A Changing View on "Selling Out"
When I started creating art, the idea of "Selling Out" was deplorable to me. In my mind, this was the idea of making art to sell for a profit. I hated the idea of making art into a business with more than just the odd original, of selling as much as I could. This was also aggravated by certain family members who would question my motives when I did sell a piece of art; "I thought you weren't doing this for money?" I can still hear the sneer in their voice at the thought that I wasn't being the "starving artist" they thought that I should be. For years I offered originals, and the occasional note card, and that was it.
Now you might say, but Elizabeth, I see you offer notes cards, prints, and even bookmarks! Is this not "Selling Out"? When did things change? The real turning point for me was when I had the pleasure to show how my art is scratched live in the Modern Makers Market in Peterborough. While I was sitting beside my finished works, scratching away on a commission and chatting with those interested in what I was doing, I noticed a mother and son who were looking at my animal originals. The young boy pointed to the badger and said relatively loudly that he liked it. This made me smile, as it helps fight off my imposter syndrome to know that people at least like my art, even if they don't buy it. It was at this moment that the mother said in a hush to the son the price of the original, and that it was too expensive. My heart dropped. Not at a lost sale, but at the sudden realization that there are people out there like this little boy who probably like my art, but can't afford to enjoy it if it is only sold as an expensive original.
With that, a jarring paradigm shift occurred. I ventured full steam ahead into getting a good enough printer to offer prints of my artworks, cards, and with the addition of a laminator, even bookmarks.
I used to think that the value of art was in the rarity, that there was one individual original and that it could not be replicated. I now believe that the value at least in my art is that is something that can be enjoyed by a large populous of people. Custom commissions will always be a unique entity, but why not spread the beauty of prints. Afterall, I had a Vincent Van Gogh poster in my university room, but that does not diminish my love for the original painting. If anything, it has helped to fuel my love of his and all art. Perhaps mine can do the same...