Saturday, April 30, 2011

New wip and a rant

Haven't posted much this month.  I have been real busy painting and getting ready for this coming weekend's showing and next weekend's juried art show.  I promised you a rant in the title so here goes....
People who complain about art costing too much have no idea the amount of work that goes into being an artist.  I think most people think artists just happily paint for a few hours everyday and that is it.  We also collectively have this idea that to earn lots of money we must be working extremely hard at something we hate.
I wish that all I had to do was paint, but that alone would still take up a big chunk of my time.  Each painting I do takes me anywhere from 12 to 40 hours to complete, depending on size and difficulty.  This is usually spread out over many days, painting anywhere from 3 to 6 hours a day.  Once a painting is complete I have to varnish, wire, and sometimes frame.  Varnishing alone can take me hours to do, as I seem to have bad luck with it and often have to go repaint things I messed up with the varnish.  I do all my own framing and this is by no means easy or quickly done.
The other time consuming aspect of being an artist is the copying of your work, or taking photographs, scanning, etc.  I spend a lot of time photographing my pieces.  I have to do it outside on a good weather day.  This can be challenging at best.  Then I have to edit all my pieces in Photoshop to make them as close to the real work as possible to post online.  All of this can take me anywhere from 3 to 5 hours to do, on just one piece of art.  Next you spend time uploading art to all of your websites where you sell prints, Etsy, Red Bubble, etc.  This can often take up an afternoon.
Next you have making prints, packaging prints, shipping prints, making other things to sell like pendants (this takes up lots of time).  So if you add all this up we are going over 40 hours of work a week. 
Pricing your art is one of the hardest parts of being an artist.  What is it's value?  That is a hard question.  We certainly do not get paid for our time.  Just to make a nice round $10 bucks an hour we would have to sell a $400 painting a week, every week.  Then there is the obscure question of how good is it.  We all have seen artwork that sells for thousands that we wouldn't pay $10 for, and ones that sell for $100 that seem to be worth a lot more.
My pricing is random and somewhat based on how much I am attached to the work, and the size of the piece.  I am usually flexible though, and willing to hear offers of course.
Okay, that is about it for my rant, although I haven't even mentioned the high cost of art supplies.  Most of you reading this are artists too, so I am probably preaching to the choir.  But many of my friends that are not artists, even my own husband, have no idea what I do all day.  Somehow I have to fit in cleaning the house, grocery shopping, and taking care of my kids and myself in all of this.  Oh, and I left out the self-promotion on the internet time....like this blog....there is another few hours a day, just trying to get your work out there and seen (advertising).
Okay, on to my current work in progress.  I have been experimenting with different surfaces.  This one is small because it is a sample that I got from Raymar of one of their polyflax cotton canvas panels.  It is a very nice surface that I will definately try again.  It is also what sparked my rant, because it is only 9x12 inches, but I have already put about 12 hours into painting it and am still not totally done.  Just because it is smaller than many of my other works does not mean it is worth less.  I am also really loving it, it has changed a lot already from this pic I am posting now.

13 comments:

brittany1990_2010 said...

THANK YOU! I myself do not paint, I use pencil and pen, but it still takes me a while. I am no where near as good as you, but I too get a lot of crap about how long it takes. Amongst other things.

MoonSpiral said...

Thankyou for reading and commenting Brittany. I think we definately need the support from other artists and need to turn a mute ear to those who have no clue :)

Patricia Ariel said...

Tammy, it is amazing how our thoughts seem so connected sometimes. Exactly now I am writing a post about artwork pricing and why it is so high. You are damn right in all you said here. Those details eat out a lot of our time and people don't even realize how much. I myself have been miserably neglected my RedBubble and other sites lately for pure lack of time (huge mistake). The new piece looks incredible already.

MoonSpiral said...

That is too funny Patty. Yeah, I have been neglecting the socializing on Red Bubble too, and my views have dropped big time. Just not enough hours in the day :(

Lynnette Shelley said...

I just read both yours and Patricia's blog post on the same subject. AMEN is all I can say, but I am preaching to the choir.

Marg said...

Oh Tammy! YES! This month in particular it was like - do I give up now? What's the point? Maybe my works are too expensive - perhaps I should slash another 75% off them...
Like you, I spend HOURS if not weeks on a work (lately it's been months as I struggle with ill health as well). I consider myself so fortunate if someone likes my work enough to buy a canvas, usually at a big discount...
I question the value of my work. I question my own value as an artist. I wonder why society can pay footballers millions and yet brilliant artists are not given the same accolades...

I also noticed that since I don't spend much time at RB doing the lengthy and time consuming social networking, my sales have dropped off too. So have the views etc since the site changed formats. It's hard enough to keep three POD websites running, PLUS your own blog and other sites so that you can do the online marketing necessary these days to get your work out there.

If you are preaching to the choir Tammy, we are all singing:)
xoxox

ellensart916@gmail.com said...

*singing here too*

Kay said...

amen...I paint quickly but I spend a lot of time looking at art, researching techniques..not to speak of the student loans I incurred while getting my belated degree. Since no one wants to buy my art I am technically unemployed and can't pay my loans!!! But I continue to spend the time in hopes that someday it will begin to pay. I too have trouble pricing my art..I realized why I sold one piece within 24 hours of setting up my etsy site..I had priced it accidentally lower than the others!!! So the person who bought it got a deal and I am sure knew it!
I still haven't figured out how to do everything and I am job hunting too!

- hey bro! - said...

It's never easy being an artist, but that's what we have to live with for doing what we love! And luckily, there are fellow artists who understand the things "normal" people can't. And pricing one's wares is awfully hard, how does one value things by money in these cases when your own heart is involved?! ^^;;

The sneak of your latest WIP looks amazing allready, looking forward to see it finished!

Tammie said...

you said it all, this is all true! So very true. Huge job being an artist. As I read your post I started thinking an agent really does earn their job. Paint the painting and hand it over, the rest is up to them. If only.... wishing you success and people who understand without explanation!

Kiki aka Victoria said...

Hi Tammy..keep shining and creating your beautiful work. Don't worry about what others may say or judge about art/pricing..truly honor you, your art and do what honors you as an artist! I learned ,long ago..that i value my work and creations( whether I was writing, creating art, singing etc)..and must do what honors me...and those who also value it ..simply..will be the ones meant to have your work!

there is no price one could place on art..for it is truly an immeasurable thing.and it is an honor to create art....feel peace with what you feel honors you! There will always be those out there who don't quite understand the cost of any kind of artist/creator..but keep doing what brings you joy. I sometime work on a painting for 2 or 3 years ha ha!so it cannot be measured by size, hours..anything..for art truly is not measurable..so do what honors you as an artist and business creator!

I recall many times in my life..poeple assuming that because they percieve "something comes so ealiy to me( like being able to draw for example or paint etc)"..it should be for free or cheap..ha ha! Not so!

Just think ..put your work out there/ value it the way it feels right for you..and you will attract the poeple who are in harmony with that same value system /respect for art and all will flow! And there are also others who simply cannot afford anything, but have a deep love and respect for art...if that feels important to you..you could still always have a set of different products..with a price range that appeals to different situations!
But truly don't worry about what others say..follow what feels right to you..don't let anything hold your spirit down..shine on!
Victoria~

Amalia K said...

Hello Tammy. So nice to stumble here in time for a well touched subject! I honestly can't agree more with everything you wrote and I think this mostly applies to everyone who works in the creative world. Sadly, I have seen some artists caving in to lower prices due to fierce competition, which automatically sets a low pricing standard at the end.

But chin up. You know what they say... if they love your art, they'll buy it. :)

Joyce van der Lely said...

Ditto !!! very good to hear/see that oter artists struggle with the same things everywhere and that creativity seems such a hard field to get proper aknowledgement or finacially rewarded.Thanks so much for posting about this.

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