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There are four real reasons why people buy paintings

  • investment, something to re-sell in 5 years for x2
  • heirloom painting, love-and-leave-it-to kids
  • souvenir, memento for a great tourist experience
  • decorative painting, which would look great next to the fridge

Unsurprisingly, the last reason is not exactly the favorite of most artists I know. There’s just something so off-putting in being asked “Although I like how you poured your soul over that canvas! Now, do you have something just like that but… purple?”

And yet, statistically, if you are an artist and are less than well established, people probably won’t buy your painting as an investment or for leaving an heirloom to their kids since the market value is not likely to be much unless you make it big in the meantime, which is a gamble.

So they either buy because they happen to really like it, which unfortunately is not something that you can predict or prepare for, OR because they are redecorating a home or office.

And even if you are not an artist, there’s probably a category of clients that you dislike. It pays to be brutally honest about who they are and the reasons they actually want your service, and adjust your expectations accordingly. It may not always be glorious, but it pays the bills. Sometimes the best we can do is, “paint something purple”, get funding for the real mission, and get better work next time.

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