Blue is the Colour

"Looking Up" by M.A. It's blue so it should sell well!

According to my new favourite website, apart from this one and my other site (which if you haven't visited, go immediately after you finish reading this), smithsonianmag, it seems that the new colour is blue. Or, it was, it maybe still is, but the research studied a period of time up until the year 2000.

Blue is apparently dominant in modern paintings according to a study by Martin Bellander who is a Ph.D student in psychology at Sweden's Karolinska Instituet. Downloading pictures of paintings and analysing the results of 130,000 paintings, he discovered that between 1800 and 2000, there was a significant increase in the use of the colour blue. Maybe blue was a cheaper paint, but one things for certain, blue has always been my favourite colour.

Now when I think back to my best selling artworks, they all have one thing in common, yes, they're all primarily made up of various shades of blue. Henge at Night is one of my most popular pieces, although I am retiring it very soon to be replaced with what I think is a better representation, Henge Under The Super Moon. I have retained the exact same colour pallet as used in Henge at Night, so it will be interesting to see if sales of the new piece are similar to my previous work. Henge Under the Super Moon is already available through both Zazzle and Fine Art America, and obviously via my artist website above.

That brings me to another question. Why would I retire some digital artwork? The answer makes some sense to me, although I know some people have asked for previous paintings and artwork that I produced some years ago, but the truth is that I believe my collectors appreciate something that ultimately becomes a little more exclusive in time. Not that I currently have queues of collectors lining up at the door, but I am happy to have a small number that could realistically be just enough for me to start some kind of cult.

Once I retire a piece, I destroy all of the original files. I cannot very easily provide limited runs through print on demand websites as I would if I were producing the art on paper or canvas. This is one way that I can provide a piece of work that then shares some of the exclusivity afforded to traditional artists when they create limited edition print runs or a single painting on a canvas.

I have asked some of my clients if they prefer to make a purchase of digital art knowing that potentially anyone can own it in the future. Those who do collect my work actually like the fact that even though my work is digital, I can take some steps to limit the amount of work that ultimately goes on sale.

I was quite surprised to hear that one collector who wanted a particular piece had haggled with someone to buy a piece of my work that was no longer available through print on demand or directly from me. Something that I never even thought would be remotely possible from what is essentially my hobby! They both agreed the price and the seller earned significantly more than I do from each print I sell via print on demand!

There rests another question. How do artists know what to charge for a piece of work? Well, anyone who starts out in print on demand will either have no idea, or they will significantly mark up the price of their work. I still have no real idea what my art is worth, so I do admit to tending to stick to a lower royalty than some other artists I know. Apparently this is usual for artists, they care more about the creative process than about the finances. If I were more into finance I would be an accountant.

Don't get me wrong, I have met artists who are very switched on in terms of the value of their work, but right at the start of my venture into selling my work, I made a conscious decision to only do work that I wanted to do. I'm lucky, or unlucky enough to have a day job that has nothing to do with art, it's that, that allows me to focus on the art I care about. Of course, if the offer of some extra money comes along for a particular piece, I would be crazy to pass it up, but I don't actively produce art for a specific market, and there are some subjects I really wouldn't touch.

In time I am told, you learn to appreciate what a buyer is most likely to pay for a piece of art from print on demand. I'm also told that there is a real catch 22, because no matter what price you put on your art, it takes time to get discovered, sales are usually initially low, and you never really know if that is because you are selling too cheaply, too expensively, or because the reality is that the art just isn't that good.

The other side of the coin could be that whatever you sell your work for, the art is lost in the millions of other paintings offered via print on demand and it takes some time and research to then figure out exactly what you should be pricing your work at.

Whenever someone new to print on demand asks me how much should I charge? the answer I give is what do you think it's worth? Then I suggest that they look at other similar work, and to be honest with themselves about if their art is really better. Ask a stranger if they prefer A or B, then ask some more. I learned very early on that some of my friends who were asked this question gave me an answer they thought I would want to hear, my wife on the other hand tells me how it is.

There is another competitor to print on demand, and with it there is another market of buyers who buy mass produced commercial art that is available in the large discount superstores. I had a look in one of the larger chains last week, and I found that I could purchase a Picasso print for £14.99, and any number of other prints to match the drapes for a little less. There is another lesson, the customer base on print on demand are generally looking for something either more exclusive, or certainly less commercial. So that should in theory mean that they're willing to pay a little more.

Do you ever buy art to match the curtains? And if so, if you have purchased from print on demand, do you find there is a big difference in quality and value?

It would also be great to find out if you feel confident about setting your print on demand prices.



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