Working every hour God sends six days a week isn't so bad when it's work that you like, but even people doing work they like need a break sometimes. Even work you like has its demanding, frustrating, annoying moments. And at the end of the day standing behind that work, laid out naked and exposed on a table like a newborn infant, smiling at strangers, hoping they "get it" and connect with your vision, and fall in love and Must. Have. It. and feeling your heart sink as they admire and handle and then ultimately walk away empty-handed, that, my friends, not only takes great courage, but I'm beginning to fear, great stupidity.
A friend who has made a desperate effort to keep her artistic endeavors going but has made no secret about the fact that the struggle may soon prove fatal to her business said, "People tell me to hang in there and not quit but then they don't buy anything. If no one buys anything how can I stay in business?" Heading home with almost nothing to show for my efforts, her words ringing in my ears, I can't help but wonder, does the world really need art the way I need art? Because I need it passionately. I need all kinds. I need art in my clothing, my possessions, my tools, my surroundings, on my walls, in my house, all around me. But maybe I'm alone.
Maybe the world is happy with stock pictures in frames from big chain stores and mass produced clothes and million-of-a-kind possessions. Maybe the world isn't as dedicated as I am to expressing myself in every way possible, part of which is by purchasing real things, things someone made with their hands, not mass produced by machine in a third world country from dubious materials where the laborers got paid $1/day for their work. Yes, maybe that means I don't own as much, but what I own has meaning to me, whether for what it represents about me or the connection I felt the maker express in its creation.
Are you happy, world? Do you feel a deep sense of connectedness with the mass produced? Should artists all hang up their tools and get 9-5 jobs instead of 24-hour-a-day jobs? Should art be allowed to die a dignified, if very lonely death? Because if that's the case I'd rather let it die now while there's still some shred of dignity still clinging to it than watch it get beaten to death over the course of agonzing months only to lie gasping and suffering on the pavement outside the next venue, or the next, or the next when it finally, inevitably dies of a lack of interest.
If you like artists, won't you consider supporting them? There are so many to choose from. Support their vision and their way of life. Most people think artists live a very lackadasical life but the very opposite is true. Yes, they may get supreme satisfaction from their work but it's generally never-ending. It begins the moment their minds engage in the morning and doesn't turn off until they pass out at night. Artist does not equal slacker, quite the opposite. And they can only live off their art if people see value in it and purchase it. End of story.
I'm trying to do my part. I support other artists by purchasing their products for myself and to use in my own work. But there needs to be a collective, concentrated effort if the little artist is going to survive. The next time you need to buy a gift, dare I suggest you check out the work of artists before going to a major chain? Handmade is so much more personal. If you don't know what they like artisan sites like Etsy offer Etsy gift cards so the lucky person can choose for themself.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, please feed the artists; they're starving. Do more than "like" someone's work. Purchase it so they can make more. Or, before you know it, there won't be anymore.