An Artist’s Life is a Solitary Existence

Rembrandt: Artist in His Studio

An Artist’s Life is a Solitary Existence

As an artist, you spend the prime hours of your day completing the works of art that you hope will support you and your artistic dreams. You believe that your art will someday be viewed by intimate crowds in a gallery setting. Or that if you get a really big break, your pieces might find a place before an adoring museum crowd or in a well-traveled public space. At the very least, you hope to make a living from your efforts.

An artist’s life is a solitary existence, but that aloneness is one of your most important creative tools. It gives you the quiet time to conceive your next big idea. It gives you the peace to create. As an artists you live a solitary lifestyle because that’s what works for you.

John Singer Sargeant: An Artist in His StudioArtists Market their Own Art

As an artist, you are the ultimate self-employed earner. Not only do you create fabulous works of art, but to bring home a paycheck, you also fill the shoes of an artist’s agent and an artist’s marketing professional.

Selling your art calls for a tedious balance of creativity and social skills. It takes marketing savvy most artists would rather not have to cultivate. As an artist you’d probably prefer to be at home creating art instead of making phone calls, wandering from gallery to gallery, or posting work samples and marketing blurbs online. But if you don’t sell your art, who will?

Artists Must Buy Supplies to Stay in Business

When you make money selling your art, you must eat and pay the rent, but you must also buy supplies. If you eat well but don’t have the brushes, pigments, canvas… or whatever medium you need for your creative process, eventually you’ll spend yourself out of business. Then you’ll have to get a real job.

Art is Not an Office Job

A recent National Endowment for the Arts report, “Artists and Arts Workers in the United States,” said that artists earned more than the national average salary. As an artist, you know better.

The careers they cited –architects, and graphic designers– are often tied to corporations and industries. Painters, photographers, sculptors, and other self-employed artists don’t have corporate salaries with benefits.

Artists Might Not Have Healthcare Insurance

As your artist’s career probably isn’t an office job, there’s no regular salary check to pay the bills. There is no sick pay or paid vacation. There’s no company-subsidized health plan for medical emergencies.

To afford individual health insurance for the self-employed, you would have to create and sell a piece of art each month just to pay the premium for bare bones coverage. It can be a choice between health insurance or eating and paying the rent.

Speaking of Rent

Unless you have a sponsor or a high-dollar grant to pay the bills, living in New York can be an economic roller coaster for a self-employed artist. Fortunately the city has embraced affordable housing for those who fit a broadly defined “artist” category.

Manhattan Plaza is 70 percent occupied by performing artists. A new development in West Chelsea will offer affordable housing for “..actors, singers , and other artsy professionals …” East Harlem Elementary School will become El Barrio’s Artspace PS109, a living/working space for artists. These projects are possible due to historic property tax credits, Section 8 housing programs, and arts and preservation organizations who value the artists in their community.

Do You Live a Solitary Life?

If you’re living an artist’s life, you have no co workers in the next cubicle, no standing lunch dates or afternoon coffee in the break room. You do it all alone, but you don’t have to. Contact us, and we’ll help you with marketing, online listings and great artist’s resources.

8 thoughts on “An Artist’s Life is a Solitary Existence

  1. That sounds like me but I am based in France.
    I will be touring in NYC between April 11 and April 16.
    How about performing with other artists and meeting you somewhere to synergize?
    Regards, Evilo

  2. A solitary art is fertile ground for Art skills to take root and grow.
    In other words, a solitary life may produce an Artist.

  3. A solitary life? Artists in general. Some. ME. You tell me…I left the bustling metropolis of Houston after a 50 year soujorn for the wilds if life on a remote mountain in Idaho..I do art from sunup to sundown every day. It took a while fow the few neighors to accept. But as each dinner invite was politely turned down, each summer get together the same I began getting acceptance and support. Often, especially when snowed in during autumn and winter months the only two legged critters I see is a fed ex or ups truck delivering supplies to me or a friend checking up and bringing in a homecooked meal. I go weeks or months without leaving the confines of my studio. I am passionate about my art and guided my life style to allow me the freedom to do it. Am I solitary artist? a 15 hour art day does not allow for a social being but it does do something else. It brings an enormous joy. Fullfilment. And peace.I wake smiling and end the day with the same smile. Are artists solitary? Perhaps more should be.

  4. After getting my family out the door I have a cup of coffee with some arty friends, then head to the studio. I really need the solitary space to be able to create. It’s a balance with being a business too. 70% of the week creating the work, 30% marketing it. Happy art making!

  5. Have to agree, it’s pretty difficult (at least for me) to be consistently producing artworks while being a social butterfly. If it’s some time set aside to market the artwork of course, but to have to go to every social function at the expense of having the opportunity to work on your own art, one has to choose their priorities.

  6. I’ll admit, and am even proud of, being an introvert. I feel pressure to be social, step out of my bounds to sell myself and my work, and frankly feel most people expect me to be social ‘like them’, but after 50+ years, I know it won’t happen. I am who I am. I have tried over and over and over, because most advice to artists is that you have to get to know and work with all the artists in your locale, and be social enough to sell your work to potential buyers and the like. But the more I try, the more I get tongue tied, shoot myself in the foot, get agitated and become more reclusive. I’m better off when I accept who I am and make a reasonable effort but walk away without judging myself through societies’ eyes. I recently read ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain and other books on the subject of solitude and introversion, which have made me feel more at peace with my nature. My artistic self is the reason behind who I am, and I feel my work would suffer if I forced the change. I also feel the world is a better place due to introverted people, but most people look from afar at you and say ‘He’s always such a loner’ which they also attribute to madmen. It certainly isn’t fashionable to admit introversion. I think many artists are, though, and better because of it. Thank you Gloria, for bringing the question to light.

  7. William,
    Thanks for your comment. I think it’s good to admit, and be proud, of being an introvert. It can make for beautifully painted flowers, writing that comes from the heart and a website that’s meticulous, well-written and knowledgeable.

  8. Introversion isn’t about being a wallflower, or avoiding parties, crowds…or fun. Introversion is how introverts “recharge”. I go through periods where I love “going out”, visiting friends, attending concerts, other artists’ gallery openings…parties, events, happenings, etc.

    But, in between an evening (or two) “out” I need a few days to myself, home with my fiancée and my studio, to focus on my work, and feel “productive”.

    It’s not a “solitary” existence all the time, just (perhaps) most of the time. Whereas extroverts are ready to hit the next party after an evening of partying, I’m ready to head home, and get some artwork done.

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