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It is assumed among much of the population that all photographers and artists in general are aiming to make work that appeals to the greatest number of persons and gets the largest possible number of views or “likes” as possible. We can describe this quite simply as “catering to the masses”.

This assumption makes sense in terms of commercial considerations: usually the more “popular” a work is, the greater its money-earning potential.

Talk to any thoughtful artist you know, however, and you’ll discover there’s often a disconnect between the work they make that sells and the work they make that is actually personally important to them.

Each artist has his or her own unique trajectory of artistic growth and it is obviously more internally guided than outwardly or commercially guided. But artists have to eat and pay for a roof over their head. So they create popular works that sell…or they get a “day job” or find a partner that/who support them financially.

The assumption that artistic success = popularity/teeming congratulations seems to run rampant and can lead to artists giving up on work that actually has the greatest potential for providing them with true growth and their audiences with work that is truly insightful.

How many artistic geniuses died penniless because their artistic accomplishments were not recognized during their lifetimes? Of course, being a “starving artist” does not mean your work is good…and I’m not advocating that being penniless is a good idea…for anyone!

The main point here is that the quality or genius of an artist’s work cannot be evaluated by popularity or commercial success and that a lot of truly astute art may never be made because people with artistic ambitions think that it is.

This is not an original thought but it stands repeating:

Truly good or great work is not always rewarded with money or popularity.



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