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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 05:00 AM   #16
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Paso Robles, CA
Posts: 17
Originally Posted by Dylan Couper View Post
Thomas, you have a noble spirit, and I'd agree with you in theory... but the practical world is a much different place.

First: Excluding the time of the visionary...
Creating a painting costs about $5-$50.

With all due respect, my fiance is a professional artist. Your figure is tremendously misinformed. While it's still no comparison to the costs making a feature length film, painting follows a similar pre-production, production, post, and distribution cycle that mirrors film.

Canvas alone costs $50 - $200+, depending on the size and if you buy pre-stretched or are willing to assemble the frame and stretch your own, which is slightly cheaper per square inch.

The little $10 canvases you see in Michaels or Aaron Brothers are no more usable for professional work than shooting a movie on a $100 camcorder would be.

Decent oil paint averages $12-$80+ per tube, and you need one tube for every color in your painting, and they're consumables. Brushes are ~$15 each, depending on size, and you must also purchase a gesso ($20 a bucket) to prime the canvas. You will also require paint thinner, linseed oil, various other mediums to thin or thicken or gloss or matte the paint, an easel or other canvas support, and both clothes and a work space that can afford to get ruined (oil paint is VERY permanent).

There are sometimes costs involved in choosing a subject, whether it's paying a model or securing the rights to to paint a recognizable subject or landmark.

Ignoring the artist's time (several days to months, depending on the work, oil paint dries very slowly and must be applied in layers), my fiance invests an average of $150-$200 in materials per painting for a work approximately 3' x 4' in size. However, based on the following, discounting an artist's time invested is about as fair as looking at a $5000 5-minute short film and discounting the three to six months it took to make.

Once the painting is completed (and dry, and varnished, and scanned for reproduction and archiving), then there's still the matter of distribution. An artist can put a painting in a gallery about as easily as your average film maker can put their movie in a theater. And, even if you do get gallery distribution, galleries charge a 50% commission on any work they sell. The number of professional artists in galleries is probably similar to the number of SAG members making money - for every A list star making $20m a picture (artists in galleries), there are thousands waiting tables, struggling to get jobs at scale (everyone else).

If you're not in a gallery (and most working artists are not), your options are local exhibitions, the internet, or art festivals. Marni (my fiance) personally maintains 5+ different web sites, including her myspace (a promotional tool that has led to sales), her own website, a page on etsy (an online marketplace for handmade goods) and several different art sites. She has her art exhibiting at several locations, which all take commissions ranging from 30-50% (mostly winery tasting rooms, we live in Sideways country), which require time spent showing her portfolio, building relationships and introductions, and preparing contracts (you don't leave thousands of dollars worth of work somewhere without a carefully drawn up contract). Finally, she tours 30 weekends a year at art festivals (which require entry fees averaging $600 or so, plus thousands in specialized equipment for transport and display - the tent alone was $2600).

In the last year, we've invested over $30,000 in materials, equipment, and fees. Add to that thousands of hours of labor for production, promotion, and distribution. Marni's work sells well, but unlike a successful film which can make millions, paintings (excluding the work by the top 1% of artists like Damien Hearst and Jeff Koons) generally sell for $500 to $10,000 each, and very very few in the upper end of that price range sell without a commission (usually 50%) being extracted.

The majority of her paintings sell in the $1200-$5000 range, and she sells an average of one or two paintings a month. She supplements this income by selling limited- and open-edition prints and giclees in several sizes ($20 - $400), as well as greeting cards ($5) and hand made necklaces ($20) bearing images of her paintings.

I'm not contradicting the main point of your post - film IS more expensive than painting. However, painting requires a tremendous investment of time and money. You could no more make a real painting for $50 than you could make a real movie for $500.


PS - if after all that, you're curious about her work, you can find it at and Etsy :: mutrux :: Marni Mutrux Studio

Last edited by Jeff Koenig; August 23rd, 2008 at 05:04 AM. Reason: fixed a link
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