Trigger's Bit • horse tack painting by John Morfis

Trigger’s Bit Painting

Trigger's Bit • horse tack painting by John Morfis

Spoiler alert: In this post I don’t talk about how I painted this oil painting, I discuss more or less the business of art and why I do what I do as a professional artist.

This is the 5th horse tack painting I’ve created.  The equestrian subject matter has been a slight sub-niche in my larger tool portrait series.  Since I’m new to the horse riding objects I’m going to say that this is the last item I’ll paint of its kind for now.  I need to get these paintings to market and see how people respond to them.  There’s nothing worse than spending a ton of time and money producing paintings that nobody wants to purchase.  There I said it!… because that’s exactly what’s on my mind as I finish this 5th painting.

The tool portraits and fishing lures have been selling very well but, I was asked by one of the galleries that I do a lot of business with to give the horse tack artwork a try.  Apparently the gallery owner has many high end collectors that are into equestrian sports.  This all seemed like a good idea to me but only time (and sales) will tell.  So far this gallery owner has been right about many things and I respect this gallery owner tremendously.

Over time I have slowly learned to embrace the business side of art.  Art making represents only part of the professional artist’s career.  Most painters and I included have been raised on the notion of separating commerce from one’s artwork.  Money is almost seen as dirty and has no place in a discussion of “real art” is the going frame of reference preached in most art institutions.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth and any artist who believes this myth is in one of two categories:

  1. They are the super-elite artist who can draw a smiley face on a napkin and get thousands of dollars for it because the powers that be in the art world think they are that important.
  2. They are a hobbyist.


There is nothing wrong with being either, but the chances of being the person described above as person 1 are slim to none.  So that leaves the hobbyist or the professional artist.  There is nothing wrong with enjoying art making as a hobby and not really caring about sales or how the paying public views your artwork.  But at the same time, an artist under these circumstances should not expect to advance his or her career financially as an artist.

I choose to be a professional artist and so yes, I will care about painting sales.





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