Starving Artist Sales and Fame

You know those commercials you see on television: For one weekend only, come to XYZ Hotel and buy fabulous paintings for $59 and under!

Has anyone of note gotten their start by painting pictures for these sales? Judging by their styles, I would guess that Public Television’s Bob “Happy trees and clouds” Ross and gallery owner Thomas “Too much detail is never enough as long as it looks misty” Kinkade may have begun this way. Don’t know for sure.

Also, I’ve never seen an ad in the paper saying, “Make big $$$! Be a Starving Artist!” How do those vendors procure the paintings in the first place?

Teenage children slaving away in sweatshops in SE Asia, at a guess.

Tikki I must commend you for this question, for it was the first one I ever asked upon registering for the board. I was surprised to hear that there are Mexican sweat shops that turn out these paintings.

I was kidding when I suggested third world children turning out these paintings, but I take it that that is how many of these are produced.

Actually, that crossed my mind. That’s one of the reasons I was curious.

And thank you, Fruitbat. This is only about the second or third thread I’ve started.

Actually, starving teenagers & adults in the USA do their part.
My son once did “Production Art” He was not employed by the vendors. They called him an “independant contractor” because piece work is illegal. He would paint 20 or 30 canvases at a time. Spraying on a base, then using 1" brushes he would paint the same designs on each. The vendor would buy the finished works for between $7 and $10 each, depending on the demand (no, the amount of work that went into it didn’t matter) The vendor then resold them to places like Sears, K-Mart etc for $40-$60 who, in turn, sold them as “original” for even more.
My son wasn’t the only starving artist who did this, many of the art students did it to buy supplies and, oh, food.
The artists couldn’t even sign their work (not that many would want to) The vendor signed them with sound alike names, like P. Maxx, P. Piccoto, and Ente.

Thanks for the information, Picunurse!

Does anyone recall the old NBC new program Weekend? It did an extremely interesting feature on mass-produced oil paintings, showing how the process had been worked down to a “science” so that dozens of painters could turn out pretty-much identical schlock paintings.

One sequence of the report was done at a factory-type venue where dozens of workers were busy producing the identical landscape over and over. I recall that at least one of the people employed there was an actual aspiring artist who remarked that the stuff she did at home was in no way similar to what she produced for a living, either in terms of style or technique. As Stephen Sondheim observed, “Work is what you do for other people, art is what you do for yourself.”