The two most major fragilities in the life of an artist are money and mentality.
The function of modern and contemporary art has been one of the most heated cultural debates over the last 150 years. There is no formula how to cope with the question of one’s usefulness – you just have to accept it and figure it out for yourself.
It takes a lot of time and money to be a professional artist. To make a living solely from any kind of artistic expression, for that matter. But I assure you, that is not impossible.
Many artists are known to be money-hungry. Based on first-hand experience, I would argue that to be true.
The struggle with one’s art, one-self and the conditions of the world can be hard on the mind as well. But ultimately, your struggle becomes your identity.
I wondered if there was a way to solve these two problems quickly, and the idea I came up with was to get sponsorship deals.
„You should only make art for yourself.“
I often hear of artists that have trouble letting go of their work, even if someone is interested in buying it. The idea of not-selling-out is in fact very fashionable.
But regardless of whether or not I sell-out, whether or not I want to become famous,, one still needs a minimum amount of money and support in order to sustain one-self.
And if possible, I’d like to earn an income in the field of art, which is what I devote most of my time and energy to.
Except for the tip of the iceberg (which is about 0.5% of all artists), artists cannot make a living only by doing what they like and selling it at exhibitions or trade shows.
But it’s never too late to aim for the tip of that iceberg.
Why should you get a sponsorship deal?
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What’s the best way to keep your head over water as an aspiring artist? To get financial support from companies and organizations.
Reason #1: Receiving support means getting pressure to start taking yourself seriously.
When an artist is close to a company’s philosophy of “creating something new,” “offering something creative,” or „being young, inspirational and forward-thinking,“ they may support your challenge to associate themselves with you.
That kind of support can be both empowering as well as pressuring. Nevertheless, it will give you the energy you need to push yourself further.
Reason #2: You can raise your income or lower your expenses.
This is certainly something you want. There are many things that sponsors can provide: cash, product donations, work orders, collaborative partnerships, etc. Find out what you need most and be clear about your demands.
Reason #3: Putting yourself in an environment where you get the feeling that your work matters.
This is a reason that I think cannot be compensated for by earning an income from any other side hustles.
If you make good money from other jobs, while decreasing the amount of time you have for your art, you may not be able to take the steps to do it professionally. For pragmatic reasons, your job may become the focus of your life, and eventually your production may end up being a hobby.
However, you have got to remember, that sponsors don’t just support you with good intentions.
Therefore, those who want to be supported should be aware of how they can return profits to their sponsors and articulate themselves accordingly.
In this way, you can grow as an artist and be in an environment where you may feel more validated and supported than without sponsorship deals.
Some people might be concerned that a sponsorship deal is a compromise that ultimately robs you of both your artistic autonomy and integrity.
If you’re thinking about changing the direction of your work, etc., that’s a no-brainer.
On the other hand, if you are not willing to change at all, go looking for options that grant you the freedom you cherish.
You may also think you can’t because you’re not famous.
But as I wrote in another article, How Artists Can Get Sponsorship – 5 Steps, sometimes it’s not just the fact that you’re famous that makes it meaningful for them to support you, it’s the fact that they support you.
For this to happen, you need to see the value in the activity or challenge itself.
However, I would like to close today by saying that if someone comes along to support you, the most important thing to do thank them for it.