It's Commercial, but Is It Art?
The glamorous starving artist in a garrett in Paris (I wish) only came in with the rise of Impressionism during the late 19th century. Impressionism was a direct reaction to the invention of photography. The painter was suddenly freed from having to produce pictorial realism. They studied the science of light and the mechanics of the eye as well as painting. This radical new style of painting caused a violent reaction among the art loving French. It was years before Impressionists and then Post Impressionists won the approval of the European art establishment. During this time the attitude that making money from selling art was somehow wrong
Before the 19th century, painters were considered much the same as carpenters. During the middle ages art was comissioned by the nobility or the church. Artists made what they were told to make. Later with the rise of a prosperous middle class, the system stayed much the same.
Most of the contributors to the stock sites, work long hours to produce the best product possible. Artistically, much of it is excellent. I just love the lack of pretense and the hard headed business sense that they practice. It's been a learning experience for me, and I appreciate all the information that is shared in the forums and blogs on Dreamstime. It's a very different attitude from the one that I encountered during the early 80s when I first sold handweaving. My first weaving teacher actually told the class that self-satisfaction had to be as much a part of weaving as making money, and that we should not charge enough for our product to make a profit from our work. I always thought, "Why not?"
Don't get me wrong. Most of us are here because we get more satisfaction from selling photography and illustrations online than from our day jobs.....if we have them. Yes, it's a large part of why we do it, but working to increase our sales and seeing them rise can be a source of satisfaction, too. It takes a different sort of talent, but it's a necessary part of building a business and career. The answer to the question in the title is a very loud, "Yes!"
Photo credits: Patricia L. Ballard.