coppervale (coppervale) wrote,
coppervale
coppervale

Regarding Selling Out As An Artist

This is one of the best posts (and subsequent discussions) I've ever read regarding the concept of "Selling Out" as an artist. It is a MUST READ for anyone who does anything creative for a living. The Norman Rockwell anecdote is the "aw, shucks" example; but the Monet story is chilling.

http://illustrationart.blogspot.com/2009/06/selling-out.html

The charge which is usually leveled at those who have supposedly Sold Out is that we have in some way compromised the quality of our work by doing it for mere money. This is a sensitive topic for me lately - in recent weeks, I've had a few pointed letters come in accusing me of having sold out for mere money because I've chosen to do more Dragons novels rather than complete the long-awaited final chapters of my graphic novel, STARCHILD: MYTHOPOLIS. There have been several different arguments as to why I should have focused on the latter rather than the former, all of which can be trumped by a single response: if there's no money to pay the bills and make a living, then there's going to be no art at all.. And the Dragons novels are selling really, really well.

Like the example given in the above link that Sargent's finer art would not have existed if he had not also painted commissioned portraits, if it were not for the Imaginarium Geographica novels there would not even BE an opportunity for more Starchild material. I would love nothing more than to continue to serialize (and complete) the Starchild graphic novels within the comics Direct Market - but at present, the readership of my illustrated novels outstrips the readership of the comics by a couple hundred to one. As far as I'm concerned, I'm just ensuring that I WILL eventually be able to complete Starchild in some form, because I'm building a global readership that will be interested in reading whatever else I do - which is one reason I illustrated the novels. People who like my art AND stories will (hopefully) also like my comics.

My dear friend Colleen Doran was recently advised by mutual pal Jeff Smith that she should finish HER longtime graphic novel project, A DISTANT SOIL. Trust me, she'd love nothing more - except for making a living. And right now, she is doing very well with her freelance work, and fits in her personal projectsl where she can. Frustrating to longtime readers? Sure. But she's just being pragmatic. And the thing is, the quality of her work (on whichever project) remains stellar.

We haven't sold out by doing work which provides us a living. We're just focused on different projects right now. The perception that I've (largely) moved away from comics is just that - I still love them, I still want to do them. And it's not as if I'm slacking on the IG novels. One a year, fully illustrated, is a decent pace. That's a lot of material. And as I said, I'm building a bigger audience to whom I can sell other work.

I love to create these books. I love the stories I'm telling, and I love it when one of the illustrations simply sings from start to finish. I'm thrilled that so many readers all over the world are enjoying them - and perhaps moreso that I have a publisher that does.

I've largely walked away from reading ANY reviews of or discussions of my books online - an awful lot of opinions out there (and it can make you bats when you find yourself sympathizing with a lousy review of your own work), but it's harder to ignore when someone emails you directly. And in an economic climate like this one, when I am utterly grateful to have a career which lets me live decently, pay my debts, and work on projects I love, it's very hard to hear that I've chosen to "Sell Out" because I'm focusing on something so "obviously commercial" instead of spending an equivalent amount of time and effort on something that, frankly, is just as commercial - but right now, doesn't pay as well.

If anyone else asks why, I'm going to give them the above link. And then I'm going to pray that I never see the world the way Monet did.

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