When I was in university, there was a stigma against making art into a business. They would call people like me “couch painters”, that is, artists who try to make pretty pictures rather than exploratory artwork. They might also describe in derogatory terms an artist who actively promotes their art at galleries and in ads as “very commercial”. Making art prints of your work would certainly put you into that category.

But after working for 20-some years in jobs far away from my talents and joy, I started thinking how harsh and confining this criticism is. I remember the days I was assigned the task of scraping concrete off unlit and unheated steel stair ways to prepare for a spray crew. You use a hand tool for this, then have to carry a shop vacuum up and down the stairs. I wondered, how am I not being far more commercial as a commercial painter than I would be making greeting cards? Is my artistic purity contributing anything to the culture? Once the stairs we painted were rusting by the time we returned over the weekend. Surely my little bunny pictures leave an equal mark to this.

 

For about six years, I was a commercial painter for the union. Another summer I cut and hung metal track and insulation so we could hang fabric wall coverings on it.

 

For other income I have worked in the retail art supply industry, been a nurses assistant and home health aide. I worked in the printing business, and as a construction laborer.

 

All these jobs, being full time work, require time away from making pictures. That is okay. Everyone I know has things that they would like to do rather than go to work in the morning.

 

But an artist can use more of their years in their area of talents if they can be vigilant at showing people their art work. Doing this can pay for their materials, and sometimes reimburse them for a little lost time from their regular jobs. Many artists will attest that half of their art time must be spent on getting the work in front of people, with the other half for making it.

 

Turning your artwork into a business can make more time for it, make it visible to people, and cover it's expenses so you don't have to quit.