Artists: Do you Create for Money or Passion?

passion or money There is a linkage between economy and culture. This is reflected on the career path of Kevin O’Leary, entrepreneur, investor, artist, and notably known from the show ‘Shark Tank’. O’Leary became a successful entrepreneur before becoming an artist; he waited decades to be recognized as a fine art photographer (see his photos here, and they are of course for sale). Similarly, actor Jim Carrey, who we all know, has become a painter in the last six years (see his work here). Is it the case for the arts that one must follow first the money and second the passion?

The arts sector has been compelled to justify and develop arguments for the economic value of its output, which depreciates its intrinsic value (Caust, 2003). There have always been tensions between commercial and entrepreneurial imperatives in the context of the economic conditions for artists (see Symbolic power), which impedes them from pursuing their passion for the arts. Lewis Hyde argues that a work of art is a gift, rather than a commodity and artists are laboring in the service of his or her gifts. Hyde (2007) says,

Art matters to us—because it moves the heart, or revives the soul, or delights the senses, or offers courage for living, however we choose to describe the experience—that work is received by us as a gift is received. Even if we have paid a fee at the door of the museum or concert hall, when we are touched by a work of art something comes to us which has nothing to do with the price…the spirit of an artist’s gifts can wake our own. (p. xvii)

Hyde argues that the commodification of the arts could interfere with the artistic process. As “ideas do not circulate freely when they are treated as commodities” (Hyde, 2017, p. 107). He believes the commodification of the arts could destroy an artist’s gift and thus his calling.

In an age whose values are market values and commerce exists almost exclusively in the purchase and sale of commodities, the arena in which artists share their work has inevitably shifted from a gift economy to a transaction economy. And now more than ever, artists need to rethink their crafts.

Please let me ask you: Do you create art for money or passion?



Caust, J. (2003). Putting the “art” back into arts policy making: how arts policy has been “captured” by the economists and the marketers. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 9 (1), 51–63.

D’Andrea, M. J. (2017). Symbolic Power: Impact of Government Priorities for Arts Funding in Canada. The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, 47 (4), 245-258.

Hyde, L. (2007). The gift: Creativity and the artist in the modern world (25th Edition). New York, NY:  Vintage Books.


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