Tag Archives: Jean Smith paintings

Update: solo art show

I’ve dropped a few hints about my solo art show in the spring, but we’re not quite ready to officially announce it! Here are a few more hints, but I’m not going to confirm or deny anything in comments

The city in question: I can safely say that I may have sold more paintings to people living in this city than any other.

The yet to be named gallery is supportive of the Free Artist Residency for Progressive Social Change. I believe they see the benefit of cultural activists of our ilk having a place (outside of the USA) to work on projects that intend to change the world. I hope they see it’s in their / our best interest on many levels.

Mecca Normal will perform at the opening.

We’ll be doing a newsletter / press release email soon to tie a buncha things together. David’s graphic novels, my art show, online painting sales milestone (900 sold with 300 in stock = 1200 paintings in 4 years), playing Bikini Kill shows, the Free Artist Residency, and last year’s live album from the mid-90s — Riot Grrrl era.

We’ve always done our own press / publicity for our music and book projects (D-I-Y since 1984)*, but I haven’t spent much time looking for press for the paintings. Early on I contacted The Jealous Curator and I’m still, some years later, savouring her appreciation of my work.

“Oh my word, I love these portraits so, so, so much.” September, 2017

I’ve done a couple of email interviews, but a press release is basically David and I compiling content that can be reproduced by the media in advance of coming events.
In the past four years, I’ve focused on painting (and not so much the push required to escalate exposure / sales). I completely love the way this situation on FB works. I get to paint lots, I have an enthusiastic audience and appreciative buyers. File under: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Yet, I have 300 paintings here, I may need to move out of Vancouver, and I want to get going with the Artist Residency.

So, yes I am hinting at a plausible inevitability that when more people see my paintings, you’ll wish you’d bought a few. Also, this week’s near record sales (18 ?) remind me that post-sale production, packaging and shipping take time and adding rehearsals, art / music events, purchasing property, moving, potentially more interaction with the media, and getting the artists residency up and running. I only have so much time and there may be both scarcity and upheaval in how paintings are sold (and for how much).

As with Mecca Normal’s trajectory, the wildness of the ride depends on factors beyond our control, but the essence of our adventures can be applied to our other projects in a myriad of ways.

* Mecca Normal has appreciated and benefited greatly from publicity generated by the record labels we’ve been on including K Records, Matador Records, Kill Rock Stars and Artoffact Records.

$100 USD paintings currently available

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photo: 2020 selfie

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How I made $90,000 selling paintings online

 

I’m living my dream. After years of living other dreams (singer, novelist) I’m now living my original dream. To make a living as a painter. I always imagined this would require a gallery, but, as it turns out, it doesn’t.

I started painting faces in my room as a young teenager. 11 x 17″ watercolor self-portraits in the mirror. Over the years, I showed them to special people in my life, but then, when color laser copying became viable, I showed them in a limited way at events I sang at with my voice and guitar rock duo.

What was more important than being technically incredible was the emotion on the faces. My face. My emotions.

My parents were both painters and I picked up a lot from them in terms of composition and technique, but neither of them painted people. All of this is uniquely complicated in the way that every teenager feels overwhelmed by their relationships as they emerge from childhood. I went to art school for a while, but I was so keen to leave home that I opted for a full time job in a newspaper production department and painted in my spare time. Life unfurled for the next 40 years, twisting and turning in ways that I had not expected! Releasing albums and touring with my band. Which brings us to now.

How I Made large NEW 1200 Word Press

“I’ve sold 900 $100 USD paintings (11 x 14″) online in 4 years.” – Jean Smith

I don’t have a million followers, but of the ones I do have really appreciate being able to buy good art for an affordable price. I have 2667 friends on FaceBook, 815 followers on Twitter and 1161 followers on Instagram.

It certainly helps that I am in a band that has a reputation for creating work that intends to create progressive social change, but I’d say most of my customers didn’t know my band before they started collecting my paintings.

Dealing with elderly parents and housing issues while painting almost every day has resulted in me revealing what is going on in my personal life. This came easily enough to me because I’m a writer and a public person. I would say that allowing people to know me is part of the appeal for a buyer of work online.

The housing issue I’m facing isn’t unique. As the economy changes and drives artists away from urban centers cities become less culturally vital. This is very unfortunate, yet it holds potential for structuring life in places that are conducive to creativity that doesn’t necessarily rely on external stimuli. Often where there is peace and quiet, there is less pressure to earn the astronomical amounts that city-living requires. Maybe lowering overhead results in being able to quit a part-time joe job.

The possibility that I may have to leave my rental unit and find a place in uncharted territory in western Canada has become something of a group project, which is perfect, because once I’m set up I don’t want to sit alone in some small town where I don’t know anyone. I want artists (painters, film makers, writers, musicians) from all over to come and stay for free while they work on projects that intend to change the world.

Friend me on FaceBook to see paintings first. It would be great if you mentioned seeing this article.

Below this example – my most recent painting are tips for selling  paintings online

No Hat #754 800

“No Hat #754″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) December 8, 2019
$100 USD plus shipping

1. I paint and post new work almost every day (4 years in January, 2020).
2. The work has always been good, but is advancing by leaps and bounds.
3. The price is low at $100 USD (11 x 14″) and has never gone up.
4. I ship for a flat rate of $15 that includes tracking and insurance.
5. The theme is consistent: emotions on women’s faces.
6. My personal stories allow customers to know me.
7. I emailed one pitch and got lucky when the Jealous Curator posted my paintings saying: “First, oh my word I love these portraits so, so, so much. Second, Canadian rocker turned painter Jean Smith sells these paintings on Facebook for $100 a pop. WHAT? Yes, true story.” This promotion tripled sales (to 50) that month before settling at about twice what they were before.
8. I track my sales by month and post how many have sold (which has been a gradual increase aiming for 30 a month) to create engagement in the process.

9. Once I was earning more than I needed I created a goal for what I intend to do with the money from sales above my expenses.
10. My paintings are inherently collectable (size, price, theme) and I encourage owning more than one by creating a repeating post called “There’s something about these three together.”
11. I always show the painting again when it sells and say where it’s going and sometimes to whom.
12. I maintain albums of currently available, all paintings, SOLD, various themes (astronauts, scuba divers, aviators, angry women in rock, ruff collars) that allow viewers to engage in ways that suit their viewing proclivities.
13. I post new work around the same time every day.

Scuba # 800

“Scuba #6″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) October 24, 2019
$100 USD plus shipping

help me

I have gone out to community events like Art Walks and Car Free Days, but this didn’t really pay off in an way as far as sales. I’m on the left. Met some very nice people though!

I’ve tried a bit of what I can glean about SEO (following bits of random advice including adding the phrase “contemporary portrait painting” to my blog posts), but it hasn’t changed anything noticeably. I try to let go of ideas that aren’t working (direct emails to interior designers) and stick with what does work. Paint every day and post on FaceBook. Some people tell me to raise my prices, but I think I’d just sell fewer paintings. I like the pace of painting every day and selling about half of what I do. I’m working on increasing that, but as I’m doing this alone, I need to make sure I keep painting, and then there’s the packaging and shipping. All very time consuming.

There are elements that would be difficult for anyone else to re-create, such as being in a band that has put out records and toured a lot (mostly in the 80s and 90s) as well as having an existing ease with revealing my personal life due to having done a ton of interviews over the years. I imagine that a painter could use social media to let people get to know themselves, but there’s also something to be said for being private and mysterious. I probably don’t need to tell you that cultivating an image of some sort might be helpful.

Mecca Normal (Jean Smith & David Lester)

My band Mecca Normal rocking out at a literary event at the library.


TERRY

Fantastic display by one of my customers, an interior designer in Ontario.

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Detail

Detail of two ‘sold’ paintings drying in the sun after a layer of gloss medium. I post photographs of the paintings (here and on FaceBook) before the layer of gloss which tends to unify the surface as well as protect it.

Next: package to ship with tracking and insurance ($15 USD / CAD)

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detail with gloss and shadow

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detail with gloss

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Video: The Painting of Angry Women in Rock

12 minutes: painting three at the same time. I mentioned how this can be beneficial, but that segment got cut from the one hour of footage. It reduces overpainting when I have another painting to move to and then, after being involved with that one, returning to the first one I get a refreshed idea of where it’s at.

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Angry Woman in Rock #16 800

Angry Woman in Rock #16

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Angry Woman in Rock #17

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Angry Woman in Rock #18

Reference paintings on the monitor

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Angry Woman in Rock #8


Studio

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FaceBook album: Anger

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Interior Designer Special

$100 USD // $130 CAD
11 x 14″ acrylic on canvas panel
800+ SOLD

INTERIOR DESIGNER SPECIAL:
FREE shipping 4 – 6 paintings (USA & Canada)

Hundreds of Paintings Available

“Oh my word, I love these portraits so, so, so much.”
The Jealous Curator

CUSTOMERS:
– painting instructors from the Yale School of Art, the University of British Columbia and the Art Institute of Chicago
– painters whose work has been exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Biennial, 2014 in New York City
– art critics for Artfourm Magazine and the Winnipeg Free Press
– interior designer in ‘cottage country’ Ontario
– architect in Atlanta
– a few indie rock luminaries including (Kathleen Hanna and Tobi Vail of Bikini Kill, Tara Jane O’Neil, Julie Doiron, Johanna Fateman)

SHIPPING:
up to 6 for $15 USD to USA //$15 CAD in Canada – email me for Interior Designer Rate! Vancouver – delivery or retail pick up at E. Broadway and Victoria Drive

CONTACT:
meccanormal@hotmail.com

 

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The Hat #88 800

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The Phone # 800

The Phone #11

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Book: example of dry brush technique

Seems like quite a while ago that I mentioned a book in the works – to be published in the UK – that will use one of my paintings as an example of dry brush technique. Now they’re giving me an opportunity to see the bio they came up with, so I took the opportunity to make some changes.

Singer #4 by Jean Smith throwsilver@hotmail.com
“Singer #4” (11 x 14′ acrylic on canvas panel, 2017)
SOLD

Hi R____,

Sorry for the delay getting back to you. I’m looking for property to open the Free Artist Residency for Progressive Social Change where all types of artists can come and stay for free while working on projects that intend to change the world. So I need space for the writer’s cabin, a soundproofed rehearsal studio, painting studio, accommodation etc. I’m getting very close now!

Here’s the text with a few changes.

“Jean Smith is a Vancouver-based painter, writer and singer regarded as an inspiration to the 1990s social movement known as Riot Grrrl. Her contemporary portraits, based on photographs, are about complex emotions related to feminism and anti-capitalism. She sells the 11 x 14″ series for $100 USD on Facebook, making her work accessible to other artists, musicians and writers she’s met along the way. Sales above her monthly expenses go towards opening the Free Artist Residency for Progressive Social Change off the west coast of Canada.”

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