Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Oh, just give me a painting..." brought to by both Kate and Dave

If you're an artist you've heard that line before.  Possibly after your landlord helped you change an appliance light bulb or your mechanic friend looked under your car's hood.  You tell them how much you appreciate their help, that they are awesome, you owe them one..and BAM they tell you not to worry, just paint them something in return.  We kid you not, Dave had some one ask him for a painting after they gave him some leftover spaghetti.

Now we know this stems from total ignorance and not malice, but perhaps there's a bit of blatant disregard for the value of our time thrown in there.   Bottom line is, most people have no idea what our artwork is worth, or that creating it in the first place is an actual job.  They don't understand that the nanosecond art becomes your career, it ceases to be fun and begins to wither your soul like any other job.  It's work.  We don't have fun doing art in the same way we have fun drinking beer, playing video games, or even checking our mail.  Art is often boring, tedious, taxing, and above all, time consuming--just like most people's jobs.  Sure, we love it, because we can work for ourselves and pursue our creative vision, but the moments of excitement are few and far between, kind of like a job in science.  Scientists are willing to slog away day after day chasing the dragon of discovery so that they can briefly experience a high when they discover something.  Painting is the same way.  The excitement happens in the planning and completion stages of a piece, and everything in between is making stuff look like stuff.  The romanticized idea of the artist who is in a state of rapture while painting is a thing of movies.  Therefore, it isn't "fun" for me to make art for people, it's simply additional work. 

Obviously we're taking this as an opportunity to tell people how much our work is worth.  One piece of our art is worth one to four months' salary for us.  They are not commodities that can be given or traded easily.  A lot of people see our art and "have to have it."  Well, if you can't afford it, you don't get to have it, just like we can't afford a hover car, so we don't get one (which we are sure we want way more than anyone has ever wanted our art.)  Asking someone for art for free is pretty obnoxious when you think about it (we'll lay into the old art for charity in another post).  However, we thought we would show what could be traded for our artwork according to its value.

 Dave's "Trapper" painting is priced at the equivalent of twenty purebred German Shepherd puppies.

"Medicine" was sold for the cost of a round trip vacation for 2 to Hawaii, including air fare, hotel accommodations, and coconut drinks with little umbrellas.  

Kate's "Winter Weeds" sold for the equivalent of a 2013 Subaru Forester. 

 Also, here are some favors that you could do for us that would actually merit a painting.

 Bone marrow transplant (and the nice marrow not the cheap stuff) or peck implants (for Dave)

Break us out of a space prison from the future.

 Smuggle a relative of ours out of a war torn country in the trunk of your car.

Trade us an equivalent piece of art that you created.

Dave gave his parents-in-law some paintings, but only after they gave him half of the total sum of their daughters among other fabulous things (and we should also add that they tried to buy them first before he gave them to them).  We also give our own parents work on very rare occasion because without them we wouldn't be doing a lot of existing.

And one last point: most of us artists have also heard the phrase, "if you are going to throw that painting away, why not just give it to me?"  Well, because it's a crappy piece of artwork that lowers my total average score as an artist.  Having a mediocre piece of work loose in the world is an embarrassing thing.  In addition, what message do we send to our collectors by giving away something they paid good money for?

Okay,  we're done ranting.

NOTE: we both wrote this post together but we had no idea how to sort out the whole 1st, 2nd, 3rd person thing.

Next installment:  "Oh, just give me a painting for Christmas..."

16 comments:

  1. Well, it's true. My own mother says such things, "just give me a painting for Christmas". I never know how to answer such a proposition. I mean, this is my professional career, working as an artist. The extra bonus for me, however, is that when I graduated I was not able to make enough painting to pay my rent, so I have worked as an illustrator. I am fortunate now to have a great job where I draw all day for games (illustration), but at the end of the day, this work is not *for me*... When I DO get to paint, it is on the weekends or at night after working. My time is PRECIOUS because I have desire to paint and to become a better painter, and those aspirations take TIME - specifically my free time. When a well meaning friend says "just give me a painting", I appreciate the compliment, but at the same time it makes me feel so isolated, as though no one on the planet understands this dilemma of not having enough TIME to paint and somehow, some way to make the transition to painting full time. Art is a complicated profession, one that tugs at the heart strings daily for me, but at times is boring, yes, and yet so essential to who I am.
    Thanks for the great blog post. - Julia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Give your mom the Christmas painting. Not meant to be morbid, but they'll come back to you when she's gone...and have more meaning, too. Just sayin'

      Delete
  2. ..and Shepherd puppies comparison is great :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, Robert Crumb does live in a chateau in France which he traded a couple of his sketchbooks for.

    PS. I have yet to produce a painting with a market value over a 2008 Honda Civic so congrats Kate!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Your blog remains damnably funny. So thrilled I finally got around to starting to read it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This post should be shared far and wide. In fact, I would like to repost it on FB. May I?

    ReplyDelete
  6. what about the square inch formula. As artists increase in cultural value their square inch price value increases as well. Often used by galleries to determine the worth of a painting (not sure how it works for other works) or the sale price that can be determined by the artists value in the market...I suppose as determined by the gallery and past sales frequency.
    But puppy shepherds could work as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use the square inch formula to price my work, usually around 21 to 24 dollars per square inch.

      Delete
  7. What about short runs of archival quality, signed prints? Aussie (and awesome) artist Jeremy Geddes sets a good example for this practice - more affordable access to work by the public, and much deserved income for the artist.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Based on an hourly rate of something like $200-$300, I'll do a quick sketch for a hypothetical oil change, then the mechanic will have to spend $150 on a frame so he'll probably think he got a raw deal.

    ReplyDelete
  9. So, what would I get for the bone marrow thing?

    ReplyDelete
  10. I live in a small village. Once a year I open up my atelier for friends and locals. To be done with nosy people, to have a party and to give them chock-therapy with my prizes. But they do by my postcards. (Dutch and dyslexic).

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you. I'm going to share this in my next newsletter. Best wishes -- DG

    ReplyDelete
  12. Perhaps they are telling you how much they like your paintings. I'm sorry you lost your joy somewhere between brush washings. I love to paint for someone whom I know will appreciate my work.

    ReplyDelete