Monday, 22 February 2010

Art for art's sake?

I'm having a day of musing.
Recently I've had quite a few people telling me that I should sell my art, to make it a proper business.

I am self employed and my business is reflexology.
I love it with a passion.
Art filled my early days whilst I waited for patients to fill my day.
Eventually my work day got busier and I had to reserve time for art.

Recently, after having many years of being the sole earner, I found myself in the fortunate position of being able to work part-time and spend the rest of my time walking and playing with my dog, painting, reading books and even bake and do the chores -without being in a mad rush.

Many people have been kind enough to say I have a talent and should sell my art.. but two part-time businesses?

It is a huge compliment that people love my work and want to hang it on their walls - and I am mindful of that, always.

There is so much to think of, the adding of a shop to my gallery site Pat Elliott Paintings, the making of an account with Paypal and a pricing strategy - something I have never had to think seriously about.

The safe posting of art, UK and worldwide - how do you cope with that?

Talking to the Inland Revenue (though they've always been helpful) so that everything is done above board.

And then promotion - a time consuming business in itself, as I am sure many artisans could tell you.

My biggest fear.. if I painted and it was a business, would painting become a chore or remain a love? Would I paint only what I chose to paint - as I do now - or would I be driven to paint what sells?

So many questions, so many thoughts.
I am not sure.. hence the musing..... feel free to add a comment with your perceptions. Perhaps you will make it clearer for me!

"I'm worn out, thinking!"


  1. This is a decision only you can make Pat as personal circumstances vary so widely. I have found, from experience, that once a hobby becomes a business the whole situation changes. The responsibilities of reaching a standard, in a given timescale and creating what others require moves your hobby into a confined discipline. It would be a shame to lose your natural creative abilities. You paint for fun and relaxation, that would all change if it became your business.

  2. Thank you for such a considered reply, Beryl.
    The "that would all change" is my biggest fear and why I have held back in the past.
    It is why I have doubts now.

  3. What a thought provoking post. I work full time and had the same thoughts about a side business entity. So then, I started a formal business, Barking Dog Enterprises. Now, some might call it monkey business which is fine because it is not big business. I am enjoying business and learning more about money management, marketing, social media and relationship building (SALES!). This all stemmed from me wanting to display and subsequently, sell my art. I'm glad I did it, however when I feel myself getting sucked in too much to the business side, my creative side somehow pulls me back over, so I guess I am truer to that side. So that's how I go on, like a see saw. I like it though! I think if you keep learning or taking on a new project or painting, then you can be happy no matter what you do. The business persona I am is also something I create, like a project!

  4. Thanks for your reply Carol xx

    Your reply is every bit as thought provoking!
    I hadn't thought that perhaps my creative side would pull me back over.
    You certainly have given me food for thought.
    Thank you, sincerely xx

  5. Very interesting post. A difficult decision no doubt, but you have all the time in the world to decide, or to postpone deciding, as they case may be. :-)

    The other day while I was driving home from a photo shoot I had done of a friend's dogs (the shelties you commented on), I was thinking how I really really hoped I'd gotten one or two good shots. My next thought was that if I were ever doing this as a paying gig, the pressure would REALLY be on for LOTS of GREAT shots. Bleh -- that thought really turned me off of any professional photographer fantasies that may have snuck in to some far corner of my mind! Heh.

    But, doing art of your own choosing, for your own purposes and then selling it would be something completely different, I would think.

  6. There's a good point, thank you!
    Only if taking photos for someone else - so its meeting someone's expectations that's the stressing factor. (they were great photos)
    If I don't take on a commission, a lot of the stress would go. Hmmmmm... Food for thought.
    I would still paint what I choose. And as there's no rule book to this, I can make my own :)
    Thanks, m'dear xx

  7. here she is!
    I am glad I got to see how cute she is... she looks like Baxter's girlfriend, Lucy

  8. That's a photo taken the first day we brought her home, Denise. In the home she had no blankets, as she'd tear them up. Once she came back to us, she never tore one :)
    Have a scout round - there's plenty more pics of Missy on here :)
    Pat xxd

  9. I am so glad to be reading and sharing this blog! My creative side flourishes and I feel inspired by most of my customers. If I start to feel cranky with any of them, I take that as a warning sign that I am letting them define who I am or how much I should give. One must set boundaries. But if I create only for me and do only what I like, I lose more than sales; I give up the shared joy of having someone tell me, "DJ,I have having an awful day before I got your package! I love it!" The interaction enhances the online experience for me. I did not so much enjoy doing live arts and craft shows; however, many people do. I am not sure where you are located, but I am in Chicago and find Paypal and its online shipping charts and features a huge plus. I started shipping within the US until I became more confident, then gradually included other countries. I have had very reliable shipping experiences within the US; fewer than 1% of packages are delayed, lost or damaged and in that group, they are usually merely delayed. I have had wonderful transactions with the US, UK, Canada, Australia, etc. I did delete Hong Kong from my list and would prefer not to elaborate.

  10. thanks dj xx
    Its a tough one for me, because I love dogs and have painted quite a few for others - and I know the reactions that tell me just how much they love the painting they have received. I guess a part of me is scared of being pigeon holed into only painting dogs, when there is so much more in me - and only so much time. I will never give up my day job. I went part time only to enhance my quality of life and I am so scared of being on a treadmill again - which I could almost see dog portraits becoming.
    Boundaries - you said it - and that's what I need to learn to do!
    I'm in the UK, dj, though I am sure our mail service can come up with an insured, signed for delivery. I need to go ask!
    You are right again, I would miss the "Pat, I'm crying, but its a good cry" reaction.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. You are helping me define what I want to do! Very much appreciated xx

  11. Hun, only you can decide
    My 2p's worth
    If you dont NEED to paint for your living then it shouldnt become a grind, you dont even have to do commisions - although you are amazing at them!
    As for marketing, you are already doing it, you have something great here, someone can buy something that they have seen and loved stage by stage infront of them in this blog.
    How I see it is if I can sell things I have made then it gives me more room to make more.
    I dont think I will ever make a living out of it but it can make my life a little easier, it can pay for me to buy more supplies to make more fuzzies.
    Only you can decide but you can also decide how much of a commercial artist you want to be, it dosent have to be a production line

    - and no matter what you do you will always get the 'good cry' reaction, you get that because your work is so amazing

  12. Thanks Pam - you talk a lot of sense.
    I guess a part of me was worried I would become a production line - and I was forgetting I can always say "whoa!"

    Thanks too for the compliment on my art. I'm honoured you think its amazing :)


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