Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier. Campagne de France (Napoleon and his staff are retuning from Soissons after the Battle of Laon.) Paris, Musée d’Orsay

There is this belief out there that an artist with a lot of sales is a better artist than someone who hasn’t sold a thing in years. Many amateur artists equate a high volume of sales with being more talented, more successful because after all, we can all agree that any business selling a lot of product is more successful than one that is not.  At amateur art exhibitions, everyone speaks in hushed tones about those who are selling and those who aren’t.  Jealousy and competition make it so that the next amateur exhibition is populated with simular paintings that sold the previous show.

But fine art doesn’t work that way.

There are many artists who have spent a lifetime in obscurity and poverty only to be discovered and revered after their death. Vincent Van Gogh is one of the best examples of this. His work now fetches astronomical prices yet he personally never saw a penny for his work.

Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier

Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier

Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier (1815 – 1891) is an example of an artist who became a millionaire in his lifetime. His work was popular with the Royals in many countries. He lived in a luxurious mansion, with two studios on the grounds and he even built a small railroad in his back yard so he could sketch horses on the run. He was a household name during his lifetime, yet very few know his name today.

Most artists would love to have the fame of Van Gogh and the money of Messionier. The question is can it be done? It can if an artist can get all his or her career on the right path.

My advice is to make your art meaningful and filled with emotion and feeling. Skill isn’t successful copying. Skill is learning how to be creative.