It’s one of the challenges all artists face — that nagging self-doubt that is constantly telling us we aren’t good enough, we aren’t going to ‘make it’ as an artist, and that we shouldn’t be charging nearly so much for our work. So are you good enough? Can you be a ‘real artist’ and start charging people for your work?
This is a tough one, and the short answer is, if people will pay for your work, you can charge for it. But I know for a long, long time I felt bad about how much I charged for a portrait, and know many other artists feel the same way.
While it’s true that art is in the eye of the beholder, things get a little trickier when you work, as I do, in realistic art. My goal when I produce a portrait of an animal is to capture that animal as closely as I can. I can objectively say that the portraits I make now are closer to realism (ie. ‘Better’, in my opinion) than the ones I made two years ago.
So as a pet portrait artist, where generally realism is the desired outcome, how do you justify selling your art when there are so many other amazing artists out there who are doing ‘better’ work than you?
I think it’s important to remember that every piece of work you do has been the best you can possibly do at that time. If you’ve done your best, and your client is happy with the result you’ve produced, then you shouldn’t worry about what you charged or whether you’re as good as that artist you saw on Instagram.
When I look back on many of my early commissions, I see all the places I could have done better, and I would certainly not be satisfied with that result now. But back then, that was the best I could do, and that’s okay. That’s why my prices were lower, and why I’ve since raised them. Because I’ve grown as an artist, and my skills have grown as well.
I don’t think that self-doubt will ever truly go away, but it’s important to remember that every artist started at the beginning, and with practice and time, you’ll get there too. It’s only in the last year or so that I’ve really felt like a ‘real artist’ and started entering art competitions and shows. I still have lots I want to improve on, but it’s nice to finally quiet that little voice and know how far I’ve come!