There’s a sacred aura around artists. Popular culture often paints them as solitary geniuses endowed with a divine gift, almost like the prophets of the secular world. They’re perceived to be unsullied by worldly motivations like profit and status, driven instead by a pure inner calling. Interfering with that calling is paramount to sacrilege. But how is the concept of a creative economy changing this and can artists also be entrepreneurs?
It wasn’t always that way. There is a reason that the words “artist” and “artisan” are so similar: the distinction between art and craft was not quite so definitive in the past. Art was seen as a way to earn a living by producing something of value for society, albeit something more complex and prestigious than horseshoes or wooden barrels. It wasn’t perceived as the result of divine inspiration and unique talent—it was a craft to be learned and honed, usually through a lengthy apprenticeship with a master craftsman. The training included clear rules and limitations that were seen to be an inherent part of the art, not subject to change according to the whims of an individual artist. The public perception of art began to change in the 18th century. Secularism and individualism gained momentum, and art became its own raison d’etre, not to be reigned in by the techniques of the masters or the desires of capricious patrons. Rules were discarded and rebellious, innovative methods were idealized. Institutions sprang up to support the culture boom that followed—museums, councils for the arts, residencies, and awards. Over time, the institutionalization led art to again become something that one studied for years, a type of expertise. By the mid-twentieth century, it had become the domain of a select elite, put on a pedestal and highly idealized.
Then came the internet age and the gig economy. The institutions that had supported artists, albeit a selected group, lost funding, and art, like everything else, became a commodity to be bought and sold on the market. Therefore, it was no longer enough for artists to create art—they were expected to sell it too. In parallel, the Internet expanded the art market. Today, artists can sell their work to anyone, anywhere. They aren’t limited by their geographical location or heavily dependent on middlemen as they were in the past. And sell they do—according to the National Assembly of State Art Agencies in the US, the creative economy amounted to 4.3% of the GDP in the US in 2019. Another trend of the Internet era and the creative economy is the blurring of boundaries. Artists no longer train solely in one discipline, often combining diverse media like video and mass-produced items in their work. Whereas it used to take years to become competent in the technicalities of an art form, technology now gives artists easier access to a wide variety of new tools and infrastructure. However, this expansion has come at a price. Artists are expected to invest in promoting their brand, maintaining a presence on social media, building a website, and so forth. They are expected to have a network, and to be responsive to queries and requests from potential customers. They need to manage finances, digital advertising, and more. It is an opportunity, but it’s also an incredible burden, one that not every artist has the tools to manage. It’s a far cry from the image of a solitary artist, creating his or her work in an isolated bubble.
There is no question that artists have more options available to them today than ever before. No longer constrained to one discipline or genre, they are free to experiment and expand their creative horizons. Art is also accessible to more people, both as practitioners and as connoisseurs, even people who haven’t gone through traditional training or been endorsed by leading institutions. On the other hand, artists are carrying extra burdens that occupy their time and distract them from their art. In order to succeed, they need to invest in branding, self-promotion, and interaction with their markets. At a minimum, it’s distracting. At a maximum, it sullies the purity of the creative process, driving artists to satisfy consumer demand rather than their inner voice. Art platforms like Pasal, strive to give artists and art lovers the best of both worlds by providing key infrastructure to support their creative work, almost like an accelerator for a startup. By selling through our online platform and receiving support throughout the process, artists can save the extra time usually spent on dealing with marketing independently, while still giving them access to consumers worldwide. In parallel, our foundry is a place where artists can bring new visions to life by combining their own, unlimited creativity and techniques with classic and timeliness materials, craftsmanship and expertise.
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There’s a sacred aura around artists. But how is the concept of a creative economy changing this and can artists also be entrepreneurs?
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