Home Page
Paul McMillan Paintings

 BLOG
   
 

 What does it take to be a professional artist ?:

1. First you will need endless patience.
 
2. The ability to draw (It helps if you have the native ability to draw, if not call your self a "Contemporary" artist, vacuum package yourself into an installation. Place it and yourself in the middle of the floor right in front of artists who devote themselves and their careers to making traditional art and call it an installation and all will sing your praises.)
 
3. Several thousand dollars worth of brushes and pigment.
 
4. Enough storage crates (30 at least) to hold all the unsold paintings (100 paintings minimum) (crate cost at about $100 each)
 
5. Enough room in your studio or home to store all the crates. Leave room to paint!
 
6. Studio work space (this is where you will spend most of your awakened time, it's called working)
 
7. Electricity (keep bill paid)
 
8. Heating for Studio (keep bill paid) (Note: global warming is good for artists heating bills but air conditioning bills may increase soon)
 
9. A full but separate set of studio artists work clothes with paint all over them. Looking the part is more important than being good especially if you want to be a "contemporary artist." (recycled clothes won't do, so plan on spending, say $400. as a minimum including shoes with paint spatter)
 
10. A reliable pick-up with camper shell to haul paintings back and forth. ($10,000. minimum)
 
11. Computer that works, ($1,200.) (I spent $1,500. as a minimum and it was outdated as I made the purchase)
 
12. Take time out of your painting career to learn how to use it (computer) and all the software required (what's your time worth?)
 
13. Photoshop ($300 min)
 
14. Email program
 
15. Database program to keep track of clients and rejected paintings, ($350.)
 
16. A high dollar digital camera (I spent $1,500. as a minimum and it was outdated as I made the purchase)
 
17. Your own Website w/blog (like this one) Adobe Website making program at $250.
 
18. Godaddy web hosting account (setup fees and listing with email account ($200 for set-up and domain registration, plus monthly fees for hosting) Please note that Verison will charge an extra $50. monthly just for the privelege of you having and sending e-mail with your ".Com" domain name.
 
19. Cell phone with GPS so you can find the delivery location of the art show and find your way back to the studio ($50 monthly)
 
20. find the money to be a member of 6 or 8 art organizations which won't send art show listings and criteria with out membership, ($300 to $600 a year.
 
21. Sideline $300 -$500 a year as membership dues just to be considered into various Art Centers and Museum gift shops only be turned down (not juried or judged-in), or what ever it is called that is your denial slip (rejection) after giving money to be a member in order to be considered and then be turned down. In this situation it would be better to just make a donation, save yourself the time and trouble of entry, taking work for consideration, getting turned down, collecting all the submitted work and driving back to the studio, putting all the works back in inventory. This kind of become a member just to be juried in / turned down in the process is like a bad marriage where it would be better and simpler to just find someone who you don't like or love (you know, find some who doesn't love or like you either) and buy them a house and a car before anything else gets consummated in this affair. If you find a members organization which is supportive throughout its member driven organization then celebrate your artistic Brothers and Sisters with love and support for all members and the diverse spirited human expressions to which they have to offer.
 
22. Budget yourself a $1,000. yearly, or so for show entries, to which only half or less you might actually get juried into,
 
23. Be prepared to pay 50% commission on any sale/sales which might be made.
 
24. Make sure that your will does not burden your family or friends, or even the state with a bunch of worthless artworks which must be disposed of. If you couldn't sell it yourself then don't expect the heirs of your estate to sell it either. I have read articles in the news paper where artists have died and left a whopping amount of paintings to be dealt with after the unfortunate demise of the artist. VanGough is one of those nasty artists who did this very thing to the world and look at how we are now in servitude to his work (3,400 paintings and counting).
 
25. Be willing to work for months, even years with out income from the art you produce.
 
26. Get a sales tax number and pay all taxes due whether any sales are made or not.
 
27. I forgot you will need Adobe Lightroom and PageMaker or the equivelant ($700.)
 
28. Computer program updates $300 a year at least
 
29. Health insurance (250-1,000 monthly depending on health)
 
30. Time to develop and deploy a marketing program strategy
 
31. Make sure the art organization/s you belong to is/are a paid member of an organization that has and allows show space. Then wait many months to make membership application. If accepted, pay dues, wait many more months and then pay additional entry fees whether you get juried in or out of the show submission, wait (hold the artwork) many more months until the beginning of the show, pay commissions if there is a sale. Deduct all expenses from sales after membership/entry fees/ cost of materials/ paint supples etc/framing and transportation costs. Don't forget to balance your check book after all is said and done.
---lets take a (10,000. dollar retail price for a painting and see how the math works out for an exhibit which has a 50% commission.
---I takes 2 months labor to complete this trompe loil 36 x 48 inch masterpiece of a painting:
---Canvas/panel $400.
---paint supplies $300.
---Gold leaf museum quality frame $500. minimum
---Crate to store and or ship $200.
---Cost of Studio and utilities for 2 months $2000. (personal expenses not included such as food, car payments insurance, health insurance and membershiop dues, etc.)
---Your time (I call it labor) involved over the two months getting supplies, making panel and prepairing it, Researching the subject, making the actual painting itself from start to finish.
All that (above) adds up to $3,400. in monitary cost not including your labor (time = heartbeats)
NOW lets enter that masterpiece in a juried show and if you are lucky enough to be juried in by a Judge who has never created a Trompe loil painting and then if some one buys the artwork then the gallery will deduct the now standard 50% sales commision from the selling price (sales taxes not figured in this @ 7-8% additional)
---So here below is the math for the Painting sale @ $10,000.
---Now deduct $5,000 for the gallery commision and you get $5,000 as your part ( to the artist),
---Now lets deduct the artists expenses from the artists part of the sale, Lets see that would be $5,000. minus (-) 3,400. for material costs and studio expenses.
AND THE FINAL FIGURE TO THE ARTIST for all their time, labor and out of pocket expenses is a whopping $1,600. Not bad for creating a masterpiece work of art. (what does a plumber make, they are an example of a professional making a fair? wage) Any professional artist (or comparable profession) should be pleased (exstatic) to make $1,600. for two months labor after expenses for all of the above. Remember prostitution is possibly the only occupation older than painting, but selling your self may be the commanality thereto as a close second. Maybe an artist should learn to turn out paintings like flap-jacks but I don't think they would be Trompe loil masterpieces, but none the less that's how the almighty dollar shakes out of the bottom of the trickle down economics for a professional artist providing a 36 by 48 inch trompe loil masterpiece at a price of $10,000. to a show or gallery having a 50% commission. Do you know any rich artists? I have read several accounts that Rembrandt only had one suit of clothes at this death and only a sole Jewish person came to his burial because he heard that Rembrandt was someone worth knowing.
 
32. Don't forget how important subject matter is, so allow yourself plenty of time to fully study your subject.
 
33. Get a degree in fine art $50,000. yearly at your local home town University ($200,000.) for four year program.
 
34. Fix you house up so it will not drop in value. (This is called an investment)
 
35. Talk publicly (You want people to hear you) about your IRA and Roth Account even if you don't have one.
 
36. Hire a CPA ($600.) to figure out all the complex tax issues for an artist such as Federal Tax, State Tax, Sales taxes, detailed itemized deductions and if you are a sole proprietor like me then you won't mind dropping all your spring art shows so you can assimilate all the tax info prior to applying for an extension. Now you can get back to painting again,,
 
37. Keep full and current records so that you can apply for Government health care that doesn't exist as of yet but requires full participation under threat of penalty of federal fine if you don't sign-up even though Pennsylvania is not a part of the program as of mid 2014.
 
36. Take any spare money left over at the end of the year and buy stock (a share or two in a VanGough or maybe a dusty old Rembrandt) in a dead painters artwork. Buy a Warhol from Southby as an investment. What ever you do don't buy a living artists work because that might be a risky investment no matter the joy and spiritual sustenance received from having and viewing the work. Always remember that an investment in heart and spirit is not as important as investing in art from a dead painters work that will increase in value in your lifetime.
 
37. Learn about the art market by visiting galleries and museums which have plenty of dead painters to choose from. Most successful galleries these days have a full compliment of auction pieces from estates desperate to get rid of the burden of possessing such works.
 
38. Make lasting and durable work that will at least outlive the artist their self. Don't cheat the aftermarket out of the opportunity of selling your work once you are gone, make them last for several centuries after your gone. Take care and invest in your future even if your not here to benefit from your own labors and spirited impartation upon the surface of a two dimensional image (painting?)
 
38. Take the time to study and learn technique and practices that have time proven materials and execution that causes paintings to last for centuries. (couple years study on this subject might do)
 
39. Take the time to make paintings that will last for years (I've been painting for 51 years and am just getting half way good at it) so don't be intimidated by the thousands of great artists who have risen above the minimum requirements and learned to do great work. Don't pick an easily achievable path if you expect to be a great painter.
 
40. If your unwilling or unable to do great work then find another path that is easier to achieve. Remember a "contemporary" artist is a living artist until you walk out your front door, then a Contemporary artist is a style (post-war modernism) that now with much adue claims the better part of our modern Art World in the showing arena. In this world of so-called contemporary art I just don't see much realism, so the need to be able to draw and paint with profound greatness of skill and accuracy is not the prerequisite here speaking generally. Don't forget shock value and sensation as an out right medium in this genre.
 
41.When reading Submissions to art exhibits and contests please remember that if the show promoters don't lay out all criteria in full detail then the show is probably not actually credible. This is where the locals almost always rein if and when fairness is not the real point in a juried show.
 
42. Take part-time work or full time employment to pay for your art expenses, mortgage payments, car payments, utilities, insurance, unpaid medical co-pay. Don't forget to make time for caretaking of elderly parents and dependants (studio dogs included)
 
43. Be prepared to be swept away by this wonderful world we live in and as an artist simply drop all of the above at will and just turn to your subject and paint for days, weeks and even years. Go into complete denial about the "real" world if necessary to be with your artistic spirit.
 
44. Above all else try to do great work regardless of the style or genre you work in.

 Home Page