I have recently lost a few commission portraits to part-time artists, who were able to considerably undercut my fee. There are many reasons why this is happening more often than in the past. I’m hearing more and more often from my colleagues that there is a lot of downward pressure on prices for artists.  Some reasons for this include, increased competition, better training, more availability of training, technological advances that are allowing more people to obtain a decent result. I call it the democratization of art; it is a double edged sword. Simply put, we live in a society that rewards fast and cheap.

One example of how this kind of thinking can backfire spectacularly is the case when I had to redo a portrait that had been done to save some money a few years back.  Below are two posthumous portraits, created from the same photo. One was painted directly on top of the photo by a part-time artist, which had been made into a giclee. I will let the reader decide whether saving money in the first place was a good idea. Which would you want to have in the front office of your business or living room?

Before version, painted by an artist willing to work for cheap.

The “before” version, painted by an artist willing to work for much less.

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My version, created from the same photo.

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