Going into the art business?

I love drawing and sketching even when I was young child but I had never thought about earning any money for my making art. I had always envisioned myself as being in computers either as an engineer or a software developer. Fast-forward to the present, I’m now a programmer by day but I still love drawing in my free time.

I actually love drawing so much that it makes me think about the possibility of earning a living solely from doing freelance art. In the short term, I seriously doubt that any money I can possibly earn from doing art can match the salary I get paid monthly from programming. So, if I do decide to concentrate on my art, I would certainly be taking a pay grade dive. It’s something that I can’t consider specially since I want to have a kid soon.

But maybe I can start by getting into the art business as a part-time thing. Maybe I can take on simple commissions at first. Maybe I should make a series of art pieces I can make prints out of and sell them at the local Sunday markets here in Melbourne or sell them at online sites like Etsy and eBay. Maybe I can compile a series of sketches and publish it via Lulu and call that an art book. Maybe I can go back to making comics and publish that via Lulu too.

I’ve already started doing some research into this commission work thing. I wanted to know what doing digital art commission work entails. I wanted to know how much other DA artists were asking for for their work. How much are people willing to pay for a certain level of art quality? I use these artists as a sort of a price guide. I wonder if anybody out there is interesting in commissioning me for some art.

Last weekend, I went to the Arts Centre Sunday Market at the city to check out what the artists there are offering and how much they are selling their stuff for. Again, I’m hoping that this would give me an idea of how to price my own pieces when the time comes (if it ever does) to sell my own. I even learned about Giclee prints while there. I need to look into that a bit further but it seems like a more expensive way to make prints.

At this stage though, I don’t really have a lot of finished work to sell as prints that people will want to buy. That means, I need to first make more high-resolution detailed and coloured pieces that might attract buyers before I can even think of earning money from prints.

With my limited free time, it seems like that doing art commissions might be the more feasible option. My only fear is that I have absolutely no clue how to do one. I mean, drawing the actual piece might be the easiest bit because that’s something I know how to do already. But I don’t know what to put into a contract that would be fair both to me and to my potential customer. How exactly should I deal with the customer? Do I draw drafts first for his/her approval? Do I allow him/her to change his mind after he/she approved the draft?

So many questions. Maybe I should just take the plunge and wing it all the way.

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Published in: on February 6, 2008 at 11:34 pm  Comments (2)  

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Yo! I’ll most likely do the part-time thing. It shouldn’t be too difficult to do if I don’t take on a lot of requests (if I even get one). And definitely, I won’t be neglecting the day job.

    Regarding that stage in one’s life, I think I’m there. But isn’t it also called “midlife crisis”? And if so, I think I’m too young for it. Well, actually, I’m feeling a bit old lately. Can’t help myself thinking about aging, about how things were like when we were younger, how that time seemed so long ago now, etc.

    I had a change of scene by switching to Ernst and Young a few months ago. I’m actually enjoying myself but I kept on thinking if I’d enjoy myself more if I wasn’t programming any more. I guess what’s really getting to me about our job is that new technologies keep on popping up and I have to continually play catch up to these new technologies or become obsolete. It’s just tiring sometimes. That’s how it feels like with Microsoft technologies though. I’m not sure if I’d feel the same if I was a Java programmer instead or simply a SQL developer (SQL seems to have pretty much stayed the same over the years).

    So, I’m starting to get interested in another type of career. Art is just one of them. I’m also interested in teaching too. Probably teach basic programming in high school or something like that. As for starting a business, well, I don’t feel like starting one at this point in time. I just don’t want all the hassle.

    And I’m with you. I wish I could win in the lotto, too, so I can go into early retirement and do what I really want to do in life. Whatever that is. 😀

  2. I think you should plunge in and just do the part-time art commission work. As long as your first job is not neglected you should be fine. Once you have gained enough experience I think it will be easier then to decide whether to go full-time into the art business or not.

    That being said, let me just share that there comes a stage when we look at what we do to earn a living and say “Is this want I want to do for the rest of my life?” I have heard this from all kinds of professionals – nurses, programmers, engineers, etc. I am not saying that is what you are saying now but its darn close. Some people switched professions but some, like me, just needed a change in “scenery” . Thats why I moved to a new company last year. Now I am more relaxed, have more appreciation for software development and have more time for creative stuff, even though I pretty much do the same things. Will I stay in the IT sector until I retire? I am hoping I don’t because I do feel a tug for business (must be Charry rubbing off on me) and for teaching in college.

    I also feel a tug to spend days just in a quiet tropical beach, in a hammock between two palm trees, sipping my pina colada and reading (or writing) a good book. Yeah, thats right after I win the lotto :)>-


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