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Re: Clarification of scope of paleoart market and other items
WHAT I MEANT TO SAY EARLIER:
In this thread, Greg's covered a lot of what I've been thinking. Here
are a few other random observations:
Paleo is a niche field. Only a very small minority of humans are
seriously attracted to the science of paleontology or the art of
reconstructing/restoring extinct wildlife. Everyone else has only a
passing interest or none at all.
AFAIK, *every* gallery in North America hoping to specialize in
paleoart has folded -- (in some cases with collateral damage to the
Only one paleo-fan publication I know of, PREHISTORIC TIMES, has been
successful. It's almost literally a one-man operation and I don't know
if Mike Fredricks supplements the family income with a second job or if
his wife works, also. I'm pretty sure that all art printed in PT is
gratis, so it's not an income source for artists (although it is a nice
place to snag some free promotion, other than the paid-for ads).
There have only ever been a handful of serious paleoart collectors and
now, with John Lanzendorf out of the game... I can't think of anyone
who has both his passion and his level of discretionary income. There
are other people out there who are just as passionate, but they are
rare and, AFAIK, have a slightly smaller budget.
A few years back I read an article that claimed early 20th century
illustrators (such as Knight) were able to purchase a house with the
income from one magazine cover (sounds unbelievable, right?). These
days a magazine cover might equal one month's mortgage payment
(depending on the magazine and how modest or inappropriate your choice
Back in the 1960s through early '90s, when TV dino docs consisted of
talking heads, stop-motion puppets and still art, illustrators could
hope to have their paintings selected for this secondary-market use.
This income opportunity no longer exists. These days, even bad CGI
trumps a static image. If there is an equivalent secondary market
anywhere on the Web to replace it, let me know.
Some notable illustrators and sculptors of the '80s and '90s are no
longer (or rarely) working in the field. When economies took a dive and
projects became scarce, some artists -- especially the self employed --
had to get "a real job" to make ends meet. That meant coming home with
no energy left for paleo art, either as a second job or as a hobby. One
sculptor, Michael Trcic, has moved into Western art -- a real loss for
I don't like to rain on anyone's parade, but when I address school
children I usually let them know that, although paleo art is waaaay
cool and in itself rewarding, it's not a good field to go into if one
wants to make money. In fact, I always say that if you want to do paleo
art, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A SPOUSE WITH A RELIABLE INCOME.
Of the few freelancers who have been able to make a living in this
field, without exception they are all able to negotiate the world of
business -- estimates, contracts, billing, social interaction -- skills
which have NOTHING to do with art talent and science knowledge -- and
they all have my undying admiration. Also, every artist I've ever
talked to has been wonderfully generous in terms of encouragement and
sharing of ideas and technical pointers.
For those of you who think we oughta just roll with the punches, as
soon as I get my desk cleared (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!), I'll be starting
work on a little paleo-related publication (my own project -- and for
as niche an audience as any you could imagine).
-- Donna Braginetz