Destroying the Destructiveness of The Art Establishment


Some of you may know that I teach a series of eight interactive online courses call The MAKING Art Making MONEY Semester. It includes eight live online trainings on Mondays and on Saturdays for those who work during the week.

Since it is my chosen mission to challenge the notion of the starving artist and to help artists secure their creative freedom through business savvy, I decided to make this training available to any artist who wants to learn about marketing and selling their art, for free.

I’ve also partnered with a growing list of non-profit organizations, to get the word out. Including artist organizations, state and local arts commission, and U.S. Small Business Development Centers.

Most of them have welcomed this offer and gladly promoted the training. Why? Because I’m offering expertise that they don’t possess and I’m a relatable and credible resource.

Your seminar is the most on point marketing seminar I have seen for artists. You communicate in their vocabulary, you have credibility from your personal experience, and you are not afraid to challenge assumptions. Attendees better understand that art as a business is feasible.

— Lee Lambert, Alameda, CA SBDC Director

However on Thursday, April 7th, I phoned the Executive Director of the Society of illustrators in New York City to follow up on the letter I had mailed to her about my proposal offering free training to every member of The Society of Illustrators who would like it. If she wanted she could offer it as a free benefit to her members. Makes no difference to me.

When I got her on the phone she told me that she didn’t have my letter.

So I gave her a summary of what I was offering and the organizations I was already working with.

Her response?

Our members are just not interested in sales and marketing. They’re a creative community.

My response?

What did you just say?

Given that it costs $500 a year for the privilege of being a member of The Society of Illustrators, it’s very clear that her membership actually does need to market and sell in order to pay their annual dues that pay her annual salary.

As they say,

Never surprised, always appalled…

…by members of the art establishment who fail to understand that selling art, illustration, craft, photography, film, music, or books is a business. A big business.

It’s not just my opinion, it’s a matter of fact. Just ask the IRS. When you sell your art, by their definition, you’re in business and they want their taxes.

Every member of the creative community needs to pay for food, shelter, clothing, and yes, art supplies. And that’s only going to happen if they get paid for their art.

Why am I calling her out on her remark?

Because this arrogant and ignorant mindset is damaging the welfare of the the creative community she is charged to serve.

So I made an info graphic of her response, tweeted in out, and posted it on Face Book.

When I told a good friend who owns a branding firm headquartered here in San Francisco. He covered his face and said,

Oh, no you didn’t.

My response

OH YES I DID, and I’ll do it again and again and again until the truth is told.

By the way, if Ms. Miller is just not interested in what I’m offering, she has every right to pass.

But what she had no right to do is to assume a “creative community” is not interested in learning how they can make money with their creative capital.

If you’re paying an annual membership for an organization that isn’t serving you, save your money and invest in your business or in yourself.

On the other hand, if you would like your organization to give access to this free training series, invite them to apply here.

If our mission and our values align, I will gladly extend my offer to the artists they serve.

But if your organization thinks that as a creative type you shouldn’t worry your pretty little head about money, then I can’t help them AND I don’t want to.

This kind of nonsense unnecessarily stunts opportunities for artists.

According to a report released by the United Nations in 2013 the creative economy is one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the world economy.

The art and craft industries, just like the music and publishing industries, are undergoing a long overdue disruption.

It’s my aim to destroy the destructiveness embedded in the art establishment.

But I can’t succeed alone. Please join me by sharing this post now.

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