I’ve met artists who actually make a pretty good living doing the things they love. But first, I’m going to talk about the opposite.
The stinky, starving artist.
He’s at the art gallery, selling his paintings. And he stinks so much that you don’t even want to have a conversation with him.
His stuff actually isn’t bad. But he’s a complete idiot.
First, he stinks. Deodorant costs $5 and showers are free. Come on.
Even when I was homeless for awhile (my fault entirely; another story for another day), I still had a job and still took showers at friends’ houses before work. I rarely had to actually sleep in the car.
You see, when you got a charming personality, people like having you around. I know some insecure loser will immediately think “you use people.” Nope dork. These are folks I helped in other ways.
But let’s get back to these artists. I’m making a point about smell.
Smell matters. You don’t show up at an art gallery trying to sell your work stinking so much that people don’t want to get close enough to talk to you. You’d think that would be common sense.
Apparently not in his case. He had the smile down. He definitely had the art technique down.
But, folks want to meet the artist if applicable. You don’t come to the art gallery smelling like you just wrestled Randy Macho Man Savage and expect to sell out all your paintings on display.
Underpricing your works
Then the other common thing that struggling artists do. They underprice their works.
Let’s say your work costs $50 in materials. And you spent 30 hours on it.
The frame alone cost $150. On discount! (Heck, I’m ecstatic when I can get a decent frame done that cheap).
Why the fuck are you selling it for $300? Are you retarded? Or do you just lack self-respect?
Artists who do this are not only hurting themselves. They hurt the entire art community. This shit, my friends, is why people don’t take artists seriously.
You’re basically working for less than $2 an hour. I don’t know what minimum wage is in your town, but I’m pretty sure it’s a hell of a lot more than $2 an hour.
Price it correctly people!
The price = cost of materials + (hours worked * your charge per hour).
What your charge per hour varies on how good you’ve become.
If this is your first three shows, you bill minimum wage. Hate to be a jerk but that’s how it goes. Your art goes up the more shows you do.
So realistically, your materials are around $50-100. Your frame is $200. And you’ve spent 30 hours working on the painting. Also add your modeling fee in there if you used live models.
A self-respecting artist should RARELY charge under $500, unless you’re selling to that hot dude or chick you’re going to fuck later on.
Did I just say that? I certainly did. I hope that fucker brings some groceries too.
And I’ll also give away artwork to my closest friends and favorite family members. Or folks who have helped me in other ways.
The real deals
Then we encounter the real deals. The artists who actually make a good living as artists.
These folks do things differently.
First, they respect themselves. When you shake their hands, they don’t stink.
If they give you a hug, they don’t get paint on your clothes.
They also have people skills. I remember one artist, I won’t say her name, but I’ve seen her work in a lot of different places.
She simply walks in to a place she wants to sell her works at. She had stuff to show ready. And she’d talk to the owner. Tells the owner how much she sells this and that for.
Next thing you know, her art is in that place.
Then she’d go to the next place and do the same thing.
You know what the worst thing that can happen is? They could say no. The horror.
I actually met her during a sales seminar. It’s funny because I’d already seen her work in several shops. Then there she was, telling people how to sell. Telling people exactly what she did.
She didn’t have a gimmick or a catch phrase or any other prepared bullshit. She simply believed in her work and sold it. (see note on bottom)
Choose who you emulate wisely
I’ve also seen artist circle jerks. Where they get together and complain about this and that. Every year, they lose money doing it.
But then they rationalize to themselves some bullshit. Like “oh, I just do it for the love of art.”
Yeah, and Tom Brady plays football for the love of the game. You don’t need to pay him $25 million a year. He’d gladly play for free!
Either you’re a professional artist or you’re not.
I have a price point on each one of my paintings. If I don’t make a good enough profit, I simply don’t sell it.
I know I’m good. I know my stuff is easily recognizable. I know my art style is unique.
I have enough self respect that I’m going to earn money doing this. 2020 started off really good until the world shut down. When it picks back up, I’ll pick back up.
In the meantime, I produced a lot of work.
Mindset matters. It’s the thing that separates successful artists from the circle jerkers.
Of course, you still have to produce work that people want to buy.
For pinups, I realize it’s all about the girls. I’ll readily admit I’m lucky that I’m close friends with Allie and Roxy. But once again, if I had the personality of a turnip, that would have never happened.
I simply draw what I see, then add paint. Allie’s and Roxy’s poses are getting better every month. Whereas I’ve worked with professional models as well, namely Sophia and Jin, Allie and Roxy aren’t models. They were hot chicks I was friends with that modeled for me. They learned all about modeling as I learned all about painting.
Sophia is a professional model. She knows how to pose immediately. If you want to see how a professional model works, hire a professional. They’re super fast and efficient. They don’t waste your time.
And if you want to be a professional artist, you don’t waste time with circle jerkers. Either your peers take themselves seriously or you find new peers.
- I saw her website recently. It’s terrible. But that doesn’t matter. She makes her money in person. Not online.