Out of the Blue now available from:




On Easter Sunday, my blog post looked at the insane prices that some works of art are fetching. I pondered on Monday "why is art expensive"

Well, the answer on the Interweb thing was different on every page I looked at. Mostly, the suggestion was that art is expensive because it has historical value, it's rare, and the artist usually has an interesting story. Although I have known for years that the price of art can shoot through the roof, if it's featured in a top class gallery, what I hadn't given much thought to was how sometimes the price is manufactured.

So here's what that all knowing Google had to say. Occasionally some lesser quality, less visually appealing art goes to auction, and sells for way more than it should. Continuing reading this, it appears that in some instances, bids in auctions are inflated in order to raise the price of art that has been produced by the same artist. Well, to be fair, this didn't come as a complete surprise. It's business at the end of the day, and I am sure many businesses have carried out this practice to some extent over the years.

What shocked me more though, is that I was shocked that this actually happens in art auctions. Those auctions I have been to have generally been populated by tweed jackets, and threadbare corduroys. One particular auction I visited last year was very poorly advertised, and when I sat through the bidding with around 18 people who had turned up, I was amazed at the prices some of the art was going for. Why was I surprised? Because none of the artists were well known, and to be honest, I wasn't taken with a lot of their works. One piece sold for £1100. It was a small 8 inch square painting by an artist that I had never heard of.

So I found some reference to the sharp practice of the art world. I pondered some more and found that some artists had broken down the costs of producing their work. The costs quickly mounted, $200 for paint and a canvas, $100 for transporting the work, and so on. Ultimately the price was broken down enough to show the artists profit. It worked out that this particular artist on selling a piece for $1850, had in fact made a total of $500, which equated to $25 per hour that he had spent working on it.

I pondered this and wondered what it actually costs me to produce a digital work. Not including the electricity, but including printer ink for testing effects on paper, various paper stock, time to promote on social media, uploading to print on demand sites, the actual costs are around £20 per piece of work. That's not including all of the software purchases I have to make and continue to update. If I added in those, then were nearly in the ball park of being totally unaffordable! But.. That also doesn't include my time. Can I put a value on that? If I'm not doing my day job, what value can I put on spare time? Maybe I should start to think how valuable my time is because I generally spend anything between 3 hours and 30 hours on a piece of work. Just because it's digital doesn't always make it quicker.

So here is my process of creating digital art, broken down into time.

Stage One. Come up with ideas, research any similar works on the Internet, local library etc. At least 2-3 hours.

Stage Two. Scribble some initial ideas, choose colour schemes. 2-3 hours

Stage Three. Create the base image and print out so that I can get a real feel for colour. 2 hours.

Stage Four. Create outlines, and add in blocks of colour and any first effects. 2 hours

Stage Five. Add in the details, refine colours, print out the work to date to see how it will look on paper. 2-3 hours depending on the size of the work, if it's a bitmap or vector etc.

Stage Six. Finalise detail, make amendments, print out and check to see how the final work will look. 2 hours.

Stage Seven. Save a master image in at least three formats, print out the final master. 1 hour.

So that is around 16 hours of work creating a new digital piece. But then we need to add in the other important things such as uploading to Print on Demand sites, writing descriptors and meta tags, which adds in another 90 minutes per piece.

Once all that's done, I then promote it on my social media channels. Twitter, Facebook, Stumble Upon, Pinterest, and do this for each Print on Demand site the work is uploaded to. This can take at least another hour.

So between 17 & 19 hours is the final time for something that is reasonably simple. I have been known to take 30+ hours on some pieces, albeit generally I do those pieces over many weeks, and do other pieces in between.

Add on to this approximately 12 hours per week working on my blog, and checking social media for whoever knows how long each day, it all kind of adds up to not much week left.

On the other hand, I can get an idea in my head, and know exactly what to do with it. In which case it might take me only around 5-6 hours to do all of the above. The piece at the top of the page, Out of the Blue was created in around 8 hours. It is still time though, and I often wonder if the payback is worth the effort. But then something sells and I get that buzzy feeling and think to myself, someone appreciates my work. They appreciate what went into it, or they didn't realise, but liked the work enough to make a purchase. I might have only made $5 on that one sale, but at that point it is nothing compared to the feeling that someone has finally discovered you!

How long do you spend creating a piece of art? Do you ever put a commercial value on your time when you are creating your art? Feel free to comment below!



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