As an emerging artist, the majority of my income comes from commissions I receive from friends, family, and now referrals (YAY). People who are close to me and my career have an understanding of what goes into their custom pieces, but not everyone is exposed to the "art world". Clients who just stumble across my work on Instagram or are referred by a friend often have no idea what it is to be an artist or create pieces of work. So here it is (only speaking from my experience of course).
Creating quality works of art takes TIME and MONEY. Art supplies are EXPENSIVE and need to be replaced regularly. Not to mention, artists require suitable spaces in which to create their art. That means there's things like studio rent to consider. Depending on ones medium, a piece can take anywhere from hours, to weeks and so on. I work primarily with oil paint, which requires periods of drying time between layers. Smaller commissions take me at least three weeks to complete, while larger works take anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months. When I receive a commission, I cant simply start painting that day. I must plan the composition, think about what color choices will be best, purchase any supplies I might need for the piece, sketch out a few ideas, and then finally proceed to put brush to canvas.
Canvases, paints and other supplies are also delicate and temperamental. Everything must be carefully stored, packaged, transported, etc. Whether I am purchasing my materials, am in the middle of creating a piece, or installing a piece for exhibition, I find that I handle my work like children (or in my case, like my precious fur babies). Art requires constant attention and consideration, not just from its viewers but from its makers. It's of course rewarding, but also very consuming and draining. Make no mistake, I am NOT complaining, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I've ended up laying on my studio floor for a 5 minute recharge every now and then...
In my case, I am not yet a full-time artist. I balance my studio time and pop up events/markets with my full-time office job. So what this means to me is... TIME IS PRECIOUS. Seriously, I cant emphasize enough how much I value the hours in each day. I have multiple calendars and detailed schedules planned down to the minute. So, when clients see what looks like the house portrait they commissioned, I see the fruits of the 4+ weekends spent working on it in the studio. What's a month's worth of weekends worth to you? It's a strange thing to value!
At the end of the day, I LOVE being an artist and what I do in the studio. I love everything about it. I love that my work takes time and deep attention and consideration, it makes me feel incredibly fulfilled. I love spending a few weeks with a pet portrait and getting to know a member of someone's family in such an intimate way. I love seeing how excited my client is to receive or gift it, knowing that it will be hanging proudly in someone's home. All of this makes me feel connected to something bigger than myself and gives me purpose. I hope this post helps people understand better what career artists put into their work. Can't wait to be at it full-time!