Making Art

Bringing Art Making Into Your Life

The Great Art Hustle

Today’s post comes to you today inspired by a quote from Frenchy/American writer Anaïs Nin [February 21, 1903 – January 14, 1977].

Good things happen to those who hustle.

Nin was  a writer of things that I always found intellectual, saucy and feministy all rolled into one. Quite a feat.



Above: Anaïs Nin. The second delightful kooky image is by Kenneth Anger

A friend posted a pile of Nin’s quotes on FB and amongst them all, this one stood out for me today. Why you ask? Well dear reader, this  is because I am having to start the great art hustle in my own life. The great art hustle? It’s when you have to drag yourself away from the art making and start trying to do some art moving, some art marketing [shudder], that is unless you want to end up with an art graveyard under your bed.

I hope that none of you are reading this and feeling horrified that I, who have never offered an art-making space that is anything other than non-judgemental and with a motto of ‘make things for yourself’, have sunk so low as to suggest there might be some other things to talk about?

So let’s first say that I hate the art hustle very much. I would much prefer to just keep making, making, MAKING. But the problem is what do I do with all my art-babies/monsters now that I have created them? My house is getting awfully full of some half decent sculptures and I feel the urge to send them into the world.  This is not even to touch on the repulsive topic of having to make an income. I believe I have mentioned the fact that I do some design work, for money? [ And its ok, can’t complain, not trench digging involved.] But what I really want to do is just make art, and that my dear art-making reader brings us full circle…. If I want to make art full time I have to start selling it! Horrific I know.

Several other times in my life, this has come up as a possibility, and for one reason or other has not happened.

For example:

  1. When I first left art school I really felt like I was not allowed to just make art.. I had to go and ‘get a proper job with that degree’. When in fact this would have been a great time to plough ahead, no debts, living with the folks still, no commitments.
  2. Mid twenties: got all sidetracked by the money acquiring urges of new friends who thought hanging around making art was just plain lazy.
  3. Sometimes I was making art but it lacked a through thread, a cohesive something to make it add up to more than the sum of its parts.
  4. Baby, mortgages, that kind of stuff.

And the thing is that stuff still exists. But I am feeling a bit now or never for some reason. I don’t think you are ever too old to make art [ I wrote a post on this], people get discovered late in life sometimes, but I guess I just really do want to start selling some of my art now. And apart from the question of income there is my genuine urge to send my art off into the world.

Anaïs Nin also said:

It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.

Some of my art works art taking me about 6 weeks to make. I am putting a lot into them. I am trying hard. And I think they are getting quite good. And I want other people to be able to enjoy  [or not] the wierd little world I am creating. To see the little stories I am telling.

So what even is the Great Art Hustle? What does it involve that is so horrible?

It means telling people you are an artist.

Trying to get a gallery to represent you. Having a cohesive body of work to show in an exhibition. [Or starting/finding a shop to show your work if you feel more artisan than artist].

And putting it all out there, to sell…. or maybe not.

Is it this last thing that is the truly awful crux of the matter?

Because frankly the other things aren’t that bad. Or is it the sense that I won’t be able to make what I want? That I will have to sell out?  What if I do all this and nobody even likes it? AAAgh. Terrifying. And yet if I want to get rid of my art-graveyard I have to take these steps.

I am not saying that everyone should start hustling. Maybe the time is not right for you?

  1. You are still feeling your way, figuring out who you are art-wise.
  2. Or you have a career and just want to keep the art-making in the hobby love-fun zone.
  3. Or your work just isn’t where you want it to be yet.
  4. Or maybe you haven’t developed a thick enough skin to put yourself out there [yet].

But for me yes it is time to start The Great Art Hustle. I am hopeful, and fearful. But don’t forget, good things don’t come to those who wait: they come to those who hustle.

2 comments on “The Great Art Hustle

  1. KnitNell
    November 22, 2013

    Good luck – I will follow your progress with interest.

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This entry was posted on November 22, 2013 by in Inspiration and tagged , .
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