Monday, March 1, 2010

Is My Art Career In the Toilet?

I must admit that being naive has continued to be one of my character flaws. While I will allow that it also represents an ability to trust others, life and my experiences, I must confess that it also seems to mean that I can be a complete fool. Perhaps some of you who are reading this, the few that do seem to be reading this, will be readying your "I told you so" or " I knew it" at the very least. So, to get right to it, I must recognise my own naive hopes when I started this blog and my online art efforts. I thought I would find a few people who would want to have some of my art for their very own and pay for it. So far, I have not found them. I have found plenty of people who praise my work, who tell me how much they enjoy it, but none of that has been converted into cash. I have certainly enjoyed the wonderful feedback, but so far I haven't been able to convince my local art supply store to accept that praise for my art supplies.
It is not so much the originals, I can see how that may be a tougher sell online. To be honest, the bee in my bonnet is the lack of print on demand sales. I had thought that between the people I know who like my stuff and the people who visit my print on demand site and look at my art, and there have been over 2700 views of my work on Red to date, that I would have seen some sales happen. Nada. Zip. Nothing. Big Goose eggs. I really don't get it. I mean, the high quality prints and such I have on offer, with greeting cards at $5, I really did think that somebody would pony up. I recognize I am a neophyte when I comes to sales and self-promotion, but come on now. My sales are beyond pathetic. They are embarrassing. I don't think its because my art is crap, I mean I have seen much worse stuff sell for quite a bit. I have had people comment on my art that some piece or another was one of the most amazing that they have ever seen but couldn't be bothered to buy a copy of that amazing piece. What is that about? Is it just poverty? Am I being intolerant here? I have heard it said that art is something that everybody loves but doesn't want to pay for. I think part of the reality of the internet is that we are all used to getting stuff for free so few are willing to pay for anything. I am guilty of this as well so perhaps its karma.
I found this article about the internet the other day that seemed quite germane : The Information Super-Sewer:Will the Internet Be Hijacked by Corporate Interests? by Chris Hedges. Read it. Its good and it makes some cogent points.
The article discusses self-promotion a bit and warns how this part of the internet seems to be pumping up the advertising aspect of internet. I can certainly see how this can turn everything into sales flogging, trying to commercialize every aspect of human interaction. I have no interest in becoming another billboard for corporate interests. I advertised some products that I used (books) and some Internet sites/products I have used to my benefit. I have thought that these endorsements were not problematic since my endorsements were honest, but I did pull the book endorsements because it felt a bit off to me. The jury is still out for me on some of this. In the end, so few people seem to care about what I am doing here that it probably doesn't matter. And no, I am not looking for sympathy here cause I know my concerns are quite high on the Maslow hierarchy; I am lucky to be able to have such concerns. That is,unless that sympathy comes in the form of Franklin, Grant, Jackson or even Lincoln. I know, I am a Cheeky Bastard.
I also know the literature says to have have patience and trust in the process, but I have to say that I have been underwhelmed by my sales. This is not to say that I am giving up, not in the least. I realise that this point represents the need to look at what I have been doing, evaluate and find some new approaches. I just haven't found my paying audience yet. So I shall look into what to do next, but since this is my blog and it is devoted to my process in all of this, I have decided that ranting is part of my process.


  1. One thing I will say, as hopefully a help to you to understand why you're not lighting up with sales, is that portraits of people I don't know aren't something that I would likely buy to hang on my wall. It's not that the work isn't good!

  2. Believe in the process. The payment is in the process. Don't sell yourself short. I'm looking forward to your next post and portrait.

    Buenos Tiempos mi amigo.

  3. Trista,

    How about a portrait of someone you do know?

    Thanks for the feedback.And the encouragement.

  4. Jess,

    Thanks! I like getting your comments.

  5. I can only speak for myself, as a consistent follower of your blog - I think perhaps the impact you have cannot be measured by the dollar. We are all on our own road of life's journey - and it is wonderful to have someone be so earnest and vulnerable in expressing his thoughts and feelings about his journey - it makes one feel less alone in life and less afraid to step out on a desired but scary venture. Your peers are rounding the corner on 40, most of us are thinking existentially and as though if we're gonna do what we want - we should get started - but how?
    There are many of your pieces I would love to have - e.g. Wolflow and the frog and Mary. My latest financial concerns prevent me from pulling the trigger on purchasing anything that is not essential - I have heard that financial recovery from a divorce takes years, and my experience is validating that, in addition, tuition at the U of I is now $20,000 a year and I have a kid enrolled - and one rounding the corner on college, plus I am paid by the State of Illinois which is in its worst financial situation of all time - and I received a notification of nonreappointment - my job ends in 5 months. All this is not being said to make you feel sorry for me - or to feel bad for what you wrote - I am just using my own current experience as a case in point that there are reasons why people aren't buying your art that have nothing to do with the quality of your work or the efforts you have put forth to make it available.
    Life is just unpredictable and tough sometimes - and I think that when you least expect it you will be surprised by a windfall. Just believe in your work - and the process.
    I love you dearly -

  6. I am speechless Frannie. If you were the only one who ever read my blog and shared your thoughts, I would consider myself a wealthy man, and since you do and have, I am. Big love back at you.