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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan. 3, 2012
    Posts
    198

    Default Anyone out there make their living as an equine artist?

    ... and if so, do you have any tips for someone trying to get started?

    I paint and draw as a hobby and it's kind of a dream to actually make some money doing it. I've seen others out there who market their fine art oils to the horsey crowd or who do custom pet portraits in oil, pencil, or charcoal. I feel like the biggest challenges for myself would be the time commitment and making the right connections within the horse/art circles.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug. 28, 2007
    Location
    Triangle Area, NC
    Posts
    6,710

    Default

    You're best bet is to hit the big shows of all disciplines and pay to set up a vendor booth. The average horse person wanting portraits isn't going to galleries to shop for an artist. It's google, word of mouth, and show appearances.

    You can also donate portraits to charity auctions to help get your name out there. Ill warn you, the horse rescues I've donated to weren't very professional in how they handled their auctions. Best off donating to larger charities.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov. 15, 2006
    Location
    Lexington, Kentucky
    Posts
    3,292

    Default

    Petstorejunkie is right on about horse shows and donations. I myself do not have to make the house payment off my paintings (thankfully) but I do have friends that do. It's tough and takes some time, but doable.

    The art has to be good, but it truly is also 'who you know' as well. Great connections cannot be stressed enough. And in the end you have to love drawing/painting enough to keep at it no matter what, it's a lot like riding.

    Best of luck!
    We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.
    www.dleestudio.com



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan. 3, 2012
    Posts
    198

    Default

    Thanks for your replies. It's neat to hear from artists making a go of it. I think I am at a disadvantage living in a rural not-terribly-horsey area. The shows around here a bit pathetic. But the biggest challenge probably is finding the time without quitting my "day job."



  5. #5

    Default

    A website will be key to displaying your portfolio. If you know anyone who has web skills to help you, it is easy. Get a domain name from Godaddy (~$10/yr), search Godaddy coupon code and there is always something, get Unix hosting (Godaddy ~$7/month), do the wordpress install they offer, finally go here and buy a template for $55 or under:
    http://themeforest.net/
    You can have a professional website up and running in less than a day. Here is mine for ideas:
    http://www.kristinabrooks.net/
    I have a day job but try to fit in artwork when possible. Disclaimer, I work in web technologies full time, but anyone who can use basic software can do the above.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov. 15, 2006
    Location
    Lexington, Kentucky
    Posts
    3,292

    Default

    I just need to be a naysayer about GoDaddy. The guy is an ass. We moved all of our sites off of GoDaddy due to him personally and his advertising. There are a lot of great options now for sites that are cheap and easy.
    We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.
    www.dleestudio.com



  7. #7

    Default

    I just mentioned GoDaddy because they are cheap and setup is fast. I only use them for domains, I use a much smaller company for hosting, email and all other services. They know me by first name, however it is about double the cost of GoDaddy.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan. 3, 2012
    Posts
    198

    Default

    Thanks for your comments (and for sharing your websites). Web developer is one of my many job descriptions at my real job, so I should be able to do the website thing okay. We actually use Go Daddy as well but only for the domain names and everything else we do in house.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2011
    Posts
    69

    Default

    I technically have a business doing equine art, but being in school full-time and working part-time, it's a very SMALL part of my life. I'm usually always working on a commission- it's rare when I don't have something "going" (although right now is a dry spell.) I wish I had more time to devote to it- inspiration always hits when I'm most busy (of course!) However, I have a lot of equine artist friends who take their work more professionally than I do, so I have a decent grasp on the "industry."

    I've only ever received commissions by word-of-mouth. I've worked in barns and taken lessons in the past few years, and I've gotten to know a lot of horse people in my area. Instructors, bosses, boarders- when people find out I'm an artist, most express an interest in ordering something. Few actually do. I don't get offended- I know an equine portrait can be considered "luxurious" and a waste of money (and we're horse people- we want saddle pads and blankets. ) But I'm not afraid to do pictures as gifts for bosses and coworkers and friends. Often they show their friends, who find my website, who express interest, etc.

    Even my friends who take their work incredibly seriously (all-out advertising) have other jobs, as a safeguard, I think. If you want to do art full-time, you may have to ease into it until your financial profit is secure enough that you can risk letting go of another job. I wouldn't quit tomorrow and start painting (starving artist, anyone? ) I know you wouldn't do that

    I do have a website, a Facebook page, and a deviantART account. Social media has been great for spreading my name, especially the Facebook page (almost 700 people saw the picture I posted of my last commission, and only about 50 people "like" my page. It spread fast! That is CRAZY!) So be willing to market yourself. Self-promotion feels really weird at first, especially if you have insecurities about yourself (i.e. tying your value as a person to your performance and perception as an artist... stuff like that.)

    That said, it is a commission-based business. Even creating artwork that's your own and selling it privately is commission-based because clients don't "need" artwork. It's unfortunately become a luxury that's often cut out in the budgeting process. Especially economically right now, a lot of equine artists have suffered. Horse people will always put their horse first, and if that means paying for a fly mask over a drawing, then that's what will happen. Realistically, that sucks (not for the horse , for the artist!) If you can get your name out there and get to know potential clients personally, you have a greater foot in the door. Go to shows, talk to people, etc.

    I'm currently in school as a Philosophy major (because I pretty much lacked all direction my freshman year) but I hope to transfer to a state university in the Fall and start a Graphic Design major. It took me awhile to realize I want to do (some form of) art as a career- I fought it for awhile, believed I was forfeiting my intellect to spend my time painting ponies. But two years as a Philosophy major with severely limited time for creating things made me see how much I miss it. Your passion does that, it always seems to sneak back around.

    If it's a dream, I'd say go for it. But no path to any dream was paved with butterflies and magic. You have to work your butt off and find your passion in the midst of that. Complicated, yes, but worth it, I'd say.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan. 10, 2008
    Location
    Western NY
    Posts
    5,871

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PaintedMare View Post
    I've only ever received commissions by word-of-mouth. I've worked in barns and taken lessons in the past few years, and I've gotten to know a lot of horse people in my area. Instructors, bosses, boarders- when people find out I'm an artist, most express an interest in ordering something. Few actually do. I don't get offended- I know an equine portrait can be considered "luxurious" and a waste of money (and we're horse people- we want saddle pads and blankets. ) But I'm not afraid to do pictures as gifts for bosses and coworkers and friends. Often they show their friends, who find my website, who express interest, etc.
    Agree totally on this. I'm also new to doing portraits, but began getting commissions after doing portraits as gifts for friends. I did one as a gift for my trainer who has since ordered two portraits from me; she shared the pics with other people at the barn who have ordered or are planning commissions from me; they've shared pics on Facebook and their friends have "liked" my page... so doing stuff for free or cheap at first is a good way to get more experience and get your name out.

    I would love it if I could live off of doing portraits, because it's really fun for me--but I don't see that as a practical possibility for me. I don't have any real training in art, and I don't do anything particularly unique or special--I just like doing realistic portraits. But it's a nice side business that I enjoy.
    "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

    Graphite/Pastel Portraits



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar. 30, 2013
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    84

    Default

    I'm in high school and I'm going to art school in the fall, one thing my instructors have always said is draw a lot in a sketchbook in your spare time. Also, to set yourself off from others, find your style. Don't worry, it develops naturally! I didn't know I had one yet (which made me nervous) until my teacher said that she could see it. It basically is that if someone took (in this case) five portraits of the same horse done by five different artists (one of them being you) they would be able to see and single out which one is yours just by looking.

    Don't quit your day job until you've got either a steady stream of commissions or your paintings are selling well, but other than that, you're perfect! As long as you're motivated.

    I technically have a business doing equine art, but being in school full-time and working part-time, it's a very SMALL part of my life. I'm usually always working on a commission- it's rare when I don't have something "going" (although right now is a dry spell.) I wish I had more time to devote to it- inspiration always hits when I'm most busy (of course!) However, I have a lot of equine artist friends who take their work more professionally than I do, so I have a decent grasp on the "industry."
    I know the "inspiration hits when you're busy" thing! Write that inspired idea on a piece of paper or in a sketchbook so you have it for those dry spells. I never used to do that and then I would curse myself later for forgetting what it was
    Of the heart-aching, hard-working, hope-having, horse-loving and horse-less variety. We are a sad species indeed.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    May. 3, 2007
    Location
    Flagstaff, Arizona
    Posts
    1,330

    Default

    “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers,” said Dorothy Parker, “the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.

    If you are not passionate about having a career as an artist, keep it a hobby.

    I am not saying that you shouldn't sell your work and promote yourself as an artist, I'm saying it's serious and hard work.

    Do I love it? Absolutely. Would I have a steadier and more reliable income if I did something else? Probably.

    It is expensive to create artwork with archival materials. It's expensive to frame artwork. Producing quality prints is expensive. Show fees are not cheap, and there travel and hotel costs.

    Be realistic about what you what you are will to put into it and what you expect out of it.
    Last edited by ctanner; Apr. 4, 2013 at 12:33 PM. Reason: spelling
    www.ctannerjensen.com
    http://ctannerjensen.blogspot.com/
    Equine Art capturing the essence of the grace,strength, and beauty of the Sport Horse."


    1 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun. 7, 2006
    Posts
    8,654

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SarahandSam View Post
    I would love it if I could live off of doing portraits, because it's really fun for me--but I don't see that as a practical possibility for me. I don't have any real training in art, and I don't do anything particularly unique or special--I just like doing realistic portraits. But it's a nice side business that I enjoy.
    Portraits that are realistic and look like they were drawn with a little feel actually ARE unique and special.

    Personally I think your work is pro quality, and with more than just a tenuous foothold. Notably better than several pros I can think of.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan. 10, 2008
    Location
    Western NY
    Posts
    5,871

    Default

    Thanks Meup. (:
    "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

    Graphite/Pastel Portraits



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