Ryan James


Should art be free?


 As I wrap up another few of the smaller paintings I've done this week I am feeling so much better about my pricing structure and clearer on the distinction between what is my personal art and what is commissioned pieces. But I have to admit that even now I get a little flustered when it comes to asking for money for my work. Especially my art. With my day job I have no qualms about asking clients to pay up but for my paintings, for the art I went to college and University for, no, I sweat and feel strange. It's all down to value. How much do you value a piece of work you've done? For me that value changes as I grow and learn and express in different ways but when it comes to money I am seeing now just how hard I have been on myself in the past. My small city has a strange relationship with art. I have very much experienced the mindset of, “If you make it yourself then it should be cheaper than store bought.” rather than, “This is your blood, sweat and tears please let me pay you what it's worth.”. And I guess growing up in that mindset has led to me for years not feeling like I have the right to ask for money for what I do creatively.


( acrylic on canvas £40 )


When I was gigging often the idea of being paid for a gig was something of a Unicorn in terms of how often you thought about it and how often it happened. You considered yourself lucky if you broke even. I have definitely carried a part of that into my paintings and it's something that I am getting rid of as I go along. I think it's about confidence and clarity when it comes to what you produce. I truly believe that there is an audience for what you create and your only job is to put it out there so that your work can be found by those who have the most need of it. But there is always going to be that point when you come up against the idea that what you make isn't valuable. And trust me if someone can get something out of you for free they will! It will be good for your portfolio, it will be good exposure and my personal favourite, it will raise your profile is all a bunch of bull. It really doesn't work. When artists give out their work for free you can't then sit back and be surprised if people don't value it, because you haven't valued it. I know some people might try and take it any way, downloads and ripping songs off youtube and all that stuff is rife these days but the people that are going to do that aren't your target market any way. Find the people who want to invest in your art. Find the people who want to invest in you as an artist. They are out there and slowly but surely I am beginning to meet them.


( Acrylic on canvas £40 )


Market mentality. That is what my research seems to be bring me back to time and time again. Just like my other business, word of mouth is what ultimately will get your art into the hands of those who love it. This is where you will find out who your friends are what their attitudes are to art in general. I am quite blessed with many good friends and some of them, even though they aren't in the remotest bit interested in art will share my work because they understand the nature of small business'. Get your friends to share your art. Ask them. Hound them! Find new and interesting ways to get your work out there but always treat it like a business. I am learning that now and I am learning how important it is to treat it that way. If I don't then how can I expect anyone else to.



Thank you for listening,



Big Love,



Ryan James




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