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Thread: What Do You Think of Starving Artist Advertised Sales?

  1. #1
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    What Do You Think of Starving Artist Advertised Sales?

    Here in the USA you frequently see advertised "Starving Artist Sale, Original Oil Paintings, Nothing over $29.95.

    This truly is enough to discourage you from pursuing or taking a chance at art for a career to make your living. Most often the paintings sell for $10 to $20. For God's sake, the materials of; oil paints, canvas, brushes, lacquers, thinners, and frames, cost more than what they are selling them for. Are these sellers taking advantage of artists down on their luck and selling out of desperation at any price, even a significant loss? Even if these people have a speed painting style and technique of whipping these out in less than an 15 minutes time, consider the cost of materials. The cost of materials from all catalogs I have seen far exceed $10 or $20 dollars.

    It is bad enough here in the USA they are out sourcing far too many good paying jobs that provided people a good living. If we are left to our own wits and talents to create our own income, how in the world are artists to make a sustainable income if their works are selling so cheaply.

    Any comments here?
    The very first digital art program that I worked with Art Rage 1

    You may visit my personally designed website at: www.stephenlopiano.com
    There is one section full of pages there under the Digital Artwork category that is devoted entirely to paintings I have created with Art Rage.

  2. #2
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    I've been watching this stuff for years and years. They first started appearing to my memory in the late 1960s. I worried then.

    Going toe to toe for the low end market, you will have a hard go competing with those prices. But know that those paintings/prices appeal to a low end market that will never merit much beyond the initial low price. They're not even trying to grow. It's cash and carry and later to the garage sale lawn.

    This is one of the reasons I have always resisted having anyone but an amateur paint in the style of Bob Ross and that whole quick paint effect crowd. It's fun to do. Period. And the value is in the experience. Career wise, it's like tying a rock around your neck and jumping off the bridge. You're competing with people who make a dollar a day or something and you're labeling yourself as cheap -- a designation you may never get out from under.

    So it's not just about being an artist who paints well. You have to be smart and look at how you're marketing yourself. Create a name and protect that name at all costs. It's nearly the most important thing.

    By painting stand out stuff with a particular look and consistently getting yourself in galleries and shows that are associated with a good investment on the part of the buyers -- that's how you make money at this game. The 'schlock' artists that are marketed in the starving artist category will never have value, and the prices will never rise. DON'T GO THERE. The only way those marketers make money is by selling many many many which is done by being cheap cheap cheap. You're one guy. Do the math.

    Besides, those artist's names you see on those canvases probably don't exist. They're usually invented names that the companies own that many assembly line style sweat shop artists paint under. One guy does the ground, the next the trees, and the next the clouds. Put it all together and it's just passable. And let's not forget all those guys will get better and better and may break away to do their own stuff and try to move into a higher ticket class. And don't get me started on the selling prints market which further thins the market.

    Anyway. that Starving Artist stuff is filling a niche in the market for people who need something to fill a wall on a doctor's office or whatever. Might as well be selling artificial flower arrangements.

    I don't want to add salt to your wound, but there are many artists here in the States too. And with new marketing strategies, they hook up with groups who cater to filling walls in hotels and so forth and the range of art they have in their stables is actually not bad. And you may want to consider that market. New markets are opening up all the time and you want to get known in one (at least), and you'll be a working artist.

    Just by doing paintings, it won't get you anywhere. You have to stand apart.

    Think creatively and apply some of that creative juice to how you're going to move into the 'legit' circles where you can actually support doing your art. But PLEASE don't think for a minute that being an artist means one doesn't have to be practical. In fact, one has to be MORE practical because of the odds.

    Be clever, my friend. Aim high. Much higher.

    And if you just gotta paint, then get a day job and paint till the painting can support you.



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by D Akey
    I've been watching this stuff for years and years. They first started appearing to my memory in the late 1960s. I worried then.

    Going toe to toe for the low end market, you will have a hard go competing with those prices. But know that those paintings/prices appeal to a low end market that will never merit much beyond the initial low price. They're not even trying to grow. It's cash and carry and later to the garage sale lawn.
    I have a friend that graduated form Art College and went to work in one of these factories. She was such a creative artist and had a unique style that was all her own. I am sure she could have done well if she could have broken in to the refined art gallery market. Now she no longer does art. Now these kinds of places are burgeoning in places like Vietnam, India, China, and Russia.
    They know a few tricks on the eye to give an uneducated viewer what serves, for them, as art at a bargain price. I agree with Mr. D. that it is unlikely to be appreciated by a trained eye. And also it is amazing that in the foreign countries I forementioned these quick production factories are getting better and better in skills. Unlike their counter parts in America where it seems to not progress beyond amateurish.

    One thing we have failed to mention, that is very exciting for artists who want to produce good quality and get paid well too, is the ability for an artist to now have their own website. With a bit of refined skills you can do well. I constantly see paintings in the 600 to 1200 dollar range being sold out on their sites. I think you could make a living at that range. I have also seen artists with websites that are selling 10,000 dollar paintings and being sold as soon as they come out. I think they have tapped a market of wealthy folks who buy art as an investment, also they have most likely run out of things to buy with their money. It is a wonderful market to tap into, I would say. I even have one friend who makes miniature paintings that are produced rather quickly. Landscapes and and country scenes mostly. She does at least two of these a day and sells them on Etsy for between 30 to 80 dollars according to the size, the largest being about 10x 13 inches. Her style is a bit impressionistic, but she also knows what makes a composition and what colors have worked well together for centuries. They are done rapidly, but they are pretty darned eye pleasing. If they were larger, I would consider buying some. Once you make your paintings larger they can sell for a fairly good price.

    One thing about the factories you mention... is the quality of the paint medium being used is very low. It is more like house paint than refined artist materials. The pigments are not made from expense materials like you would find in an art store. If you ask me, I think even Jackson Pollack cheated in this respect by using low cost paint. I do not know about acrylics but even in using acrylics, one can see the difference between using say a Golden brand acrylic and one of the cheaper made versions. In water color, there is nothing quite like Winsor & Newton... and of course, the most expensive. With pastels the difference is amazing. The soft buttery quality of the French pastels (expensive) are amazing. It really does show in the work to me.

    So I would aspire to get a portfolio of many pieces and then get yourself an art blog or website to sell your work. Galleries now take 50 to 60% and that is absurd to me. I would , of course, rather have 40% of 10,000 a week than to sell my own for a 1,000 a week. Of course the website would have to be rather well laid out and elegant looking also to give the idea that it is a place for fine art .

    To see some of the paintings produced around the world dirt cheap, check out Ebay. Quite a market... they are doing rather well... and of course the money represents huge incomes in impoverished countries. These paintings will never be purchased by collectors. As Mr Akey points out the names of these artists will likely never be renowned. either.

    Look at Andy Warhol. Silk screening... fairly cheap process for the artist, but sold for big bucks in the right market. N.Y. Galleries. And of course now astronomical in price for an original print. He knew the value of a good marketplace and some hype to go with it. I would love to sell 30 paintings a year for a 1,000 each rather than sell 1,000 for 30 dollars apiece. jmho.

  4. #4
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    Excellent post, GZ. Really helpful and practical enough to illuminate possible directions.

    I agree with everything.

    I think Pollack and those guys used house paint because that's what they could afford early on. But look at what they did with it. The materials played a big role in the look because they were limited to certain applications (paint handling, unprimed canvas due to cost and so on). They were dirt poor for a while many of them from that school.

    Their saving moment was when someone with lots of money (Gugenheim the collector and Castelli the dealer, though I don't know their relation if any) with a savvy knack for spin raised the artists way up in legitimacy as a way to grow their investments. So. . .

    I had classes where they encouraged using house paint for that reason. It probably would have made the original abstract expressionists roll their eyes, as it couldn't have been their first choice in materials. But then it became preferred in certain circles because the avant garde art stars used it.

    Point being, the materials are not as important as who's in control of the world's perceptions of value.


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    It had always been my belief that those painting came from motels who bought them from art schools and cycled them out every few months/years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by D Akey

    I had classes where they encouraged using house paint for that reason. It probably would have made the original abstract expressionists roll their eyes, as it couldn't have been their first choice in materials. But then it became preferred in certain circles because the avant garde art stars used it.

    Point being, the materials are not as important as who's in control of the world's perceptions of value.

    I would probably consider cheating a bit with Acrylics if large quantities were to be used in large areas. I doubt the Spanish muralists used high grade paint either. I suppose the only area that you really could see a difference in quality would be watercolor. The way pigments separate and blend and hold their intensity is so much superior in the better quality made paints like Winsor Newton. I have often wondered about acrylics... if you could get away with using acrylic house paint. I guess it would be great for practice. I guess it would be a moot point if what you produce is of high quality? I think acrylic should be acrylic right? I would like to hear from an airbrush painter... they use acrylics made for airbrushes. I wonder if they ever tried acrylic house paint?

    I am not really sure about oil paint either... the focus on house paint in oil is the additives that are concerned with coverage and durability. I suppose you could add a bit of linseed oil to oil based house paint and have a pretty good go at it. Very Happy Ha ha.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertSWade
    It had always been my belief that those painting came from motels who bought them from art schools and cycled them out every few months/years.
    nope...for one thing the quality is way below what is produced in art schools...and secondly even if it were the case... this would never supply the demand. Cheap motels don't buy art that often. A cheap painting for them would still last 50 years and I doubt they would replace it. ha ha. More expensive properties buy better quality art reproductions and sometimes originals or prints from originals nicely framed. I doubt even the midrange motor inns would recycle enough to be more than a drop in the bucket of this market.
    It would never be enough of a supply to fill the demand.
    A lot of the folks who worked in the U.S. for the "Starving Artist" factories... were actually simultaneously attending art school though and paying their way by doing so. But that may have changed. It has been quite a few years since my friend worked for one of the factories while attending college in Atlanta. Maybe they have been replaced by even cheaper labor now. Could be? Boy, I would think you could get to hating art after working in one of those places.
    Here is a pretty straightforward explanation of what is up with Starving Artist paintings....
    http://www.drloriv.com/lectures/starvingartists.asp
    apparently they are even using a printing method.

  8. #8
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    This is the art blog I mentioned. She gives a link to her Etsy store on the blog. I think her little paintings are marvelous.

    http://small-impressions.blogspot.com/

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    That's a cool set of pics affordably priced.

    I think there are people who would love to process paintings that fast. Perhaps it is making a career out of a short attention span, but taking it to a very high level. I definitely know people who that would suit just fine.

    Art Rage seems to allow for the same kind of speed for certain types of paintings, only digital.

    Cool. Thanks for the look.



  10. #10
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    Glad you liked D. I thought it might encourage Stephen and others on the forum who do art at an even finer level I believe here on the forum. It certainly shows how an art blog can team with a selling place to bring income to artists. She must have an endless supply of inspiration for sure.

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