Study of older artists

Thanks to Shannon Sunderland for the heads up on this NPR story about a study of artists over 62 and how they live and work in New York. Joan Jeffri, who directed the study for the Research Center for Arts and Culture, talks about the 213 artists in the survey:

"They don't ever think of giving up being artists," Jeffri says. "If
they have arthritis, they change their art form. They don't retire."

You make art or you die. Isn't that the case for most artists?

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6 thoughts on “Study of older artists”

  1. Michael Lynn Adams

    I am nearing 60 and live in L.A., one of the most superficial cities in the world. Here, as in New York City, defining success is usually focused on wealth and fame. What the wonderful artists in the NPR story prove, with the wisdom only age can bring, is that to succeed as an artist has little – perhaps nothing – to do with the stuff we own, but everything to do with our passion for life and art. A favorite quote from the article is from Pat Dillard, 81, living on $29,000 a year in New York City. She says, “The first thing I do when I go out of my building, I look at the sky, white clouds and a blue sky, my heart goes pitter-pat.” As I work on marketing my art – getting my name out there; Cultivating collectors; Collecting name for my mailing list; you know, all the good and important stuff that makes a viable art career – I pray to God that I do not lose sight of the stuff that really matters. Sunrise, my wifes gorgeous smile, my children’s compassion for others, and my grand children’s hugs and laughter. And in my art, capturing moments of beauty that have made my heart go “pitter-pat.”

  2. “For me to retire from painting would be to retire from life.” —Robert Motherwell, age 71 I came across that quotation while perusing the 213 page study on aging artists in NYC. For me it says it all. I loved Michael Lynn Adams’ response, by the way.

  3. As I read more of the report mentioned in my previous post, it occurred to me that others might also find the subject interesting and the material could certainly lead to some good conversation here and elsewhere. Here’s a small sampling of the report’s findings: 1. Retirement: Over 60% of artists have a retirement plan other than Social Security. The majority of professional artists are not retired from their art work. Professional artists reported they will never retire from their art. 7. Self-esteem: While self-esteem declines with age, over 83% of aging visual artists rated their self-esteem and their self-esteem as artists as good to excellent. The entire 213 page report can be download in pdf format at the following URL:

  4. This is great! Thanks to Shannon for pointing it out & Alyson for posting it. I find it helps to have inspirational material like this around when I get worried about how well I am doing. Christine

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