A Sold Artist (REDUX) by Brian Snider

This post, my first on this website, is actually a rewrite of one of the first posts I wrote almost 10 years ago on a blog that eventually because a music website that I dedicated eight years to.


When I was young I was an artist, I was other things but I always identified myself as an artist and somehow some way that’s what I was going to be when I grew up. All the way through elementary school I was the artist in class, it was the one thing I could really take pride in. When I got to junior high all available elective classes were dedicated to art. By the time eighth grade was drawing to a close I noticed that my peers were getting better while I was not.

By high school I was definitely not the best artist, arguably not even good any longer. I became arrogant and refused to take criticism or learn new more advanced techniques. By my Junior year I’d moved on to theater, which I would later go on to college for.

After graduating I didn’t find myself doing a whole lot of theater and I got the itch to start making visual art again. Inspired by that IKEA painting of Audrey Hepburn (you know the one) I created an entire series of extremely contrasty black and white portraits which filled the artless walls of my apartment. A little later I got into doing these very simple pastel line drawings of nude women and put those on the wall as well. When my wife and I moved from Los Angeles back to Seattle we held a garage sale, where all but the most important possessions were laid out on the lawn for sale, including a large stack of my paintings. I wasn’t selling these expecting anyone to be interested in the art itself but rather someone looking for a cheap canvas to paint over.

When one woman picked up a painting and asked how much I nearly replied with “$2” before my wife spoke up and said “$5.” And she bought it! A short time later we watched as a car driving down Los Feliz boulevard stopped mid-street (almost exactly where I had a serious car accident one year prior) and reversed to hop out of her car and buy a painting to hang in her home. Near the end of the sale a little Mexican man picked up a nude and asked how much, and while I stuck with my guns at $5 it appeared too rich for his blood. Sometime later, however silly, I realized I’d become a sold artist and somewhere out there in Los Angeles two separate homes had paintings hanging on their walls that I created.

Ten years later one of my photographs was hanging in an exhibition for the Seattle Erotic Art Festival, this was the first time I’d ever had anything on display in a professional setting. All the art at the festival is for sale, it’s a way for the festival to make money and continue on for next year. The minimum price is $200 and so I set mine for an almost cheeky amount of $205 never expecting anyone to want it at even $50. But I attended a meet the docent event and did my best to help sell them on the story behind this image so that, however unlikely, they would be able to help sell it to a buyer.

It never really crossed my mind that someone would buy it, this wasn’t a fantasy I partook in, and instead just to have a piece hanging next to so many other great artists was reward enough. I was left in speechless shock when I eventually found my print at the exhibition with a little red sticker indicating it’s sale. Someone had bought my photograph, someone had bought my photograph for a not insignificant amount of money. Certainly it was more money than I’d ever spent on art. I found myself at a loss for how to process this, because it had seemed like such a remote possibility I hadn’t really pondered what any of this meant. The money part was cool but for me it was an affirmation that yes, this kind of art has value and that someone out there would want to put it on their wall.

Ten years after I sold my first “art works” I sold my first photograph without the quotations, this was for real. It’s possible for me to get the buyer’s contact info but I like the mystery, I like simply knowing that someone out there loved that picture and felt compelled to purchase it. This idea that strangers have placed something that I made in their home is both strange and wholly satisfying. I don’t expect this to be the last print I sell, and man I hope this feeling never goes away.