Working for the muse

I conducted a poll in one of Etsy’s forums yesterday to try to find out how many people were actually making a living with their paintings, sculpture or printmaking on the site or through other online endeavors. Surprisingly, about half the women reported they were covering their living costs, a few were making from $10 -$30k.

This, I think, is the wave of the future for working artists. It keeps the interaction between artist and patron clear of any middleman or dealer, which in turn allows the full value of the work to go directly to the artist.

Full value here is relative; Etsy or any online sales are not going to be close to possibly inflated rates for work found in Chelsea galleries. There, the artist’s value is helping to pay for overhead, curator’s fees and promotions.

While the concept of gallerist and dealer can be highly endorsed, more of my artist friends are having difficult times selling. Quite a few galleries are closing, simply unable to make their own rent.

Marketing online comes with its own set of defined challenges. Knowing something about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how to properly label tags is crucial for traffic. And artists may have a better appreciation for what a gallerist offers, after they deal with the online issues of drawing ‘eyes’ to their own sites.

Back in the late 90’s when I worked in San Francisco for The Site, which launched ZDTV, the buzz word was community. We offered webcams to our audience to shoot their own video and those were shown on-air and online. That was 1997 when few networks even thought about homemade video’s importance…or threat. Then came Youtube.

Community is what social networking is all about. As with the countless number of Starbucks in every city, the thousands of ‘followers’ people accrue on Twitter point to viral marketing and an expansion of the internet’s capacity to market just about anything.

For those with some technical background or willingness to learn the ins & outs of blogging and managing websites, opportunities exist. And the quality of some of the work I’ve seen on Etsy and other online sites often surpasses what is on the ‘curated’ art market.

The arts community is building online with sites like 20×200, Gawker, Beholder and ArtFire. Some curate works, others allow anyone to join. 


The second snow inspired another backyard painting –

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