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Peculiar Pictures 57 & 58

February 8, 2017

Both of these illustrations are peculiar, yet both were commissioned pieces published as magazine covers. I’m posting them as examples of marginally successful illustrations, not because the clients were displeased with them, but because they have no use on a secondary market.


I was an inexperienced illustrator when I created them, unaware that my work could generate additional income being resold to other art directors, a common practice in the business. My illustrations typically sold for under a thousand dollars. At first I painted in oil, eventually switching to quick-drying acrylic. At the peak of my career I was painting as many as three illustrations a day. Often, I’d sell the same illustration half a dozen times. One illustration of a maze was so generic it continues to sell.


The two illustrations selected for this post are very specific and not applicable for resale. Later, after I’d created a few hundred illustrations, I began creating multi-use concepts, painting quicker and more loosely, shunning details. In editorial illustrations, the concept is more important than the technique.


There are several ways to sell illustrations. A client can commission you to create something for which they pay a onetime use. Sometimes a client would want exclusive use of an image and I’d sell the copyright at an additional price. If I didn’t think the picture was marketable elsewhere, I’d try to convince the client to buy the copyright. There were also times when the client wanted to own the original art and I’d sell it for an additional price. I wish I’d sold the copyright and original art for the following two images:




This illustration was commissioned for the cover of a financial magazine. The client wanted two businessmen “locking horns” with a bank in the background. I was proud of this piece when finished, but in retrospect I should have pushed harder for the client to buy the original art; I’ve never found another buyer for an image too specific to resell.






This one was for the cover of Oregon State Bar Magazine. It was accompanied by an article about judges who waste time and money because they can’t make decisions. The idea was to show a judge parked behind the bench with a parking meter head. This client eventually became one of my best clients. Unfortunately, this was another “specific” illustration that never found a secondary market.


If you have peculiar décor and feel one of these pictures might enhance your home, they’re for sale—CHEAP!




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They are really good and eye catching pictures but I don't think they would go with my decor either....
By: ja woolf on February 8, 2017
Those would look weird hanging on my wall.
By: PT Dilloway on February 8, 2017
It's peculiar that these images haven't discovered broader appeal. Do you have an agent or belong to a group that markets your work? Why don't you approach (assuming you haven't) U.S Chamber of Commerce and sell them the sizzle in your work. Heck they may even ask you to produce new sizzling material for them. Great idea... eh?
By: Daniel LaFrance on February 8, 2017
Oh, what I'd give to produce an illustration with a PRIMARY market!
By: Mitchell is Moving on February 8, 2017
Shame, I would think the second one would have other markets.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on February 8, 2017
I was wondering if the Locking Horns ones how hard it would be to replace the building in the background. I mean if you replace the bank with Capitol Hill or the White House all the sudden you have a whole new theme!
By: PT Dilloway on February 8, 2017
3 illustrations a day?? Wow, you really were cranking them out but you still managed to create well painted creative pictures.
By: LL Cool Joe on February 8, 2017
They are interesting, and very well painted as all your work, although i'm not so sure about them as wall decor.
By: messymimi on February 8, 2017
As long as your clients were happy. I imagine it was rather common for an illustration to not have a secondary market when the client was so specific. Interesting about how your art work sold and you made money...artist and a salesman.
By: cranky on February 8, 2017
As always, your work is VERY clever!!
By: fishducky on February 8, 2017
Maybe you could take the "locking horns" illustration and change the faces to look like current Congressional ;)
By: scott park on February 8, 2017
P.T. Dilloway and Scott Park read my mind. Think you should rework it.
By: Arkansas Patti on February 8, 2017
Love the meter head! It's applicable for a number of professions!
By: Bee BB Bee on February 8, 2017
I really wasn't speechless! I meant to say that I agree with the Locked Horns suggestions.
By: Val on February 8, 2017
I'm so far out of the art world that it's always interesting to hear how one part of the business operates.
By: red Kline on February 8, 2017
Those are cool, especially the parking meter- head judge. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on February 8, 2017
I wonder: Is it easier to paint to order, b/c they give you the concept? Or would you rather think up your own idea? Regardless, clever art, for sure.
By: Tom Sightings on February 8, 2017
Concept. Talent and technique are important...but concept is what makes it sell.
By: Tabor on February 9, 2017
actually we have a Federal judge in our family and this would be a perfect gift for a birthday coming up! Plus we like it!
By: Kathe W. on February 9, 2017
I knew you were an artist but I didnt realize that you had made such a career out of it. Where can we find some of your "multi-use" work?
By: Chris on February 9, 2017
I can see your point and fully agree. To me both illustrations show off your talent as an artist but they are very specific and not easily "transferable". I would still buy them for the artistry in them. Sometimes good art does not a context to explain what it means. :-) Greetings from London.
By: A Cuban In London on February 9, 2017
I've never known anyone who sold illustrative art so I had no idea how it worked. A good illustration is like a gift that keeps on giving. R
By: Rick Watson on February 18, 2017

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