How to make art a business
Ronald Hunter is a successful Dutch artist / enterpreneur, that knows how to combine his business sense with his artistic talent. He sold hundreds of paintings in the past 6 years, and is about to start an exciting new venture with a business partner. Time to catch up with Ronald!
Curious to hear more about how Ronald built a successfull art business, and what his new plans are? Just keep on reading!
Ronald, tell us how you started your art business?
“I was a graphic designer for many years, and always had a wish to create a product that I could sell online. I explored furniture, accessories, clothing, even a line of underwear. It’s funny in hindsight, because all the while I painted, but it never occurred to me I could turn that into a profitable business. After a while, I recognized the opportunity, and although some would say I was crazy, I decided to sell my art.”
The first painting Ronald ever sold was just 150 EUR – and that included shipping. You can imagine, he didn’t earn a lot back then. But Ronald wanted people to get to know him, and establish a name for himself. He recognized that everyone has to start from scratch. After a while, Ronald sold enough to become a fulltime independent artist.
And what’s important, Ronald realized that although the art is a crucial part of the business, 50% or even more is the rest; marketing your artworks, knowing how to tell your story and be able to engage people. In Ronald Hunter’s opinion, just creating art is not enough.
What does the life of an independent artist look like?
“I start my day early, and work on a tight schedule. I usually know what I will do that week. It is a schedule that is impossible to meet though, so if I get 70% done, I should be happy. I often try new things, that doesn’t always work. That takes up a lot of time.”
Ronald tells us that being an artist is a job for him, and that means art has to be made every day. Ronald rarely experiences an ‘off’-day, and practices his skills on a daily basis.
“I try to live a healthy life, exercise regularly, limit alcohol consumption.. it all sounds so boring but it’s a choice I had to make to keep my focus. Well, I do allow myself chocolate.. I must admit I have a sweet tooth!”
How do you know what you are going to make?
“As an artist, I think it’s important to have your signature style. I create my art according to a set of rules, they give me guidance in what I want to make. For instance, in my abstract work I build the colors with layering of acrylic paint, and I use light texture to add depth.”
Ronald also tells us he likes to work with complementary colors, and he has specific ideas about the use of light and dark in his work.
Ideas are abundant for Ronald, and they come in a continuous flow to him throughout the day. His background in graphic design plays an important role there, since it’s a huge source of inspiration for him.
“Ideas grow, and some I will work out in my mind. And since I have done so much already, there are many paths I can follow to make new things, based on previous work.”
What would you like to share with aspiring artists?
“Well, build a name and good reputation. Everything is out there for everyone to see, so make sure you keep your promises and stay close to the reality of what you sell. Also, sell your art at a reasonable price. I often see artists selling their work for over €1000 but haven’t made a name for themselves yet. I am a strong believer you need to start small and work your way up. And most important, don’t give up on something you believe in! It might take a few years before you catch your buyers’ attention.”
So, tell us about your plans?
“My next step is to further build my online art business – but not one in the traditional sense. I am not looking to compete with existing (online) art galleries, but want to focus on expanding my own projects, together with my business partner. I love working on custom art, and for me that’s a direction I want to expand. Also, to collaborate with other artists is something I want to do more. You will hear about the ins and outs soon, as we are working on the new website as we speak.”