Over the years I, like most artists, have found various ways to fund the creation of my art. There have been many instances when I have managed to supplement gallery sales with contras, art auctions, gifts and myriad short-term jobs to help make ends meet.
At one stage I had a generous benefactor, who freed me from financial encumbrances. One of my most successful exhibitions to date, which occurred during my early career in a well-known public gallery, was the direct result of the privilege of having a benefactor.
A review by a noted art critic, about this exhibition said:
Occasionally an exhibition reminds us that the visual arts are first and foremost a struggle for liberty of thought and deed, they are not and never can be an industry. Good art can never be reduced to a minor form of luxury goods. Artists can achieve completely unexpected insights into their work and into human experience as a whole. These revelations that life can be made anew is the essential goal of all art. They inevitably go far beyond the need to make a sale-able product. John Dahlsen’s exhibition at the Lawrence Wilson Gallery came as a considerable surprise….’ – Review of “Paintings and Drawings” exhibition at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery University of Western Australia by the art critic David Bromfield in the West Australian Newspaper.
Not all artist-benefactor relationships are as positive and unconditional as this one and artists would do well to be wary of such invitations. Artists considering entering into a benevolent relationship should put together a contract beforehand, taking into account the returns expected by their potential patron.