Okay maybe I shouldn't even say anything. I do believe in karma. But I keep having little nagging issues that gnaw at my brain every now and then. As an artist I have to wonder if I should just jump on the bandwagon. The "bandwagon" being that minority of artists who paint a subject simply because it's a moneymaker. Even if they have no knowledge about what they are painting. Example (making it as brief as possible!):
Vending recently at a large Day of the Dead event. Set up next to an artist selling Day of the Dead and other religious themed paintings. Very nice lady and pleasantly nice all weekend. Lady has no idea what the Day of the Dead is about. Lady paints skeletons and calls them Day of the Dead paintings. Lady sells several "Day of the Dead" paintings at $250.00 each. Lady is also selling religious painting of saintly woman. Lady has no idea who saintly woman is. Lady saw the saintly woman at a museum in Italy and copied. Lady sells saintly woman painting sells that weekend for $900.00.
Okay label me jealous. Yes I admit it. I was jealous that she managed to sell a painting for $900.00 that weekend and most of us were struggling to sell our $20.00 items. I was happy that she sold the painting. Any independent artist who sells a higher end painting is like a victory for us all. But she simply had no idea that the saintly woman she had sold was La Dolorosa. The image of the painfully weeping mother who has lost her only son and who bears the seven sorrows of man as swords pierced deeply in her heart and is a beloved image in the catholic religion. But lady manages to pull the deal off with the customer and sell her painting. *sigh*
When I started creating Day of the Dead themed art several years ago, one of the first things I did was to read everything I could on the subject. Yes it was a cultural holiday that was undoubtedly celebrated by my ancestors long ago, but I knew that I could not create serious artwork unless I knew my subject. In other words, I can't just jump on the bandwagon and start painting skeletons for profit unless I know my subject.
I suppose that the success of selling art is in the hands of the buyer. I rarely have a customer who purchases a high end piece from me and does not want to know everything about it from what originally inspired me down to the painting process and method.
I see so many artists on etsy who are misusing the term "Day of the Dead" on items that should more properly be labeled for Halloween. There are no zombies, blood or gore associated with el Dia de Los Muertos.
If I decided to become a writer one day because I thought it would bring in some money, I would never write a book on "How To Speak Fluent Russian In Just One Day."
So I will conclude with this advice to new artists. Take a few moments to utilize the net or your local library and learn a bit about the images you decide to use in your art. Yes skeletons are big sellers and they're cool and lots of fun to paint. But take the time to find out why they are used in artwork and where the idea was originated. It's never too late to learn about other cultures and civilizations. You might also find that it enhances your own life and inspires even more creativity.