Prior to the 1970's, most artists made a series of original art works to open thought and make a social impact on society. Today, the commercial component has made many artists switch faster than prostitutes selling their behinds as it relates to artist's chosen fine art and/or commercial art markets.

The truly sad aspect of this global change, is that it has left out the people and communities in which these artists come from. Artist use to appreciate showing their original art works at local schools and community centers. Now, they pay ridiculous booth fees to be in malls and parks during music festival. Thus, not creating or educating the potential consumers on their medium, style, concept or cost. Even thou more people attend such events, many consumers are ignorant on why an open edition is more affordable than a limited edition. Or, what's a giclee or serigraph?

So the question I put forth, "Are artists selling out?" in retrospect, are our communities being left behind and does this effect our efforts in building a new consumer base?

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Comment by Ray Fox on May 2, 2012 at 7:45am

Thanks, Mr. Boone. So what are the solutions? Simply create more markets and avenues as forementioned by many on this post. However, we must remember, "it is better to eat a hamburger with a friend, than a steak with ones enemy."

Comment by Arnold L Johnson on May 1, 2012 at 3:29pm

Individually we do what we must to survive, but when in a community we consider others also. Now when the whole community is pressed into diversity, there is a watering down for the sake of acceptance. I believe this is why there is soft jazz on the radio instead of really creative cutting edge jazz. Nobody sane listened to John Coltrane until My Favorite Things, something familiar brought in many many more listeners. If artist are the prophets, the seers, the tellers of dreams, the story tellers, the human whisperers, then folks in the community should know they are there for them. Then the artist is beholdened to his community, right? Do we have that kind of relationship between artist and community? If we do the selling out issue makes sense.

But getting back to the original question, technology has made it possible that each artist can self publish his work in many forms. Taking into consideration we are talking fine arts, quality and quantity of prints are altering the price points. Art that is achievable (museum quality) vs a cheap poster to get the art in anyone's hands. Are we talking well monied gallery markets or consumer markets like a shopping mall or a community arts center? How open are each market for the artist and how accessible are they to consumers? What if an artist of so called high caliber decides to market prints in a mall or community art center instead of a well established gallery where his original sits? Again, excuse my mannerisms.   

Comment by Arnold L Johnson on May 1, 2012 at 5:49am

I've been a Computer Aided Drafter for over 20 years having switched from pen and ink. When I started using the PC to make art, my evaluation of the output was very low. I am making a reproduction no matter what, the original was an undecipherable electronic file that needs a printer device to decode. Today I am making a print, period. Technology has made it possible do what I do now. This technology also blows the economics of originality and rarity and scarcity out the window. Make one print and destroy the original file or a limited run or print on demand. This blows the value system out of whack, even photographers face this dilemma. You can put your image through any printing device, it is no longer a one off artwork. How an artist decides to exploit the technology is only one part of the selling out point. BUT technology makes it possible to lower the price of art so that the person of average means can have it. Now the artist has to sell more of it to make his buck.

Do a visual survey of Black art on the internet, there are a lot of portraits, and peopled art. There are few good abstracts, and few Black art designs transfered onto furnishings and architectural details. We do good on high fashion but average daily-ware is basically sports centered casual. Selling out here might be how we cater to the limited market instead of creating a cultural demand that supports a cultural living. Dashikis are not on the store shelves in my area, not even from Black designers. If dashikis are they are traditional repro prints. The form of the shirt itself has not become a staple to us to where we interrogate our skills upon it. We will do a tee-shirt, but not a dashiki. So does selling out mean not promoting ones supposed culture?  Or making a buck by any means necessary?

Comment by Andrew M Grant on April 26, 2012 at 6:18pm

Walter, when I used the word commercialize I meant that an artist was producing reproductions, prints, etc instead of just only offering originals for sale to the public.  I think the viewers can determine this seeing that artist don't create for themselves at large. In my opinion art is meant to uplift and teach and I feel this way about any form of art be it dance, music or theatre.  I don't personally use the word "sell out" to describe how I feel about an artist, I'm more an advocate for skill and presentation but I have seen enough work to know if they are for the most part, a "gimmick" and most others here can too.  Art is a powerful thing and I trust people can tell the difference.

Comment by WALTER OLIVER NEAL on April 26, 2012 at 5:53pm

Andrew, just who is to determine what art is honest and positive, and which is not?  Again, this is the reason I detest the term "selling out".  It invites presumptive and judgmental criticism, rather than constructive criticism. Also, an artist doesn't have to  necessarily 'commercialize' his or her work for mass consumption. It has been shown, throughout history, that the masses appreciate fine art. Let's do away with this onerous term, 'selling out', and assume that all art comes from a sacred place; that our individual comprehension of what each of us produces is ours alone; and acknowledging the viewer the freedom to see with their own eyes.  A picture is, indeed, worth a thousand words.  Only in this way, can we develop an appreciation (not judgment) of our respective offerings to the world at large.

Comment by Andrew M Grant on April 26, 2012 at 2:06pm

I would say it depends as well.  Music is produced and distributed in a similar fashion if it is being requested by a wholesale dealer, as you put it, for a targeted market.  Its up to the artist to a certain extent what they are willing to sacrifice if anything to get the work out.

Comment by Ray Fox on April 25, 2012 at 9:13pm

Hey Andrew, If the work was being requested from a wholesale dealer for a specific target market, does the quality and integrity suffer? I guess it depends on the artist.


Comment by Andrew M Grant on April 25, 2012 at 6:46pm

Walter you've touched on some very interesting points on that I'm going to reflect upon, thank you. 

In my opinion the term "selling out" as it relates to the arts would only apply to some if the work that is created doesn't come from an honest and positive place.  Commercializing your art for mass consumption doesn't bother me because as its been already stated, rent is due and the fridge has to remain full, but once the quality and integrity of the work suffers I dismiss it. 

Comment by Ray Fox on April 24, 2012 at 6:55pm

Great point Mr. Neal. Never allow anyone to alter your flow. My concern is that artists aren't selling out their cars any more. Interfacing with the consumers and public at-large. Creating and inspiring our youth to the arts while they look as their mother tugs to keep it moving. Hence, on the way back they stop back by and she express her sons enjoyment and art ability. Thus, artist can provide paid lessons, mom finds a piece to complement her home and all tell family and friends how little man became a great artist. It's not truly about selling out, but making the right investments to keep and exspand art markets.

Comment by WALTER OLIVER NEAL on April 24, 2012 at 10:31am

I think we have to be careful about bandying about the term "selling out".  Personally, I detest the word, for it implies that an artist's quest for success is turning his back on his community; the same as when our youth equates their peers' desire to study and learn as 'acting white'.  I find it ironic that after the long fought struggle to be American, and after gaining the freedoms to make it so, so many of us live and act as if the laws of segregation are still in existence.   I am an artist who happens to be black, resenting any attempts to put me in a box. This is my expression as an American. The "black" part is a socio-political construct used for political and social purposes; which, as an artist, I see as anathema to my spirit's ability to make itself evident in my work. Nothing will take away my experience as a human being existing in America, whose life has been, and continues to be, impacted by racism. Thusly, I find no reason to literally 'stamp'  a socio-political term on my work; for my " life experience", in America, will ooze out of it nevertheless, whether it is figurative, abstract, or conceptual!  Check out the work of Martin Puryear as evidence of this.  As long you allow the fears, ignorance, and malevolent intentions of others to define and shape your inner vision, you will never be free to allow your creative spirit to soar.

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