Friday, August 31, 2007

Becoming a Full-Time Artist--What are the odds?

"Oreos", Oil on Panel, 6x6 inches
Jerry Lebo, 2007


I have finally settled on "Bite Me" as the name for my series of junk food paintings, in honor of the fact that there is a single bite in each. Thanks is due to my colleague Piers, who has been putting up recently with my artistic rants around the office--and has inspired me to go for a series title that reflects my general mood. I will be posting the final painting from the series this weekend--"Cherry Pop-Tart"--which will make a total of six paintings in the series. I may add a few down the road, but I want to move onto anther series this weekend.


So I have been thinking about the odds of making it as a full-time artist, and the news is not good. There are around 35,000 art majors graduating from schools around the country each year--and even if 10% are looking to become full-time artist--that makes for a lot of competition. The good news, is that most graduates give up on a career in painting pretty quickly and end up in commercial or graphic arts.


As an experiment, I have been offering my smaller paintings for sale on Ebay for the last few weeks-and each has typically been seeing around 20-25 "views" over the listing period. That is not a lot of looking (2-3 per day)--although I have ended up selling two directly. I have also had a follow up sale (thanks Cindy). So I have not drawn a lot of eyes on Ebay--but have had moderate success. Right now on Ebay, within the category "contemporary paintings", there are 26,500 paintings for sale. So there is a lot of competition out there for sales on Ebay.


So what is an artist to do? Well, first and foremost, forget about the competition--they are irrelevant to your success. Success cannot be predicted by what other people are doing--only by what you are doing. I have met a lot of painters out there talking about painting--but very few that do it everyday. Even rarer is the artist who does it everyday for a year. The rarest painter of all is the one that does it day after day for years on end. You will not meet many of these. There are too many things that can distract you...job, family, money, etc. It is thus very rare to find someone who is painting daily year after year--unless they are already making a living at it. I will re-iterate what I said in a post the other day--the most important aspect of success as a painter is good work habits. So if you are worried if you are going to succeed as an artist--keep in mind the first step is to produce regular quality work--and the rest will take care of itself. A commitment to daily work is the foundation of success.

So, as for myself, I have been feeling a bit discouraged lately--but I know it is only temporary, so I do not plan to back off one bit with my painting discipline. I have already worked around 2 hours in the studio today--and will be following up working on my web-site this evening and tomorrow. By the end of the weekend, I hope to have a good start on my next series of paintings--although I am not entirely sure what these will be just now. However, I hope it will come to me soon.

Anyway, I hope you get some good painting time this weekend. Send me some comments if you have any feedback on the blog--or ideas for a posting. I am photographing my art work this weekend, so I may do a post on how to photograph your own work. There are some ideas out there on the web--but most of these people do not seem to have ever actually photographed paintings before.

All the best, sixtyminuteartist.

26 comments:

Kim said...

send me links to your Ebay listings. I might be interested. What is your ebay seller id?

sixtyminuteartist said...

Kim, I have not had a chance to post my work to ebay lately, due to travel. If you would like to buy a piece, send me an email--and check out my gallery sixtyminuteartist.com. Prices are $3 square/inch. Jerry

Anonymous said...

Love the Oreo.

Sirimewan Amaratunga said...

Dear 60 minute

One day, I have no doubt, you will become a very good artiste indeed.
I wish you all the best. Buy until next time.

Amaratunga
SRI LANKA

Anonymous said...

You are an excellent artist.

I love sketching, and painting is second for me. I didn't have time to read anything, but your artworks are amazing. Good luck!!
You're definately going to be famous!! Well, amongst the artists, at the least :)

Celeste
South Africa

Psybus said...

hello this is an absolute work keep it up..!

Anonymous said...

:)

sonika said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jason Waskey said...

I absolutely know how you feel. It can feel worse when you do the math and realize that if you were to go through gallery sales alone, you'd need to gross about $100k to make about $35K (after taxes).

And yet...

People do it.

You already exhibit the sorts of qualities that I imagine one finds in successful artists: talent, drive, subject matter expertise, commitment, and a least a little business sense.

Frankly, I'm a little dismayed to find one more highly effective/talented person I've got to compete against as I try to do it myself...

:)

Cheers,

Jason

thithuthuy said...

You are an inspiration, thanks.
I will try harder now!

I have 3 kids, a full time job and elderly parents....and so on and so on ....lots of things to do and seemingly no time to do it,and am trying to find time to paint!!
Best wishes to you.Thu

saurabh said...

Hi there
I am in India and doing a full time job as a correspondent but my heart is at art
ALthough- I must admit that while the passion is there - the talent has a long way to go
Your message was inspiring- shall try to find out some time daily
Do have a look at my two blogs
http://bachchanbillboard.blogspot.com/
http://heartatart.blogspot.com/
when you get the time and let me know what you think about them
Thanks and regards
Saurabh Turakhia

Anonymous said...

I think because you said there are so few artists paint every day. I think that is true. The only ones that paint every day, have good business and marketing sense actually make it.

If you are concerned about money have you considered applying for a grant? I haven't myself but I think about it often. Any way I definitly think that since you have moderate success with ebay you should look up osnat. She is my hero. Also this article has made a great impression on me as well: http://ezinearticles.com/?How-to-Quit-Your-Job-and-Live-Your-Dream&id=124554.

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