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Painted Portrait - Hobby or Money Maker?

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Old 05-19-2007, 10:16 PM
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Photomaster Photomaster is offline
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Re: Painted Portrait - Hobby or Money Maker?

Traveler wrote:
What did you actually think of the suggestions?
I agree that the alterations to the man's cheek and the woman's teeth make the portrait look better. However in a photo realistic portrait, like this one, I would consult with the client before changing physical characteristics. In a more abstract portrait, like Jeremy Sutton's style, it would not be as much of an issue.
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Old 05-22-2007, 03:05 PM
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DannyRaphael DannyRaphael is offline
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Re: Painted Portrait - Hobby or Money Maker?

Interesting info here. (testimonials from students of Karen Sperling)

"Selling Painted Portraits: Fact or Fiction. Is anyone really selling Painter portraits?"

Note: PDF format -
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Old 10-06-2010, 10:49 AM
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Re: Painted Portrait - Hobby or Money Maker?

At the risk of being a party pooper, I need to chime in here. First, Sperling has a vested interest in convincing people that there is a market out there, so she can sell her training materials and workshops. Cynical? Perhaps, but I don't think so. I see a lots of teachers and workshops out there, but not a whole lot of people selling their work.

My own experience: from July 2004 to July 2010, I targeted professional photographers. I used Constant Contact to send out "newsletters" (promotional emails) once a month to several hundred interested subscribers. Also, of course, a website. Managed to get the interest of Professional Photographer, which did an article in August 2007 about my relationship with a high end photographer. Since 2008 I've written a weekly blog containing mostly tutorials, as a way to build credibility and get the word out. I get 1000 visitors a day, 30,000 a month.

That high end photographer is now bankrupt and closing his doors, after 30 years. Since 2007, my workload has dropped to nearly nothing, and it is not picking back up. I believe that many photographers, who were barely hanging on doing the business-as-usual seniors-babies-families-weddings got knocked out by a two-fisted punch: amateurs with incredible new cameras, and the Recession.

Anyway, the point is that I worked full-time at this for 6 years, figuring that the best market for a digital painter is professional photographers. Especially the high-end ones.

From what I've seen, it's photographers that do the Painter work themselves (or have a staff doing it) who are making good money from this. No one else. When the photographer sees the Painter work as part of their own oeuvre, when it's what they do, then they market it and sell it. I created wall samples for 70 or more studios, and most of those never resulted in work.

I did presentations to photography associations, explaining how much money could be made by paying me a few hundred dollars, while they could then charge thousands. They seemed to get it, but were too mired in the old way of doing things to make the change, to upgrade their line.

Now I paint full time, for myself, and do a few jobs a month from old clients. I am concentrating on developing my skills, to become the best artist I can be. Perhaps that will lead to illustration gigs or print sales, book covers, who knows. But my wife and I (she supports me, obviously) have decided that my art is important, and worth developing. Money is no longer in the equation. I guess that makes me a hobbyist. That's fine. I am a happy hobbyist now, now that I am no longer trying to convince people to use my services.

My business website is still up, if you'd like to see the kind of work I was doing.

I'd be interested to hear other's reactions to this story, and hear their stories as well. Surely someone else has been trying to make money from Painter besides me? I'd like to hear from you.
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Old 10-06-2010, 12:47 PM
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Re: Painted Portrait - Hobby or Money Maker?

Bob, thanks for the information. Great post and great insight
from your personal experiences.

The economic melt down has effected most of us and is probably
the bigger of the 2 fisted punches you speak of.

Checked out your website and like your work!
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Old 10-06-2010, 12:55 PM
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Re: Painted Portrait - Hobby or Money Maker?

Thanks, aartist. I agree it's mostly the Recession, but it just accelerated a change that was happening anyway.

I'd like to add something about portraiture. Before Painter, I was a traditional artist, working in watercolor and colored pencil. My work was in American Artist. Once.

Anyway, I tried, at that time, to build a portraiture business while continuing to hold my day job in IT. The prevailing wisdom is that you build a portraiture business primarily through word of mouth. Referrals. So I tried entering charity auctions to start building a network of "referrers." It didn't work for me, even with years of trying. Perhaps I wasn't very good at colored pencil portraits. I think my Painter work is much better.

Other people, however, HAVE built a nice portrait business for themselves (see the books by Ann Kullberg, for instance). If you're a sociable, networking type, it may work for you. It's important that I give you the whole picture: I'm not that way at all. If you are, your mileage may vary considerably. Good luck to all the aspiring portraitists!
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Old 12-06-2010, 04:36 AM
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shanegoldberg shanegoldberg is offline
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Re: Painted Portrait - Hobby or Money Maker?

@Bob Nolin nice work mate! Love the Gladiator pic. you've done well
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Old 12-06-2010, 10:40 AM
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Bob Nolin Bob Nolin is offline
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Re: Painted Portrait - Hobby or Money Maker?

Thanks, Shane! (and it's Robin Hood, btw, not Gladiator, but Russell Crowe in either case )

Quick update, the site you visited is my new portfolio on Krop, which is a terrific place to host your work, I think. Very professional, and it is also a job posting site, where employers/clients come looking for talent. It's not free, but I think 10 bucks a month is worth what they're offering.

Note to admins here: you might want to block Google Ads from, since they're one of the biggest competitors for human beings who retouch by hand. Just a thought.
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