68: Artistic creation versus money

I have a good friend here in Morocco who is relatively poor, at least in financial matters, if not in matters of the heart. It occurred to me that she can sell paintings here in Azrou, Morocco, because I have seen no shops here that carry paintings for sale: lots of other things, but not paintings. So, where there is a void, said void can be filled.  We can paint, and sell paintings that will assist not only her bottom financial line, but perhaps mine, too – AND that of the shop owner where we set up our easels to paint. You know that when someone is painting in public, everyone stops to watch, and the surrounding merchants enjoy the benefits of this attention, usually.

So, I was thinking of what sort of paintings would be simple for her to create, and yet would be nearly guaranteed to sell at a reasonable (not exorbitant) profit. I decided on a few that she could create in various color schemes, that might match various popular decor, that people might buy for the colors, even if not for the works themselves. I painted some examples for her to see, and because we would need a back stock of a dozen finished paintings or so to even start with.

And then, I ran smack up against my artistic “ethics.” Is it alright to make art that is supposed, and designed specifically, to sell, or is art supposed to be driven by higher purposes? After all, even Michelangelo had to eat. Occasionally, anyway. So, does that make it permissible to create works that are intended solely for sale, and not for the “art” of the whole thing? Does that make us craftsmen (women) instead of artists? Does it really matter? If she earns money by the fruit of her labors, isn’t that justification in itself? After all, we won’t be twisting any arms for people to buy our canvasses!

I think I am going to ignore that nagging little voice in my head and do it anyway. I am helping someone else achieve financial freedom (hopefully) if our canvasses sell to the tourists or native Moroccans who see them. And if they like them enough to buy them, I am OK if that makes them “not art.” So, THERE. Nyah, nyah, na pooh, pooh.


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