On pricing art, art as a hobby, art in the church . . .

Another great article from Comment to highlight today that talks about pricing art and art as job vs. art as hobby. A few quotes to highlight and respond to, and then a link to point you to the writing in its entirety.

I had a professor in my first year of college tell us fresh-faced art majors that if there was anything in the entire world that we could imagine doing besides art, we should do that other thing, because art was just too difficult to pursue without an unwavering dedication. He was right, and those of us that stuck with it knew we had been duly warned about what we were getting into. In a sense, the moment we decided not to change majors, we relinquished our right to whine about being underappreciated or undercompensated. What we did receive, however, was a new responsibility regarding stewardship of the discipline into which we had been adopted.

We talked about pricing a couple of times, but I wasn’t blessed with this kind of accurate bluntness at the beginning of my art schooling. (Does this mean I still get to whine about being underappreciated or undercompensated?) Of course, I sort of eased into my studio art major through pre-architecture, and then graphic design.

On more about doing that other thing besides art, read this post.

The one conversation I really remember on pricing was Eddie Dominguez telling us why his dinnerware was priced as high as it was. Paraphrased as I remember it: “I’d rather sell one platter at $10,000 and have nine to give away than sell ten platters for $1,000.”

Crafting images and objects can legitimately operate as both a form of recreation and a means of cultural reorganization and critique. Making things in order to enjoyably pass a Sunday afternoon, and making things in order to operate as lenses for interpreting the meaning of the world, are both justified endeavours—but they are not the same endeavour. The problem is that distinguishing between the two is complicated by an insidiously ordinary similarity in material and posture. If we imagine two people standing before two blank canvasses with brushes and paints at the ready, how are we to know which one is trying to unwind after a long week, and which one is trying to change the world?

Castleman, the author, describes the difference between art-as-vocation vs. art-as-hobby better than anyone I’ve seen so far, and tactfully too. I’d been thinking about this distinction more and more recently, and his writing on the topic puts my mind at ease.

This article may serve as a personal manifesto of sorts for me. Most of Castleman’s thoughts aren’t necessarily new to me, but they are organized in such a way that the piece is very enlightening. I could end up reposting it in its entirety if I keep going with excerpts and brief responses. That said, go read it for yourself: Will Paint for Food


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at pcNielsen.com.

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