Imagine an Artist

 Imagine an artist. What do you see? Do you see an educated, wealthy person? Our modern society lends the answer: probably not. I became fascinated by this idea, of how an artist lives and how society has changed their views about the significance of art. Artists’ lives have become different to society, given the increasing accessibility to their work, the educational background, and how society views the art.

Renaissance artists made much more money and had stable jobs. Now, the opposite is true.

The increasing popularity of the Internet has brought a greater spotlight on the works of many talents. Because of this, there is a greater shift in the artistic process. For example, McKay shows the reader that artists in the Renaissance period relied on patrons before even the first paint stroke. Now, however, artists do not rely quite as heavily on the patrons. Art is produced and THEN sold.

However, the bigger pool of artists has shifted how society views art and their respective artists. I think that society no longer views art as a high-class aspect of life, simply because of some of the less conservative pieces of art that are being made. Most renaissance pieces were religious (Jack), but now we are moving more towards other types of art. In the Renaissance, art was only available to the wealthy (McKay), where as now it is available to anyone who has a printer and somewhat of an internet connection.

Beneficial aspects from technology for art exist. For example, audio technology has increased mediums possible. It has also made art more accessible for students like me. However, it does make it more difficult to make profit as an artist (for more information about how internet has changed everything, click here) . According to Cameron Jack, a teacher who successfully graduated from an art college explains that the priorities of a society have shifted. Functionality has become more of a priority than innovative art, Jack explains. This helps us understand why an artist may not be as respected as other professionals.

Another interesting change is the shift away from apprenticeships. Back in the Renaissance period, the education of an artist was much different from what we consider education today. Artists would participate in apprenticeships, shadowing their masters and learning the trade. Today, however, there are universities and colleges that devote their energy and expertise into forming the world’s best artists. However, what I find interesting is there are also other ways to become artists in the twenty first century. The accessibility through the internet has opened the door for any artist to distribute work without any formal training.

So all in all, how do you view artists? Artists in the renaissance period “fought to be considered thinkers and innovators” (SmartHistory). Even Michelangelo said “one paints with his brain not with his hands”  (Paoletti, google book available here). Art is still not always viewed that way today, unfortunately. I think society sees artists as being cast off in their own eclectic category, not making any particular advancements or contributions to society. Even within this class, a sizeable portion of the group decided that art is not worthy of federal aid. And a sizeable portion of congress agrees. I, however, disagree. I see the benefits of art and the history that we can absorb from it. Do you?

Works Cited

Paoletti, John T., and Gary M. Radke. Art in Renaissance Italy. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1997. Print.

“Scrapping The Starving Artist Mythology | The Creative Mind.” Psych 11 Feb. 2011. Web. 28 Feb. 2012.

Renaissance Connection.” The Renaissance Connection, from the Allentown Art Museum. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. <;.

McKay, John P., Bennett D. Hill, and John Buckler. A History of Western Society. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991. Print.

“Patronage and the Status of the Artist.” Smarthistory, a Multimedia Web-book about Art: Discussing. Web. 03 Mar. 2012. <;.



  1. natalie518

    Hey Janine, nice blog post!
    I think that your assessment of how art has changed is very true. Do you think that the way that we interact with art now is better or worse than the way people did in the Renaissance? I ask because it seems that, although art may be less respected now, it is also more accessible to average people, and more people have the opportunity to be artists. Yet, as you said, art is less respected now. What do you think? Which is better?
    Thanks again for the interesting post!
    ~ Natalie

    • I think that there are benefits to the internet, and the accessibility, though financially bad for artists, is really helpful when people are studying art. An example of this benefit would be our class, actually. We have the resources to look up pieces of art through SmartHistory (or google!), and this lets us study the art from a classroom. But, I think that if there were a way to enforce more copyrights, more artists would be compensated fairly, and hopefully more people with an interest in art would pursue it as a career, which might create even more amazing art! Personally, I don’t think that either of these options are perfect, and that as a global community that enjoys art, we should ry our best to respect artists without limiting the accessibility. Maybe this could be accomplished through a system of public museums that would be linked directly to the artists, which would give them more funding. I believe this should be contributed by federal funding, however I do not believe that will ever be accomplished. Thanks for your comment!

  2. claire1431

    Hi Janine! I really enjoyed this post. It had lots of great interesting Ideas. Your point that even though people have more opportunities to be artists and simply anyone could be an artist, they still may not be as respected as other individuals in different professions. I wonder how we can fix this issue of little recognition to artists in the modern day?

    • janine248

      Hi Claire!
      You have a really interesting question. Honestly, I’m not sure how we can attack this problem. Though it is clear that the problem should be solved, personally I don’t see a way to divide the accessibility of art and the profits artists can make from their work. I think that what I talked about in my reply to Nathalie, possibly establishing museums through the government would be helpful. Unfortunately, many people overlook the benefits of art and simply do not want to spend ANY federal money on it. The problem could go away with government help, but I don’t see that happening.

      Thanks for your comment! I hope you enjoyed my article.

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