The De-romanticization of being an Artist

Gianna Fine
6 min readOct 6, 2022
Photo by Liam Edwards on Unsplash

Art has been a resource with multiple uses since the beginning of human experience. From conveying cultural context, religious value, societal value, and even providing a form of escapism, art has become a crucial industry for artist’s to make their livelihood. However, with the pressure to monetize hobbies and dependence on that monetization, art has potentially lost the intention it once had. This article will investigate how the pressure of the socio economic climate affects artists’ intent of their work.

While the intentions of prehistoric art are unclear, humans of that time were attempting to communicate through the use of pictures and symbols, drawing onto walls with ochre and other earth pigment (Morriss-Kay, 2009). Since then, art has been used to imitate reality. Plato, while finding art useless, named this theory the mimetic theory (Sontag, 1966). The last several hundred thousand years society has built the structure of the art world as well as its utilizations. Religious value was brought about through artists’ expressions, showcasing the beauty believers saw through gold-foiled murals of religious figures like the Virgin Mary in Madonna. Another evolution of art was the purpose of providing cultural context. The African-American community during the Harlem Renaissance portrays this concisely. (Enger, 2017).

Political value could be paired with this as well, in which artists provide pieces with shock-value to convey the feelings they may endure during an oppressive state. An example of this would be Paula Rego’s work with her pastel paintings, depicting the traumatizing experience of having an abortion during the political climate of Portugal at the time. Rego was known to tell onlookers, “Look — and don’t look away”. Finally, societal value: creating a worldview or perspective. This value of art has been heavily applied by contemporary art considering the rise in awareness during the last ten years. The purpose of this value can be seen to unite society as a whole, creating an experience as universal as possible. Societal value can provide that form of escapism that is sought after, conveying beauty and grace within a piece. Conclusively, artists’ intention was to make onlookers feel something, whether they were paid or not — the need to be financially compensated was absent as living was a luxury they could…