By: TAYLOR LAMBERT
Artwork by Cecily Furlong, AKA @fourfires on Instagram
With the Coronavirus pandemic, starting last March, and a stay at home order coming into play off-and-on throughout the year, the creation and selling of art in this trying time have changed drastically. Galleries have always been the number one way for artists to get their work out to the masses; they heighten the value of works, promote them, and expose the work to a broader audience. Networking, endorsement, and financial boosting are also benefits that galleries provide to artists. Without the opportunity to have their art in exhibitions and shows, artists lose an enormous advantage. With the closure of galleries, artists’ livelihoods are at risk, especially for those whose artwork is their only form of income. Due to these unforeseen circumstances, creators have had no choice but to become more versatile as art dealing has become almost 100% virtual since quarantine began. More and more artists are flooding online galleries with their work since the transition to virtual selling; sites like FineArtAmerica, Artfire, UGallery, etc. are great examples of websites where art is the main attraction.
Many artists have been using the pandemic as an opportunity to grow their business, while others have had more negative experiences. When questioned about how her art business and wellbeing have fared since quarantine began, Cecily Furlong, AKA @fourfires on Instagram, said, “I’ve seen more negative effects than I like to admit. My regular inspiration and motivation decreased with the interruption of my day to day life. As a self-employed mother of two, I had my work/life balanced very delicately to align with my kids’ school hours. I’d be sure to only overlap a bit in order to maintain a regular evening schedule of homework, dinner, and family life. Without those set boundaries, I’ve struggled so much with having a good regular schedule for making new art, as well as shipping, printing, and production.” Although this is only one creator’s account, many others are suffering similar experiences. Self-employed artists and other small businesses owners are expected to produce original, fresh, and creative work at a higher rate than if there was no stay at home order. Because of these heightened expectations, artists are experiencing creative burnout faster and more often than before; this kicks off a vicious cycle that is hard to escape. Creative burnout causes a lack of motivation, this prevents artists from creating quality work, the lack of new or high-quality products results in the loss of money; lastly, they are forced to generate pieces, not for joy or pleasure, but as an obligation. This unfortunate series of events is a reality that has plagued many small business owners during these trying times. Now artists are more aware than ever that there is an extraordinarily thin line between work created for fun and work created to put food on the table.