Can I settle up with you?

The myth of the suffering artist.

By Charlotte van der Heiden

Melanie Bonajo – Furniture Bondage: Anne, 2007

Many people think that every creator, artist and designer suffers and likes to or at least thinks they should pay for it. Or that that its part of your ideal profession.

I can still hear my grandfather say when showing my first paintings from the academy, ‘ “so, so you are an artist!”He didn’t mean it very sympathetically. But luckily I didn’t take it personally then.

Dealing with the myth of the suffering artist

Is it true that you as an artist would be terribly bad at doing business? Or do you believe in the image of the suffering artist that you make it difficult for yourself? With the myth that you really could not have a rich life when you earn from your autonomous works?

In a recent study by psychologist Sean McCrea at the University of Constance, people were encouraged to apologize for their poor performance in a series of intelligence tests to see if they could maintain their confidence. Very often, they were  less motivated to improve their performance after these negative statements. And the feedback is just so important for your own development and growth.  In every sense. During your entire life.

This research suggests that the “suffering artist” only exists with his or her or your fragile ego. I wonder to what extent do your own prejudices, fears and beliefs stand in your way?

Do they prevent you from  asking good prices, investing in yourself, being convinced that your work and therefore you are worth it? In my opinion, these are very important ideas that ensure that you can  get the most out of your artistic talents, skills and knowledge.

Melanie Bonajo – Furniture Bondage: Furniture 17

Selling art is not the same as throwing yourself into the sale.

In the distant past, there was no distinction between the various forms of visual art. Makers were then seen as artisans.  Autonomous art was still an unknown concept.

As industrialization developed, there was, at the beginning of the last century, a revaluation and distinction between these different forms. The need for crafts decreased. Beauty became secondary. And autonomy, free, visual art  found space and took flight..

As a result, more attention was paid to traditional qualities. Also through developments such as the Bauhaus. Almost no distinction was made between visual artists and designers there..

Throughout art history you see this trend of removal and rapprochement between disciplines and ideas about art.

As a culture, we have such a belief in the romantic idea that the right to exist of art is equavalent to the torture the artist has had to take for it. We (well, don’t we?) Honor artists when they are dead and ignore them during their poor lives.

The glorified “suffering artist”   is a concept popularized by Henri Murger, who wrote the work La Vie de Bohème in 1851. This notorious French novel depicts a community of poor artists living in the bohemian district of Paris. The book was incredibly popular and the idea of the starving and suffering artist was born and framed.

Some even claim that this inspired the first Grunge fashion. Privileged young art students deliberately started distressingly dressing and rolling their own cigarettes. I was such a hunk myself, haha.

Foto uit Michael Lavine’s (and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth)
boek ‘Grunge’.

Murger’s depiction of that romantic life of the artist and his struggle is fully anchored in the thoughts and motives of the ‘popular culture’ whereby both artists and clients continue to hold on to the idea that good art is a product of the sincere, authentic and financially unstable human.

But I am here to tell you that selling art is not to be confused with throwing yourself into selling. It is important to know your value! Talk to experienced and successful artists about what they ask for their work, make sure you understand the market and don’t be afraid to ask about what you want for it, appreciate what you ultimately get and work on the difference. By making your work even more valuable and by overcoming your obstructing beliefs.

Rock On!

Surrender to the arts

Surrender to the arts

About the authorship of director Rudolf van der Berg and how this influences his film “A Real Vermeer”.

Overgave aan de kunst

Overgave aan de kunst

Over het auteurschap van regisseur Rudolf van der Berg en op welke manier deze invloed heeft op zijn film ‘Een echte Vermeer’.