The Business of Art

Friday, September 16, 2011

Over on agent Jennifer Laughran's blog, she discussed a tweet she had received decrying the idea that publishing was more about money than art. The Tweeter was hoping this wasn't true, Ms. Laughran said it was, then went on to say why that's the way it should be.

I have to agree with what she said, namely that the arrangement between writer and agent is a business one, and therefore money is part of it. I'd also like to add something to it

I think when people start on the money vs. art debate, it's easy to slip into the same mindset that by virtue of being a business, you must sacrifice, or at least, skimp on artistic nature. It's faulty logic. Just because there's a business component doesn't mean the artistic one has to suffer or diminish. Create your art, and value it for what it is. (Art DOES have value, yes?)

Selling a piece of art occurs independent of the act which created it. It's nothing but a distribution method to make sure others can enjoy said art as they were meant to, and it doesn't cheapen whatever the creator went through to create.

You're under contract and writing to put food on your table, so what? That doesn't mean you can't write with passion or vision. It doesn't mean that you can't pour heart and soul into your next novel.

Art and business aren't matter and anti-matter. They don't cancel each other out, nor do they create an explosion when they meet. They're partners, and by treating them as partners where both halves give everything they have to the betterment of both, then you end up in a place where you're enjoying the art of business while reaping the benefits of the business of art.

6 Chiming In:

Delia said...

Amen! I've always had the same problem with people saying an artist was "selling out." Did they think the ultimate goal was obscurity?

Well said.

BK Mattingly said...

Very well said.

Robyn Lucas said...

It's not like writers or artists have to eat or anything... And we definitely don't need to have a place to live ;)

Ugh. That's the snobbery I hate about "the arts" that suggests if you make any significant money, then you're not in it because its what you love. What God put you on this earth to do.

Matthew MacNish said...

It's difficult, because while I do believe art should be publicly supported (by grants and endowments and so forth), who gets to decide who gets to be the artists? We can't all do it.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Very well said. I've made a living selling my paintings for over 25 years, at one point I had my own space. I ended up being a secretary and not painting anymore. I think the honest business people working for the artists should be considered with much respect. Everytime I talk about my gallery, the first thing people say is "oh, they take 50%, that's exploitation." I don't think so. It's business. It's a market and it has trends.

I think those artists, and now I'm learning those writers, who live with a chip on their shoulders and complain about the horrible ogre agents and the mean industry should get a regular job and keep their creation for pure enjoyment.

Joanna said...

This is a refreshingly realistic post to be coming from an author. So true. I love the comparison to matter and anti-matter!

Of course, the one great thing is that we're all in this business because we *love* the art. The agents, the editors, the publishers, and especially the authors. So while it is first a business, the art is the heart of it all.

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