Professional Artistic Advice from Oil Painter Richard Young

Richard Young is an oil painter based in North Devon, UK. Before returning to commercial art several years ago, Richard spent quite some time working as a consultant with various international design consulting companies, many of which were based in the Middle East.

Below, you will find Richard's insights on having work found, building a positive reputation, earning an income as an artist, selling prints, finding representation, exhibiting art, setting and displaying prices, and making it as a full time artist.

How do most people discover your work?

Richard YoungMost visits to my website and most of the feedback I receive seems to come from people searching for dance images and artwork on search engines. I also get a lot of publicity via Facebook and print-on-demand websites.

What have you done to distinguish yourself as an artist and build a good reputation?

I have tried to create an informative website, though since my host upgraded their software, I have noticed that some of the formatting has gone a little astray. I’ve just purchased a license to Dreamweaver software so that I can create a new website. For my artwork, I have tried to adhere to high standards and maintain a consistent, recognisable style and theme.

Does the majority of your income come from the sale of original pieces, print sales, merchandise sales through external online shops, or commissions?

Most of my income comes through originals by far, though I do have a consistent revenue coming from print sales on print-on-demand websites and several galleries that stock prints. I also routinely sell prints directly to customers who approach me via my website. I rarely undertake commissions of late as I am usually so busy working towards exhibitions.

Which online store on which you maintain a presence (Redbubble, DeviantART, and Fine Art America) has yielded the most sales? Which has yielded the most income?

Fine Art America accounts for around 50% of my print on demand sales and revenue, with Redbubble, DeviantART, Zazzle and Artist Rising accounting for the rest.

What advice would you give to other artists who do not know whether (or how) to seek representation by agents, galleries, or publishers?

Whether or not to seek representation depends upon whether an artist wishes to increase revenue and public awareness, though doing so is very time consuming in comparison to the rewards. As to how to go about it, there are many books and online marketing guides for this, which are generally consistent in their advice. For an artist who is unsure, it’s always best to seek a little advice from a friend or to do some research so as not to waste a lot of effort.

How important are exhibitions when it comes to the sale of original art?

They are extremely important as many people are nervous taking the risk of purchasing an original without first seeing it. Also, an exhibition usually exposes your work a good target audience over a short and definite period of time. During this period, their reaction can more easily be monitored. Galleries, by comparison, can be very reluctant to try new artists.

How have you determined the prices you set for your work, and why have you chosen to publicly display them on your website?

My prices are determined mostly by the time taken to create a piece. I use a target hourly rate and also account for overhead. I display prices, occasionally against the advice of galleries and agents, to be fair and open to anyone who may be interested.

How feasible would it be for an artist today to make a full time living exclusively through art sales? Is it rare to be able to make a career as an artist? Do you know many colleagues who do it?

From my experience to date, I think that only a small percentage of artists make a good living from exclusive art sales. Lots make a basic existence and have to subsidise it with additional sources of income. I have several artist friends who are in the middle, along with myself!

What starting points would you recommend to a fledgling artist who is adamant about making a full time career of it?

Spend a lot of time doing marketing- at least the same amount of time as spent creating art- and persevere. Art success is all about luck, and the more effort you put in, the luckier you will be!