There are givers and there are takers.
Takers think first of self. They feel a sense of entitlement. They seek happiness by focusing on what they can gain, who they are, what they accomplish, or what recognition they receive.
Givers think of others. They have compassion. They find happiness and joy by focusing on others; by giving; by sharing; through service; etc.
There are givers and takers among both the rich and the poor. There are givers and takers within relationships. There are givers and takers at work or church. There are givers and takers in your neighborhood. There are emotional givers and takers and there are those who are givers or takers in the way they communicate.
It isn’t quite as black or white as I’ve spelled out. Each of us is at times a giver and at times a taker. Though, there are a few individuals who are primarily one or the other. Mother Teresa was certainly a giver. And there are some who are primarily takers. But most of us are a combination of both.
Yet, I hope you will pardon me as I feed on the stereotypes of being one extreme or the other. I do it to illustrate a point and hope that it gives you something to ponder – both in terms of your art and the purpose of art in general.
Yes, there are givers and takers in art.
Let me give you a few examples.
The takers are poor teachers, because they feel a need to protect their secrets of technique, style, or color.
The givers are good teachers, because they feel a need to share all they know to help the students find their own path in art.
The taking teachers feel that they own their knowledge and skill and feel that the student needs to earn his own.
The giving teachers feel that their knowledge and skill is a gift and a stewardship to share with others.
The taking artist may have an agenda that he is pushing with his art and his exhibits. He may feel the need to shock to get his point across. The controversy surrounding his art feeds his ego. He feels that his ideas are superior. Some have fame, praise or wealth as their motivating factor.
The giving artist feels a stewardship that comes with the gift and talent of being an artist. That gift should be used wisely to uplift and enrich the lives of those who view their art.
The taking artist acts like a car salesman (my apologies to any car salesmen reading this) when they put on their selling hat. Takers only talk to qualified buyers at shows.
The giving artist helps potential collectors recognize the emotional connection to art and how being surrounded with great art can enrich their life. Givers will share their art with anyone, regardless of whether they can buy or not.
Art – at least meaningful or pure art – communicates a message. That message, that communication, could be giving in nature (uplifting, enriching, empowering, thought provoking, enlightening, etc.) or taking in nature (propaganda, offensive, controversial, etc.). Though, I admit, the line can be fuzzy at times. There can be giving art that is controversial or taking art that is thought provoking or beautiful. The difference lies in the intent of the artist.
But I hope you understand my intent with this article. I did force the stereotypes to get you to think about it for a moment. I’m not trying to label you or anyone as a giver or taker. I know that I fit into both at times and I suppose many of you do, too.
My intent is that you look at yourself and at your own motivation. What does art mean to you? Why do you create? What role do you think art has in society? Do you share your art or just sell your art? At shows, are you a giver or taker in how you interact with collectors? Does society need artists who are both takers and givers? Etc.
I’m interested in your thoughts. Do share.
Today's post is an updated version from a few years ago, but we're republishing it again today because it's still a timely and a very relevant message. Enjoy!
Selling your art like a pro doesn't have to be hard. FASO makes it easy to build and maintain a gorgeous website, comes with a suite of powerful marketing tools that automates many common marketing tasks, and connects you to new collectors and galleries. Sign up today for a free, no obligation 30-day trial.