Art, essay

Make Art. Make Money. Stay Joyful.

Smiling Puppy ATB

I hit a low point recently. It was unexpected, and the emotion has made me stop and think about my current values.

When I made a decision to take my artistic talents seriously by setting up online stores to sell my artwork on various products, I thought I was doing a good thing for myself. I was entering personally uncharted territory by putting myself out there in a way I had never done before: presenting my artwork as an entrepreneur.

Now, I may be smart, but I don’t have a business background, and I haven’t been good at marketing myself over the years. I’ve always thought: If you’re good, you can just do what you do, and people will naturally notice.

But that’s not the full picture of the way the world works. The self-promoters are the ones who generate momentum in the marketplace, and self-promotion is a skill I have not mastered.

It dawned on me that this lack of skill led to my recent low point. I’ve sold a few products, but nowhere near enough to build momentum as a business yet.

When I made the decision to start selling my art, I knew it would be a long road that would require stamina and patience. What I didn’t realize is that in treating my art as a business, I have been changing my relationship negatively with something I used to do for pure joy and love.

The digital age has enabled the democratization of creativity as a business. Anyone can make art and try to sell it online. People who excel at creating a large and loyal following on social media benefit the most business-wise.

I, like many others, benefit from the ease of access to entrepreneurial platforms for creatives online, but there was a psychological cost to monetizing my art: I started to value my artwork according to how much I was selling and how popular my work was online.

That’s not a good way to look at the whole endeavor. It subtly lowered my sense of self-worth by devaluing the way I see my art.

Luckily, I became aware of this troublesome thought process, and I’m recalibrating my approach.

Yes, I want to make money from my art, and I want it to be popular. But I shouldn’t allow the business side to warp my sense of self and my relationship with something I love.

I want my art to be successful–and that means selling stuff–but I also want to remain myself: someone who loves art and creates for pleasure and joy.

So, if you’d like to buy my artwork, you can check out my Society6 and RedBubble stores.

If you don’t want to buy, I’m okay with that.

No matter what, I’ll still be making art, and it will still bring me joy.