. As the years went by I started entering important shows and learned that artistic excellence was extremely important so it became my primary concern. It has remained my primary motivation throughout my career, during changes in direction and genres. As an older, and wiser artist, recognition would be very appreciated as well as monetary gain. So I guess, there needs to be a balance among all three factors. However, artistic excellence needs to be the overriding consideration for me.

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Korey Averill May 2, 2014 at 8:59 am

Although artistic achievement is always an underlying motivation for me, financial stability is my primary motivation right now. I am a work-at-home mom, as long as I can make enough income at home to stay that way. I would prefer, of course, to make money doing something I love. The alternative is something I did for too much of my life. I want not only to follow my passion and make money doing it, but to set a positive example for my son. I want him to know that he can do what he loves. He doesn’t have to grow up and go to work doing something that will slowly kill him and rob him of his soul and his happiness. It is bliss to have a career that feeds me (and my family occasionally). Pottery does that for me.

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Anne Muñoz May 2, 2014 at 11:24 am

I’ve been through many of the ups and downs of being an artist. Finding the confidence in myself, and wanting recognition to boost that confidence and sales to say what I’m doing is worth something to others. Now, though, it’s the art, the creating that I crave. If I go very long without chunks of time in my studio I get cranky. I have a good size body of work and regularly exhibit in juried shows. But I have too many pieces. It has been hard to let go of some of them. Just reading these comments and Jason’s advice has made me realize that selling, letting go, is okay. Now I would love to sell and reduce my inventory and replace it with fresh pieces. I feel like these works need to go out in the world and find new homes. I do feel successful as an artist, that I can express what I want in my preferred medium but sales have not been a priority. Now I would truly like to sell, to share my vision and my joy with my work. That’s the first time I’ve admitted to myself that I have held on to some pieces too long and it feels very freeing to think about letting these pieces go.

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David J. Holland May 2, 2014 at 1:00 pm

My primary motivation has out of necessity become to sell enough of my work to be financially stable enough to keep my job as a full time artist. The benefits of being full time seem to compound as I go along both in the quality and quantity of the works I’m able to complete. I’ve been making art for more than 20 years but always had another job until 3 years ago and more than anything I don’t want to go back to being a part time artist. Recognition is great, but it doesn’t pay the bills and I think most every artist is always striving to better their skills in the studio and put out the best work they can at whatever stage of their career they find themselves.

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DeborahART May 2, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Artistic Achievement is 90% of my motivation right now, I am so lucky that I have other means of financial support for now. Recognition is about 10%….but mainly I want to develop my abilities now, and the recognition and $$ I can worry more about later…I know how lucky I am to do my art without having to worry about the $$$.

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Kimberly McCormick May 2, 2014 at 5:44 pm

My motivation has always been an unquenchable desire to create. I can’t live without it, it’s what I was born to do. It may frustrate me at times and my perfectionism gets in the way but I am never happier than when I am creating something (whether it’s through painting, dancing, writing or decorating). Nothing gives me the same sense of accomplishment. Recognition and praise makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and it’s very validating but it’s never been my biggest motivator. On the other hand nothing brings me greater joy than to touch someone’s heart by creating something specifically for them…that’s a huge motivator. In the past whatever financial gain I’ve managed to achieve through my art has been icing on the cake but now that I am older and my kids are almost grown I am feeling pressure from myself to contribute more financially. I am at a point where I need to make more money through my art or go back into corporate america. Either way I won’t ever stop creating…it’s in my blood.

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Simrat May 3, 2014 at 8:23 am

My driving force is a combination of the three factors. Showing them as a venn diagram is very helpful, as I can think about the balance of these factors. At this point, my focus is on the financial stability side, as that will allow me to create more art.

There is another factor … getting my art into the right hands, those that will enjoy it. I believe that every piece has someone out there for it. The key is finding that person, that audience. I suppose that can fall into the recognition circle, but to me it’s more about communication. And a side benefit is that the work leaves my studio, and my attention can be put to more creation.

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Ron Escudero May 3, 2014 at 10:51 am

I have been an artist for 50 years. I was lucky to live in Los Angeles where there were lots of opportunities to work as an artist. From studios that produced sofa paintings to working in the sign scene and pictorial union painting billboards where the money was great and there was plenty of work if you had the right stuff. The up side was the money and
relationships with other artists who were happy to share their knowledge with the new kid on the block and that was invaluable. The down side was you were more of a craftsman like a trade that copied other peoples art instead of your own but again it was a good living. It was a great place to start and learn how to sling paint by the gallon. Mixing colors and learning from artists who came to Los Angeles from all parts of the world was a wonderful education.
But also being an artist who wanted to create my own work I painted on my own at home every night learning by
copying old masters and selling on the weekends in gallery row street shows. Also attended two years of community college in fine arts major while I was working.
But the billboard painted by artists dried up with the advent of printing those big signs by machines and the artists who worked most of their lives were now out of work. Including your truly. Luckily I was retired and decided to return to college and spent a couple of years at en Ivy League college getting more art instruction.
I continued to do my own studies copying old masters determined to learn the secrets of their work honking that if I could emulate the work of great artists like Rembrandt and DaVinci I could sell and make good money.
But you can’t get into art shows copying old masters no matter how good they were.
I’ve met a lot of great artists in my life and they inspired me to continue to strive for artistic excellence and one thing I learned from them is this. The most important thing to selling art is who you know and who they know. Striving to be the best is a good thing but knowing the right people is better. That’s how you get ahead, there’s a million artists some good some not so good but it seems the ones who sell are the ones that know the right people. And so if you convince the right people you have the right stuff then you will have all three of the circles.
Anyway that can be a good motivator for someone out there who’s wondering how to do it.

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Ron Escudero May 3, 2014 at 10:55 am

Regardless of what I said in the earlier post I still bought Jason’s book because one thing you should never stop doing is learning something new.

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Jacky Garlock May 3, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Jason,
My Main motivation at this point is the “IDEA”. When I think of an idea, a direction, or plan. When this comes to me, I can’t wait to go to work. I have made art to sell and I have made some money so I know what that feels like and I know that the “reward” isn’t the amount that someone paid for my work but the fact that they parted with their hard earned money to own something I have done (that is not to say that I am cheap). I still need some of that to go on because the work just stacks up waiting for an exhibit somewhere, and at times I wonder what the point of it all is. HOWEVER the main motivation is still the vision and the thrill of the execution – second is what to do with the pile of work to give the effort some meaning. Thanks!

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Diane Davis May 3, 2014 at 1:21 pm

My motivation is the love for what I do. My goal is financial freedom and recognition as an artist.

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Malia Shields May 3, 2014 at 1:29 pm

My primary motivation… hmmm. I’d have to go with the creating of work itself, followed by the appreciation of people who connect with it and the sales. I find myself now wanting to be supported by my work and not entirely sure how to make it a stable income source… so I suppose that is why I am here, reading your blog :) Thank you!

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Leslie Toms May 3, 2014 at 2:52 pm

One day I googled myself to see what was out there on the net. Much to my dismay, I discovered that 2 paintings that I felt were very strong had been auctioned off 3 days before for pennies on the dollar. No one had attempted to contact me about their current worth. There was no information about me connected to the items on the auction site despite my website being easy to find, galleries that could have been contacted. There they were . . . sold for pennies on the dollar. Had I know I would have re-purchased them. The frames were worth more than what the buyer had paid for the paintings. This made me realize . . . how do I build my legacy as an artist? Well even the works of well known artists end up in flea markets, attics and the like. I want to create art that has value, both to the public and myself. Too many artists work think about their works of art as “worth” a certain dollar amount. So if they do 20 paintings they are worth “X”. I want to be successful as a painter . . . yes I love when they sell or someone writes to me about how much they love my work. I don’t just want to decorate the walls of America. I want to sell because there is something in my work that patrons want to collect.

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Jason Horejs May 5, 2014 at 12:58 pm

I can only imagine the sting you must have felt seeing your paintings auctioned of that way. Don’t allow the ignorance of some to frustrate your pursuits.

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Sheri Liebschner May 3, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Jason and all–I guess I have a good combination going on right now of pursuing artistic excellence, seeking recognition, and selling. I started with simply creating art from the time I was a child inspired by my Mom who painted, took classes, and entered a few local shows as she was able to. Occasionally, in high school and college, I did drawings for the school newspaper and created logos for organizations I was involved in. I didn’t do much with art for years as I pursued other interests and careers, but started studying art again when I took a job and moved near a university. I took both casual adult education classes and regular college classes as I could afford them and fit them into my schedule. When I moved back to my small hometown, I painted at home and entered a few local shows winning a couple awards. My last regular job was as a courtroom attorney which took a toll on me physically and mentally. I eventually left in June, 2011 and literally fell into the bigger art world. A friend suggested I show my work to a museum gallery, they accepted it and I found that my work began to sell. As the economy has improved, I began to sell more and realized I needed to paint more to keep up my inventory. I also realized that other artists had websites and were promoting their work, so I got a website and began slowly putting my work out there on the site and on Facebook. Over time, I began to see that more and more people were reading my blog, so I have increased my contributions to that over time. I paint landscapes and still lifes in an impressionist sort of style which does sell, so I am able to do both the type of work I love doing and work that sells at the same time. I paint because I love to paint. It is a bonus to make money selling my work, although I find setting an appropriate price for each piece can be challenging. You must not only account for your supplies, frames, time, commission, and really, education, but also make your work affordable–not only so you benefit, but also so someone who loves your work would not be prevented from having and enjoying it due to too high a price. As for recognition, I enjoy sharing my work and my “adventures in painting” with others. My blog has started to resemble a comedy at times. I even have a page on my website called “The Kitchen Studio” which is a picture of the very small corner of my kitchen by the window where I paint in front of the microwave. I enter some shows, and winning awards is nice, but not a huge source of motivation for me. Being among other artists and those who appreciate art at opening receptions is rewarding and fun, though. So that is my life as an artist–and balance has developed over time.

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Jason Horejs May 5, 2014 at 12:56 pm

I admire your courage to leave a career that was not bringing you joy. It sounds like you are having success in the art world, and more importantly doing something which brings you happiness.

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Barbara May 3, 2014 at 6:20 pm

I will always continue my pursuit of excellence and spend time perfecting my style.
I have had recognition in shows and competitions and that is less of a priority for me now.
I think it is more important to me now to produce and get gallery representation that will become a stable income source.

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Kendra Broome May 3, 2014 at 7:45 pm

I apologize in advance it I have repeated post. I seem to be having technical difficulties. I love to have the time and freedom to create my own art, but the majority of the time I am painting for others. Artist for hire you might say. It’s been that way for years. My driving motivation is to become financially stable, so that I can focus on my own creative imagination. I want to hone my skills and explore more. I can’t do so if I am constanly being hired for small jobs to pay the bills. I have so many creative ideas stored in my head that has yet to make it on canvas or whatever form I want it to be. Recognition I think should come once your well established.

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Kim Riner May 3, 2014 at 7:54 pm

I think my motivation is a balance of all three. I desire the time to hone my craft, but recognition & gallery representation will allow me the time to do just that.

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Danila Rumold May 4, 2014 at 7:11 am

For the past thirteen years I have concentrating on artistic excellence and the desire for artistic recognition. Now that I have had some success with exhibiting and selling my work, I am ready to take the next big step which is to believe I can make a living as an artist who is financially stable.

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Larry Simons May 4, 2014 at 8:50 am

My primary motivation for making art is definitely the sheer love of creating. When people comment about what fun it must be I want to explain that it is something that goes much deeper, something I have to do. The energy that I burn, the questions that I answer in the deep state of concentration and focus I’m in while working just aren’t described by the word fun. While I am compelled to do it, I no longer struggle with the frustration I felt when I was much younger. I may not know where I’m going with a piece when I begin it but I find my direction easily and I seem to know when it’s finished. I tweak the little things that irritate me until I’m satisfied. All of this took years, decades really and secondly I enjoy the praise of those who like my work. It is particularly gratifying when they choose to buy or commission a piece but I would go on doing what I’m doing without it. My experience tells me that I don’t need to tailor my work for commercial purposes. There are people out there who are willing to buy it. I just want to find a bigger audience.

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Carole Devine May 4, 2014 at 8:58 am

I probably have many years ahead since my mother is still here in her mid-nineties, and grandmother passed over in her mid-nineties, so I have to find an additional career to keep me out of trouble. So much needs to be expressed and only art can do the job adequately.

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isabelle May 4, 2014 at 9:08 am

I see the balance between those 3 aspects as a wheel, each one feeding the others. Same circles but with arrows in beetween: If i increase excellence, logically i will be more recognized, and logically i should be able to sell more. If I do sell my paintings, chances are that they are not too bad. They might not be recognized by the museum curators and artdealers as hip and/or controversial enough, but that is an area i have little power on anyway.
Most painters i know strive for the excellence, because being artist is seldom a choice, it is a life path we are on. Most of us want to grow, to improve, always.
Meanwhile, to be able to work on it, to spend time doing it, to buy our supplies, to pay the rent, we must be able to sell our work, so this is an area that needs to be addressed. Having an unrelated full-time job on the side often kills the artistic drive.
Plus, when we sell a piece of artwork, we cannot deny it is pleasurable, not only because of the $, but also because it is a form of recognition.

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Elizabeth May 4, 2014 at 9:18 am

Main motivation: highest skill level possible combined with a personal experience of spirited animation. Trying to please myself to the point where I can get behind the pieces and advocate for them with great strength.

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Bhavna May 4, 2014 at 9:27 am

For years I have painting and creating art for the shear enjoyment and self- expression. With a plethora of paintings in every corner of my home, I have now come to a point where I want to share my work on a broader scale. I love it when people visit my studio and enjoy the art on so many different levels.
The joy of expression will never subside but now my main focus is showing my work in a gallery setting and becoming financially stable within this arena. This will serve two purposes. Firstly, to share the work with many more and secondly to remove the restriction of financial worry thus promoting freedom to paint every day! ☺

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David Tiano May 4, 2014 at 9:42 am

My original goal was to fill a large area of vacant wall space. After 14 years, that goal being met, an underlying goal emerged, that being improvement, striving for excellence and variety. My personal “style” is recognized by those who are my collectors and others in my affinity groups. Financial reward as a means of maintaining my efforts is probably in there somewhere, though I hope that this never becomes my “job.” A legacy comes to mind, several who buy my work see it as an investment. I will never become notorious as an artist as I am quite traditional in my approach and subject matter, but I like to think that what I produce will be ultimately collectible and treasured as a memory of myself and my world.

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Mary May 4, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Jason,
I have always been interested in financial stability as I have always wanted to make my art my career. As long as I had to do other work for income my art didn’t get done as all my energy went to another job. So my primary motivation has always been financial stability. As long as I was going for that I painted a lot and therefore artistic excellence improved and as that improved the more recognition I received. They all fit together for me.
Thank you.

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Suzan May 4, 2014 at 1:58 pm

My personal motivation is to make art work that reflects my personal voice and is valued by buyers/collectors who are willing to pay a fair price for it.

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Cindy Millikin May 4, 2014 at 2:37 pm

My motivation is to create – to uncover layers of my imagination and come up with something that is unique and mine – my own particular style. Then I want to find a place to show it, hopefully get some validation, and sell it. I guess I’m after the whole package.

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Tonya Brill May 4, 2014 at 3:23 pm

My driving force is God. Always has been. My personal motivation tho started out as learning and honing skills just to prove to myself that I could do what I dream. Then once I realized that I could obtain that, the motivation changed to I wanted people to like what I do. I then started sharing it with others as I kept learning and honing skills. Now its changed more. Now I want and need to make a living doing this so that I can keep doing this. I’m not going to stop. I’ll keep creating because that’s what I do. It gives me joy. I’ll keep putting it out there for others to see. Somehow taking my “insides” and putting them on display for all to see brings some sort of healing to me. So I’m not afraid of that now. I’ll keep doing that too. Now its that I want to make a living doing what gives me joy so I can continue to share it with others so they may have joy too. Its a full circle thing. Thank you for the posts and for listening.

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Jason Horejs May 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm

You’re following your bliss. Good for you.

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Mark Pickles May 4, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Being relatively new to relief carving and wood sculptural carving, and having read many artists comments on this blog, I can see the evolution of Artistic Excellence, Recognition, and Monetary Gain. In looking at my short journey, I also see how I allowed pressure from my significant other to have me chase monetary gain before I was ready! Meaning educated enough to do so wisely. Perhaps that is the reason I leaped at the opportunity to take Jason’s E-Course! Anyway, I humored her, did an arts ad crafts show and and artists Co-op Gallery for a year. All the while I honed my skills and fell more in love with my art form. So here and now, I’m in the Artistic Excellence phase and dipping into the Recognition zone. But, give earlier experiences, I’m much more focused on learning all I can on Monetary Gain simply because a prepared mind stands a far better chance of winning than does an ill-prepared one. Having already had one very successful career that I loved motivates me to go for another!

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Renee Manford May 5, 2014 at 8:27 am

In reviewing my goals I am surprised to realize that monetary gain, recognition, and excellence would take up one space. I assign them all equal value . So my circles would stack on top of each other and melt into a nice grey purple, if using the circle colors given.

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Lenore Robins May 5, 2014 at 9:03 am

Hi Jason:
The question of what drives me to do what I do is an excellent question.

As a self-taught artist, I have pushed myself to develop my art and have been open to learn from my artist friends who have the art academic credentials which I lack. As my work has evolved and improved, I find that my mind races with ideas so that I am driven back to my studio over and over. I have actually found that when I am unable to be in my studio for a period of time (life does intervene occasionally), I become stressed from my inability to transfer my ideas into new works. As a large part of my artistic time is spent in the mental process of thinking through my designs, being unable to finally put my thoughts into reality is stressful. I love what I do and am driven to do it.

That being said, I am more interested in putting my work out into the world to sell, than for juror recognition. My experience with juried exhibitions is that most jurors have a most biased attitude of what constitutes art. As I create bold, contemporary designs, many jurors dismiss my work as being too commercial for their “refined” tastes.

Having a collector buy my work is the most wonderful validation of the caliber of what I create. Often, someone who buys one piece returns to buy another. What better recognition is there than that?

I have covered my annual art costs through my sales for many years, but I am not earning what I feel is anywhere near my earning potential. For me, being able to earn a substantial income from my art is an important goal. So, as I am able to create more works than I sell in a calendar year, I very much want – and need – to expand my gallery representation into more major markets. As our economy recovers, I want to be better positioned to sell more work.

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Jason Horejs May 5, 2014 at 11:59 am

While pursuing recognition at juried shows is a rewarding pursuit for many artists, as a gallery owner, I, like you Lenore, identify more with the recognition through the sale of art to collectors. I find it immensely rewarding being part of the selling process.

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Deborah Czarny May 5, 2014 at 11:09 am

My motivation is in the process of change. I have decided to just work on my art. As a newly retired person now is the time or it will not happen. I have won alot of ribbons & small amounts of money for my efforts so far & have my own personal gallery in my house. Now I am at the point of really trying to figure out how to sell & market myself & figuring out what galleries expect.

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Ruth Clegg May 5, 2014 at 1:45 pm

As a photographer with over 30 years of commercial experience I have had the pleasure of creating work for many families, businesses and non-profits. My career began as a newlywed, just married the day before college graduation with a Fine Arts degree and a concentration in printmaking. I needed to make money so I ended up in the portrait photography world. It has been a wonderful experience even with all the pains of running a business and having employees and will continue to be a wonderful expereince because it is a smaller operation with just me and I have the opportunity to run it as I wish. I have continued to printmake and show my fine art work for 20 years with some success both with awards and sales but I have now decided that I would like to push myself a bit harder and enjoy the growth and stimulation of getting my work out and beyond my geographic area. It is a challenge to understand the business world of “Fine Art” and I would like to have a clear understanding so that I can be successful. I look forward to learning more!

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Judy Musch May 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Thanks, Jason and the other artists, for making me face some of these real questions. Many programs assume one knows why one is motivated to do this or that with only the fact you are motivated being the issue. I have always made art. No motivation needed. I have never understood all that drives a soul in this pursuit. I believe like many of the others, that we move from one of the areas of motivation to another. The trick of course is to balance in that sweet spot. I should be much more accomplished in all than I am at this point. In trying to determine my strongest motivator of the moment I may have stumbled on an “ah ha” moment for myself. These are both motivators and goals in unison and I cannot have one without the other two first. Or is that just my Gemini thing talking. I am finding myself asking for recognition (almost more like for permission) so I can justify more time developing excellence all the while feeling that the financial stability would be both a reflection of the others and proof of the others. So I must have that as well. It is a sort of which comes first kind of thing. I guess this is why I find myself in need of help.

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Stella May 5, 2014 at 3:17 pm

My primary motivation is to have fun and surprise myself, indulge in the creation, connect to creative source and feel the infinity :) secondary motivation is to make others enjoy my work, as is financial gain. I’ve given away to friends more pieces than i have sold. I enjoy seeing my art in friends’ homes. I’ve never had a marketing strategy, and now slowly and steadily i’m coming to an understanding of forming an artist’s identity, to start selling more.

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Janelle Marks May 5, 2014 at 5:23 pm

My primary goal right now is to gain financial stability. I am practicing my art so that I can improve all the time and I am trying to gain recognition too, but these goals are all so that I can be more stable financially. I create in the first place because I feel called to create and have a passion for making art.

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Pamela Dick May 5, 2014 at 8:44 pm

For years I have been following a path which has lead me to a point where I want my art to drive my life, not the other way around. I finally have the time where I can think about using my art to afford me opportunities I have not had previously. So financial stability through the business of marketing my art I find very appealing. The idea of leaving a legacy for my family, and being able to create when and where I want is very appealing. We spend so much of our lives on a hamster wheel, I am ready to get off and look around.

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Susan May 6, 2014 at 9:18 am

I am in an evolving place with my art where I feel I am finally able to reach for something more mysterious, but possibly less sellable. Particularly in the area I live, which is a less populated region. So, I struggle with wanting to “get out” into a larger market and feel frustrated about how to do that. It is very time-consuming and going off in the wrong direction wastes time.
After the purity of following my muse, I would put sales. Because without sales I feel the burden of too much art sitting around. When too much art is sitting around I feel weighed down, and don’t want to create more to add to the burden. I thrive on producing and having it go somewhere.
So, last would be recognition. Getting in juried shows and having some bragging rights always feels good, and may lead to sales as it adds to our credentials and speaks to our involvement in the art world. I see the same kind of, very high-quality but predictable, work being juried in to many shows, which is a bit discouraging.

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Christine Holzschuh May 6, 2014 at 10:47 am

I want my art to support my habit and be a cash flow for my retirement income. To do that I know I need to be constantly striving for excellence and loving what I do helps me to stay focused on that. Professional recognition is only useful in order to further my goal of making money. A need to create is the deeper motivation for me.

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Christine Holzschuh May 6, 2014 at 10:47 am

I should qualify that by saying my habit is painting!

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Sister Mary Grace May 6, 2014 at 11:27 am

The volume of responses is overwhelming!
Since I have never claimed the “artist” role, I would say my motivation has been – someone wanted a picture and was willing to have me try to produce it. I have spent my whole life with a pencil in my hand…to bring out an idea, to try to capture what I was seeing, to illustrate my prayer. I have always wanted to be an artist, but was told the talent wasn’t there. Now, in my dotage, I can draw and paint to my heart’s delight.

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Jason Horejs May 7, 2014 at 9:23 am

Talent is overrated. Passion, dedication, and hard-work always win in the end.

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Kathy Burk May 6, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Jason,

Today, my primary motivation is to gain financial stability doing what I enjoy most.

As an artist/designer, I feel I have to create artistic excellence to gain monetarily which gives me a rewarding experience and recognition. I agree with you, they closely work together.

I experiment with the many properties of glass. I design and create with glass. It is challenging and very rewarding to design something totally unique and functional. Currently, I create quality, custom lighting.

I always find time to create fine art but need help gaining gallery representation in the right markets. To share my inspirations and in-sight, with others and to give collectors joy could be even more satisfying to me as an artist. My medium is very unique and I don’t know if I should ignore that fact that my artwork is made of glass and pursue galleries like I was a painter.

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Richard Zino May 6, 2014 at 12:24 pm

My primary motivation as an artist is having people accept my work and be willing to spend a little, if only $20, to purchase one of my pieces and hang it in their home with my signature on it. Every time I sell a piece of art work it is an ego trip for me. Because I price my work from a low of $20 for a 6” x 6” curio shelf canvas to $500 for a 48” x 48” landscape, it is clear that I will never get rich from selling art, at least in the short term. I price my paintings to sell and I’m often told by other artists that I should charge much more. But there’s nothing worse than sitting at an art show for a weekend and selling nothing. I would sooner give it away and have it hanging in someone else’s house than in my own (I need the wall space).
In the right market I think my paintings could sell for well over a thousand dollars, and my aim in participating in your course is to find a way to get my artwork in such marketplaces and galleries.

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Maria May 6, 2014 at 1:27 pm

My artistic expression has always been my own best therapy and way to be in touch with myself and my deepest understanding of life. Only recently have I begun to consider it as a business to generate income. These two, in this order, are my priorities. Thirdly, I love the reaction people have to my paintings. When I tell them I am a self-taught artist, people are often inspired to create their own work. It is deeply satisfying to me to be an example of going for what makes you happy, whether or not your have the “credentials”.

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Kate Klingensmith May 6, 2014 at 7:56 pm

At this point all three–recognition, monetary gain and artistic excellence–are right up there, pretty equal. To me artistic excellence feeds both monetary gain/financial stability and recognition. Nothing gives me a bigger charge than selling a painting and seeing someone’s delight in owning one of my paintings! I know I want recognition both from the buyer and from an even larger audience. The only way I’ll get there is if I strive for artistic excellence and push my development as an artist. As someone who has spent years in the day job mode, I really want to make a living from my art, and this too depends on my growth as an artist aiming for excellence.

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JHaynes May 6, 2014 at 11:59 pm

I really dont know right now I would love to make some money selling my art but I dont know if I am ready for the “other” stuff that comes with selling in the big leagues. The business side of all this is very intimidating. I love creating art and making my imagination come into reality. Now I guess I need to take the next step….Glad people love my art

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Jason Horejs May 7, 2014 at 8:55 am

Most artists find that when they take the leap, the art world is really not as intimidating as it seems.

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Von Biggs May 7, 2014 at 7:14 am

For me it has been recently recognition I guess would be a “loose” word for it.. I think Validation is an even better word for it. Also Sales are nice.. it was nice that I sold several large works at a recent open house and I see my art continuing to grow and change. The ideas are an over abundance in my mind and my sketchbook. I really want to find that balance of creating what I want but at the same time fills the need financially to support my love of art. Long term. say 10 to 15 years I would love to be doing art full time retired from my current job and doing what I love!

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Con Slobodchikoff May 7, 2014 at 10:08 am

I have two criteria for success. One is the personal satisfaction that results from my producing a piece that represents my best work at the time of its creation. The other is the satisfaction that results from my being able to stimulate in the viewers’ minds an idea, thought, or emotion that enhances their pleasure of looking at and interacting with art.

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Georgesse Gomez May 7, 2014 at 10:15 am

I have always been motivated by the teachings of Plato and Socrates. The purpose of art in civilization is to edify, represent beauty and what is good, spiritual emmanation, teach, and bring catharsis and healing to areas of society where it is needed. At this point in my life I am interested in creating imagery that is beautiful. I would like to offer our contemporary society a chance to pause and ponder who they are in our world and what impact they are having on the people around them. For this reason I am pursuing figurative representational art.

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Diana Olsen May 7, 2014 at 10:21 am

Thanks for all the good advise from everyone. I am at a stage in my life, turning 60 this year, with a husband with serious health issues. I keep trying left brained work, but it does not work for me or for them. Fortunately, I have a friend who has bought a couple of my paintings, and several friends of her kept telling her they wanted to see more of my work. I had her invite them over one afternoon and sold 2 paintings totaling $4K. I was euphoric. I have always created art, but I am now committed to making a living selling my art. I am working on inventory to have a show. Your emails and blog are extremely helpful. I have the talent, the ability and inspiration. Now is the time for sustaining my family financially. A bona fide website is my pressing need also.

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Jason Horejs May 8, 2014 at 2:18 pm

If I may, please consider for your bona fide website.

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Lonna Johnson May 7, 2014 at 12:25 pm

As I am relatively new to creating art, my primary goal is artistic excellence. I believe that if I consistently learn and practice, my skills will increase to the point that I will receive recognition that will eventually lead to financial compensation.

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Georgette Drake May 8, 2014 at 8:17 am

The driving force or primary motivation for creating art is it gives me pure pleasure. Simple as that. I also love giving others the pleasure in viewing it so I feel art is a gift not only to the viewers but also to myself. Recognition, financial gain, etc… are all secondary considerations. My heart is art <3 <3 <3 ;)!

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Kay Jeansonne May 8, 2014 at 8:45 am

I want to sell my work so that I can continue to paint full time. I want to make a good living off of my art sales. My priority is to paint full time, which I am doing, but I need more income from my art to continue painting full time.

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Bill Reed May 8, 2014 at 9:23 am

I am striving to get more recognition as I evolve my understanding of color theory and design. I do sell my paintings on occasion and get an adrenalin rush when I do which keeps me painting and striving to be a better artist.

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Romeo Tanghal Sr. May 8, 2014 at 9:57 am

I am a comic book illustrator , my first and last job for almost 30 years and obtained recognition among artists and collectors. I love what i’m doing and the pressure of deadlines served as the driving force to commit myself into working very, very hard everyday… almost non-stop to meet deadlines from one publishers to another. I was a young successful artist then who already obtained what is there to achieve in the Venn Diagram. But all along, painting is my love and desire but don’t have the time to even practice or try. 10 years ago, i was able to decide i could afford to retire from comics and do what i wanted to do and that’s to paint. I started painting in oil, watercolor, acrylic, trying every medium searching what really suit my style and passion. Recently, ( just maybe 2 years ago,) i started venturing the Abstract and to my amazement… i’m good at it! I’m proud to say i’ve done 2 large pieces -3ft x 5ft, one 2ft x 4ft, one-3ft x 4ft and two long panoramic -20inches x 8ft. People like it when i posted in my Facebook Timeline and that motivates me to continue in that direction ( consistency for now until maybe a new style comes up. ) Now my future plans is to show, display my paintings when i have enough to meet the requirements for Galleries. I’m thankful to find this Blog that is educational to my new plans and explaining the pros and cons of how to do it. Sharing my paintings, gained recognitions and receiving monetary supplements is my main goal now in this new adventure.

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John Holdway May 8, 2014 at 10:43 am

Artistic excellence is my primary focus. I do want and need more sales but I am passionate about being the best artist I can. I see the importance of each area. I am working on balancing the other elements and dedicate time to working on each part. Sales, shows and awards help my motivation in the studio but each can be a distraction. I can be lead down paths that make it difficult to focus. Identifying the primary goal is a good idea. I am always looking for tools to help me stay on track.

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Frauke Palmer May 8, 2014 at 12:19 pm

My main motivation is personal satisfaction. Financial success is not necessary at this time of my life, but recognition is always welcome. Recognition does motivate me to keep working and keep growing. I like Von Biggs’ word Validation. Validation that my art can stand on its own.

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Kim Allcock May 8, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Great discussion! Pragmatically I need to make a living. That said, I want to constantly improve my skills as an artist and that motivates me to create and practice. I love the techniques, history and forms of henna art and I strive always to improve my technique and my understanding of the art. I have a strong desire for mehndi to be recognized AS art (rather than cosmetics or crafting) and I desire validation that I really am an artist despite the fact that I have no art training and use an unusual medium. I also seek connection with an audience.

To summarize I would say I am motivated jointly by a need for income and a desire to be validated as a real artist and to have my form of art recognized. Artistic excellence is personally satisfying and supports both the other goals; after all better art = more income = more recognition, but I would say for me it is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

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Chris May 8, 2014 at 9:42 pm

The past few months have been all about “Recognition” and “Monetary Gain”. It’s exciting participating in art exhibits. Selling work is wonderful. Right now I’m longing to get back to the drawing board.

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Diana J Smith May 9, 2014 at 8:45 am

My primary motivation is art sales. Getting gallery representation is the means to that end, I think. I have to work full-time as a graphic designer. I have done this on my own since 1984, Designsmith, Inc., and make a good living at i. But I can only paint nights and weekends. I enjoy doing design work, but enjoy painting so much more. So, if I could increase sales, then I could cut back on the hours in front of the computer.

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Kate Settle Ruland May 9, 2014 at 10:28 am

I am wanting very much to gain more recognition and dive in to the marketing side, my stumbling blocks seem to be very technology oriented. I enter lots of shows, and get into the same ones all the time, and rejected from the same list as well, kind of frustrating, an at this point I am scared to approach a gallery, even tho I think my work is cohesive and quality enough.

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Segun Aiyesan May 10, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Interesting analysis. Thanks for the model. Based on this model , I think I grew to adopt the stages as I became older. When I was younger, I only strived for artistic excellence, and then I grew older and wanted recognition, and then in my later years, due to financial demands from my family and work , I began to yearn more for financial stability. Right now I try to allocate energy resources to each need, but I still think artistic excellence takes a much larger slice off my investments. The downside is I have a large body of works that don’t sell as quickly as I make them. I do not exactly feel sad about this because every work I make represents that moment of my life and that is really important to me. Everyday, I strive for balance because I constantly feel things can always be better.

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Clea D. Lewis May 10, 2014 at 3:18 pm

I think some people just have to create whether it be stories, crafts, characters on a stage, etc. I’m one of those people. I decided when I retired to narrow my creative focus to painting. I worked in the corporate world as a writer and graphic designer and it somewhat satisfied my creative nature. But at 68 years old with a disability that limits my painting time, I have decided to paint how and what really moves me. My goal is to constantly improve my art, always remembering art is subjective. Like many of you, I have experienced the “I love your work, you are so talented” yet the the people have decorative prints hanging on their walls. I may be over optimistic but I feel paintings are like houses for sale, you just have to find the right buyer. And I guess that means exposure and also finding the right gallery for your work.
One encouraging experience is a piece I was commissioned to do by a pharmacists who wanted a painting for his office. I put a skeleton in it and his wife hated it. I should have know when I met him at his house. She had hired a decorator to do the house including his office. Of course, I didn’t force him to buy it and showed it at a local art fair and the Ky State Fair. I got several offers to buy it but for less than I was asking. I ended up selling it to my nephew who had always loved it but couldn’t afford it, so I took payments.
Just as writers want their work to be read, I want my paintings to be seen and appreciated and I’d like the freedom not to feel guilty about how much of my retirement money I’m spending on supplies.
Clea D. Lewis

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Ivy Wreden May 10, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Ivy, what is your primary motivation at this stage of your art career? Has that motivation changed over time?
I am working on getting more shows, galleries and trying new avenues to sell and promote my art career. It seems to be working and I am selling more this year by putting myself out there in new places. Plus this has lept me motived to create new art. I want to make a good living with my art and do what I love full time. When I take the time to create I am on a roll. Sometimes it is hard to get motivated with so many distractions in life. Staying focused and on task is challenging after being sick for a week now. I feel even more motivated now as I get older and my last child has left home.

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Anna May 11, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Thought provoking blog -I guess there is not one single motivation for making art. Of course selling is important from a practical point of view, and recognition is certainly good for the fragile ego. However I think my primary motivation is to produce the very best work that I can – work which is not only of a high technical standard, but which touches the viewer at an emotional level. I must confess I constantly find myself distracted by the needs of those around me (real life) and so do not manage to put in the hours in the studio that is required to become a great painter, but hope that in some miraculous way this might infuse into my work…somehow.

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Elizabeth Cleary May 12, 2014 at 1:18 pm

At this point in my life the strongest pull for me would be toward selling my work. I have always wanted to be a full time artist. In the past this may have been for reasons such as, it’s what I like to do, it’s something that I’m good at… etc. But now that I’m actually taking the steps to back down the hours at my “real” job, and pursue my art business more, I am finding more pressure on myself to sell more work. It was always nice to sell my work, but at times it was more about the validation than the money. But I know that if I want to make a career out of my art that I will need that money to support myself and to further my business.

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Catherine Jo Morgan July 5, 2014 at 10:00 am

Elizabeth, the “Art in Progress” section of your site is a great idea! I glanced at the menu and clicked on that right away. I think I’ll adapt this to my blog somehow. Thanks! (And of course, best wishes for your prosperity as an artist.)

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Ellen Frenkel May 12, 2014 at 3:54 pm

I am realizing that although a little recognition and cash are great, my main motivation is personal expression, which often leans into what Pat Musick is describing about a larger good, or what people of faith would call “prophecy” (which is not the same as predicting the future…) The other important thing I’m realizing is that I have, at different times, placed more importance on recognition and sales to please others and to justify my existence. Not a good plan for sustaining creativity!
I also would rather make art than write about or read about making art.

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Laura May 12, 2014 at 6:02 pm

My motivation is the creativity inside myself wanting to burst out. My soul expresses itself through my art and writings. And I want to share and help inspire and uplift others. It’s my way of moving in the world with a purpose of sharing love and joy.

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Cathy Martin May 13, 2014 at 10:53 am

Hi! I think that leading an artist’s life that satisfies my personal fulfillment is my primary motivation at this particular point. Disciplining myself to engage in the processes that I enjoy to the level that is necessary to develop well crafted pieces is a big achievement to me. I like to focus upon that while still looking at options to enter shows, submit work to galleries, and make people aware of my art. It is overwhelmingly satisfying when people connect with my art and express those feelings to me and it is deeply touching when they feel connected enough to make a purchase and take that work home with them.

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Gaby Reade May 13, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Creating something has always been part of my life – I can’t think of living without it. All other developments in my life revolve around it, I never stopped to look at motivation, it is just there. In everything I create I try and do the best I can at this particular moment in time – you can say that I do strive for excellency within my work – what is the point if one doesn’t improve?
A great mentor, Riduan Tomkin, once told me that you should never show work that you are not 100 % happy with at the time it gets shown to the public. I agree. I rather show less, or none.
Of course things would be easier if some financial stability would be possible.
Recognition: well its not why I create. If my work does get recognised – great!

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Dee lener May 17, 2014 at 11:44 am

Why I paint – well, because I can, because it is the only thing that makes real sense to me in this crazy world, because ones the painting comes alive – there is NO greater feeling, its a type of natural high similar to when reading a great book or poetry , yes one can call me a junkie , it is a need, bio- chemical – soul need that if unfulfild – leaves me lifeless and depressed.

So yeah, introducing business side to this- it can be challenging for many different reasons . Sometimes the thought of somebody buying a piece of my work just because they can afford it and it matches the colour schema of their book shelf, makes my hair stand up straight , because it is so personal to me, and it is just business to them…To the point of wondering, if I should even do that. Then I wonder just how many other and what other stuff I could make, produce , having time dedicated just for that, and that is exactly what it all comes down to, and I believe that is the ultimate point and answer to this very interesting question :)

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Sandy Dimke May 17, 2014 at 5:26 pm

My motivation has always been creating excellence so I continue to try new things, take classes nd practice, practice, practice. However, once the work is completed I need it to be shown and get (hopefully) positive criticism on the work. Recognition is a gratifying result of being an artist. But if the work or works do not sell, then they pike up in my studio and feel like failures. So manybofvmynpieceschavecwon have won high awards, but as others have said, they are notvwhatvtgevoublucvisclookingbto buy- only what the judges score well! I hate tic treated for others but I’ can see myselfvstaetingbto think that way more and more

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Michael Orlando May 18, 2014 at 9:19 am

While my primary motivation is the enjoyment of the process of creating art for myself and sharing it with others, my goal is financial gain. It used to be that I simply enjoyed painting. But I really started to like what I was creating and so did others and I started selling my work. Now I want journey down this unwinding road and see what can happen.

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Donna Papenhausen May 18, 2014 at 10:27 am

Mo!etary success is my motivating factor now.

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Leah Guzman May 18, 2014 at 11:09 am

I think all three aspects are equally important. At this moment in time for me monetary is rising to the top. If I was able to continue to make more money selling my art the other two aspects would follow. The more you create the better you become.

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Tom May 18, 2014 at 1:30 pm

The way this question is posed leaves room for confusion. What is the driving force behind my creativity or art career?

I create because I have to. I don’t know why. I don’t ask why. All of my life I have just needed to make beautiful things. The need is just there. I have tried to push it down and follow other career paths for years. Yet the need, the drive, is always there and causes great inner turmoil if I don’t create. I don’t know the driving force behind my creativity.

But what is the driving force at this stage of my art career? Simple. I want MONEY! Cash, scratch, bread, dough, moola, greenbacks, gold. Like it or not, money makes the world go round. Money buys food and pays for housing and heat, or air conditioning if you live in AZ. Money pays for a new car or repairs on an old car. Money pays for materials, supplies, shipping and entry fees and hotel rooms at art festivals. Like you say it gives you independence and buys you the freedom to focus your time on creating.

So Monetary Gain is my primary motivation.

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Skeet Sirmons May 18, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Today, I’m really still searching for a consistent voice to my painting. I’m looking beyond just painting this or that but really trying to find the energy and life that brought a subject to my attention and made me want to paint it. Ultimately I’m working toward the goal of being able to support myself with my art. I’ve sold quite a few paintings over the past ten years and I’ve enjoyed success with group exhibits and solo exhibits but I haven’t reached the level of professionalism in my work that I want to reach. I have a lot of hard work ahead of me but I believe I’m headed in the right direction.

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Linda Illumanardi May 18, 2014 at 8:05 pm

My driving force seems to be that I do what I do best, what challenges me the most, what brings satisfaction, what allows for mistakes and troubleshooting, and what meets my needs in terms of spirtual, emotional, and intellectual growth. The trouble with that is, as time goes by, I give myself permission more easily to work in whatever medium I feel like using, and that, may indeed allow breadth, but may limit depth. When I have a specific goal, like an exhibition, for instance, that gives me the impetus/incentive and the drive to work in a series and restrict myself to one medium. I had so many restrictions on myself as a painter, that moving into clay and artist books and assemblages, allowed me to explore so many other learning curves and opportunities. It is a loop that gets me stuck. I don’t have an issue with what drives me; I have an issue with what do I do with it now?

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Max McLeod May 19, 2014 at 7:35 am

I think the driving force in my work is twofold. 1. I honestly feel I have to create…anything, with my hands. It is part of my sanity. 2. I want to create work that is interesting to me creatively and is appreciated by a buying client.

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Arlene Harrison May 19, 2014 at 8:56 am

I recently had to do prepare an artist’s profile for a membership application into the Mississippi Craftsmen’s Guild. This is THE guild to belong to for recognition in Mississippi. One of the questions on that application was “Why do you do what you do?”

My answer was that I create because I have to. It is a drive that I’ve felt since I was very young and my grandmother taught me to embroider. The mediums have changed over the years, but never the need to create.

Being creative can mean something different to every artist. It is a built-in urge that has to be satisfied. I may have a choice on what medium to pursue but I MUST create. My prayer is that God allows me to continue to create as long as I am physically able to.

Since I’ve retired, I’m more actively pursuing the financial gains side of the business. I have decent retirement funding set up after many years of working in the commercial world but I want my art to at least support itself.

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Barbara Richter Gritczek May 19, 2014 at 6:16 pm

My driving force is to supplement my income. I love to paint and like to teach. My painting talent is inherited, not learned. At this point in my life, I have already taken so many courses, only two were art, that the thought of another course sends my blood pressure to a boil. I will experiment with my acrylics and different media but don’t have any intention of taking another course, unless it is on my own time and at my own pace and of my own choice. Of course, money & time are primary factors.

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Laura May 20, 2014 at 5:46 am

My driving force? Joy found in finding ways to get things done and financial gain. I love when I have someone tell me they want something like “this” and then I manage to surpass their hopes for the work. Their pleasure in the work motivates me to find another person to help. Making money doing that is my primary goal since I eventually would like nothing more than to be able to create all day, every day and make a living doing so.

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Debra Morr May 20, 2014 at 8:47 am

My motivation to paint comes deep inside of me with the need to paint. It seems that I have withdrawal symptoms if I am not in my studio or out painting my field studies. I need to create as therapy and to share my love of nature with others and hopefully they too will experience the love and joy of Gods gift of life and nature that surrounds us.

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Gail May 20, 2014 at 10:26 am

I have done the shows but never enter contest now I am older and setting up and tearing down a show is not easy. I have sold a lot of my work but still find my studio corners filled with paintings. I would like to sell at prices the common person could afford but if I do my work is devalued and in the end will be found in the Goodwill store. I am at this point motivated by the selling of what I produce in a manner that will see it be appreciated. So I guess my current motivation is not monetary stability but it is monetary.

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Yotam May 21, 2014 at 6:57 am

I’d say the Venn diagram in your article hits the nail on the head, and for me the motivation does lie directly in the center where all the circles intersect.

I also want to encourage everyone to check out this article about some of the harmful myths that get perpetuated about artists: http://shiftrlab.blogspot.com/2014/01/what-art-isnt-4-myths-deconstructed.html

I find it helpful to be aware of some of the external factors that affect success (in addition to all the internal ones).

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Richard Munson May 21, 2014 at 9:18 am

First of all. Thank you JAson for making me think outside the box. This is something that I have never been asked before and makes me think outside the box of my goals as an artist. First and foremost for myself, financial stability would be number one. Financial stability would allow me the ability to achieve more artistically. Stability and achieving more artistically would give me a bigger chance of being recognized in the art world. I have always been artistic as far back as I can remember and my passion for art runs deep, emotionally. Have a great day everybody.

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teri kidd May 21, 2014 at 3:51 pm

I always wanted to share my images. I like it very much when someone sees themselves in my work and wants to own it. That a viewer would feel enough of a connection to something I’ve created to want to live with it or give it to someone they love is just a miracle to me. I want people to buy my work. I’d like to make a living from my work.

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Beatrice Ajayi May 22, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Hi, I would say financial stability is my current goal. I am still learning about my skill everyday, but I would say that I now know more about myself concerning my approach in art. Being able to do what I love and earning at the same time is definitely my priority. Beatrice Ajayi

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Joe Bastida Rodriguez May 23, 2014 at 1:02 am

Jason, my primary motivation is the balance of my long-term art career. I’ve received critical recognition in museums, plus favorable art reviews over the years. I have focused on personalized invitations of upcoming exhibitions, making appointments with patrons and developing relations with non-profit gallery staff, but now need a long-term representation. This year, I’ve reached out to meet with Fine Arts Gallerists and directors in my region to prospect a possible fit of my work in a highly competitive environment. Based on feedback, I will overhall my website to profile my current works, but establish an archive of works five years or more. It’s all about setting priorities, more time in my pursuit of excellence works with monetary gain and less time in marginal non-productive tasks or just say no.
Thank you.

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Mary Sullivan May 23, 2014 at 8:13 am

I love the process of creating, really of creating something almost from nothing. It is the surprise, the beauty discovered, aspect that draws me in and holds me. I often ask myself “Where did this come from?” There was nothing before and now there is this! And “yes,” I always strive to do whatever I do as excellently as possible. I don’t want anything to distract from the appreciation of the piece, but rather to have it draw someone in and hold their attention.

So the desire for communication–exhibiting– seems to naturally flow from the act of creating. The ego likes critical praise but it seems fleeting and largely subjective, so I don’t actively pursue juried and judged shows, and it takes money I would rather put into supplies and renting studio space. And there are so many thousands of wonderful artists. Maybe someday. Gallery representation, on the other hand, would seem to support my main goal of continuing to create.

My main financial motivation is to sell enough to be able to keep creating, exploring, discovering, challenging myself. Also my studio becomes too crowded with work that I would rather someone loved and enjoyed. That is the way I feel about work of other artists which I have purchased or bartered–they become part of my life.

Thanks, Jason, for this opportunity to put my thoughts and feelings into words.

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April Sepich May 23, 2014 at 4:32 pm

My motivation, other than the joy of creating art, is the ability to say good-bye to a structured 9-5 job. A recent relocation by my husbands company would have required I go out and pound the pavement looking for a new position with a new company. Quite frankly that thought of doing that made me twitch. At this point in life, I don’t play well with others and I’m virtually untrainable, so the idea of becoming an independent artist was highly motivating. I work more than 40 hrs a week, but I love the freedom it gives me.

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Ann Haag May 24, 2014 at 6:45 am

Today: Success is accomplishing 90% of my daily to-do list. In the Future: Success is creation of beauty and worth which gives birth to Legacy.

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Paige Sullivan May 24, 2014 at 10:54 am

That picture you have of everyone applauding the artist while she stands in a gallery is it for me. That’s what I want. These people are making a connection with her art, and they’re willing to buy it.

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Hammond Art May 26, 2014 at 9:38 am

Hammond Art produces and sells completely original abstract drawings and paintings according to the vision of the artist. The first and foremost goal of every work of art is originality through self-expression. Reward comes in giving other people pleasure and stimulating their minds through the art that is produced. Staying true to yourself and your vision. Equally important is recognition, which is rewarding the same as any other career. Financial stability is basic to life, and unless we are independently wealthy it is impossible to continue producing art. So really, there is not one sole focus, it is truly a combination of all, with one or more taking on heightened importance depending on circumstances and timing.

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Elena Stokes May 26, 2014 at 10:47 am

For the last few years, my main goal was to explore how I want to express myself, build my body of work and get it into exhibits while building my resume. I have always had them available for purchase but sales were not the focus. I am lucky in that I am not dependent on my work to live but making the artwork for self-expression and recognition only are no longer enough. I want my work to find a home. Mine’s filling up.

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B C Turner May 27, 2014 at 3:41 pm

In thinking about this, my first thought was that all three have equal importance to me = 33% 33% 33%. However, after more consideration about what drives me when I am sculpting, I would have to change that.
I think recognition out-weighs the others by a little and the numbers would be more like 20% Excellence, 40% Recognition and 20% Monetary Gain. Not a huge difference, but a little.

When I make a piece that I feel is very good and I like, I have a wonderful time showing it off. If I enter it into a non-judged show and it sells, I feel I have been recognized for good art. If, however, it does not sell or it is a judged show and does not earn any awards or ribbons, I find it hard to start the next project. Additionally, I feel that perhaps I live in the wrong area for “realistic fine art” rather than abstract throw-anything-on-the-board or pedestal art.
I would love to sell more art for monetary gain, but mainly so I can create more.

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Mefore Aday May 31, 2014 at 7:58 pm

My main motivation has always been Artistic Achievement. I want my life time of work to exist. I want to be prolific. I want have a body of work that shows how much time and energy a human can output. If the work sells then that is good to share it. If it does not. It is not so important to me. I am still young. I have always been a very self-motivated person. I am a lucky human to have figured out at an early age that I am special. I know everyone is special. But I am so happy that I get to be me. I love my work. I create and I laugh. Recognition and money will come and go. But those two motivations seem like they are so small in comparison to a full commitment to one’s imagination and creativity.

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Cate Gundlah June 1, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Very good article, Jason. When I started working in glass, I think excellence was my primary goal. I took 2-3 classes a year and really worked hard to learn techniques and change them to make them my own. 5-6 years later my motivation changed to monetary, as I needed to sell my work in order to produce more work. Now, 15 years later, I still need to sell in order to produce, but I also want recognition for all my hard work. I am participating in a gallery show next month with 6 other artists. I’m hoping this will be the starting point for me to produce more serious work.

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Linda Moran June 8, 2014 at 10:30 am

Hi Jason – I’ve been remiss in following the course, as I have been really ill the past 8 weeks. I am now starting where I left off in April when I started. What do I want? Hmmmm….my husband and I have received some recognition; we are doing some classes, our work is in a new book just out now (The Ultimate Guide to Art Quilt Techniques), and we have been listed among the “cornerstone” marblers in this country. I no longer try to get in to quilt shows – not willing to make my art according to their rules. I have more luck getting our work into juried gallery shows. But more would be good! As we’re now both retired, the business end is a goal. Hubby handles ebay, Etsy, local sales and classes, and all the accounting, and I work on extending the actual art. It would be very nice to get more exposure and possibly sell some pieces. We’ve got the balance down as it relates to business, but I need to spend more time making art – this being sick for so long has derailed me.

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sal barracca June 10, 2014 at 9:22 am

Jason my motivation for what I do is in the phrase ” I paint therefore I am” It’s the process of painting that brings me joy along with the fact that when a painting is purchased and I know it’s hanging in someone’s home that tells me that I’m on the right tract. The sale encourages me to go forward and continue what I’m doing. I’m not concerned of awards but rather the validation of the sale.

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Tim B. June 10, 2014 at 6:59 pm

For me, it will always be about the creation of art because in the creation I feel like my soul is being fed. I sometimes confess that I would continue to create in the fashion I do even if no one looked (though I love it when they do and feel validated when they buy). But there’s something that happens at the creation level for me, it is, for lack of a better word, communion, communion with life and with all that is. My waiting to get the picture is a prayer being prayed and answered simultaneously. My love for working with it, massaging it into what it will become is faith. I use spiritual metaphors but, for me, they are not metaphors but acts.

I won’t lie, I love it when people like my work but that’s not what keeps me going. And as I have said before, I keep my day job to pay my bills because I don’t sell enough, so I can’t say I live for the financial reward (though I would like to make a living from it). I do it for the communion.

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Joan Richardson June 10, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Success….for me is expressing what I feel, evoking some response in viewers and continuing to create and learn

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Kathleen June 11, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Creating the work is always it. Sitting for hours, trying to get it right. The rest is up to the folks who see it….say they love it, Yet, they do not buy…

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Debi Friedlander June 11, 2014 at 10:22 pm

I’m not sure what my primary motivation is, to be honest. Artistic achievement sounds a bit too lofty.. I’m just reaching and stretching to explore and experiment. Financial stability would be nice, and would allow me to focus more on my art and less on my day job. I’m also enjoying becoming an active part of my local art community. The social aspect is probably more important to me than recognition.

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Melissa Ballenger June 12, 2014 at 6:47 am

An honest introspection reveals that recognition is the most gratifying to me. Logic tells me I need to produce something worth the recognition, and market it successfully. As well, it would be best that my art pay for itself and an income would be wonderful. However; when financial stability is my drive, and it has been, I find myself producing with proven technique and little to no creativity or exploration. BORING!

I’m very pleased that this course will focus on the business end of art. The other areas, I suspect, are typical challenges and struggles that each artist encounters and processes over a lifetime.

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Wendy Teter June 12, 2014 at 7:11 am

For me I would say Monetary and Financial Stability. I would love to be able to sell my works and create as well.

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h Rose Drummond June 12, 2014 at 8:05 am

My motivation certainly has changed over the years. When I had young children it was supplement my income while staying home to raise my children. Now I have grandchildren and great grandchildren. I still want to supplement my income but my art has changed over the years and I feel the need to express who I am through it. I remember doing “Tupperware” type parties when my children were young and having to make many repeat items in different colors but still the same item. I once crocheted Christ as a shepherd on a 6′ by 3′ wall hanging as a gift for a pastor and his wife. I remember the satisfaction I had when they displayed it in their foyer for all to see as they entered their home. My art medium has changed over the years and my motivation has too. As I approach retirement I still want and need to supplement my income but still want to remember the satisfaction of recognition as an artist. I am still not sure if galleries are the way to go but look forward to this journey and the knowledge gained. I believe as long as I am learning and growing I still have a purpose for being here. I prefer to create one of a kind items now and mostly making jewelry.

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Pamela Haunschild June 12, 2014 at 10:35 am

Jason — I love the way you clarify complex topics like motivation! For me, I love to create, but I also want to sell my creations. I want people to have my work in their homes … it’s my way of spreading the joy I get from making art.

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Liz Nichols June 12, 2014 at 10:52 am

I draw and paint because I have to. I am compelled to be a fine artist. I am compelled to draw and paint what moves me. Many of my works are from real life experiences. Many are from my imagination or my desires. I began drawing at an early age and discovered from others comments I might have artistic talent. Not that that mattered, I would continue to draw and paint anyway. My aim is to create the best piece I can…as each piece comes into fruition. If I am satisfied with the work, I have accomplished my goal. (But as every creator realizes, each piece needs just a little more. So you study and rework and continue to grow in knowledge and practice.) Yes, it would be nice to achieve recognition, and I have plans to enter certain competitions, etc. I love to share my work with others. To create a sense of community with my fellow man. I love it when the viewer expresses their appreciation of my art (especially when they want to own of for themselves). We are all passengers on this flight to Earth and back to our Father. But, a sale vindicates my belief in my work and increases my confidence, leading to more productive work. So, I’d like to make money at my art so I may continue creating it and to share with others to bring them emotional satisfaction. I also enjoy the community of other artist and like to inspire and help them as they inspire and help me.

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Rebecca Holland Hudnall June 12, 2014 at 1:09 pm

First and last, artistic creation is my motivating force. I paint, draw, photograph, create because I must. I can’t help myself. I assume it is some form of OCD. Until recently, I’d never sold any of my work. I have hundreds, possibly thousands of pieces, especially photographs and digital art work. Yes, the physical paintings, drawings, sculptures, etc. take up a lot of space. That’s why I began to work in digital formats. That is why I continue to take classes. Art can be expensive in any format…so, now I want to focus on selling. I’m sure I could sell cheap and move a lot of work…but my art has intrinsic value to ME…I want someone to value it and to want it because of the intrinsic, artistic value they see and feel. I worry, as others do, about what will happen to my art when I am gone…how will my family deal with it. Will it be junk…to dispose of…or things they can’t bear to part with. I’ve never entered a show, or won an award or critical acclaim, but I know these add to the PERCEIVED VALUE of art and the body of work for any artist. I suppose I will need to learn how to ‘show’ my work as well as how to market and sell it…on my web site or in a gallery. However, it thrills me just to see the locations of people around the world who view my work, make comments, and return week after week to see what’s new. An actual sale, makes me giddy. Sometimes I can’t sleep for days wondering where the buyer hung it and how they feel about it or even what their friends say about it. My art is like having more children…they are pieces of me…making their way out into the world.

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Janelle June 12, 2014 at 2:15 pm

What’s my motivating reason for making art? Since I was old enough to hold a pencil or brush, I have been drawing and painting. I can’t live without making, it is as necessary as air and water are. For me, losing myself in process, and bringing/channeling concepts and emotions into something visual is exciting. It’s even more exciting to hear what others bring to it while viewing, it really does complete the creation cycle for me. For this reason, I want to become more successful at selling my work. For more than a decade I have been working as a professional artist creating visual effects for films, which financially allowed me to develop my own studio practice on the side. Now I am wanting to focus more on being able to support myself selling my own work. Thank you for sharing your insights and experience on this blog, also thanks to everyone who posted for sharing your insights.

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Debbie June 12, 2014 at 2:47 pm

My goal is to be able to make a living with my art work. Of course recognition is a necessary part of that. How to get this all done is a mystery. I have a web site and a Facebook page. I’ve sold a few originals but not nearly enough. I have gone in to reproducing my work to usable goods to help get to this goal. Some of the little things sell fair but I haven’t found the great one that sells really well. I am not good a promoting myself and my work. It’s also very time consuming, intimidating and boring not to mention difficult to figure out what works.

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George Walters June 12, 2014 at 3:34 pm

My driving force is to have complete control of my life. Therefore the most important aspect of that is to be self sustainable and make enough money selling my creations to support myself and not have to spend time working some job I hate in order to pay my rent. Recognition is great too but when people don’t like my work I don’t take it personal.

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Robert June 12, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Thanks Jason for the thought provoking blog. As far as I am concerned at this time I am more motivated by art excellence and monetary gain. I would love to be able to make a living off of art but for the time being I would like to be able to cover all of my expenses.

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Doug June 12, 2014 at 4:11 pm

I believe you have to be invested from the heart and follow what drives your passion for art. Striving to perfect the craft, knowing that it is a constant journey of learning, has to come first and from that comes the end result of a painting. To me there are no failures, just learning experiences. More often than not the results of my work fall far short of my original intension, though the gap is narrowing with each piece I produce, and those pieces are put away for later consideration or turned over for a completely new idea. For those pieces that I feel very good about, the next step is seeing what other people think about and so I would rank recognition second. Entering shows and juried competitions is a measuring stick of my current level as an artist and critic and critism serve to help steer the course of my developement. As the goal is to become successful at selling art, the persuit of excellence in expression of atmosphere and emotion in my work will lead to recognition and eventually sales. I believe if the art is made for the sole intent of making money it will lack that emotion and never truly reach it’s potential.

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Corey Habbas June 12, 2014 at 11:17 pm

My primary motivation at this stage in my art career is to begin integrating goals for recognition and monetary gain into the art career goal equation. I am still primarily focused on artistic development and exploration, but I want to try to create more balance so that I build each of the spheres simultaneously. I wish I didn’t have to think about the business aspects of selling or marketing. I find myself trying to understand how to find the most efficient avenue for moving my work into the market, but my primary day-to-day interest is painting.

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Annetta Gregory June 13, 2014 at 6:25 am

Jason,
I love the process of creating a piece of art, and that will always be the first motivation but I am at the point where I need to sell. There are several reasons I feel that need; 1) I am getting older and would like to feel some reward for the time and effort of training myself. 2) Art is an expensive investment and I need the return on that to keep doing what I love. 3) I absolutely love the feeling when someone buys a piece of my artwork, it really validates me as an artist and helps keep me motivated. I am selling my art at this time and have sold quite a few this last year online and out of my home but I know that selling them at a reduced price is probably the reason I have sold so many.

Thank you,

Annetta

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D.K. Boljat June 13, 2014 at 8:43 am

Although it may sound weird to some people, God motivates me, opens doors and gives me the drive to create, without Him I have no career. I have sold hundreds of original paintings and have been in galleries before, but whenever it is possible I enjoy interacting with clients who collect my art. Motivation for me comes from the still small voice from inside. I enjoy teaching painting because believe it or not a lot of people stop themselves from creating without even realizing it, I recognize this and enjoy encouraging the individual creativity from within them. Thank you for asking, and creating this blog to encourage artists.

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Debbie Thornberry June 13, 2014 at 8:44 am

Very thought provoking, that’s for certain! At this point in my life, it’s more about honing my skills to become good enough to be accepted into shows, and then to sell my work. That is the ultimate goal that I have set for myself. Now, I just need to figure out how to make that a reality. One step at a time! :)

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Marc Plouffe June 13, 2014 at 9:46 am

I call this the dilemma for artists. My main theme for my work is “In Search of Solitude”, that is what I enjoy. I could spend days on end shooting pictures and doing post processing with Photoshop. My problem is that it take resources to be able to do this, such as traveling to various locations, printing, framing and everything else.

What I want is financial stability to do what I want to do, to be able to concentrate on Artistic Excellence to then be rewarded by recognition for my efforts. If I had one dollar for each compliment for my work, I would have financial stability.

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Deanna Krueger June 13, 2014 at 10:27 am

This article was very helpful in terms of making me think about my motivations. Success for me would be exhibiting at major art centers, museums, and/or universities, and having gallery representation in major cities. Sales have been fairly steady over the last few years through consultants, though I have a safety net in that I also teach art classes at a university. I am not sure I would give that up, even if I could. Sometimes I think I spend more time on seeking opportunities to show and less on studio time than I should. I am now scrambling to make enough work to fill 155 linear feet of gallery space in my largest solo show yet early next year. Fear can be a pretty good motivator!

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Patricia Lemieux June 13, 2014 at 10:43 am

My definition of success is to be able to create beautiful things that people will love and make enough money doing so that art will become my primary profession.

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Susan June 13, 2014 at 12:07 pm

From Day one, I am very clear about my goal and motivation. Achieving financial stability is #1 no question. Achieving financial stability through art is my dream and my #1 motivation. The bonus is I love painting and creating. Until such time when I hit the mega lottery, financial stability fuel my passion and pays the bills. I am not at my best when I am not painting or creating. I hope in my pursue of my artistic journey I can be a motivation to others.

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Linda Mitchell June 13, 2014 at 12:12 pm

I am mostly motivated by the process of creating work- the experimentation, the discovery, the cathartic mediation of creating my own worlds through paint and mixed media installations. The process would not be complete without exhibition of the work and connection to the viewers. Although I have achieved considerable success with exhibitions in galleries and museums, I would like to achieve more financial success with sales of my work.

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Sheila Phelps June 13, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Primary motivation??? My dream is to have financial stability through the sale of my art. However, at this point in my life, my diagram would be tilted more toward the artistic excellence and recognition.

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Marilyn Chapin Massey June 14, 2014 at 8:10 am

My primary goals are excellence and recognition. I am lucky to have had another career which has given me financial security. Certainly, I would like to sell more of my work, in part because a sale is recognition but also because the sales do give me more freedom. Fundamentally, I believe a work is not finished until it is seen and I want more exposure for my paintings.

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Beth Wicker June 14, 2014 at 9:28 am

My primary goal is financial stability. My husband is permanently disabled, so I really NEED to create a steady income stream from my work. I have sold steadily for years, but not at the $ level I need now. This is why I need to find ways to connect to more galleries… my best gallery averages $500/month in my share of the sales – if I had enough like that, I would be very happy ;) Secondary is the fact that I NEED to create as much as I need to breathe….. it is an integral part of me. If I’m not managing time in the studio then I get really tense and unhappy … not good! So my secondary goal is making sure I have the chunks of time I need in the studio to really create… I’m not usually very good at doing much with tiny bits of time, but need large chunks to really get in a creative groove. I have access through juried groups I’m in to shows, so showing my work to a larger audience is a fulfilled goal, one really one I’m working on.

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Enola June 14, 2014 at 1:32 pm

My primary motivation at this point is selling my art. In this area the places to display and sell my painting and prints
are few. I have prints on note cards that are displayed and for sale at a Visitors Center (PA Elk) but it is a 100 mile
trip. Also my paintings a prints are hanging in the local Art Gallery but sales there are very slow. I’m a member of
PA Wilds Artisan trail (on line site) and will be applying at another gallery another in July,another 100 mile trip..
I need to sell my art!!!! I’ve been trying everything I know to sell them but at this point my knowledge is limited.
My subjects for paintings are, wildlife, things of nature, flowers, landscapes and the only thing not of any interest
to me are portraits…I Love to paint, draw, create this has all been part of my life since starting to paint at age 15. My
subject material(90%) comes from photograph that I take also I love black & white photos so I’ve been displaying some of them.

Enola

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Sandra June 14, 2014 at 4:09 pm

I can not imagine that a true artist would not want their main priority to be artistic excellence. I could throw some paint on the canvas and put a price tag on it but selling without knowing I did my best would feel like cheating on a test. You might get an A but you not only didn’t deserve it, but you also didn’t learn anything. I want to sell my work but I also want to strive to be the best I can. So my priority would be artistic excellence and then selling my work. Recognition will follow.

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Tony Torres June 14, 2014 at 4:21 pm

My motivation has always lied in creating. I think I’m weird to be creative. Now, in my present situation, I really need to pursue monetary gain… If I could financially sustain my family through my art, it would be awesome. The business side of art has always been difficult for me. It would be easier to photo-realistic render every strand of hair than come up with a business plan. I can produce art, and would love to be able to make money… to be honest, my major motivation would be to make enough money to gain independence to create more art.

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Jani Freimann June 14, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Right now, my primary goal is to increase sales so I can contribute to the household income and still be a stay-at-home mom. I’ve signed myself up for a studio tour in the fall and an art demo/show in the summer in hopes to build my local customer base. It motivates me to be productive and build my portfolio; which is very much needed for these back-to-back events. I am currently evaluating this goal and weighing the pros and cons. Ultimately being an artist is what I am meant to be. Finding a balance with family life and art as a business has been my challenge. The good news is that my family supports me. Recognition has been happening slowly, but not coupled with the sales I should be getting. If I should suddenly need an income to support my family, I would be in dire straights. I’d like the art sales to be there for financial security for sure.

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john h c davis June 15, 2014 at 6:31 am

Jason- At this time in my art career, I seek recognition as an established artist but I look towards to a level financially that will sustain a comfortable living in my older years. I am turning 60 this year and would like to have my talents and creativity to be with me side by side as my most supportive financial means through those years. Art is what makes me happy.

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Marc Clamage June 15, 2014 at 8:13 am

My primary motivation is all of the above. I am about to turn 58, I am a complete unknown, my kids are through with college and my responsibilities are becoming less urgent. I feel like I am at the peak of my creative powers and yet I lack the freedom to make my artwork on my own terms. At the same time, I can feel myself growing older and more infirm; lugging fifty pounds of painting equipment up a mountainside is no longer the piece of cake it used to be. It’s now or never.

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Charlene Hall June 15, 2014 at 8:58 am

I am equally in the middle at the moment. I am working all three and I have given myself 1 year to do so…After 1 year my focus will be on financial stability. One of my greatest problems is that I find it impossible to let my originals go. I love so, they are my babies.. lol

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Melissa Snyder June 15, 2014 at 9:20 am

I go back and forth between my oil painting and my glass work and have figured out that I do the oil work to express the art that is just for me and to become a better painter. Some day perhaps I will sell some of that work, but at this point that is secondary to improving. My glass work, while I love it, is a more commercial effort. I get all my business from word of mouth. The architectural pieces have been what sells so far, but they are few and far between. I would love to be able to produce more of the decorative objects and sell those. I would then be able to build up stock and not wait for customers with custom orders to come along. It might allow me to continue to finance what I love to do. The trick is getting people to look at what I do as similar to cloisonné enameling work and not “glass painting”.

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Maggib June 15, 2014 at 9:39 am

While all three are important, I think (at least for me) the focus shifts from time to time. Right now my main goal is to to achieve financial security.

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nikki moss June 15, 2014 at 9:49 am

My primary motive for making art is, at this point is connection. In the past it was recognition and money but now I find that the connection I have when painting translates to everything else. The painting itself connects with people which is recognition and it then gos on to getting paid.
By connection I mean loosing myself in the painting and becoming it. Sounds a little esoteric but thats what happens when I feel satisfied with my work. Its like a letting go and trusting that what ever comes up will play out in ways I catch up to.
I have heard artists call this the zone and that is a good word for it. The motive is the zone which brings all kinds of interesting things including believing I am not making enough money.

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Caroline holmes June 15, 2014 at 10:12 am

In an ideal world id have a manager who takes care of all the business side of getting the creations out into the world, a comfortable stream of income and an incredible live work studio gallery so that All I have to focus on is cultivating my artistic practice and create beautiful artworks in many forms to share . i love gifting my work, i love the idea of being able to raise funds for charity from the sale of my work. I love inviting others into deeper refkection of the reality, of their own journey, into peaceful reverie or inspired motivation. This is how I want to contribute and creating art is what im wired to do , it is the vehicle of my journey which gives me purpose and meaning.

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Pat Parker June 15, 2014 at 10:39 am

My primary motivation at this stage of my art career, is getting my sculpture ceramic pieces in shows and galleries. I sell more then I can make of my functional pieces, online, but am just starting to work on promoting my sculpture pieces. At this point, I think recognition and sales are my priority, and I am working on my artistic excellence daily.

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Elaine Schaefer Hudson June 15, 2014 at 1:03 pm

As an artist returning to working after a long time away, I find that the motivation for working fluctuates wildly from day to day. I am currently free from “needing to sell” my work, or at least the financial strain of having to survive on what I sell, however that little “happy dance” when one actually does sell is a powerful boost. Currently, I’m simply trying to raise the bar on the “excellence” section, to find what keeps me in the Zone… where everything falls away except working, and there is a “rightness” to what I am doing. I’m human, so recognition is important too, but, again, all of these priorities vary, sometimes wildly. What tomorrow will bring is anyone’s guess.

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Rochelle June 16, 2014 at 5:03 am

My primary objective is a creative outlet. My day job is in graphic design and while it is a creative field, creativity can often be stifled by project parameters, the market and the client’s sometimes very arbitrary tastes. In my studio, I am the boss. Secondary objective is to make a reasonable living as a full time artist so I can transition away from graphic design in time. Acclaim is not as important to me but I realize that winning awards can be very helpful in reaching my primary and secondary goals so I am also interested in pursuing that route.

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H. Kirk Beckham June 16, 2014 at 7:31 am

The pursuit of happiness and income

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Andrew Saboria June 16, 2014 at 8:43 am

I have been making a living for the past 35 years painting murals. In the area I am well known especially after my last venture of reproducing a mural that once hung and painted by Edward Laning in 1935. It was almost totally destroyed in 1953. My reproduction which I titled “The Lost Mural of Ellis Island” (90 ft. long and 4 ft. high on 16 separate canvases) has been touring the country since 2008. It has not brought me financial gains, in fact up to recently it was using my savings. It has open up certain doors in the art and history world but is not my style since it was a accurate reproduction.
My current goal is to get exposure for my canvas work which I would like to start selling. I get many comments from people who like my work but don’t purchase anything.

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Gregory June 16, 2014 at 9:15 am

Monetary gain from my artwork and being able to support myself as an artist has always been a goal of mine. I believe artistic excellence and recognition are the best ways to achieve that goal.

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Kathleen Secrest June 16, 2014 at 9:31 am

My primary goal is to create the best paintings I can. I want to define my personal style and make paintings I feel good about presenting to the world.

Money would be wonderful and an indication I’m on the right trajectory. Money and recognition will enable me to continue to paint. I don’t want my desire or need for money to overshadow the desire to refine my style and voice but the two goals need to stand next to each other and travel together.

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Mysi Carroll June 16, 2014 at 11:27 am

Reading these comments made me realize that I had not given much thought to what my goals are. I DREAM of being able to have the freedom to create AND provide for my family on my clock rather than someone else’s. I enjoy doing shows and making sales, but I don’t think that motivates me. Deadlines motivate me. I signed up for your e-coarse to learn what I can improve, and perhaps what it is to have goals instead of dreams.

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Robyn Maus June 16, 2014 at 12:09 pm

At this point of my artistic career, my primary motivation is financial reward. I have spent years studying fine art : taking classes, attending workshops, working closely with a mentor, copying the Masters, and practicing my craft. As long as I paint, I know I will continue to get better and better; it is the process. I was recently a featured artist in a show at the Orlando Museum of Art, I have won Best of Show awards, I was featured on a local art TV show , “Focus”. I am secure that people like my work. I have a great work ethic, I am self motivated. I want to see my hard work pay off.

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richard baron June 16, 2014 at 4:25 pm

I am an older artist. My life paths have changed over and over again over my lifetime. In my 30′s I first went to art school and worked hard as a painter, making money by modeling, working in restaurants, etc. My thoughts as that time was that I was never ready YET, though I did show in a few galleries in Maine and California. Then I decided I needed a job that was more steady so I went back to school in GIS and Geography. Originally, I thought I would just need a certificate but ended up going through the graduate department. I got a professional job in 1993 and basically only did some digital work up to very recent. Now I am trying to get back to art and took my first courses in ceramics and printmaking this past spring.

I always wanted recognition, to gain mastery in my art, but also to make some money. So I really wanted all three, none of which were my primary goals. I would like to make some money now, that seems more important but I also am still interested in recognition and mastery.What I would really like is to work primarily as an artist and only some doing GIS and related work.

What has really changed for me is that I am very interested in mixing digital and traditional methods together.

Richard Baron

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Roger Adkins June 16, 2014 at 6:03 pm

I mainly have the drive to create and come up with original ideas the best that I can and doing the best job I can with it. I do love recognition as I always want to display my artwork, I post it on deviantart, facebook, furaffinity, twitter, ect and at local county fairs. I am also interested in making money from it, I do sell some images used on awake, but don’t get much from that and I an selling an original drawing at the Alameda County Fair. But even if I never sold anything I would always still have the drive to create, it’s always in the back of my mind and I am always planning my next drawing. The media I use ink, markers, and color pencils on all my drawings, just to let you know, but creation has always been my biggest motivating force.

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Brian Bailey June 16, 2014 at 7:05 pm

I’m what you would call a “classically trained” artist, I imagine. I attended an art school at a large university and after six years, received my BFA degree. After college, I literally didn’t do squat pertaining to my degree vocationally nor did I even lift so much as a brush for about ten years. You might say I became burnt out, washed out whatever you want to call it for this rather gray decade of my life that I won’t ever get back. However the desire to create resurfaced and I’ve been bending to that will. I still work a non art related job to keep the bills paid but at least I do my best to try to get downstairs to my studio at least once a week. I have begun to get some recognition and have even sold a few pieces but I feel that I have hit kind of a plateau in terms of finding where I want to go next. Of course I would love to be able to support my family on just my art alone but I’m galaxies away from that goal. I believe it is a mix of artistic excellence, recognition, and monetary gain that I strive for.

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Kim Del Castillo June 16, 2014 at 8:09 pm

I have been honing my skills for forty years, Did many consignment jobs and yes when you get the recognition you work more because it feels good. It let’s your creative spirit live. I never asked much for my art, it always made me happy to share. As I Am older now and have been reading more, it’s clearer now. I need to work at recognition. Network.

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Linda Eades Blackburn June 16, 2014 at 8:45 pm

While I have enjoyed the process of creating enough to continue doing it for many, many years, I do need to have a secure income from my work. In one form or another, from Commercial Illustration to Fine Art, painting has been my only job since I finished Art School. While it is wonderful to receive recognition and feedback for my work, it is not my driving force, but I consider it important as a means to promote my art for future sales.

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Fleta Monaghan June 17, 2014 at 4:27 am

Artistic excellence is my driving force. I think artists who focus too much on the commercial aspects tend to produce products and not art that will stand the test of time. It is an extremely difficult problem for artists who need to make a living, and wish to have good representation and sell.

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Denver P. Wilson June 17, 2014 at 8:29 am

The Reason I create Art

In my art I try to take the viewer outside of them selves.

To see beyond what is painted, to feel beyond them selves. To go beyond top secret.

First you have to have something in a painting that the viewer can identify with, and then you have to have a mystery for them to explore. If you do it in the right combination, you can take them past the canvas, past the wall, past the world, past their own thought into the world of pure creation, the spirit.

This doesn’t work with all people, but for those few it is an exciting revelation.
A trip into the spirit.

Sincerely

Denver Wilson

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Kat Dennis June 17, 2014 at 8:59 am

I am happy to say, one of the three have happened !! Recognition x 2..well..sorta.. I am being represented at Agora Gallery in New York and May 1, 2014 was my opening Reception. It was AMAZING !!! It felt like a dream come true !! I will continue with them until November 2014 and hopefully will be offered to return !!
I have been shooting photography for 30+ years and will continue until I either can no longer hold up the camera or can no longer see, which ever comes first. My ultimate dream, to open my own gallery, the front would be for local artists to hang and the back would be for students or low income clients to learn the craft. I really think once I get to that stage, I have made it as an artist, the recognition, money and Artist Achievement is there !!

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carolyn June 17, 2014 at 9:07 am

I think this has given me some much needed clarity. I am working to perfect my skills every day. I have good days and I have bad days and get very frustrated. I have entered my first competition (haven’t heard the results yet) and am thinking about entering my first juried show. I have been working on the plan of perfecting my skill, recognition and monetary gain, in that order. I will continue to travel this path.

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Poline June 17, 2014 at 9:47 am

Jason thanks for clearing lots of things that I do and I had no Idea why I do! At first I just painting for myself! But it got bigger and bigger and now all 3 motivations are important to me! But if I don’t paint for few days I wouldn’t be feeling great! I wish I could just paint and everything else would magically takes it own place and I wouldn’t be worried about it!

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BJ Pinkston June 17, 2014 at 10:41 am

My motivation is driven by a passion within me to create. I think for now it is not so much about entering shows, etc., been there and done that, but more it’s who I am and who I’ve always been. Selling is important to support my habit, however, I will paint if nothing ever sells. I was lucky to sell and have regular commissions to work on until the economy went south. Not now, selling has slowed down and I’m afraid artists are going to suffer this tread for a long time. I am well established in my area and have a good followering. The problem is adding new followers. I have always painted fairly large paintings which are harder to sell. I took a watercolor workshop recently from Gerald Brommer. His advice was to paint smaller more affordable work. I am working on several smaller series now. I hope this will promote more sales. Creating good paintings is the most important thing to me and I will NEVER paint just to make a buck!

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Richard Russeth June 17, 2014 at 10:44 am

Simply put, I like to create. I’d like to create photographs that are of excellence and recognized as such. Financial success as a result of photography would be welcome but is not a core driver for me.

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Janet June 17, 2014 at 11:19 am

I would say financial has always been the first. The other two change positions periodically.

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Jim Carpenter June 17, 2014 at 11:45 am

Artistic achievement is my main motivation. It’s the super objective that runs through it all. It’s an internal goal – and the other two, money and recognition, are external goals. It has only been the last 5 years that I have focused on getting into national exhibits and increasing my exposure, but it has been for something “internal” – a sense of satisfaction in having someone with credentials giving me a blessing. I take it as encouragement – “Ok, so I am on the right path.” I would be very happy to get back some of the money I have invested in my work – I would be thrilled if I actually started to make a profit – and yes, I would say that when someone buys one of my paintings it makes me feel fabulous. So, money – another acknowledgement of achievement is also important. But, if I have to pick one thing that motivates me to paint – it is the pursuit of artistry.

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Elizabeth Newman June 17, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Yes, money is a big part of my motivation too. I would love to devote more time to painting and reaching out to other more established galleries. A close 2nd is in reaching a larger audience and having a greater presence in the art field where I could offer more in ways of support and direction to those who seek us out as a gallery. 3rd-ly I just love a challenge and want to see just how far I can go.

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Melanie Herbruck June 17, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Thinking of the primary motivation for being an artist was a difficult homework assignment. I suppose my thinking has changed over time. While in high school, I wanted someone to consider my work good. Then about 15 years ago until recently, I wanted to be recognized for my art works. Now I would truly appreciate compensation for my materials and the time spent on my paintings. My primary reason today for creating art is to support myself financially. When everything else did not work for me or was not fulfilling, the thought of receiving money, especially a great amount of money for my fine art paintings is highly desirable. Gaining art gallery representation is a goal in the next two years or before, while I complete a series of oil painted paintings.

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Jeanne June 17, 2014 at 1:26 pm

The driving point of my creativity is to truly find and focus on my area of expertise. I’ve been in watercolors for the past 16 years, acrylics for the past 4 and recently expanding to more mediums through teaching children. I’m also drawing and painting in order to find my ‘style’. I would love to get my artwork to a point where I am marketing it, I just don’t feel ready yet.

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Corienne Wagner June 18, 2014 at 7:45 am

For me, the primary impetus has always been artistic excellence, striving to achieve new levels of accomplishment in the art I create, and learning to master new art forms as well. Recently though my focus has been shifting a bit. I find that, while the creative process is still my favorite endeavor, I need to learn to catch an audience’s attention. I need to learn to make my art process self supporting, or possibly eventually let my art help support me. I would love to have a career in art, to not have to split my time between working a part or full time job I dislike, and creating, sharing, and selling art. I feel that my creativity and success both suffer for being packed into the smallest corner of my time.

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Marilee June 18, 2014 at 8:27 am

Creating art, for me, was born out of abject misery in my life. Starting to “smush” colours on to any surface I had (file folders, lumber, whatever I could scrounge) gave me a sense of purpose, and satisfied my craving to have something of my own, just for me. I hid my work under the couch so nobody could see it. When friends did see some of my work (thanks for dropping by without telling me!) and seemed impressed with what I was doing, pride started taking over. I began to think of myself as an artist, and not as a colour smusher. I apologized for my work more often than not – it embarrassed me. Eventually, I started taking pictures of my pieces and posted them on FB. I was blown away every single time someone made a positive, encouraging statement. I started believing that I had earned the right to stop using file folders, and go to an art store and actually buy a canvas! That was three years ago. Today, I am much more comfortable with my work, and actually love some of it. I have sold a few pieces this year. Having sales, and more critical attention, has made me want to be better, do better, paint better. I am having my first “show” (an outdoor backyard show & sale) with a fellow novice artist, next month. Feeling a bit jittery about it, although I’m looking forward to hearing some constructive criticism too. My goal is not just to sell, its to improve, and feel extremely proud of my accomplishments. If sales follow – bonus! :)

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Diane June 18, 2014 at 10:29 am

At this point, financial stability is my motivation.

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Leigh Herndon June 18, 2014 at 11:11 am

Upon examining my primary goal, I don’t see why entering juried shows and finding gallery representation should be mutually exclusive. It seems to me that art that is winning awards in juried shows would give the buyer more confidence in his/her decision.

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Dinah Anaya June 19, 2014 at 11:46 am

For me, motivation in doing art began as a way out of my depression. It is now something I love to do but now is driven by the need to support myself. My goal is to be financially stable and to be able to bless others. I believe in creating art I like such as landscape and abstract, but I do need guidance and lots of help from someone who really cares to help me out. Thank you Jason for these articles you are sending our way.

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Michael Lynn Adams June 18, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Speaking only for myself – I put SALES as a motivation, related to but, independent of MONEY. I am deeply touched and validated when a stranger pays for one or several pieces to become a treasured part of their life. Gaining that satisfaction is a far greater incentive to me than the money.

This my train of thought:
• I need create high QUALITY work – work that I love. If I love my work I am confident that others will love it, too.
• Once the work is created it is my responsibility to let people know about the work (personally, online, or through galleries) and help it gain broader audience – RECOGNITION.
• If I do both of those well, SALES will happen. MONEY is a wonderful side benefit.

This formula has worked nicely so far. However, I fall short on the second point – the marketing/recognition part. Which explains why I am seeking guidance.

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Emily June 22, 2014 at 7:36 pm

I especially appreciate your way of separating sales vs money. I believe the positive part of sales also falls at the intersection of sales and recognition. In fact that sort of sale is like a high for of recognition, in my opinion just as valuable as a juror’s award.

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Terry Holliday Giltner June 18, 2014 at 5:20 pm

At this point in my career I would say that I am looking for a way to make a living with my art. Although, I am always aiming for artistic excellence in each piece that I create so that is a motivation as well.

I have already been through the recognition phase and did very well when I was a stay at home mom. I never made enough money with my art work to make a living, but I did win quite a few awards in national and international art shows. I showed my work in several galleries that over time ended up going out of business. I even had a few one woman shows.

After a few years I went to work full time and stopped entering shows and promoting myself. I did not have enough time. I continued to grow in my art as I worked because luckily I was an art teacher. Teaching inspired me to try new things but I seldom had time to produce any really great pieces while teaching.

Now that I am not teaching, I could use the income. But that isn’t my only motivation. I have this innate need to create. In a way it is like eating and breathing. If I am not creating in some way I feel out of sorts. I become cranky. I think my creating has developed through the years into a meditation.

Being an artist isn’t easy. Obviously an artist’s motivations are going to change as they move through life.

Thanks for the article, Jason.

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Janet Tippett Knight June 19, 2014 at 8:31 am

I paint because I have a passion for it and what ever subject I have chosen to portray in my painting. I feel success in creating a work that satisfies me. Yes, It is nice to please a buyer and sell and make money but that is not my primary goal. I paint for the pure satisfaction of it. I enjoy trying to make a dull subject come alive through color, technique, texture, form etc. Making time for creating is a challenge , as is finding a place to show my work. I look forward to some constructive critiques of my work.

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Ikaika Anderson June 19, 2014 at 8:33 am

I have a multifaceted motivation. I wish to be recognized as well as gain financial stability with my art; however that is more of a desires end result. I am motivated more by my heritage and to convey a depiction of my cultures before the sites or stories are lost forever.

In connection with displaying my culture so that future generations will remember their history I am also motivated by portraying emotion as well as truth. I don’t fancy the idea of falsifying an impression or emotion.

I have been working on this goal for about a year now; however the road is as rocky as it is to become a successful artist.

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Barbara June 19, 2014 at 8:35 am

Working with my hands to shape, color, form, assemble is just what I do. For a long time getting better and learning techniques was the motivator. Now it’s money.
So I need to know what sells.

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Sue June 19, 2014 at 8:45 am

Hello Jason,
For me, as a relative newcomer, it is all about learning and growing – to hone my skills. Where these skills take me, I haven’t a clue. But I would like to believe that if my art is well enough received, there may be some financial gain from it in sales of originals art, prints, perhaps some licensing.

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Don Golden June 19, 2014 at 8:59 am

I just started learning new techniques in the art of fusing glass and that is my motivating factor – learning. I have been in school at least one year every decade of my life. I would not consider myself a perfectionist, my mother had that role, but I want to achieve a mastery of certain techniques. I believe that a balance is necessary not only as an artist but in all aspects of a person’s life. I am getting close to retiring from my day job “special education teacher” and would like to make some money off of my art, at least enough to support it and expand into different areas of glass art. It is also important for my work to be seen, so I do apply to shows and exhibits, if sales happen then that’s a bonus. I can remember the first show I was juried into and the feeling of being accepted as an artist that went with that validation. We (artists) put ourselves out there and to be recognized for creating something unique is important to all of us, even though some of us might not admit it. So, in the end I would say that making money, having my artwork seen and improving the quality of my art is what lights the fire inside of me.

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Mary Barr Rhodes June 19, 2014 at 10:35 am

My artistic pursuit serves as my spiritual practice. I love the quiet hours as I move through my process. Noticing the way the paint absorbs into an unprimed canvas, the vibration of color on color in overpainting or the sheer beauty of pure color all feed my soul. I have worked for years in developing my signature marks, my palette . . . my genre. I strive for my personally unique expression, yet still in the realm of abstract expressionism. My pursuit for artistic achievement brings me a deeper understanding of the universe and a deeper, direct knowing in the process.

After my quiet time in the studio it is wonderful to be recognized for my excellence. I am fortunate to be represented by a gallery here in town so, I do receive recognition and support through the gallery. I also enter juried exhibitions from time to time to reassure myself that my work is appealing to the general masses. And, I do curate a few shows from time to time. I show with other artists or curate for a non-profit. I do like contributing to a cause that betters our world.

And, of course, I like to be paid for my work. I would like to be represented in at least ten galleries around the nation. I was up to three galleries a couple of years back but the gallery in Chicago and California both closed. I am currently building an inventory so that I have enough work for various galleries. So, this is my focus for the next few years. I find myself doing the painting, the writing, the curating, the marketing . . . and it takes away from my true pursuit of the process of painting. I was asked to be part of an online gallery about six months ago and haven’t gotten around to that yet. But, I recognize that it is a journey. . . and, on that, I remain steadfast.

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Susan June 19, 2014 at 11:04 am

So many of the responses sound like me today or in some past day. But as I’ve tried to think of MY answer, I keep thinking I’d answer differently not only in different years of my life but even on different days!

Today, I’d say my primary motivation would be financial, but that sounds so harsh. I am a perfectionist, especially in my art. So, I am very concerned with Artistic Excellence – maybe too concerned at times. I critique my work (sometimes before I begin!).

Since my retirement-age husband was recently laid off and his income and paid benefits vanished AND I am still working full-time (in a non-art profession), I suppose my life outlook has changed dramatically in just a few months. Now, I am saddened at the prospect of having to keep my good paying job for many more years just to make ends meet. My motivation to create has taken a hit. I still spend most of my “free time” thinking about art, reading artists’ blogs or seeing their recent work. I am sketching and planning for paintings and creating one every couple of months, but the “doing” is harder these days. I guess it’s just the heavy cloud of the future is blocking out some of the joy. I just need to free myself up – experiment – forget about the outcome maybe. But, see, that’s really hard for a perfectionist.

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Barbara June 19, 2014 at 11:46 am

Working with my hands to shape, color, form, assemble is just what I do. For a long time getting better and learning techniques was the motivator. Now it’s money.
So I need to know what sells.
Dependence upon the approval of others looms discouragingly large. I’m much too affected by this and work to reduce the power it exerts. It’s good when it lifts spirits and inspires creation; not good when it makes you second guess your work to win some fleeting approbation.

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pdrapala June 19, 2014 at 11:48 am

Thanks for asking, Jason. As a visual artist, I define being a successful artist, at this time in my life, to be selling my series of paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints/etchings, and photographs in galleries. I have worked continuously on several series of works for approximately 15 years on various subjects; Asian, Farmworkers, Bikers, Children, Frida Kahlo, Abstract Florals, and others series. I have had exhibitions on all of them including winning awards for my works of art and sold one series of nine paintings for thousands of dollars. Now is the time that I start placing my works in galleries since I have bodies of works to sell. If an gallery agent would assist me, I would be most grateful. Sincerely, Pamela Carvajal Drapala (Pam)

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Laurel June 19, 2014 at 4:11 pm

I think success for me at this point is painting and continuing to improve my work. I’ve just begun to sell work and would like this to continue in an upswing. I’m trying to find a balance between creating/improving skills as an artist and actually marketing my work. At this point, art is still part-time for me, but I would like that to change in the future.

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Debbie Bridges June 19, 2014 at 6:34 pm

My motivation includes a good dose of all three. I strive for excellence and am looking to learn more about my art as a photographer. I also strive to learn more about editing. I love it when people recognize and enjoy my work. But I dream most of making a living with my photography. I would love to own my own gallery one day. I want to create and be my own boss at the same time. I am getting older now and I’ll be hopefully retiring in about 10 years or so. However, I don’t want to wait that long to make my living with art. Art is not something I will ever “retire” from. I HAVE to CREATE!

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Reid Helms June 20, 2014 at 8:30 am

My artistic vision isn’t something I need to think about. It’s who I am. I am an artist. It’s a part of everything I do. I NEED to create my art. When I can’t, I’m not happy. So I guess that is the biggest motivator, happiness. Selling my work would help me make more. Getting critical acclaim or favorable reviews would only be a means to an end. Finding buyers for my work would be the best thing that could happen to me and give me more freedom to create. Social media has been a source of acknowledgement, but not of sales. It has encouraged me and let me know that people like my work, but not enough to buy it. It seems marketing is the next step for me by finding representation in an appropriate gallery or other venues to hang my work.

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Patty Franklin June 20, 2014 at 9:17 am

Once I determined that I had transitioned from art as a hobby to being a professional artist, my driving force has always been to have my art admired and purchased. If my art cannot provide monetary gain, than it IS a hobby.

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Jack June 20, 2014 at 9:41 am

This is a very interesting question and to me, it helps me answer the previous question about my biggest problem; it changes as does my motivation; all for the good!

My brief encounters with art galleries made me realize I was not focused enough in my own meaning and reason for being an artist, although my work was greatly encouraged. I was shocked that they were telling me what I had always been telling myself and went into a deep search for meaning and process, which I decided had to align themselves in my work.

I developed a style and sense of thought that satisfies me and is the first work that has some enjoyment to offset the pain. In the process I have greatly improved my attitude and my sense of where my art and the art world in general is and should be going.

So most emphatically my motivation has changed and I have reached a point where I feel comfortable exposing and explaining my work. My financial success has never been there, but has been hinted at by some amazing false alarms and the realization that maybe I was not ready yet.

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Roxanne (Roxie) Nichols June 20, 2014 at 10:48 am

For me its something I need to do daily to feed my soul. Its a calming factor as well. I love painting and have been doing so for about 15 years. Do I want to sell my art – yes. Does my husband want me to make money to help contribute – YES:) But I really paint for me .

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Pamela June 20, 2014 at 11:19 am

Think my primary goal for creating art is for recognition and to be viewed in the art community as a true visual artist. With that said, there are a lot of amazing artists out there who compete to be one of the best. That encourages me to create in my mind high quality art. As far as sells, that to me is not the most important aspect although selling my art surely wouldn’t hurt. I just view that aspect of it as icing on the cake.

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Paola June 20, 2014 at 3:29 pm

My motivation number one is the desire to create from within.financial stability would be my freedom to make more of what I love the most in my life! Recognition would n
Be nice but not my main motivation.

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Ron Bigony June 20, 2014 at 4:56 pm

primary goal is to get one more painting accepted by the American Watercolor Society then submit for signature membership. Marketing is not right now my primary goal.

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Adriana LoRusso June 20, 2014 at 6:51 pm

My art comes from my soul, I’m a self taught artist and I’ve been working really hard for Artistic Excellency, Recognition would be great since I’ve been exposing my work on shows every chance I have and also inside the artist community. Monetary Gain/Financial Stability is my dream, my freedom to do more art, to rent a bigger studio etc…

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Kathy Crocker June 21, 2014 at 9:19 am

4 years ago, I began my interest in art as creativity. It was wonderful to feel that I could create landscapes in art and very satisfying. As time goes on I began classes in various mediums and decided to remain with watercolor and acrylic venues. In taking art classes I began to want recognition and critiques of my art work to further fine tune my creations.
Now, presently I still take art lessons for all the reasons above, but now am looking towards gaining some monetary end results to supplement my retirement, and of course expenses for art materials.
I am hoping your guidance will help me with finding the right avenues to gain monetary and recognition for my creativity.

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Stephanie Rose Long June 21, 2014 at 9:36 am

Jason, thank you for laying this out in plain language. I guess this has been a stumbling block for me and I didn’t really realize it. On first thought I would say my primary motivation at this point in my life is financial stability. This motivation has changed over the passed few years. My heart is in honing my craft of pastels, and yet without the money to do that full time, I have branched out to decorative painting and jewelry making. The latter, I consider my “job” to finance my passion for pastels. Of course recognition plays a major role in my success as both a fine artist,craftswoman and business woman, and is a positive reinforce to all I do. The only thing better than a big fat ribbon is a big fat check!!!

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Jan Davies June 21, 2014 at 9:47 am

I have saturated most of my attention in achieving a level of artistic excellence, which is a lifelong pursuit I believe. Without the artistic skill and experience there is no where to go. Next came recognition, while I do not pursue awards or contests, I have gained exposure through providing the Local Color cover photos for our local newspaper and creating a Photography Artist page on facebook. This public sharing has brought me requests for photos for local projects that are community benefit, pro bono, which I gladly share when it is a good fit. But I am also getting offers to buy, and want to maximize those opportunities, and have a professional presentation.

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Bee Garmon June 21, 2014 at 11:49 am

As of now, i am more concerned with selling some of my work. I have some placed in a small store in a very nice part of town for sales. I am trying several different styles to see what is in demand.

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Marisa Eddins June 21, 2014 at 12:14 pm

My motivation is to create something excellent and lasting – to look at something I did and think, “I can’t believe I did that!” In the beginning, I wanted to create something that I could give to my children and grandchildren and would be there after I’m gone. Then it became a way to preserve memories for myself and my friends. Now that people are asking to buy my art, I am beginning to realize that selling and teaching art might be an enjoyable way to cushion my retirement income. When a stranger asks to buy my art (with a stranger I know it’s the painting they truly love) there is a real feeling of accomplishment.

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Cyrel June 21, 2014 at 3:17 pm

My driving force right now is Money. I need money to pursue my artistic interests the way I would like too.

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Connie Townsend June 22, 2014 at 8:30 am

This is my job, that I love, and it pays the bills. I need for that to continue into my senior living years.

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Patty Kay June 22, 2014 at 8:43 am

My number one motivation at this point is making the segue’ toward selling my artwork and making a living at doing it without sacrificing doing the type of work that I want. I have a lot of business and sales background and am aware going into this phase that one of the basic foundations of “making sales” is to sell something as Horace Vandergelder in “Hello, Dolly!” said “Selling something everyone needs everyday”. So from there, I have to work my way backward to selling something at least a large group of people would be interested in, IF I want to focus on selling. I have been working on a wild, personal-type piece for a couple of years that brings me sheer enjoyment to work on. It is “personal”. Someone else “might” like it, but it is something my soul wanted to create for the sake of creation. I recognize it as such. The reward was/is the “process” of doing it. I hope and expect nothing else from it. One day, I may enter it in a show just because I like it. Again, I know this is not for the masses. When I go to art shows and I see what is winning, I am often flabberghasted at how “non-sellable” the art is. I assume the artists are doing the same thing that I’m doing because I know the “regular” work of some of these artists and their “show” work is often outside of that norm.
When I go into making something “sellable” I have to think of “market demand”…IF my goal is to sell. When I think like that, I put aside a certain amount of time to paint what will sell. It is the same logic that one uses when one is painting part time and has to work a day job. This “sellable” art I am hoping in time will be the day job. I am fine with that. Dedicating that much time to “sellable” art will build several skills as an artist/businessperson that will come in handy when I create my “soul driven” art. I am ok with that scenario. I alot a certain amount of time in my week (ideally…) for each and so far it seems to be working out. “Selling”, right now becomes my primary goal. If I can do that, I will have more money to apply to study to build more artistic excellence. This past 4 years, artistic excellence was my goal. I see it as a kind of zig-zag process, like tacking in sailing. You have to kind of go back and forth between the two. For me, they work together, pushing each other along. I am less concerned about recognition, feeling that what comes will come as a by product of the other two.

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Elaine Evans June 22, 2014 at 9:31 am

My, main motivation……
I have painted most of my life. I love the act of creating. It is something I feel I was born to do. I am searching for that signature that says … that is an elaine evans painting. Quality is very important to me , I want my work to look professional. I love getting the praise, that is important, it makes me shine. I went to a plein air paint out in Mendocino, CA last year. As I painted I hung the painting and it sold. I sold every piece before the paint was dry. I was so charged, I could barely wait for the next day to paint more. The act of selling and knowing people found something special in my work to buy it over others work was exilerating. I did not make enough to cover my expenses for the experience, but, I was on such a high I wanted to to continue. It was kind of a downer to come home and find that no one was on my doorstep waiting for my next painting.

I would have to say, my ego gets in there and gets a thrill from being desired. I would love to be able to be self sufficient from the sales of my art. I also have learned recently that I have to be true to myself and paint what I love, not what I think will sell.

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Barbara B June 22, 2014 at 2:35 pm

When I am immersed in my art… I feel like I am in heaven. Likewise, on those days when I can’t seem to get around to it because of a crazy schedule or interruptions … I feel like a piece of me has been chained or cut off.

I’m proud of my work and what I’ve been able to accomplish so far in the little time I’ve actually taken to do it, but it’s not by any means perfected yet. I feel like my style hasn’t come forth yet and and because I love working in a wide range of different mediums, I realize it might take a while for me to find it. I don’t like to think I will have to give up any one type of medium or style to further my art as a career, though I do acknowledge that if I honed in more on a particular one, I might develop it sooner… and that people may want to see more of one thing over another (i.e; seeing where the market it).

My ultimate goal is to have a studio, and the time (or justification) to work on my art everyday, and to be able to make a living at it. That would be a dream come true. I love receiving recognition for my work, and I would be thrilled to have people wanting to buy it, and enjoying it at galleries. Still…. I feel it needs work. I need to be able to put pieces together that will sell, and since my goal is to do work that evokes moods or stirs the emotions, and are ultimately realistic (or surrealistic, using realistic looking subjects), it keeps pulling me back to the improving my work stage.

Having said that, I might be just as happy doing art for a cartoon or animation, I just don’t have that skill set yet.

I’ve had a few requests for commissioned pieces… painting something from a photo someone else took, etc… and I enjoy these as a challenge, and appreciate that they want me to do it for them, but ultimately my goal is to do work that sells on its own, because people are taken in by it, or work that is commissioned because they want my style.

To summarize… I think it’s safe to say that for now I would be happy if I could just do art daily and develop it further, but I need an income, and ultimately showing and selling is what I want. If I could find a way to merge my art with an income … I would be thrilled.

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Blanca Hammett June 22, 2014 at 11:26 pm

My primary motivation is Monetary gain/financial stability. I want to be able to keep painting and sell my art. Gaining financial stability with my art will allow me to achieve my goals while I do one of the things I enjoy most, painting. I feel happy when people acquire my paintings because they connect with them, they enjoy looking at them.

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Rhonda McSorley June 23, 2014 at 3:42 am

My primary goal is to leave a legacy of my expression of the beauty of nature. To capture moments and expressions of
wildlife, landscapes and nature forever and to receive monetary gain from these photographic instances. As you stated,
receiving monetary gain will help me create more. Creating and expressing my inner emotion thru photography and other mediums is my main motivation.

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Sandy June 23, 2014 at 11:43 am

My driving force is the NEED to create something, to transform these many wacky ideas in my brain to a concrete structure. I feel so much joy when I create something, and I really do feel a need for that type of expression. I’m still fairly new at this, and while I appreciate the monetary gains, I’m not successful enough at it to consider it my career…..hopefully, that will come.

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Gwen June 23, 2014 at 12:10 pm

I have been honing skills/artistic excellence and I have come to the season where it is time to monetize the work. One child out of college, two in college, two soon to enter and one bonus baby, 9, winding up the parade. For the past 25 years I have been raising children and making art. I did some competitions, but logistically and emotionally it was not good for me, I found myself painting for the competition and while that got results it hurt my heart. Outside recognition is not important to me at this stage. Making good art and launching children into adulthood is. More money would make their journey through higher education easier.

Funny, it feels odd to even admit the monetary desires.
Thank y’all for letting me share. Now I have to go dig my cat out from under the collage material she pulled down on herself.

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FKL June 23, 2014 at 3:02 pm

My primary motivation at my current stage is developing a larger body work in order to sell more consistently and obtain financial stability/prosperity.

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Mary Winters-Meyer June 23, 2014 at 3:42 pm

For me, artistic achievement will always happen. I am a creator. I can’t *not* create, and will always be creating something. But my motivation for creating 2-D art vs any of the other artistic forms of expression I enjoy (beadwork, cross stitch, knitting lace, etc.) is financial stability and making enough money from my art to not have to work a second job. I know that creating art and selling it is as hard or harder than holding a “regular” job, but for me, having the freedom to set my own hours and take time off when needed for my health problems is extremely important. Also, I can still create when I’m not feeling my best, I just have to do it in smaller “sections” of time, with rest periods in between. And during the rest periods, I can do research for my current piece or a future one.

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Albertus Joseph June 23, 2014 at 9:27 pm

I want the freedom to create and be creative. I need more business sense. I’m a horrible businessman. I do show but I need to show more and definitely sell more. I hope this course can help me there. (Smile)

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Dawn Leigh June 24, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Jason,

My primary motivation is to find the sweet spot of the balance of the Artistic Achievement, Recognition and Monetary Gain. As I have taken the plunge of becoming a full time artist (still having a foot in both the secular and art world at the moment; however, when asked what do I do these I first say Artist, then mention I am both Right and Left brained and I also am a business consultant.), my goal is to fine financial stability through my art.

If I was to put them in order of importance on my life they would go as follows: financial stability, monetary gain, artistic achievement and lastly recognition.

When I was younger recognition was much more important to me. These days I would rather have cash flow and stability than awards.

Dawn Leigh

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Paul Berenson June 26, 2014 at 1:04 pm

I began painting in 1973 with the goal of becoming the next link in the chain of Titian>>Rubens>>Delacroix>>Monticelli>>van Gogh>>Monet. I read Vincent’s complete Letters where, in #’s 536 & 537 he explained Chevruel’s color theory of how to break colors into each other to form neutralish tones of greater of lesser value to use to lighten and darken my base colors, and as an underpainting to bring harmony and depth to my canvases.

Most importantly, I dedicated myself to working 7-10 hrs a day, 7 days a week, 340-350 days a year and ordering my life around it. At one point I did this for two years without painting a single picture I liked. I have continued with this regimen for 40 yrs. now, and counting.

I moved to Boston in 1977 where I set up in the galleries at the Museum of Fine Arts for a year, copying/interpreting/analyzing the works of Monet, Delacroix, Vincent, Gauguin, etc to see HOW they applied the paint and juxtaposed their colors across the picture.

In 1978 I moved back to Santa Barbara where I practiced what I learned painting spectacular flower gardens and all of the vibrant colors of Southern California.

I got a job working weekend nights and fill-ins as a radio personality, while reserving all of my days for painting. I tried marketing my work in the 1980′s with some success, but it became much easier to support myself with the radio and focused the time I would spend running around to galleries on creating.

Now I’m 65 and semi-retired with roughly 2000 oil paintings tracking my career from the beginning and I’m seriously attempting to market my work mostly on my website, Facebook, and other electronic media.

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Jessica June 26, 2014 at 4:51 pm

My primary motivation is create art that people feel connected to and want to buy.

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Barbara Besser/ANALEIA June 27, 2014 at 9:01 am

When I delve deep…and think and feel what success would be like…I imagine being of true SERVICE with the art that is
created THROUGH me. I create with SPIRIT GUIDANCE…and when I am called to do these sessions, and the clients benefit from the time and the painting, then I feel rewarded. I create what I entitle SPIRIT ESSENCE PORTRAITS…each is a reflection of the client at a SOUL LEVEL…the painting is then created…and the session includes life coaching…all guided from within. I have done hundreds of these sessions, and welcome more…more…MORE!!! I am open to feedback and honest input from any other artist. I do realize that this type of art is UNIQUE and has a special place “on the market”…but, I also know the positive potential, and outcome…changing lives…one by one…that is my goal.

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Linda Kyle June 27, 2014 at 9:12 am

Jason,

I would like to thank you for this course! I am finding things about myself that I never thought about!

I find myself motivated by several things. Right now I am mostly wanting exposure so I can start making a living at this. The thought of getting paid for something I thoroughly enjoy doing is awesome. I have found myself the enjoyment of putting my work in shows and winning ribbons for it then having people making comments about my work and how they love it; but most of all I love seeing my work being sold to someone who enjoys it, gives me a feeling of great satisfaction.

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Lee Muslin June 27, 2014 at 9:43 am

Just about to go away for the weekend so this will be short. Artistic excellence and monetary gain in equal parts.

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Kathryn Weisberg June 27, 2014 at 11:38 am

First and foremost is to produce as high a quality of art as I am capable of producing. Second would be to grow artistically continually, learning to perfect my craft with each painting. Third is my life-long desire to have a strong relationship with “the right” Gallery. One with whom I can have an ongoing, mutually rewarding experience. Lastly I would like to make a reasonable income off my art which would allow me to travel, purchase supplies and enjoy the life of a painter to the fullest.

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Nancy June 27, 2014 at 6:01 pm

reading the above sounded familiar to me- there is a balance to be struck- both sales and recognition go hand in hand- artists through history understood this. It is only in the last century that art recognition and money have become a dirty topic- “how can you sell your soul”- or “prostitute yourself”? I know that is all non- sense. My challenge : I am living in a state that has almost ( there might be two) no fine art galleries. Working artist here are in need of getting work out if state- while living in this one- or moving- which in that case – information on relocating as a fine artist will be useful. I have had both recognition and sales- but I am in need of more robust fine arts gallery-. Perhaps you can also start a course on running a successful fine arts gallery. :-) without the low end tourist stuff- and framing center. thanks

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Barbara Blair June 27, 2014 at 10:35 pm

Jason,

My primary goal is to create a full-time lucrative business with my art, which requires putting in the studio time and honing my skills.

I’m not interested in juried exhibits, winning awards or critical praise, as I don’t believe that necessarily relates to what people will buy. My definition of recognition is when someone loves my work and values it enough to buy it, and wants to live with it. They are unlikely to do that without the art making an emotional connection with them. Since I also believe that art can be a form of visual healing (as stated in earlier posts), another primary motivator for me is to make art that serves that purpose.

I love the creative process and making things, but my ideal is to put those creations out into the world for people to enjoy and be effected by in a positive, uplifting way.

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Meg June 28, 2014 at 5:21 am

One of my goals is to get my paintings, drawings, beasties, and creatures out of my house, if that means showing them, or selling them that is perfect. I just moved and moving the art was a big job all by itself. I am a teacher of inner city children and I envision my retirement being a time when I can make art to my hearts content, hone my craft as you put it, and then start to earn some money along the way, to supplement my retirement income. At the earliest that is ten years away, and I hope it is not the fifteen it should be to get the full benefit of my years of service, I don’t want to be one of those teachers that has given up on my students and is in it til the bitter end, and really would like to retire in ten years. If recognition for my work comes with showing it, and selling it, that is a huge bonus.

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Renee June 28, 2014 at 8:12 am

Enjoyment and appreciation. These are my two motivating factors!

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Elsa June 28, 2014 at 10:37 am

Defining my success as an Artist is:
a) Artistic Achievement: To be part of everything behind and ahead of me. To finding clarity against the force of uncertainty during the creative process in the studio. Holding many perspectives at once when I am done. Seeing the studio chalkboard full of visual melodies waiting for my return.
b) Recognition: For my work to be invited, exhibited, accepted, understood, connected and loved by an audience. For my work to exist somewhere else beyond my current time and place.
c) Monetary Gain/ Financial Stability: To make and Sale…again and again.
Edited by Elsa Henderson on 6/28/2014

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Kurt June 28, 2014 at 11:18 am

My primary motivation is to be a positive participant in and meaningful contributor to the contemporary photography world.

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JoLoBx June 28, 2014 at 11:21 am

For me, it is excellence in the work or not even excellence, it is a journey which may lead to what others might describe as “excellence.” It is the discovery that is important to me. Being in a show is part of this because it is a form of communication, so the journey is not complete without it. In last place is selling, but for me, I worry about what is going to happen to my paintings when I’m gone. I want them to have homes. So I want to sell. But I think I am in the category of making good art that people do not want on their walls. I have been in a shows where the most accessible design-y art sells and the “real” art does not. Many people who buy art do not seem to know the difference nor care to know the difference. I don’t even think gallery owners know the difference a lot of the time. Or they just want to sell anything that sells. So it’s kind of discouraging. I just read an article that is very interesting about the way the art world is set up and I agree that the model needs some revamping. Here is the article: http://art.newcity.com/2014/05/05/eye-exam-seven-ways-to-innovate-the-art-world/ If it’s okay to post this link, then great! If not, you can delete that part.

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Catherine Jo Morgan June 28, 2014 at 12:56 pm

In my long range view, artistic excellence slightly edges out recognition — tho what I mean by recognition is more recognition by galleries and art consultants, than by museums. And I want my heart paintings to be all over the world regardless of anyone’s income — wherever hope and encouragement and empowerment are needed. Appreciation by prisoners and by people waiting in low-income clinics is as important to me as appreciation by art collectors — but both matter to me.

In the short run, though, production and sales are key — in order for my long range vision to be sustainable. High production will help me develop as an artist, and sales will keep me fed, housed and maybe even get me the larger studio space I want.

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Sue Carmicle June 28, 2014 at 1:05 pm

I do art mainly because I love the creative process. Sometimes,though, I do have to admit it would really be nice to share my work in a gallery. If I were to actually sell something now and then, that would be like icing on the cake.When I think about giving up and just quitting the whole art thing it makes me sad. I can’t picture my life without art in it.

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Perry Calton June 28, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Success is sell sell sell and I don’t care why.

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Julia Wickes June 28, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Artistic excellence is a personal goal as a professional. It is required and expected in the marketplace. However, as an artist in the business of making and selling my art, making a stable income is an extremely important factor to me. I am enrolled in this course to learn all that I can about the tips and techniques you suggest, Jason, so that I can be a respected and collected fine artist who does not have to compromise my goals, vision and standards to successfully compete in the marketplace.

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L Henry June 29, 2014 at 6:17 am

As an aspiring artist and the mother of an artist, my goal is financial stability (for both of us). As I get closer to retirement, I would love to be able to bring in extra money during my more mature years. I also want to help my daughter plan a successful art career. She being financially independent and traveling the world (or at least the USA), creating art, and being represented by galleries.

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Cicily Tarapchak June 29, 2014 at 8:49 am

Sue C. I too love creating. Without it I would not be me. I’m retired, and did art other than painting for most of my life. I’m painting now, and I guess what I crave most is recognition. Selling paintings would be wonderful, but I need only to sell enough to pay for my materials. In my senior years, the marketing and selling process is difficult for me…………..don’t do well with what I consider the cumbersome, mundane tasks involved. But, as others have stated, my home, after only 6 months is becoming overloaded with paintings. These posts have me now thinking about how to “get it out there”. What good is art stacked against the wall?

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Debora L. Stewart June 29, 2014 at 8:53 am

I think artistic excellence has to come first for me and then the others fall into place behind that. I have to try to create the best work possible and to continually challenge myself to do so. I will always be challenged with that as I haven’t attained it and never will. Recognition from peers and others comes after this. Recognition has given me the validation to strike out farther and take risks. This has led to gallery representation. But representation is only part of the equation for me. The final aspect is giving to others through teaching. I see it all as a continual circle of influence on my art. But, for me the art has to come first and then all else falls into place. I worked all my life full time and created my art in my spare time and read as much as I could about the business of art. I’ve now been a full time artist for almost one year. I’m busier now than I ever have been. Balance is becoming a major challenge!

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Becca June 29, 2014 at 9:36 am

Well, Jason, this is quite the question. Not always easy to tie up in a pretty bow. Art, when I was young, was my escape from a difficult home life. My place to find and make something pretty and beautiful. Even now when I draw at work its to keep my sanity as I deal with difficult customers on the phone. It were I find the beauty in a world I often find very ugly and cruel. I need my art to survive. This is something probably only 2 or 3 people in my life even vaguely understand. Ironically, you will find I love to do portraits, but then again those are of people at their best and most innocent. Anyway, enough deep stuff. Aside from that, I want to inspire others and see their faces when they look at my pieces and the thrill of joy, puzzlement, reflection or tenderness that flashes in their eyes. Or that mom that paints in her living room hears my story and how I became a success and live off my art and is inspired to do the same and becomes the J. K. Rowling of the art world. Or the teenager who has no one supporting her to go to college and changes her mind and follows her dream. Honestly, right now the biggest motivation is I want to make a living from my art so I have more time to be with my own family and not be burdened by a job I hate.

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Pamela June 29, 2014 at 12:36 pm

My driving force at this point is to focus on selling my work. Over the past year I established myself in the local (Miami) art scene, took a studio in an established art complex, and exhibited nationally, regionally, and locally. In addition, I created 30 new works and completed another 20 from my archives.
I promoted my work on social media and my blog and website, amassed a sizeable mailing list, and sold some art.
Now that I have substantial bodies of work and have lain the groundwork for success, my next focus is selling – through galleries, boutiques, online, in person. I have several product lines: fine art, décor, apparel, accessories. Each is geared toward differing markets: High end luxury, boutiques/gallery shops, moderate.
I will continue to produce new work this season (2014-2015) with a shift in perspective toward fewer, larger pieces so I can focus on selling.

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Steffi June 29, 2014 at 12:38 pm

I want to get back to the point where many of the other posters are at. “The work is piling up so much that I am giving the away.” Is something I’m really trying to visualize. I’ve been a bit stuck. I went through some photos yesterday that I would like to use for new paintings, I also inventoried the 5 paintings that I have started, that are in various stages of completion. I’m juggling with the idea of trying to finish the ones I started or move onto a new one and possibly come back to the others later. A lot of clutter kind of destroys my will to create, so I’m going to try and declutter my environment so I’m less distracted when I do get down to working.

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Rita Knight June 29, 2014 at 1:21 pm

I love the creative process, and I also love to share it with others. When people admire or buy one of my paintings, it makes me feel wonderful that they loved it enough to purchase it. I enjoy art exhibits, but I think my primary goal would be to develop a following of people who love and appreciate my work. I would like to see my work displayed in homes, places of business, and hospitals.

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Ariela Boronat June 29, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Of course, I LOVE making art!!! However, at this point in my life, my main motivation is financial stability. Since art is
my main income source, being able to sell my work is extremely important.
Jason: Thanks a million for your willingness to help artists!!

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Ruby June 29, 2014 at 2:38 pm

My driving force??? Not sure I know. I have done many shows in the past, unable to do that now. Was certainly painting for money then but still painted what I wanted to paint not necessarily what I thought would sell. I guess my driving force is just that I must paint. No matter what happens in life, how many times I stop for various reasons I return to painting. I want to be successful, achieve recognition, but without those I will still create.

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Carol Shutt June 29, 2014 at 5:36 pm

I began taking photography seriously about 15 years ago in hopes it would provide a little extra retirement income. I have never depended on my earnings from my art as a way of making a living. I would have starved! Today, my joy is in finding and creating new photo images of the world around me. I strive to become better artistically with every image. I want to create work worthy of gallery representation in many areas. I think this is tied in with name and work recognition. I enjoy subjects that are a little different from the majority of photographers I know. I am trying to give those who see my work something that touches them in some way. I have found that most of my sales have special meanings for different people…a connection with their past, a gift that provides memories for a loved one, and those that bring a sense of peace to someone who is suffering. Enjoying the art myself, and bringing joy to others are my motivators right now. These things seem to be what I do best, as well. I would never be able to be a studio photographer!

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Greta Olivas June 29, 2014 at 5:54 pm

I always had the need to create, and wanted to be an artist. Over the last 5 years it has changed quite a bit. The passion for it is stronger, and I don’t paint so much for everyone’s approval, but I feel that my passion show’s through when I paint what I feel compelled to paint and people like them and buy them. Every once in a while I realize that people are actually paying me for my paintings and it blows my mind! To be able to reach a point when people really love your work and have to have it is amazing, and even though I am not making a living at it I know I am on my way. I do feel that the success depends on what you want to get out of it. I personally always wanted to be a full time artist, but it has been a long road (with lots of detours!). I have also found that sharing my knowledge by teaching others some of what I know has been a great thing for me. It has taught me a lot in the process and people seem to love what I teach. I guess it’s a different type of recognition!

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Linda Henning June 29, 2014 at 6:02 pm

My motivations is reaching a level of excellence that is really all my own. I have avoided painting for financial gain so that I could maintain a diverse style. I am still trying to attain that style. Recognition is a goal but respect for the work of my art means more. I honestly don’t know how to approach monitory gain though I have sold other people’s craft, commercial printing, for decades. For me reaching that lofty goal of excellent unmatched work is my driving force.

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Robin June 29, 2014 at 9:35 pm

My personal artistic motivation is I’m compelled to create art. I get very moody and anxious when I don’t create. I’ve realized that I can not block my creativity, stuff it down, put a lid on it, whatever you want to call it, it doesn’t work. I’ve tried to stop creating but I just end up back in my studio painting. At this point in my career I’m looking for sales and financial stability. I’ve been working really hard on creating inventory and I now have a dining room full of paintings with several “cooking” in the studio. I’ve been told by multiple people that if I want to continue to create, I must sell. I get that but where do I begin and what do I need to do next. I’m very driven and focused but I need to know what to focus on and drive towards in order to sale my artwork.

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Nathan Beard June 30, 2014 at 4:28 am

My motivations constantly shift, depending upon where I am in the production, exhibition, and selling stage. If I am preparing for an exhibition, finances play a smaller role in my thinking. In the weeks leading up to an exhibit, production and recognition get the lion’s share of my focus. The type of recognition I seek here is aimed at generating publicity for the show. When the work is up and I am creatively exhausted, I use the studio downtime to refocus on sales and surf on the momentum of the exhibit and the publicity/excitement generated and by following up on any new contacts I may have made.

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Dara Daniel June 30, 2014 at 6:24 am

Although I have changed focus over the years from sculpture to 2D my motivation has always been the same. That is: to do what I love and make a decent living doing it. Well, this has not really happened yet and yes it has always been a struggle. But, I still feel quite fortunate because I am still here and still creating. Yes, the juggling, the finding a balance to do everything possible to make it work, all that but, I do what I have to do to fuel my creative spirit. An artist is who am regardless of sales or no sales.

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sandeeNC June 30, 2014 at 8:38 am

I feel so “sullied” admitting that I want ‘money’ and ‘recognition’, but there it is, laid out in front for the world to see like my “dirty little laundry” laid out on a table waiting to be sorted in the laundry mat. Little piles of ‘recognition’, for I crave the famous spotlight and little piles of ‘monetary gain’ for I need the money…and the smallest pile are my “dedicates”, the ‘artistic achievement’ to be hand washed and nurtured ever so carefully in the privacy of my home.

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Lolly Owens June 30, 2014 at 8:47 am

Selling is one of my motivational force for creating. When I sell I know the visual healing/motivation I created is working for the buyer. Therefore there are 2 reasons for painting: motivating/reminding people to following their hearts and selling which allows me to live well and continue what I love to do.

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Mark Schutter June 30, 2014 at 9:48 am

Great post Jason. It is important to consider our motivations for why we do what we do. For me the graphic depicts my own motivation pretty accurately. I create in an attempt to master the medium but also to inspire or touch people on an emotional level. Second, I like the recognition that sometimes comes from that also. I reread comments on my blog and Facebook which can inspire me to continue when I am struggling. I would love to achieve financial security and stability but since I have never had it (yet!). Can’t say that it drives me all that much at this point. Thank you again for making us think. ~Mark

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Rene Dayan-Whitehead June 30, 2014 at 9:51 am

Jason, The path to artistic excellence is always the starting point, and for me doing the work is the best teacher. As the work has progressed there have been juried shows, galleries, and sales and there has been progress. My goals are to still develop as an artist as well as propel the sales side to a more predictable level. Perhaps gallery representation, or designer collaborations, or? As I have a business background as well, the concept of goals needs to be measurable and achievable, otherwise how do you know if you are there? For this time of my art life, finding representation, and sales that exceed 25k per year, and in five years sales that exceed 50K.

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Steven Klinsky June 30, 2014 at 10:26 am

In recent years artistic excellence always pushes me… but at this time, financial stability & recognition are the biggest motivation. I’ve built a brand look that is unique to me, and have a cohesive collection that needs to be seen and purchased.

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Pamela Kirkham June 30, 2014 at 11:27 am

My primary motivation at this stage of my art career is to be able to generate enough income from the sale of my art so that I can continue to produce it full time? This has always been my ultimate goal, but many distractions got in the way. Mainly, having to make a living as a graphic designer, technical illustrations manager, to name just two occupations out of many I’ve worked to make ends meet. What changed for me recently was the death of my mother that resulted in a small inheritance. My money should last about another year before I’ll need to teach more art classes and lifeguard more to pay the bills. Currently, I teach one class at each local art center, teach acrylic painting workshops once a week at Michael’s (which supplies me with free paint), and lifeguard one day a week at a fitness center where I swim a mile three or four times a week. I feel like I’ve hit a balance in my life at the moment that keeps me healthy and creating art at a furious pace, but I have the luxury of doing this for only another year. Hence the pressure to sell through galleries is approaching it’s peak and becoming a priority. I’m participating in ArtPrize, a huge international art competition that is partly judged by the public and partly by jury for different prizes respectively, in Grand Rapids in the Fall. Anyone can enter, but you must connect with a venue on your own to be part of it. If interested go to http://www.artprize.org. Hoping this will be a small in road to connecting with galleries in Grand Rapids, MI.

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Gale Goldfarb June 30, 2014 at 12:49 pm

You are right one size does not fit all artists- we all have different goals and needs at different ages. As a young person I loved to experiment. I have now found, even after studying, creating art is about exploration and finding one’s own balance. At this stage of my life I would like to work with others to achieve an artistic excellence of all I create. An artist does need feedback and critique.Sharing my art is like expressing myself thus freeing my mind and body.
I would not be opposed to any monetary compensation.

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Anita Wexler June 30, 2014 at 1:41 pm

I am a hard working artist and art teacher. I am tired of feeling mediocre. I live in Florida and it is all about palm trees and sunsets. It is hard to make any ground for my contemporary figurative and stylized pieces. I am ready for marketing my art into t-shirts, calendars and galleries. Any advice and assistance would be greatly appreciated.

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Candace June 30, 2014 at 5:41 pm

My biggest motivation is to make my jewelry design sustainable so I can make a living. I plan to retire in six years. I would like to be able to transition to jewelry making as my second career. Other motivation is to be taken seriously as an artist and not a hobbyist.

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Katharine K. Owens June 30, 2014 at 6:24 pm

What an idea, define my motivation! Now why did I not think of that question? So I have taken several days to think about this because I thought it would be just too easy to say all 3 are motivators. Well, all 3 are motivators but I think the one that is an inch ahead is monetary recognition. I would like to supplement our retirement income by approximately $50,000 a year.
However, I do recognize that pursuit of excellence plays heavily into being able to sell my art. My goal is gallery representation and sales at Arizona Fine Arts Expo. If I was able to do well in a couple of galleries and the Arizona show then I think I could quite easily meet my financial goals. That said, I create artwork because I love to do it. My mind is frequently like a popcorn machine popping ideas all over the place.
Interestingly enough, after I posted the first assignment regarding doing more work, I went right back to work on my old schedule. As I have learned many times over my lifetime, once I give voice to being resistant the resistance goes away. I have finished up several pieces in the last few days.
After reading some of the previous blog posts, I purchased the book The War of Art. Reading this has also helped me overcome my procrastition and resistance. Great book, I recommend it.
Thank you Jason for asking this probing question.

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Juanita Greenspan June 30, 2014 at 6:27 pm

My priority is twofold. While I continually strive for excellence in my sculpture and have been accepted into many juried shows, I have never won anything more than an honorable mention. I am at a stage where I would like to market my work, so that I can be more self reliant financially and for the validation sales of my work would bring.

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Patty June 30, 2014 at 6:47 pm

I really enjoy the creative process. I would love to be the best and conceptually I am much better than my work shows but I can’t get what is in my head to the canvas. It will be colorful,interesting, and enjoyable but usually not what I envisioned. But when I work on the piece it is like time stands still and nothing matters. There is such peace and joy and excitement! I think what I would really like is for someone to be able to connect to my work on the same level at which it was created. If they did that they would pay a good price, it would be specially recognized even if only by that one person, and to them I would be the best because of the gift they were given.

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Alison June 30, 2014 at 10:06 pm

Like many here, I want to achieve all three goals, but I guess I’m more focused on artistic excellence at this point. I think I will start to feel satisfied with my progress there when I get some recognition and then hope to focus that into sales somehow…yeah, not really well thought out. I realize that I’m more focused on the high level of recognition, yet feel frustrated I have no sales. I’m not sure what direction to take to make sales happen at this point.

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Marianne Bascelli June 30, 2014 at 10:13 pm

My primary motivation at this point is financial stability. Of course recognition is a close second that I am patient to achieve. Eventually I’d love to be part of a museum exhibit or be asked to teach at a venue. I am open to options in which my artistic talents will earn my income. Gallery sales, commissioned work, book illustrations, even design collaborations. In my current life situation, financial stability would enable me to move forward in many areas and secure resources to create even more, freely and unburdened.

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Marcelo H. July 1, 2014 at 9:04 am

Hi Jason. My motivation and priorities have change overtime. I started painting as an outlet to express my creativity and for the pleasure to CREATE. Now, at this time in my career my priorities are sells – I need to increase my sales. Thanks!!

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Kirt bowman July 1, 2014 at 10:32 am

Hi Jason I guess for me it is monetary gain so I can afford to do bigger and better projects in the future.

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Anita nowinska July 1, 2014 at 1:45 pm

To me, success is being able to do what I love most full time, and live a happy relaxed life. In order to that my. art needs to generate the income to live and carry on with my painting and provide for my family. The more financial stability I a can achieve, the more the exploration of my work and pursuit of deeper work can be done as I then would have the time and conditions to do so.
I others buying and enjoying my work is a wonderful blessing and to be able to inspire someone else feels like true success. I’m not interested in fame or the opinion of the establishment. Just doing what I love and living joyfully is enough for me. However we live in a world and society where there is little freedom without the finances… So at the moment that is a key motivator
Anita

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Evelyn Markasky July 1, 2014 at 9:51 pm

My primary motivation is to be a ‘successful’ artist. I’m tired of saying well if I want to do production or sell out or whatever I could make some money, but I want to do ‘art’ – as if they were 2 completely different things or more meaningful to just make ‘art.’ I am beginning to believe that the 2 do not have to be completely separate things. I can make meaningful art and sell it at prices that meaningful art would sell at. If lots of people out there can sell crap, then I should be able to sell something artistic. I shouldn’t have to say I can’t sell art because people don’t understand real art… I should be able to sell real art just as well as anything else.

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Becky Christenson July 2, 2014 at 8:27 am

Money is my greatest motivation. I used to just wish I had time to create. Now that I am a full time artist I am motivated to generate sells while also always striving to improve the quality of my work.

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Marge Coughlin July 2, 2014 at 10:08 am

I feel that becoming a better artist is number one on my list . Secondly being recognised by the better artists and art patrons other than students, friends and family. As I stated in an earlier post, my husband supports me financially and what I would bring in is secondary.

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Jami Akers July 2, 2014 at 4:28 pm

I create because I am driven to…I sell only out of necessity to create more paintings.

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Karen Lastre July 3, 2014 at 6:51 am

My motivation is first and foremost producing the very best body of work. Secondly I want and need for my work to get out of the studio and be seen, judged and recognized. In order to keep accomplishing these goals I must sell my work in order to keep on working. I strive to work with the thoughts in mind as to how well a museum would be attracted to my work and strive to complete museum quality work.

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Cheryl Handy July 3, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Jason,

My ultimate goal is to support myself with the sales of my artwork. I don’t care to get rich per se, but I do want to be able to pay my bills, buy supplies and attend art shows. However, right now I think my purpose is best served by honing my skills. Achieving artistic excellence, I believe, would make my work more desirable, more marketable, and therefore more profitable.

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Terri Lyons July 3, 2014 at 9:49 pm

I also see all three of these aspects as important to me however, the primary goal in the long term is monetary gain. I feel an artist needs to pursue artistic excellence and recognition in order to gain monetarily.

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Rolf Juario July 5, 2014 at 10:24 am

My main motivation…money, LOTS of it! Just kidding…OBVIOUSLY! I’ve always enjoyed the freedom of being a photographer. First in fashion, then in events & now with art photography. Of the three, I’m really enjoying just how “free” art photography seems to be. I’m pretty much just shooting what I enjoy. Luckily for me, others seems to like it too! :D

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Fran Black July 6, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Initially, I created my art for the sheer love of the creation. I gave all my pieces away as gifts. Then I sought recognition by entering contests and arts and crafts fairs. Lastly I wanted to make some money at it as I felt that if people bought my art, that would consitute wonderful recognition.

I think I have a balance of the three, although I have no desire to be financially stable from the sales. I don’t think I have enough “umph” left in me to do the things I would need to do to be more successful. I’m happy to sell here and there.

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Anastasia S. Weigle July 6, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Artistic achievement is something that I have always desired but found difficult to achieve as my time is spread out quite thin. The economy has forced me to find multiple jobs to keep myself afloat and artistic achievement has been something I could not afford. Although I have an undergraduate degree in scientific illustration, I always felt I lacked the skills of a painter :( However, my background in archives and book conservation has honed my skills as an assemblage artist as well as book artist. I do desire recognition of my work before monetary gain. I believe it is that recognition that may provide the monetary gain I would like to achieve. My works do sell but not enough to make a living, in fact, just enough to buy supplies. I choose recognition because it is very rewarding when my work engages the viewer in a profound way. It opens up creative conversations and I like that connection between my art and the audience.

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Marsha Dingeldein July 7, 2014 at 8:01 am

I have been making art quilts for a long time, and I have gotten pretty good at what I do. But excellence is something one needs to continually work on. I have gotten rave reviews from a lot of people along the way, as well as having been accepted in shows. And I have won some awards. That’s great and I get good feelings from that. Now, I want to make some money. I want my art to make an impact in other people’s lives, but I don’t want to give it away. I don’t even have lofty goals of being famous and/or rich. I would like for my work to be self supporting and perhaps a bit more for fun!

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Christi Bunn July 8, 2014 at 3:29 pm

I would have to say that my number one motivation is artistic excellence, followed by monetary motivation, and pretty far down from those two would be recognition. If I and my client/buyer are happy with the piece, and they are willing to pay me for it, I am happy. I really don’t need additional recognition, though it would be a bonus. The only reason I would want or need recognition is to just be able to participate in the art events I would like to, or because at some level recognition is necessary in order to have the ability to continue to pursue the art. The financial motivation is also a necessary evil. I must make money from the art in order to continue doing it. I would guess that most artists feel that way. But, the excellence of my work is definitely my top priority. And if there is no excellence, there is probably no buyer for the art. ;)

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Teri Canelle July 8, 2014 at 6:44 pm

My primary motivation was (and is) to learn my craft. Then it was to create something that would move someone with emotion. The fact that someone wanted to own and hang a piece of my work in their home was, and is, so humbling. Ah…but then wanting my work to be recognized crept into the fold. And yes, to be able to make money at my painting would be wonderful, and has been, for what I have sold…..but then comes the inner battle. If I am creating from my soul, how can I do this and still feel like I deserve to actually make money? I recently spoke with someone about this and her comment was, “You need to feed the dog.” I was actually standing by my dog when she said that…..and she was right, I need to feed the dog.

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Alwina Simon July 13, 2014 at 4:31 am

Teri, I think the person that spoke to you is pretty right to say “You need to feed the dog.”
This won’t change your attitude, you will still be creating from your soul.
You may also need to see that you give a lot by creating art. Artists tend to give more than they take. And here’s the thing one needs to understand: Giving and taking need to be in balance or you’ll suffer eventually from a disbalance.
To know of that relationship, makes it easier for me to deal with the part of the money.

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Gerrie Jones July 15, 2014 at 5:16 am

My main objective at this point in my life is to sell my artwork, particularly online and in print format. I belong to several local artist groups here in the Washington, DC area including: Artists in Montebello; Arlington Artist Alliance; Del Rey Artists; Arts & Artists International and The Art League. It is time to expand my reach and Xanadu seems the perfect place to go. I continue to rely on the suggestions I have received from both Barney Davey and you and am now prepared to move forward with any suggestions I receive from this course.

Smiles, Gerrie Jones

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Cass Mullane July 10, 2014 at 2:12 pm

I’m a mix of all three areas mentioned, but I’m currently most focused on making my studio a success. I’ve worked on technique for many years, I’ve started showing and now I want to make find the right people to connect with to make a decent living doing what I love. I’m also motivated to educate viewers to expand their perspective to include yummy luscious textiles in their concept of art for their homes and offices.

Jason, what are your thoughts on textiles as centerpieces for a collection?

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Jann Pollard July 12, 2014 at 8:25 am

Motivation? I think I am all three – financial/artistic excellence/recognition. I must create with artistic excellence and definitely need the recognition, but sales are what keep me going, too.

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Jim King July 12, 2014 at 8:27 am

Jason,
My primary motivation is to become competent at putting marks on paper or canvas in such a way that is different from all others and that will kick the observer in the gut.
Jk

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Dru Duffey July 12, 2014 at 8:40 am

For me success is measured by the number of pieces I sell. I believe that if people like my work they will buy it. I am successful when my work touches another person.
When I am in the studio I work to my best ability on each piece. I don’t try to achieve excellence because I believe it is unattainable. As long as what I am painting has meaning for me and is done to the best of my ability I have done my job.

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wendy goldberg July 12, 2014 at 8:58 am

It is definitely a balance between artistic excellence or integrity, financial stability and recognition. It’s important for me to get my work which I consider ready for the public to see out and into public venues—galleries, shows, alternative spaces, and sell it in order to pay for studio , materials, and hopefully at some point, buy more time to enable me to create more. Increasing recognition would be great but appreciation for the work is important as well. My pieces don’t quite fit into a defined category; tend to be “moody” but I can’t sacrifice my vision in order to fit into a trend or it becomes a soulless endeavor. I have been in galleries, shows etc and have sold my work but the art world is constantly changing—galleries fold, gallerists retire, the trend of what’s popular evolves or at least changes. Artists are some of the hardest workers I know.

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Sayeeda Goriawala July 12, 2014 at 9:19 am

Hi!
Jason

As I introduced myself earlier i graduated as a Civil Engineer and worked in that profession full time for good 12 years but I would never be professionally satisfied . The entire work which I was handling was largely dependent on a series of people an agencies who would never deliver in time and my project would get hit badly and even after I would put my heart n soul the end of work would not be satisfactory. On the other hand what I do these day ie painting is what I am very passionate about and completeting the artwork involves my and only my competency . As i complete each artwork it gives me immense pleasure n satisfaction.Next is money which is very much my need and recognition is my desire

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Dave Hirschman July 12, 2014 at 9:34 am

After glossing through 591 comments on your very illuminating Venn diagram Jason (too exhausting to read them all!), I don’t think I have much new to add. Probably over 90% of the 591 submissions reflect something of my vacillating attitude. I’m currently in the process of trying to hone skills, since without excellence sales can’t ever eventuate, and hopefully both excellence and sales finally lead to recognition, ……. although I’m constantly amazed at the art world, where status and sales are all-too-often created by clever promotion and hype rather than real merit. I would like to sell, because it’s both an indication of recognition and a means to pay for expensive materials and maybe some travel! But I’m all too aware that my chosen path is a loser. Galleries are not interested in watercolour work, except maybe for the few very top international exponents. But to define my objectives clearly; yes, I finally want to sell!!

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Cynthia Pirani July 12, 2014 at 9:35 am

Being on disability limits my income greatly, so along with wanting to be able to do something I love and am able to do, I want to earn my living from my art. I don’t want to be getting my income from the government if I don’t have to. My photography is better than my painting and I really want to be able to sell my work. Photographer’s Market is a great resource but I still find myself not seeing the quality of my work, or not knowing which direction to focus on when trying to sell it. I can see many of my abstracts being used in the gift wrap industry but don’t know how to find the right outlet to contact. I love jigsaw puzzles and can see some of my photos as puzzles, but think maybe that is aiming too low maybe? Living in the rural area I do limits the availability of galleries and I am not physically up to a lot of traveling, especially without my own vehicle or income to pay for the traveling. My goal originally was to sell to magazines, but I’ve come to think that this goal may not fill the bill. Hopefully this is where you can guide me in a better direction.

Cynthia

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Roberta Fletcher July 12, 2014 at 9:42 am

There was a time when I was motivated by the financial aspect because my art sales were my only source of income. I was able to provide the necessities as well as an occasional perk and that was good, but it left me feeling as if I had a job and that was not why I did art. During and after college, I was recognized a few times for my work with scholarship funds, publication covers and a few museum hangings. At first it seemed a bit special, but also daunting. I just wanted to create. My primary focus now is in achieving personal excellence in my work. The three dimensional arena is so challenging and I am totally engrossed in it, but it still does not come easy. I continue learning daily and this is where I find the most peace and the feeling that I am truly an artist.

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Beth Ybarra July 12, 2014 at 9:54 am

I am in total agreement with Alison Philpots.

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Patsy Moore July 12, 2014 at 10:09 am

I have been in shows and sold some paintings but have not been able to paint in quite a while. My goal is to get started once again. It seems so many things get in the way even when I plan a time. Not complaining but my husband and I pastor a church and also have an RV park on our property. Time seems lost. This plan I have joined, will really help me
Thank you so much.

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Justin Anderson July 12, 2014 at 10:15 am

The primary motivation for me would be to make money doing what i love. I want to be able to provide for my family and enjoy life while doing my art. The secondary motivation would have to come from recognition. Through recognition i believe i would be afforded more experiences and opportunities abroad. Overtime i don’t think think the factors stated have changed at all. They have become a more serious matter. In the beginning it was me supporting myself. Now i have a family to think about.

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Cynthia Pirani July 12, 2014 at 10:25 am

I also want to make enough to hire someone to help me with the business end of things because my mind just does not work that way.

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Sharon Bamber July 12, 2014 at 10:41 am

My absolute priority is one of lifestyle. I want to spend my life going all over the world painting what I love, and I want my husband to be with me. Fortunately he shares my passion for travel, wildlife and wild places. I have a vision of where I want to take my art and I wrote it down in words several years ago. I re-read it often to remind myself of where I am heading. I am a long way off, but I continually make short term goals (anything from daily goals up to 3 year goals) that slowly but steadily are taking me in the direction of the vision (at least I hope they are!). It is these goals that actually include each of the things you talk about Jason, but they seem so inter-related that I feel the need to work on them all so that I can reach my vision. The recognition goals and Monetary Gain goals vary in priority. At this point in time, it is the Monetary Gain Goals that are taking precedence.

Artistic Achievement (I want to be the absolute best that I can be, so I set goals relating to improving technique and getting studio time – these are always a priority);
Recognition (goals involving getting into juried shows and prestigious art societies have given me a structure that force me into the studio and force me to push myself to improve)
Monetary Gain/Financial Stability (I have goals relating to improving my knowledge of art business and getting gallery representation, which also force me to work on my artistic achievemant and recognition goals).

Just for interest, I have shared my written vision below.

“My art will take us to wonderful places together, where I will paint amazing sights and do amazing things. I will be an internationally acclaimed wildlife artist‚ with representation in the US & Canada, selling works to private & corporate collectors on a frequent basis and achieving an income that supports our desired lifestyle. My work will hang in the National Gallery of Wildlife Art in Jackson, U.S. alongside Bob Kuhn. To achieve this, I will be the best that I can be in both my artistic ability and business practices. I will give back to the animals that inspire me by supporting those charities that act against cruelty to animals, both domestic and wild”.

I’ve just re-read this post and it all very structured and non -arty, but in reality it’s all about trying to find a way to always live a life that both of us love and that lets me PAINT, PAINT, PAINT!!!!!!

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Donna Mitchell July 12, 2014 at 10:42 am

I have to say my motivators are Artistic Excellence and Monetary Gain. I have always worked to improve my artistic skills and to reach a higher level of excellence. This will continue as long as my Lord gives me breath. There is never an end to learning! This is why I persistently strive for Signature Membership in national societies and state associations. It’s important to me! When I reach these goals, I will have reached a success level. Monetary Gain was a goal when I started as an art business 20+years ago. I do not have to work or rely on my art business for survival, and I am thankful for my husband who is supportive of my endeavors. I have succeeded in supporting my own art needs and interests. My art business includes painting sale pieces and commissioned portraits of pets, instructing 2 pastel painting classes every week, and custom framing for self, students and commission clients. But with so much to accomplish, I find it difficult to press forward and do that which I want to get serious about … Concentrating on people portraiture. I don’t have the time for the marketing , thus the commissions don’t come in, thus I’m not making the money I could be making! I will not be successful (in my eyes) until this is what I am doing. Balance is a problem I must work through, along with some fear issues. Hoping to find some direction in this course.

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Laurianna July 12, 2014 at 11:07 am

Hello, I would say my motivation is the freedom of a stable art career. I love creating, it is my meditation and my center. I want my art to take over.

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Tasha July 12, 2014 at 11:08 am

My primary motivation is definitely artistic excellence, with making money as secondary and not a lot of desire for recognition at the moment. Since I have a day job that pays the bills, I don’t need to worry so much about them at the moment, though I know I likely will once I get going. In the end, I really (*cough, obsessively*) want to get good at what I do, no matter what it is I am doing. I am not sure if it would actually happen, but I do worry if I started relying on art as a sole income source, it would then turn into a “job” and I would lose the love of it. That happened with writing when I was in college, when I HAD to do it, I didn’t like it much anymore. Once the “have to” was gone, I went back to loving it.

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Rain Longson July 12, 2014 at 11:16 am

Motivation has never been lacking, space, access, location and time was tougher to get all at the same time. Now I have all of that and I work on several projects at once (waiting for a piece to dry, an idea I want to test, research). My problem is budget and usually lack thereof.

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Karen July 12, 2014 at 11:35 am

As an older female artist, who doesn’t have to sell to pay the bills, I’m always told that I should be content with just creating work for my own personal satisfaction. This just doesn’t sit well with me AT ALL. I want to be recognized in my chosen area of work by SELLING. What I am talking about is a satisfaction of my soul as an artist to have
someone who I don’t know, value and appreciate my work enough to spend money on it. I don’t want to die with the paintings all in the basement unwanted and passed over when I know they are worthwhile and of value. Getting into juried shows is now not enough (it use to be a few years ago), now I want to sell. I don’t think that I am somehow being crass and mercenary, it is a validation by the “outside” world and every artist needs it even those who won’t admit it and say they do this “just for themselves”. I don’t just talk to myself, I want to talk others. I want to sell my work and I want to know what I need to do to be able to do that. Whew! Didn’t know that rant was in there but now I am thinking about some deeper stuff than paint, enter shows, run paintings around to show, pick them up again, repeat (ad nauseum). Thanks for the trigger.

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Wendy Givens July 12, 2014 at 11:47 am

My primary motivation has changed over time – at first I was just needing to paint, paint, & paint some more to develop my skills & style but once I began selling, I began to dream of being able to make a decent living from doing the thing I love to do. While I always strive for artistic excellence & like the recognition of awards & shows, my desire now is for the third circle of monitory gain/financial stability to grow. I love it when a piece connects with someone & they purchase it, that is rewarding in itself b