How did Artwork get so expensive?

Have you ever wondered why artwork is so expensive? It turns out that there are several valid reasons for this…To learn more, read on. I get asked variations on this question or overhear it in others’ conversations about purchasing artwork. While I sometimes inwardly bristle inwardly when hearing such remarks, because I am an artist who knows the inside story about how hard and expensive it is to make original artwork, I also want to give others the benefit of the doubt. I realize that others who do not have an art background may not be aware of the reasons why artwork has become so expensive, and in that spirit I am writing this blog post, to help them become more educated about the creative process.

What is the definition of art in our Modern times?

In our modern society of today where speed of execution seems to be often valued above quality, I think fine art is no longer viewed as a viable occupation, as it once was during the renaissance era when artists had a clear path to be trained by master artists and to be paid by wealthy patrons for their commissioned works. Instead, fine art has largely been replaced by applied art forms, such as graphic design, cinematography, animation, photography, fashion design, interior design, etc.  However, I think that most artists have to support themselves by taking professions in the applied arts or pursuing some other occupation altogether to support their creative pursuits. Even in public schools, art is often seen as an “extra” subject, not quite as worthy of learning as other science, math, or technology-based courses, such as science, mathematics, engineering, etc. I also think that this attitude of art as “extra” may influence others’ perception of the value of art, not just in monetary terms, but also in terms of its capacity to enrich society and the next generation.

The Rareness of Art as a Profession

On the other hand, the somewhat recent learning model of the STEAM curriculum in the educational system is a promising development, in which educators and hopefully students, are learning about the interconnectedness of art amongst other disciplines, and therefore, its usefulness to society. There are however a minority of artists who are able to pursue their passion as entrepreneurs by selling their art or making a living through online teaching. But to return to the original point, why is the artwork a costly commodity, I am turning my attention to an article I read recently online entitled, Why is Artwork So Expensive? (The Top Ten Reasons),, author unknown.

Why does artwork cost so much?

So, on to a few reasons why that artwork that you looked at in the art gallery or online via an art website was so darned expensive! According to the author of, Why is artwork so expensive? They state that because the artwork is one of a kind, it cannot be reproduced, even by the artist themselves because each brush stroke is unique.

Art is Original and Making it, is Expensive

Another reason to note the cost of the artwork is the cost of art supplies. As a working artist and teacher, I know that quality art supplies can be really expensive, whether I buy them at Michaels or an online art supplier. For example, my favorite medium of choice, which is working with oil paints, is the most expensive one of all, with lots of equipment, such as canvases, brushes, paints, palettes, paint mediums, easels, etc. Working from experience, I have learned that trying to save money by using cheap paint or other art supplies is often not worthwhile. Instead, it just makes my work that much harder. When I am doing custom art or making art for sale, I get the best possible art supplies that I can afford, and so I have to charge clients and customers more to make a return on my investment. I am committed to making my clients a quality product that will last.

However, if I am just experimenting in my sketchbook with ideas, I will sometimes use cheaper products. But again, using better quality supplies is usually a more enjoyable art experience for me. Often,  I work with cheaper brushes the hairs fall out and need to be replaced much sooner. And I have spent a lot of time picking out stray brush hairs from canvases or trying to work with cheap soft pastels that will not “stick” to the pastel paper. In this instance, paying additional money for quality soft pastels, such as Rembrandts, is worth it over saving a few dollars with cheaper brands, such as off-label art products like Artist’s Loft. Or, I used the wrong kind of paper for watercolor or ink, and it ended up buckling or pilling my watercolor or ink drawing. All this to say, sometimes saving money is not worth it, and that is just one of the reasons why art is so expensive. As artists, we have to charge more to get a return for our investment, just like any other professional craftsperson, such as a contractor, interior designer, fashion designer, etc. That’s it for today, but next week I will review a few other reasons for the high cost of the artwork. On the subject of artwork, I am featuring some highlights from my Inktober challenge for 2022 that I worked on last fall. Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

Surviving and Thriving during Artist’s Block:

Things I have tried to do to get creative again

I have been struggling with artist’s block this fall and winter, and though I know I should draw more often, it’s been a struggle to get motivated. During this journey, I’ve tried various things to break out of it, such as: copying art demonstrations from art technique books, participating in Inktober, re-touching/re-working old paintings, and in December, working on a daily drawing challenge, featuring portraits and figures with just pencil and paper as a medium to keep things simple. The later project has been the most successful because it is simple to do a pencil and paper line drawing, in which I limit myself to 30 minutes.

Occasionally, I vary the medium and incorporate colored pencils or pastels into the figure and portrait drawings. To make the project flow more easily, I pre-select my images for portraits and figure drawings by doing Google image searches, either for figure drawing construction demonstrations or black and white photos from silent films, or even, famous authors I admire, such as Agatha Christie or Jane Eyre. At times, more current movies can also serve as inspiration, such as the movie, Swing Kids, (1993), which was a great resource for finding more dynamic action poses. Another method that has worked well has been to follow along with art tutorials on YouTube to learn how to draw figures, especially gesture drawings. My two favorite channels for art tutorials on YouTube are, The Virtual Instructor and Rapid Fire Art, which are free of charge and narrated in real-time, to facilitate instruction.

Some insights I have gained about my artist’s block

Maybe it’s the big changes I have been facing lately, such as leaving my receptionist job of 15 years and exploring other options for careers, such as Activity Assistant or Art Therapist that have kept me from being motivated to consistently make art. I’m not even sure who I am anymore if I am not working as a Receptionist, after 15 years of working in the Customer Service field. Or, could it be guilt, which could be genuine or otherwise, about abandoning household chores to make time for art), or something else entirely, that’s causing me to feel stuck in my art practice? Whatever the cause, I want to come up with some solutions, so I can move forward and make more art, and hopefully, at least some of the pieces will turn out the way I envision or will be at least good enough to post on social media. This year, there’s been a mix of both good paintings and some not-so-good paintings. The paintings I’m not happy with might get thrown out, or sanded and re-worked, depending on the state of the canvases. I feel dry and uninspired, and I feel I have reached the limit of my skill set in art. In fact, I feel I need more fuel for my creativity and knowledge base.

Tips for breaking through a creative block

While I am pondering these thoughts, I’d like to share some tips I picked up from an article, “How to Survive a Creative Slump,” by Our Daily Craft, on A few suggestions that the author offers to include: 1.) starting with a small creative project, 2.) “doing something fast,” 3.) reading a book that inspires you, and 4.) organizing or cleaning something in your home.  For instance, the author suggested a few small projects to help jumpstart your creativity such as 1.) “sewing a cloth napkin,” 2.) “knitting a headband,” 3.) Paint on a 4 x 4-inch surface, or “writing a haiku.” Since I am not particularly good at crafts or anything DIY, which I learned after re-finishing some furniture and all of my kitchen cabinets in my new home, I have settled on painting a 4 x 4-inch canvas of Canada Geese, which I re-worked in oil paints about a week ago. Another suggestion that the author makes is to re-visit old projects that you had left unfinished. I certainly have a pile of unfinished works-such as unfinished drawings, pastels, and pages in my sketchbook where things just didn’t come together. Perhaps it would be a good problem-solving exercise to utilize my creativity, in coming up with new solutions to problems with composition, color, drawing, etc.

In addition, the author also talked about making something quickly-which I’m not sure I would do, since most of the problems I have had with my art have been poor planning. Another problem which doing things fast leads to is unsatisfactory art for me, when I don’t spend enough time checking the accuracy of the drawing. Maybe if I were an abstract painter I could get away with a more intuitive approach to painting, than a more structured one with specific steps, but I am not, so I am sticking with what works for me.

However, one thing I do want to try is to read a novel, article, or poem, to try and get some new ideas flowing. Some of my best works have been inspired by the poetry of Dickinson and Frost, which I made in to a portfolio of works during the worst parts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Maybe reading literature will also help me to become a better writer and get me out of this writer’s block I seem to be assailed with lately. How about you? Do you have any suggestions for breaking out of a creative rut? I’d love to hear! Just post in the comments section of this blog. Thanks for stopping by!  

Childhood Memory Loss, Pastel on Illustration board, 16 x 20 inches, 2020, Jodie Schmidt.
Time Waits for No One, Mixed Media, 12 x 12 inches, 2020, Jodie Schmidt.
Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot, Oil on masonite board, 16 x 24, 2020, Jodie Schmidt.
Dorothy Sayers Figure Drawing, Pencil on paper, 9 x 12 inches, 2021, Jodie Schmidt.
Dorothy Sayers Reading a book, Pencil on paper, 9 x 12 inches, 2021, Jodie Schmidt.
Gene Kelly Dancing, Pencil on paper, 9 x 12 inches, 2021, Jodie Schmidt.
The Inspector Lynley BBC Series: Barbara Havers and Inspector Lynley, Pencil on paper, 9 x 12 inches, 2022, Jodie Schmidt.