I hope the next Michaelangelo has an Instagram budget

Tutorial / 01 September 2020

Really though, when you think about it, I really do hope that the next epic history changing artist does have a budget for social media ads, otherwise, they may never get discovered.

Contrary to popular belief, historical artists whose names are still recognized today, did not die broke, insane and unknown. This fallacy also seems to help perpetuate another myth, that an artists work isn’t valuable until they are dead.

I won’t go into an encyclopedic 20 pages review of history here, but with a little time and research, you can verify that many historical artists did experience a lot of fame and financial reward for their work. In fact, most of the classical artists had multiple apprentices that they would train to paint and sell small replicas of their most famous works to sell and split the revenue. Apprentices would even paint backgrounds and small details for some of the most famous and recognized pieces of art in history. (Some artists also trained their lovers to paint and be apprentices, but I don’thave time to get into that right now.)

The point is, to spite what you may have heard. Most famous historical artists were successful in life, that’s why we still remember them today. Often, when one of these artists did come to an unfortunate end, it had as much to do with the artists own vices and demons as it does to their finances.

When you compare the output of those artists and their apprentices, some artists have thousands of pieces to their name and I would submit, objectively, that if compared the volume of work of a modern commercial artist without apprentices to that of their historical counterparts, the volume of the modern artists portfolio will dwarf that of their classical counterpart.

Thanks to modern advancements in traditional and digital art, artists are able to produce large volumes of professional quality work in much less time. Thanks to the integrated world wide web and slave-like contract standards, they are also required to.

Subjectivity of art quality aside, most modern artists have never and will never experience the living success of their classical predecessors. Even those who do achieve success in their own niches such as comics and video games.

The average comic book contains approx. 120 illustrations. That’s more than the number of famous pieces that some historical artists had in thier entire careers, and a full time comic artist does this every month. Video game artists have to produce even more than this.

So how is it, that today’s artists seem to work twice as hard for half the money and none of the recognition?

Work for hire. Once it became known that a famous piece of art would increase over time, business people have been trying to get a piece of that action. With the advent of the modern marketing and advertising industry, big business realized the power and influence that art could have in influencing the opinions and purchases of consumers. 

Big business can’t risk having an unhappy artist walk away with the rights to thier branding, so of course, they need to create agreements that state that they fully own the rights to any art produced.

Thus the hungry maw of modern business demands of the modern artist that they produce more and more work, faster than ever, for less money and no statement of ownership and little to no recognition.

Raphael, Leonardo, Michaelangelo and Donatello (the men, not the turtles) did not die poor, starving and unknown, but if modern business continues to degrade modern art for commercial purposes today’s artists will.

Your other option is to produce great work and spend tons of money online to get it seen.

Personally, i think both are stupid and too time consuming and I don’t plan to involve myself in either situation.

Btw, here’s some art I made!


Thanks for reading,

Mike