Thursday, April 24, 2014

I'm baaaaack with Paintographs!!

Paintograph. Click on the picture to download the high-res file.

 It's been a long time! I won't go into all the details about why this blog went into hibernation but it involved the death of someone close to me and very healthy dose of personal re-evaluation and reflection.
 After pretty much a lifetime of writing for magazines, newspapers, myself and large corporations - and millions of words later - I one day awoke to the harsh realization: I was sick of it.
 I was tired of the bullshit, stress and constant hustling that goes with trying to earn a living in the business.
 What I wanted was to become involved in creative projects that made people happy. I know writing is considered creative - if you are a bestselling author - but few are, and for the rest of us, it's a daily grind to churning out copy matching client briefs and then to going through the arduous process of getting paid for our labours.


 A change in direction was in order. Photography is something I have known, loved and done professionally for some 40 years but nowadays it's an industry populated by millions of "weekend warriors" who are happy to work for a pittance or even give away their work.
 There is always someone with a DSLR camera who is happy to work for less and I'm getting too old and cranky to put up with that crap.
 I few years ago I tried my hand at painting and, much to my surprise, I sold quite a few pieces. Not enough to make a living, but certainly encouraging. I also discovered painting gave me immense pleasure and satisfaction.
 In my ponderings, I knew I wanted to somehow be involved in painting but here's the background:

 I am based in South Africa, which is pretty much off the world's radar. We are far from Europe, Asia, the US and Australia, where all the markets are. Selling physical artworks overseas (unless you are playing in the big-name leagues), is pretty much a "no-go" because postage and insurance can end up being more than the cost of the article itself. There is also, I believe, a justified fear many buyers have that their money will disappear into some dark hole at the bottom of Africa and they'll never get the goods.
 But I needed to broaden my market with international sales but the problems listed above, seemed to preclude this.

So what's a man to do? 

 Long story short, I became involved in digitally painting fine art photographs where the final paintograph, when printed on canvas, pretty well looks like an original oil. The initial process can be time-consuming but once done I have a high-res digital file from which I can make any number of copies. Naturally, this allows me to sell the physical product at ridiculously low prices. It also allows me to sell (licence actually) the high-res digital file that anyone, anywhere in the world, can download instantly through a secure gateway (I use Gumroad) and can be printed at any shop involved in canvas or photographic printing.
 It's no more difficult than getting prints from photos shot on a camera or mobile phone!
The file is large enough to be printed at pretty much any size anyone chosen and sells for LESS THAN THE PRICE OF A GOOD CUP OF COFFEE! (There are some advantages to a weak currency!)

The pros of this model:
  • Priced to remove buyers' fear of risk
  • Process is completely automatic, instant and requires no further input from me -- other than to transfer the cash from my Paypal account :) )
  • Access to a global marketplace
  •  ... and there are a few more.
Repeat and rinse.

The cons:

 Despite the licence agreement, the image can be reproduced and resold but the way I see it, those are sales I would not get anyway and, perhaps foolishly, I believe most people are basically honest. So it's a risk I am prepared to take.
 I realize this approach will likely stick in the craw of many artists and will no doubt bring accusations of "cheapening" art but I figure I need to cut my cloth according to my geographical circumstances and the world is a constantly changing place.

 Here is an example of what's on offer:

What are your thoughts?

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