Eli Halpin ~ BLOG

Advice for Dads

My Dad asked me if I would be interested in mentoring his friend's kid. The guy has a 12 year old daughter, he said, and he would fly his daughter to Austin so she could live me for a summer and see how its done. She wants to be an artist so maybe that would help? Sure, I told him, tell him its $5000 for a month and that includes living expenses and art supplies. My Dad gave me his predictable scoff and shook his head, telling me that wouldn't happen so just forget about it.

It is so funny because I get SO many requests for advice on how to sell paintings that I could put my advice into a book. Actually a better book would be about my experiences giving the advice and the frustrating things that the advice seekers actually did with my advice. But here's a blog post about it instead. And this one is dedicated to advice for dad's who have young daughter artists.

Sending your kid off to an established artist residence to watch how its done seems irrelevant, because I wouldn't advise anyone just starting out selling their art to live like me. In a nutshell, the way I live and work now was earned. I worked for it and established my sweet little life over a 20 year time period starting when I was 17. To skip all the steps I went through and jump ahead to what I do now would be dumb. To sell paintings you have to build a following of people who want to buy them. Period. If you think you can fire up a website and search for Facebook fans and rely on print on demand companies to make a living, sure I guess you could squeak by. But if you want to thrive, then do it the right way: work for it. Put your paintings in public! Make paintings and put them up in coffee shops in an appropriate city that is into that sort of thing. Not a super small town, not craft shows, not just on your website...... put them in public. Yes physically carry them there and bring a hammer and nails. Take the bus if you have to, that's what I did. Move to Portland Oregon. Portland is the perfect city for selling paintings. It's a concentration of people who want to support the arts with their money. After you gather up all the people THEN you can go hide away online, in that order.

Here's more advice for Dad's: Don't give your kids any money, don't buy them any food and don't buy them any clothes. Don't give them a place to live, don't dont' dont. And don't encourage a college degree. College is wonderful and necessary for selling paintings, I believe, but the degree part.... meh. I took business classes, painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, welding, glass blowing, I just took took took whatever I wanted. Then I took more classes. And I paid for them myself. I also sweated away in a restaurant bussing tables and eventually working my way up the restaurant ladder to serving. I can tell you for absolute sure that if my parents paid for my life I would have been lazy. There is no way in heck I would pick up dirty bandaids and lipstick marked water glasses if I didn't have to. And I'm glad I had to because it helped me to survive. If your daughter can't figure out how to come up with money, live with roomates and buy her own toothpaste then just forget about everything else. She wouldn't be able to figure out how to make a painting and sell it. So start with the basics. And give them hugs. Hugs are awesome.

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