Struggles of an Artist

Over at Art and Perception, Karl has asked a question that many artists probably ask themselves; Why is it so difficult to be an artist?

He talks about the uncertainties of purpose and income. Karl also points to moments in history where artists could be reasonably sure that they would make money from art. But now, even though people are generally much wealthier, and people seem to appreciate art more, there are very few artists that can be sure that the bills will be paid.

I think one of the reasons is supply and demand. If you counted the number of emerging artists graduating from art schools around the world today you would see a lot more competition. I don’t have any numbers to refer to, but I’m pretty sure that most art graduates don’t go on to become full time working artists. Which is a good thing as I’m also pretty sure that art collectors are not multiplying as fast as artists are.

With the introduction of the Internet, it has made it much easier for an artist to make enough to pay the rent. So things are still tough, but we’re not completely helpless if an art gallery is not willing to exhibit our work.

And, we probably deserve to struggle a little with finances anyway, as I couldn’t think of a better career path to take. It’s the bankers, accountants, laborers, and factory workers that I pity.. not the artists. We have it too good.

See Karl’s post here.
>> Being an Artist

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. The main reason for my being an artist…is because it helps with inner struggles. If others that find that true as well, they will find that it takes away all kinds of hell.
    Wonderful post my friend! :)

  2. Awesome post and I couldn’t agree more with your closing sentiments. No matter how much I may struggle, I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.

  3. If you read anything about being a good artist, or whatever profession you are in, make sure you read this. I came across it the other day and found it to be the best document I’ve read in quite a while.

  4. I don’t really think it has changed that much. I am reading a book of Gauguin’s letters to fellow artists, wife etc and his complaints are not much different. My mother faced the same choices and decided to work as a graphic artist to support herself and her real job (art). I would never depend on my art to pay the bills, but nothing would stop me from doing my art income or not.

  5. Thanks Angela and Eweiand.

    And yeah, we probably complain too much about the struggles of being an artist, when in reality, we have it pretty good. Sure, most artists probably dont buy a new BMW every year, but we are rewarded in many other ways.

    I would pay for the privelidge of being an artist if I had to!


  6. Dion,
    I enjoyed the original article on A&P and the link posted by AR (
    I am also glad to note that Art News blog is among the top Down Under.

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