Profit from creativity

Artists want to create. Selling enough of their works to make a living often is the hard part. Still, savvy artists can profit from their creativity.

I sold Andy Warhol (too soon)
Richard Polsky.
New York : Other Press, c2009.
In early 2005, Richard Polsky decided to put his much-loved, hard-won Warhol Fright Wig, up for auction at Christie's. The market for contemporary art was robust and he was hoping to turn a profit. His instinct seemed to be on target: his picture sold for $375,000. But if only Polsky had waited . . . Over the next two years, prices soared to unimaginable heights with multimillion-dollar deals that became the norm and not the exception. Buyers and sellers were baffled, art dealers were bypassed for auction houses, and benchmark prices proved that trees really do grow to the sky. Had the market lost all reason? InI Sold Andy Warhol (Too Soon), Polsky leads the way through this explosive, short-lived period when the "art world" became the "artmarket." He delves into the behind-the-scenes politics of auctions, the shift in power away from galleries, and the search for affordable art in a rich man's playing field. Unlike most in the art world, Polsky is not afraid to tell it like it is as he negotiates deals for clients in New York, London, and San Francisco and seeks out a replacement for his lost Fright Wig in a market that has galloped beyond his means. A compelling backdoor tell-all about the strange and fickle world of art collecting,I Sold Andy Warhol (Too Soon) takes an unvarnished look at how the industry shifted from art appreciation to monetary appreciation.
How to survive and prosper as an artist : selling yourself without selling your soul
Caroll Michels.
New York : Henry Holt and Co., 2009.
Successful Sculptor, Career Coach, And Artist-Advocate Caroll Michels draws on three decades of experience and shares insights for success in the complicated, often political, art world. She offers a wealth of insider information on obtaining gallery representation, attracting media attention, establishing prices for your work, and developing exhibition and sales opportunities. She tackles issues that create artist career angst, including advice on building immunity to rejection and balancing studio time with the business of art.
Marketing illustration : new venues, new styles, new methods
by Steven Heller and Marshall Arisman.
New York, NY : Allworth Press, c2008.
Editors Heller (MFA/Designer as Author Department, School of Visual Arts) and Arisman (MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program, School of Visual Arts) use interviews, essays and work samples to provide a comprehensive picture of today's illustration market, providing students and artists with a thorough review of media environments for graphic novels, animation, Web games, toys, fashion and textiles. Contributors address the current shifts in these marketplaces due to technology, software applications and versatility and outline blueprints that will help readers to launch careers in their chosen fields. A chapter also describes the steps for creating both a computer-generated and traditional portfolio from the perspectives of illustrators and art directors. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

For centuries artists have worked to interest someone, often a rich person, in their works. Such patrons support artists, allowing them to create art without having to find another way to earn a living.

In Renaissance Italy, Michelangelo worked for seven Popes. Their esteem and protection allowed him to work on the Sistine Ceiling and The Last Judgment. Today patronage is corporate rather than personal, generally taking the form of grants, fellowships, or commissions to create a project for a specific purpose or collector.

Emerging artists are not likely to find a patron to provide financial support. Yet many discover it is possible to make a reasonable living and still have the time and resources to focus on their art.

Potential collectors need to know about an artist’s work. Galleries are important, but cafes, juried art shows, and local shops are worth consideration. Some take artwork on consignment. Before considering this option, artists assure the business is well established and attracts collectors interested in the artist’s type of work.

Selling art online

Today the Internet offers opportunities to reach a larger number of collectors. Artists create their own websites to increase awareness about their work and allow contact with potential buyers.

Pricing art right is another concern. Emerging artists that base their prices on what comparable works by other artists in the area are selling for find more success. Potential buyers should remember the art for its quality, not its sticker price.

Every showing provides another showcase for the artist’s work, sales opportunities, and growing respect within the art community. And maybe, just maybe, the artist will gain the eye of a potential patron or learn of a corporation desiring to commission an artwork.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff