Can you make money and still be an artist

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Can a person be an artist and make loads of money at the same time? Actually, that’s the wrong question. The right question is, can a person feel like an artist while they make loads of money?

I think, as an artist, it’s easy to think that any kind of marketing and any kind of commercial-based work isn’t art. It can often feel like producing work to sell something makes us hacks. Maybe I’m speaking too broadly. Maybe most artists don’t feel this way, but I know that the idea of making money using the social media-approved schemes and gimmicks makes me feel, for lack of a better word, icky.

I am often conflicted between wanting to have the “dream”- the nice car, the ability to buy a house, the Chanel leather slingbacks- and the “dream”- the part where I make photographs or write a book that has a profound impact on any one soul in the world.

And I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think that a lot of artists worry that if they do the marketing if they do the commercial work, their work might mean less. If you appreciate the finer things in life, can you actually experience the grit that allows you to show it? If you post on social media using trendy audio, are you begging for attention and not being seen for the impact of your work? Wouldn’t an artist always be creating from the heart and not from the need for money?

And in truth, I know, and you probably know too, that a photograph doesn’t have to be made for free to touch someone’s life. I cry during Burberry ads and am inspired when I see two people dancing in the street on a cold Christmas-y night with their Apple Airpods on just to sell another Apple product. Those are ads, they are marketing, they sell things to people who want them, but they are also art. They also say something, they make an impact.

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