The top drawing is 30 x 40 cm, while the lower is 20 x 20 cm. Which took the longest?

One of my lovely blogging-artist friends was lamenting the other day on how some artists earn thousands of dollars for a piece of work that took so little time to create. She had a point, one that gets “up the noses” of a lot of artists, particularly those who slave over their work for weeks, even months and finally hang it in a gallery hoping for a sale.

I have the answer, pay artists a fixed hourly rate! Joy!!

The only problems will be agreeing on a rate and how you convince potential buyers that your work is worth the advertised price. I have been asked on ‘numerous’ occasions, “How long did it take you to do it?” If you stopped and added up the hours of preparation, cost of materials, travel and the time to actually paint, your “fee” would probably price your work out of the art market.

If plumbers, electricians etc. can do it, why can’t we?

Creating art is not about time or money it’s about one’s desire (need) to say something in visual terms. It’s a journey, therapy, an escape from the realities we face each day. Art priced by the hour is art without integrity. We paint because we love to, or we should. Artists who earn their living solely through their art are under tremendous pressure to produce for the market. If their own truly original work sells they are fortunate. Many artists are forced into a “commercial” form of their art. I wonder if they ever yearn to be truly themselves?

I don’t measure the success of a painting by the time I think it took the artist, I judge whether or not I deem the painting to be a success on its composition, technique, originality, presentation and its relationship to its title.

Good luck to anyone who can create a worthwhile painting in 20 minutes! To me that’s only a 20-minute journey. I prefer to take my time and smell the roses!


PS. The bottom drawing took the longest time to produce.


About artkleko

artist, art curator, art teacher, art judge, art critic
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  1. Gillian says:

    An interesting concept, Richard. I’m afraid these days the prices paid seem to be in direct relationship to the amount of self-publicity the artist can generate. Pickle half an animal in formaldehyde, call it art, generate a furore and then sit back and enjoy your new celebrity status!
    I agree, art is about more than time and money. To me, it’s priceless.

  2. Carolyn C. says:

    Hourly wages for all artists doesn’t work. First of all, what kind of artist are we talking about? As an illustrator, I work faster as I’ve become more experienced. So, I should be paid LESS than before because it takes me less time than it used to? Hardly. My experience is an
    attribute that increases my value as an artist.
    There is so much diversity in skill, experience, materials and the market for each area of endeavor is dependent on so many other considerations, location, demand, competition, appeal.
    For commercial artists there are published accepted pricing guidelines along with expected professional guidelines published and updated by the Artists Guild of NY. This information isn’t gospel, but functions as a guideline.
    Making a living as an artist is a virtuoso pursuit, not a factory job.
    I have known wonderfully artists who have made a very comfortable living as well as very talented people who do ok and/or struggle at times. I have also known far to many wanna be s with far more ambition than talent. Some have even received attention and made a living. But they often have a problem sustaining it all.
    Truth is, life can be very unfair, same applies to becoming an artist and
    these days things are even harder than usual.
    Its not a good job choice if your looking for guaranteed income and security.

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