It’s the dread of every artist. It’s a term that every creator dodges but can’t always escape: sell-out. If you fit the bill, you get criticized for being a corporate shill and sacrificing your vision for a dollar. Critics overlook the necessity of making money to survive, and suddenly you’re slapped with a label when you’re just trying to make next month’s rent.
The alternative is a stereotype we know all too well: one who starves to create, who saves artistic face at the cost of survival. It’s cruel and unfair, but this dichotomy has long been the name of the game. Until now. That’s because, at Apollo, we believe it’s time to stop playing.
Creating is about making the intangible tangible, sharing experiences, and making something beautiful where nothing existed before. How can such an expansive industry restrict its creators into a binary of success? The Apollo Creator Contest exists for artists and works to dismantle the idea that in an area so full of nuance, you can only be one of two things; a sell-out or starving.
Elizabeth Grace is a 21-year-old painter from Louisiana. Before she learned about the Apollo Creator Contest, she was struggling to afford the supplies she needed to make her art. “I usually work with oil paints and do impressionism, abstract, and psychedelic art,” she said in her video submission for the weekly Creator Contest. “I never had to sell my paintings when I lived with my parents, but when I moved out, I had to buy my own art supplies, and they got really expensive.”
Pirate Studios, a community of 24-hour studio spaces for artists, conducted a survey last year asking artists about burnout and financial security. Out of 1,500 respondents, 66% had experienced burnout, and financial stress was the leading cause. Most creators won’t need to see statistics to know that burnout is real, but it’s essential to know you’re not alone.
As much as creating art is ethereal and idealistic, it’s also real. Outside of romantic ideation and flowery prose, art requires money, and so does living off it. The Apollo Creator Contest is here to give artists weekly chances at winning thousands of dollars to put towards their dreams in whatever form they may be. If you need to pay rent, buy supplies, or just pay off a bill so you can be back on your feet, once you win, the money is yours.
Elizabeth Grace took that chance, and it paid off. “A few months ago, my boyfriend started talking to me about this thing called Apollo, which was for artists,” she recalls. Then, “a couple weeks ago, I started seeing contests were up and running…so I decided to give it a shot.” After a week of community voting, Grace won over $9,000 to put towards her art supplies and studio space rent.
“With the funds from the Apollo contest,” she told us, “I could finally afford to buy the higher-end art supplies and rent a small space downtown to house and sell some of my paintings.”
She continued, “It’s always been a dream of mine since I was a little girl to own my own art gallery so people can view and purchase my paintings.” For all artists, including Elizabeth Grace, Apollo is here to fuel those dreams.
You can read more about how to apply to the Creator Contest here.