I talked to my sister, T, yesterday. She is one who has painted all her life. Maybe she will have time and space to do it again.
For ten years, about 20 hours a week, back from about 1993 to 2003, I ran a website for sculptors. At the end it had 50,000 unique visitors each month. The “sculptors wanted” page was very popular. It takes hard work to make a living from art. My advice to all of them was – pick something that people like and do it. After you do one thing a hundred times as carefully as possible, you will have a better idea of your vision and skills.
It meant that many people who wanted to do one thing, ended up repeatedly making simple things – because other people liked it and were willing to pay. It was practical advice, for people also putting food on the table. Now? I am not sure I would say the same thing. Except in the world there are more people working to put food on the table, than ones who can do their own thing.
It is not hard to put things online. But it is hard work to put things where people can see it. It has to have a way for people to support the artist. It has to have a way for artists to talk to each other, for artists and buyers to talk privately, and for markets to talk to each other – and the whole thing part of a global whole. Otherwise, it is not sustainable. Whether art, or science, or literature, or thoughts and ideas – that is the human way of self-organizing. Is it best for the human species ultimately. Not sure; but fairly sure it is not.
I hope you will put your work online. The usual thing is to have a website, then summary presentations on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other sites. It takes about 20 hours a week to stay current with a community. If you can do that, and pace yourself, then that leaves time for creating new things, knocking out the routine but salable items, and some time left for family and friends and the rest of life.
Sculptors starting out, and many who had worked at it most of their lives, asked me what I recommended. It was always the same: try something you like and that people seem to like. Then do it again and again until you perfect it. It seems silly to most people. “Why do you keep drawing and painting that same flower?” Or “that same sunset?” or “that same pair of friends?”. It is to refine and improve.
We spend our lives doing the necessary. And then we try to refine something deeper. You have “something I must do because it is in me”. If you are not sure what that is, the best way to find out, is to work hard at it every day to try to express it. The more methodical and persistent and productive you can be, the more likely you will see a glimmer, or a complete and clear vision, of what that is. It might be something that you do not see yourself, but only can be seen by others. That is why sharing everything, or many things, might help.
I think I helped close to 500 individual sculptors, and sculptor-related associations and companies to build or improve their websites. I did not charge for helping them. In addition to the central site, where there were uniform practices and presentations, I tried to make sure that when people left Sculptor.Org, they went to good sites that were clear and well maintained and linked properly.
I gave that site away to a commercial group. They kept the core of what I designed, but tried to use it to make money for themselves – without working hard, and without helping the artist and community. So it has some commercial value, but the deeper filling of a human need for expression and communication was lost. I cannot do everything for everyone. But I do that sort of thing, have done that sort of thing, all my life now.
I put this note in my records. I am trying to write down some of my life. And trying to find a way to share with others. I don’t want money, but I would like people to change their ways, and to use the things I suggest. Some will be failures, some very successful. This urge to organize and improve and distill things down to their essentials is part of me, and I think it would help others to try it.