Two goetia-style versions of the same dark art sculpted painting – Horned Queen.
What a difference a little lighting will make…
Creepy gothic cathedrals.
Ancient dark towers.
Fantastical sky-piecing minarets.
Some of these are among my older (and therefore cruder) works.
Others are more recent.
Quality notwithstanding, painting dark towers is among my favorite things to do, second only to drawing attractive women.
For more, go here.
“Can you paint a portrait of me, but as a sexy, armor-wearing warrior queen? And thirty lbs. lighter?”
No. And you mean forty-five lbs.
“Can you paint my dog? He’s really cute. Look how his tongue hangs out the left side of his mouth. I really want to capture him in a painting.”
No. Your dog isn’t cute. Also, you have no money.
“Can you paint a lovely little orange barn with a giant Florida Gators logo on the side?”
Instead of that, can I paint a giant dark tower with a logo of a massive alligator demon devouring the souls of the innocent?
“Can I wait until you finish painting my commission to pay you anything?”
No. Go download something free off the web.
I know why artists do commissions.
At least…I think I do.
For artists who have a strong foothold in the industry, who sell every single painting they create, and who can demand a high commission fee, doing custom-to-client work can be lucrative.
For everyone else, not so much.
In the past, I’ve entertained commission work. The orange barn with the Gators logo? Yeah, that was a real commission I did. I spent a ton of time and materials in an effort to make it perfect. I delivered, and the buyer paid me as promised. Only trouble was – I lost money on the sale. I invested far more time than I could ever hope to recoup. And more than the money, I lost self-respect.
Not college football logos on cheesy barns.
In my humble experience, I find more reasons to turn down work than to accept it.
Oh, you want examples?
Last year I painted a huge wood panel piece for a buddy of mine. I quoted him my fee, spent most of two full nights sharpening the image, and delivered earlier than promised. Now, I love this guy like a brother. But here we sit, six months later, and he still hasn’t paid. I’m not willing to lose a friend over the issue, and so I don’t mention the money anymore. Though I do feel a little pain whenever I see the panel hanging on his living room wall.
No, I’m not bitter.
If anything, he helped me.
When I sit down late at night, a fresh canvas before me, a glass of scotch in hand, and my paintbrush whirling, I’m in my element. I’m right where I want to be. Whatever I’m about to create will bring me great enjoyment. It could be something grand – a giant mural of skulls. Or something simple – a swirly drip-painted tree. It doesn’t matter. I’ll love it because it’s mine. No one told me to do it. No one cares whether or not I succeed.
If I’m creating the piece for a commission sale, none of this is true.
I’ll feel pressure to make it ‘perfect’ as if perfection is something that exists in art. I’ll feel hurried. I won’t feel like a creator anymore, but rather like a business. It’ll become work instead of pleasure. Rather than savor every moment, I’ll want the process to end as quickly as possible.
I’ll hate it.
What’s weird is..
Even though I’ll strive to make the commission look fantastic, I won’t do my absolute best work. My creative engine will go idle, and my brush won’t move with the kind of freedom to which I’m accustomed. That’s just the way it goes. With freedom comes passion. With rigid expectation comes pain.
Not a week goes by without at least one person requesting some kind of work from me. “Draw me a tattoo?” they’ll ask. “Paint a forest scene for my wife’s bathroom.” “Paint my portrait, only not exactly like me. Make me look better.”
Some people want me to do this work for free. Or at rock bottom cost. Or they want to wait until I’m done to decide whether or not they’ll pay.
To a degree, I understand these approaches. Art is a luxury to most people. More important things exist, like utility bills, car payments, and food on the table.
The solution feels simple.
Don’t do it. No commissions…ever. No worrying about other people’s ideas, needs, and wants. Make art a meditative, peaceful thing, a creative avalanche instead of a business goal. Separation from commission angst means not worrying about whether or not I’ll get paid. It means growing my skill organically, not forcing myself into styles I either haven’t yet mastered or have little interest in studying. It means painting at a self-chosen pace, not hustling to push something out the door I never wanted to do in the first place. And it means a friendly but firm “No” to everyone who asks the question, and then peace of mind afterward.
Is it a bad idea to say, “No commissions! Ever!” Yeah. Maybe. I’m probably eliminating a segment of the population who might otherwise be interested in my style.
Am I going to lose sleep over it? No.
I’d rather be broke and free than wealthy and enslaved.
This philosophy applies to much more than art.
It’s life, man.
I’m not a person who worries about much of anything.
After all, worrying helps nothing. It only adds to one’s suffering.
And yet…here’s fifty things that concern me almost every single day:
I sometimes wonder whether I’m spending enough time with my son.
…or whether I’m actually the helicopter dad I try so hard not to be.
I worry I don’t read enough.
…that I don’t home cook my dinners more often.
…and that I sip too much wine.
I’m pretty sure my cats are at home destroying my furniture right now.
…the fat one probably barfed on the floor again.
I wonder if I’ll end up single, alone, and locked away in a big empty house by myself.
…and yet it concerns me that the idea of being alone is so very appealing.
I’m sure I’ll suffer from ’empty-nest syndrome’ when my son grows up.
And I’m positive I’ll struggle with an existential crisis when it happens.
I worry I’ve outlived my usefulness.
…except to scotch distilleries. I keep those guys in business.
I’m concerned I wasted my youth in the pursuit of pleasure.
…and yet if I were young again, I know I’d do the same things all over again.
I worry I don’t tip well enough. Even 20% feels low sometimes.
I sometimes worry that I don’t worry enough. Is being indifferent the truest form of immorality?
…and if it is, I should probably worry that it still doesn’t much matter to me.
I sometimes suffer from FOMO. (Fear of missing out) I want to do everything and be everywhere.
I’m concerned I chase Friday at the expense of Monday through Thursday.
And I’m really concerned about the huge pile of pancakes I devoured on Sunday.
I worry that it’s all meaningless.
But I push myself harder every day, and for what?
I’m not tall enough.
…or buff enough.
…or able to do all the athletic things I could do just five years ago.
And I worry sometimes these facts make me less of a man.
I worry that I’m smart enough to understand most of the world’s problems…
…but not nearly intelligent enough to solve them.
I worry about the 3,000 calorie steak dinner I ate last night.
…and the just-as-huge spaghetti platter I plan to cook tomorrow.
If I blow off being creative in favor of playing video games, I worry I’ve wasted a precious night.
But when I spend a whole week working myself to the bone creating, I sometimes think I’m missing the point.
I’m concerned about my quiet urge to sell my house and leave all my possessions behind.
But I’m more concerned about having to give up my grill if I leave, which means I’m probably staying.
I worry I don’t spend enough time writing.
…or am I writing too much, and thus falling out of touch with reality?
I definitely spend too much time thinking about money.
And too much time spending it.
And not enough time saving it.
I fear for my eardrums. All that heavy metal can’t be good.
I worry for my guitar, which I haven’t played in weeks.
…and my wardrobe, which I haven’t improved in years.
And of course, I worry about my stupid blind cat. She’s 18, and it’s only a matter of time before she becomes incontinent.
…which means I’m worried about my floors.
I’m not really worried about politics or religion or people fighting about it on the internet.
But I do wonder whether someday a lunatic who does worry about these things will end up killing me.
I’m mega worried about my son turning out to be too much like me.
Or that he’ll end up liking country music.
Anything but country music.
If you like lists about 50 things, try this one.
And if my worries have you thinking, get some of this.
For the modern day self-published author, cover art can be an expensive investment. Artists routinely charge $300-$700 for custom-made art, which can cripple modest budgets and drive authors to empty out their bank accounts.
Every book needs a good cover. To hook readers, it’s crucial. The old saying ‘Never judge a book by its cover’ doesn’t apply anymore. And while Amazon and Createspace offer free images for cover use, their options are bland, static, and in many cases already in use by a dozen other authors.
I can help.
If you’ve written a fantasy, horror, sci-fi, or general fiction book, and if you’re in need of art that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, you and I should talk. I’m now licensing the art from several of my most popular paintings to be used as book, album, or media cover art. My fees are well below industry standard. I provide hi-rez digital images that’ll easily satisfy KDP, Lightning Source, and Createspace requirements.
Some of my paintings are here. And that’s just a hint of the large quantity of cover-ready art I’ve produced. See a piece you like that might fit your book or album cover? Look me up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or via email.
And let’s get your cover made.
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