“But it’s so expensive!”
Ever heard that before? It’s one of the biggest complaints that people make when they consider buying a painting or a photographic print.
I know a lot of artists and photographers and it’s also one of the biggest frustrations for them, too. Until you are very well-known and established, you will probably spend years hearing the same dreaded words: “You should lower your price. You’d probably sell more of your work.”
This may seem like good advice on the surface – but if we dig a little deeper, we might discover there’s a lot more to art than the price tag.
Take hiring an interior designer, for example. Naturally, we would consider how much it will cost us for their design. They are providing a similar service as an artist; they are going to spend valuable hours creating a beautiful product that you will have the benefit of enjoying every day as you look around your home. Of course, an interior designer is creating something on a much larger scale; and because of that, they are (usually) paid much more than an artist for their work.
Still, when you hire an interior designer, you may think it is expensive, but you don’t ask yourself “is it really worth as much as I’m going to pay them?”
Of course it is! You know it is because you recognize how much time and effort will go into that design – not just the hours they spend designing it, but also the years they spent in school or training, too.
You recognize that you are not just paying them for their service, but also for their ability to create something unique to their talents. You are supporting their career and celebrating their creativity. You are paying for the years that you are going to spend in this beautiful environment, and the people you love that are going to share that space with you. You are buying how good it makes you feel to wake up every morning and love where you live.
So why is it different with artists and photographers?
They spent just as much time training and learning as an interior designer, honing their skills and putting in the necessary effort to be good. They are likely just as passionate about what they do. And when you hang something on your wall that you love – something that feeds your soul – it is something that you will have for years. You can pass it on to your children. Supporting ourselves spiritually with an environment that feeds our soul does arguably more for our well-being than the food we eat.
It’s this misperception of the “starving artist” that’s the problem. It’s the school systems that have ingrained us for so long that the creative fields are less valuable than the academic or athletic ones. It’s the artists that have been told that what they do is a “hobby” and they should spend the majority of their time doing “real work,” taking care of their families, their homes, and tending to everything else that needs to be done, and then if they have some spare time they should create and then give it away for free in order to get their name out there.
This stuff is just not true! But it perpetuates itself anyway.
Why do we have to undervalue creativity, when it is the very force that propels us forward in every single aspect of life? It is creativity that gives us new possibilities, that innovates and streamlines the way we do things. It is creativity that inspires new technologies, that has transformed the human race from a life of pure survival to a society that is increasingly more entertainment and joy-based than ever before?
Edward de Bono said it beautifully… “There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all.”
I know people that create the most extraordinary things. They are unbelievably talented. Some of them are artists and photographers; some of them are writers. These people have been told and believe that they should work for next to nothing because they should be grateful they’re doing what they love. They have been told it is a necessary stepping stone. They’ve bought into this model and are living only a fraction of their potential because they’re spending more time trying to figure out how to get by than they are focusing on the incredibly creativity that is within them.
Don’t fall into this trap. If you don’t sell it for what it’s worth, you’re not only not making a living doing what you love; you’re selling yourself out and shouting to the world, “My work isn’t worth it!”
Here’s a fact: people have been buying art for decades, and they are going to continue to buy it forever; because it is worth it to them. In fact, I predict that art is going to continue to become ever more valuable in the near and far future, because more and more people are recognizing this. If all art was expensive, people would still buy it.
Art feeds the soul; it is a song that sings from your wall every day. It inspires you and every person that visits your home. If beauty wasn’t important to us, we would all be living in white cubes and we would never want to vacation in gorgeously landscaped resorts. We would never feel inspired to travel to see the wonders of the world. We would wear the same uniform every day and eat bland food and never listen to music.
When you buy art, you are not only purchasing something that will beautify your home and light up the space you live in, you are making a statement about your values. You are saying, “Creativity is important to me. I am supporting the spiritual growth and talent of these individuals that have the ability to create and capture the beauty that exists around us that we don’t all have the opportunity to see. I am helping to shift the perception of our planet, one piece of art at a time.”