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The difference between a fine artist and a commercial artist

When I started teaching at The Art Institute of Phoenix, I realized that I had made a decision, in my teens, to become a commercial artist, not a fine artist. And I saw that a lot of my students were grappling with the same question. So I tried to simplify it as best I could.

The difference between a fine artist and a commercial artist is that a commercial artist works on assignment. And that's why there are so many talented people out there, who are unsuccessful commercially, because they can't, or won't, work on assignment. I presented it to my students this way -

A fine artist does what he or she wants. If they choose to make, for example, a sculpture, they make it the way that they want to. If it's sold, that in and of itself does not make them a commercial artist. If, however, a client tells this artist they would like to have a sculpture of a certain thing, and the artist does it, then the artist is now a commercial artist.

And so, by this definition, a commercial artist would be anyone who ever did their art specifically to please a client. Yep, Michelangelo.

Yes, you can be a commercial artist and a great artist.

MICHAELA[N]GELUS BONAROTUS FLORENTIN[US] FACIEBA[T]!

Michelangelo Buonarroti of Florentine made this!