Guest Post: "Your worth as an artist is not tied to your ability to sell your art," with Elin Lööw
The following post is written by Elin Lööw, a writer, artist, and all around creative who has some wise words for you today. To learn more about Elin, click here!
A bit over a year ago, me painting anything was unthinkable. I was the typical writer, firmly convinced I lacked the ability to make anything that could come close to be called art. But I had proclaimed 2016 to be a year for facing my creative fears, so I ended up buying color and brushes anyway.
It didn't take long for me to realize that most of my inability was in my head, and in lack of practice. So during last year, I painted and in the name of facing my creative fears, I started selling what I barely dared to call my art.
Now, about 8 months later, I've just closed my Etsy shop. This could be a story about failure, but it's not. It's a story about figuring out what is right for you, right now, as an artist.
From selling to not selling
I started selling my art quickly. In the beginning it was a fun, light experience. My expectations were low and the world was supportive. But as time went by, both I and my surroundings got less excited.
If you've ever tried to sell your art, and you haven't hit some especially lucrative style, or have a massive following, you know that it's not particularly easy. It takes effort and time. Marketing and branding. Hopes and disappointments. And I wasn't doing it.
I wasn't putting in the amount of work it takes to build up an art shop I would be proud of.
My shop had become a thing I felt obliged to work on. Making art a point on my to do-list, never satisfied with what I created. I felt constrained to the style of my art shop, a style I hadn't fully developed yet.
After forcing myself to have an honest look at my shop, I finally reached the conclusion I'd avoided for a while: having an art shop isn't right for me, not now. It's too early in my journey and I want more time to grow and explore before I sell.
I closed the doors to my Etsy shop and a surge of freedom rushed through me.
Without a shop, I feel free to create whenever and however I want. I'm free to dabble and leave things unfinished. I'm free to develop my art in silence if I want to.
I'm not telling you stop selling your art. Neither am I telling you to start selling your art. I'm telling you to ask yourself what's right for you right now. You're allowed to choose, you know.
You're an artist either way
I didn't dare to call my paintings art until I started selling it. So when I closed my shop, the obvious question popped up.
If I don't sell my art, am I still an artist?
There's a lot of feelings around selling. If you do, you run the risk of being a sellout, a fraud, someone who just paints to make money, not a real artist.
If you on the other hand don't sell, you're a hobbyist, a wannabe, someone who paints just for fun, not a real artist.
As you can see, you lose either way.
Fear will always have a reason to say you're not an artist.
When it comes down to it, being an artist is a choice. It's not a label someone else has to put on you. It's the work that you do, the identity you choose.
For me, the label isn't what's important right now. As long as I can create what I want, what is true to who I am, the rest matters less.
If you're trying to sell your art and it's not going so well, there could be a million reasons why. Maybe you're struggling to reach your target audience, you haven't developed your style fully yet or maybe you're afraid that learning about marketing will make you a salesy fraud.
I deeply respect all artists trying to make a living on their art, and I know that the struggle is real. I'm just here to tell you this:
Your worth as an artist is not tied to your ability to sell your art.
To check out the rest of Elin's incredible blog and to join her Teacup Owls newsletter, click here!