John, I was encouraged (and glad for you) to read that you got through last year on sales from your art. I did that in 2006 - 2010 but then wound up homeless when the economy tanked - I was in Santa Fe. I would love to return to living off of my painting again and just wanted to ask how much of your income was from prints vs originals and how much do you sell online vs at shows? I went from a year at school to just sort of doing it, not a lot of planning... so I'd love to hear what planning or strategy or whatever you've done. If you want to share this info naturally! I'm in Indiana right now, working as a graphic designer/illustrator at Purdue U - what my background is. I don't really like the area and hope to move somewhere more "artist-friendly" this year - any thoughts you have about that I'd love to hear too! One of the things that consistently most impresses me about your work is how much you get out of such small space. I find that incredible. Thanks, dorian
Dorian, I just scraped by last year. If I didn't have a rent-free place to live, it probably wouldn't have happened. I live in the middle of nowhere in Colorado, so most of my dealings have been online. Most of my sales were in small original paintings. I did have one popular print, a fluke really. Shows didn't pan out too well sales wise. Commissions played a part. Overall, I'd say about 80% came from online sales of originals/commissions and 20% came from prints and shows. I hope this info helps.
Thanks John. I'm glad you didn't have to worry about rent, hopefully you'll have a decent enough customer base to offset that when you do have to. I think having a "day job" is the reason many potential artists never get their art career off the ground - on one hand it's good to have a job to sustain you, but it can also drain your energy and time leaving nothing left for your art. Are there certain sites where you've been more successful? I just went through a couple of months of being bombarded by the "Skinny Artist," "Art Empowers Me," "Artists Who Thrive," group - all people who talk about online sales as the way to go (especially facebook) and yet I think the only ones making a living at that, are them - from artists who are struggling! Are you building a mailing list, do you stay in touch with your collectors regularly? Paint-Tarts strikes me as a really smart way to blog - talking a bit about your work and giving visitors ways to buy also. Sorry, didn't mean to take up so much of your time. Thanks again - Dorian
Yeah, I had to have a "day job" for several years after college, always in soul-crushing retail. I cut myself down to a minimal part-time to allow more time for art, and I ended up making more from painting than from the day job. That's when I decided to move back home. I'm really lucky to have my current living situation. I'm trying to finish an Earthship house my parents started 15 years ago. If you're familiar with Earthships, you know that the utilities are minimal, so that's another lucky break. As for websites, I've been most successful on Etsy, averaging several orders a month. I also maintain a facebook and tumblr page. I don't have a mailing list, and I could definitely be more proactive in contacting collectors. I'm happy to offer what little experience I have, and I'm glad it's of use to someone.