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Where have all the patrons gone? Are they far far away?

July 4, 2013

As an artist you grow up surrounded by romantic myths of triumph over adversity and dreams of being discovered,  a wealthy patron lifting you to the heights of fame in the glittering world of make belief as high society embraces you.  Well it hasn’t happened to me yet and I wonder if  I would ever have enjoyed such an occurrence, though I can confirm the myth of eternal suffering as you sacrifice everything for your art is no myth, no its everyday life. LOL

bridge style

I’ve struggled as an artist for nearly thirty years battling to keep my integrity intact and in one sense my struggle has served me well but I’m now in a position where I feel loaded up with good ideas but just don’t have the resources to fund the production. I recently dropped some work off with a dealer who represents me and they commented on one of the pieces saying how good it would look as a large public sculpture, I had to agree 🙂 but there is almost no way that I can make that happen which does sadden me a little. So what do I do? well I could seek out a rich patron to fund some interesting work, but not for financial profit or investment, the only reward would be a demonstration of integrity in art and human endeavour, though surely there couldn’t be a fairer trade. The profits of business put back into the simple human act of creativity for a window into a different world free from the shackles of disproportionate wealth gathering.  A chance to leave a cultural legacy based on art that was made for the reason of sharing  an expression of our experience of life. I love this idea of the clash of two worlds which are  polar opposites that could serve in a mutually beneficial way and would represent a trade of significant proportion. There is a great history in art, of rich patrons funding struggling artists but I’ve yet to meet one and the rich people who I’ve come across have been more circumspect with their money than I (which does explain things). However you would think that if people could spend one hundred million on a painting that they could afford the relatively small cost of financing a large bronze, but not in this crazy greedy world. Our present reality sees art  reduced to a commodity no more than stocks or shares,  tradeable goods for the elite to play with, the fact that it’s art is incidental. Now I’m back on the subject of money and how it moves and shakes the art market, and how the auction houses are played and how art is taken away from the people and hidden in vaults but  I’m digressing. I guess what I’m looking for is my opposite, someone with whom there is a mutal lack of respect which would create a suitably broad  space within which to operate. Come to think of it this whole patron business doesn’t sound like an attractive proposition, I’ll just have to continue following the path of making my sculptures on a small scale and be satisfied with that.

A Bull4

Through my struggles I feel I have come up with some significant and original ideas, they have come from an absolute commitment and belief but the price I’ve paid for my endeavour is that of living most of my life in penury. Now having reached this stage where I have resolved many ideas I find myself unable to produce the work through my financial restraints which is a harsh price to pay. I can confess to being useless with the conventions of society, like jumping through hoops, applying for all that is going, contacting the right people etc because I only ever focused my attention on sculpture and my ambition rested on the evolution of my conceptual  abilities. So here I am marooned, full of ideas and happy with life, confident in my abilities yet locked in to  an isolated existence  because I can’t find a way in to the kingdom of the art world, torn between the freedom of expression and the scratting for a meagre living. At times I have felt so pulled apart and angry at the sheer hell of it all but somehow I always manage to challenge my energy into a positive way forward and it does drive me on to dig deeper and produce work of greater significance.

No44

Well I’ve just been for a long walk and echoing through my head are the words of those who say to me stop feeling sorry for yourself, you’re lucky or go out there and do something, which is exactly what I do by working with optimism and hope in my celebration of life. But I will never be quiet about my reality and it would be a total lie to say everything is wonderful or use ridiculous comparisons with people who suffer more. The dirty truths of life really don’t suit the protected middle classes of the west, because they have been lifted out of the struggle and art is just seen as a trapping a reward for their affluent prosperity. In my own life I’ve not been able to travel abroad for ten years now through my financial state and have faced increasing pressures from all directions which sums up a reality that I would say is at best harsh yet I have not let this distract me (too much) from my work. I also face a reality where if I’m honest many people don’t really care about what people like me do unless there is some kudos to be gleamed from it (though there are people who are supportive and interested and I really do appreciate that). My life  is about following something that I believe whole heartedly in, a true dedication for which my reward is basic survival and a little bit of interest here and there. Having said all that, the life style I live is real, its on the edge both in terms of society and financial survival which is why I can take risks and am free to express myself because I have nothing to lose and always something to gain and to be honest I like that. I carry my anger and discontent as a badge of honour and am proud that I really don’t have a neat place to fit in to and that at fifty I’m still as unpredictable as I was at twenty because for me that defines what it is to be alive. To question rules and authority and set my own agenda  where my thoughts are my own disconected from institutionalised thinking  and convention. I feel that art and expression don’t flow out of complacency and comfort they are born out of a struggle on many levels which can be very uncomfortable and on the edge, but if you don’t push yourself you will never discover what you have to offer or your true potential. I think in my own life after so many years on the fringe of things I have an inbuilt mechanism that stops me from becoming assimilated into mainstream society, I can feel it welling up in me and refer to it as my rebellious spirit. It would be easy to make simple and beautiful things because beauty has it’s place and people like the opportunities of escapism but the uncomfortable truths have a place too because if you are to experience life truthfully it’s not about living in a state of denial. I find keeping it real is a profound philosophical approach to life for me because it’s about truth and integrity and living with a heightened sense of awareness because you can take so little for granted as you journey through life in search of meaning and comprehension.

art gangsta

Despite all of this I still love: life, art, adversity, struggle and all the challenges which make life so interesting

TumbleDown1This sculpture is a perfect reflection of the balance of my life 😉

10 Comments
  1. neastreetartist permalink

    I appreciate your ability to describe your situation. I feel like I’m on a similar path as far as my creative career is concerned. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are commercial artists, and then there are true artists. You are of the later, and no amount of slick advertising will ever sustain a meaningful culture. Ideas are the greatest wonder, and the best artists are yet to be ‘discovered’.

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  2. Nancy Newberg permalink

    I was thinking maybe you could contact some professors in the art world at some of the collages and see if they would be so kind to talk with to you and offer up some solutions, this professor would be much older and he could share some of his wisdom with you. Personally I think you should be teaching and sharing your talent with up coming students, perhaps private classes at your studio? This would generate income with out selling your art which you have a hard time doing at this time. I would seek a partner if you want to go into a business venture but you do not seem to want to do that either? In following you these past months I never have any clear picture of just what you really want to do?? You need to speak with some very wise power, have you tried God?? You need his direction if you are unable to take human suggestion even your own…Nancy

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    • Hi Nancy, I have spent time with Buddhist Monks this week, i’ve shared breakfast attended an evening chant and a meditation which was a wonderful experience. All in all I’m working well but the distractions of my physical needs (survival fund) keep interfering with the flow of my work and it is that which keeps agitating me. It will take a bit more time to sort my life out so that I can work in a more fluent way But I’m getting there. With regards to universities they have little time for artists like me which is sad because I could offer a lot to young aspiring artists. Eoghan 😉

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  3. I have this exact problem, of either making facile kitsch that sells or making good art that I love and starving. And I do need money to pay the studio rent. I used to turn myself inside out trying to figure out how to make money with art. I have entirely solved this (for me) by working at non-art stuff one day a week (or less) for cash. That takes all the pressure off, and I’m free to make the art I want. I’ve become my own patron. I know this doesn’t work for everyone but it’s been an amazing solution for me. Long live artists and the work they love!

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    • Hi Annerose, you always speak great sense and appear to address stuations with a level head, what you say makes great sense and maybe one day I will have to try instilling a bit of discipline in my life. Though I’m still going through a rather bouncy phase at the moment as I seek to find my equilibrium. 🙂

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      • I think it’s just very difficult. I do wish someone would just come and wave their wand and solve my money problems, although I think it’s not only artists that feel like this! 🙂 I have a storage room full of (beautiful) paintings and where are all those buyers?
        Sometimes I feel that my life as an artist is not valid and that I’m a bit self-indulgent, but most of the time I just feel extremely lucky to be able to study beauty and to work at creating beauty.

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      • Nancy Newberg permalink

        If it does not generate income then it is a hobby because you need income to survive, perhaps you could look into a grant of some kind Eoghan or a small business loan? That is how it is done in the US. I was lucky to be successful but I had to earn it relying on my banks for funding, no one offer anything EXCEPT for those wanting to put things on consignment in my building the inventory was welcomed. I pushed myself far and beyond, never abandoning my SHIP after much hard work I owned the ship and that was my goal….
        What drove me ??? My fathers words ” You must own your home by the time you are fifty”

        We artist of different professions must obey common grounds and rules and that is work to earn money fame will come later, if ever! Listen to the people with real hard ” earned” wisdom, not someone who sat on his duff and has nothing, but he thought about it all his life, how he thought it would be nice to have a home and children and a job, but he passed it by because that was to hard.

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  4. universalpeacepipedreamer permalink

    Hi Eoghan, I had thought, the same thing , for a long time, some person, will come along eventually, see the worth in my art, and then would come the financial jump start. Artist were held in pretty high regard through out history, up until recently, or so it seems.
    I really couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen any of your art work, until I found your blog, still can’t. I can not tell you on how many levels I can relate to you. I get pissed off and tell a friend if I glued some horse turds to a board and painted them blue, It would probably be the next great wonder of the art world, you know what I mean ? But, no matter how frustrated I get I can’t quit, I eat breathe and sleep art.
    I love the cave artist, and never thought I’d meet someone who I thought, was moved as deeply by their expressions as myself. I know that I have know, I feel the same way when I experience your art, as theirs, there is something, in your art that is so deep and profound and ancient, it envokes a calm and knowing deep within my soul.
    It is frustrating to here a lot of suggestions, you should make a giant…. or you should ….. and maybe all them make sense, but so often the ideas thrown my way require that missing ingredient the financing.
    My hope is that someday Artist will be once again held in higher light. We are scientist, and spiritual explorers,
    Well, man I didn’t mean to go off on a tangent, but you light a fire up under my butt.
    If ever I win the lottery, you’ll have a patron, for sure, until then I;m another starving artist, very inspired by your art and passion.
    Peace, J.A.M.

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    • Thank you, I really enjoyed reading your comment we obviously have a lot of common ground. I don’t know why but I have always felt that primitive connection in a deep way, it’s the one thing that makes me feel connected to my true reality of being. It’s reassuring to hear fellow artist’s reaching similar conclusions . Eoghan

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