Creative Business With Vincent Van Gogh: Each Sunday, I feature a creative, creativist or creativepreneur talking about some aspect of going creative. This week, it’s artist Vincent Van Gogh.
In this letter to his patron and brother, Theo, in October 1888, Vincent Van Gogh laid out his ideas about art and money and business.
“I see more and more that my work goes infinitely better when I am properly fed, and the paints are there, and the studio and all that.
“But have I set my heart on my work being a success? A thousand times no.
“I wish I could manage to make you really understand that when you give money to artists, you are yourself doing an artist’s work and that I only want my pictures to be of such a quality that you will not be too dissatisfied with your work.
“And that’s not all; I’d also like you to feel that we earn from the money that we transfer, and that by so doing, we’ll achieve a more complete independence than that provided by the trade as such.
“And what we’ll do later to revive the trade could well be precisely that dealers live with artists, the one for what one may call the housekeeping side, to supply studio, food, 1v:3 paint &c., the other to produce.
“Alas, we’re not at that stage with the old trade, which will always follow the old routine that benefits nobody among the living and does no good for the dead, either…
“Whatever happens, you’d help me more by keeping well, by living well; even if the consignments of colours had to suffer as a result, than by being too much in straits on my account.
“I believe that the day will come when people will want the work — well — but perhaps that’s still far away, and meanwhile, don’t be too hard up.
“Because business, too, will come to you by itself and as if in a dream, better and more quickly if you take care of yourself than if you make yourself hard up.
“Be sure of this. If you were ill or if you had too much pain and trouble, nothing would work any more. And if you are well, business will eventually come to you by itself, and ideas for doing some business will come to you infinitely more by eating well than by not eating enough…”