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Thread: Portrait Busking
September 15th, 2009 #1
I have seen people selling portraits in London (Leicester square/covent garden) for 35£ a pop, they are by no means accurate portraits, but tourists getting ripped off dont know any different/ buy the experience of "an artists drawing my child in London" blah blah, I am considering doing it myself! I could earn rent money for like 4 days of drawing..which is what I would be doing anyway!
But I just have some reservations... I will obviously not be doing what they do, I would want to use it as both practice and a means of making some money to live off for a while.
Does anyone have any experience in this? actually selling work on the street, is it literally a case of getting the materials together and pitching up one day, or are there things I should know and prepare for?
Any and all information appreciated
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September 15th, 2009 #2
September 15th, 2009 #3
Not sure about the London area but to sell em in the states I think you need a street vendors license, not sure though. Regardless I probably will attempt a few street portraits
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September 15th, 2009 #4
September 15th, 2009 #5
September 15th, 2009 #6
I would really like to hear from someone who has done this too. I want to try it in Bristol, although there isn't a concentrated tourist area to do so.
http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=219464 - Portfolio review thread
September 15th, 2009 #7
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September 15th, 2009 #8
When on location, print out/bring along and post up your best portraits, but be confident you can produce something similar on the go.
One last thing: if you think you're not strong enough in portraiture, try some kind of creative hook to draw more interest: draw girls with flowers in their hair, do a quick local feature or attraction behind them, something that adds a little more.
September 15th, 2009 #9
@JASON - yeh i pretty confident with my portrait skills, likeness is something I know i can get, think its my timing i need to work on, think i need to do what u said, time myself with the medium on some friends, see what happens.
thanks for the sound advice
I really wanna stress that i do not want to just bang out a shoddy portrait, i really wanna do a good job, cos the ones i see atm are baaaaaad!
September 15th, 2009 #10
September 15th, 2009 #11
PEOPLE DONT REALLY DO THAT WHERE i LIVE BUT I WAS WONDERING HOW LONG ARE THE I GUESS CUSTOMERS WILLING TO SIT? IF PEOPLE ARE DOING THIS WHERE YOU LIVE YOU COULD ASK ONE TO DO ONE FOR YOU AN SEE HOW THE EXPERIENCE GOES HOW LONG IT TOOK THEM HOW LONG BEFORE YOU WANTED TO LEAVE ...W/ EVERYONE IT MAY BE DIFFERENT BUT YOU MAY HAVE A BETTER IDEA OR YOU COULD OBSERVE AS SOMEONE ELSE DOES A PORTRAIT .... IF YOU DO START DOING IT ID LIKE TO HEAR HOW IT GOES GOOD LUCK AN SHAKE THAT MONEY MAKER!
September 16th, 2009 #12
I have been watching people do it, the maximum seems to be about half an hour. I notice a lot of the time its children and tourists having them done, and they are charged 35£ for a portrait or 15£ for a caricature (hate those...creepy)
I sat and watched for a good few hours a few weekends back, when its busy, they were non stop, taking 70£ an hour! one day like that and I have my rent money insane!
I will continue to research, I am going to go and speak with them, see what they say, whether its legal or just over looked, what i need to look out for etc
Again any info appreciated, what would your thoughts be on it? what is common sense telling you may be a problem?
September 16th, 2009 #13
Dude just go for it, ask the guys doing it to make sure, and then rock em' out!
I mean 70 quid an hour? Fuck I'm moving back to London
And just as a quick tip, if your still nervous, try drawing them in profile first. People usually aren't aware of what they look like in profile, so likeness is easier.
Good luck man!
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September 16th, 2009 #14
I'd like to know about this. My sister has been going on at me to go down to the seafront when it's all touristy and do this, but I don't feel fast enough or good enough!
September 16th, 2009 #15
also agreed that you need a license. I mean, legally speaking.
the teacher of my portrait class in school said that he did that for a summer job when he was a student and that it was a decent way to get paid to practice
September 16th, 2009 #16Traditional Artist
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My gosh how wonderful it would be if I lived in an area where that was doable! No one where I go to school has cash for portraits (nor most likely, interest), and when I go back home, it's middle aged/older people who haven't got the money for it anyway (or maybe they do and I'm just assuming they don't?). Regardless, I don't think Art has much of a market where I live.
--edit-- HOLY HELL! I just did the conversion of Euro's to Dollars. 70 Euro's for me (assuming its Euro's, not pounds) would be 102 dollars! That would be *very* nice for me! Pounds would be even better though, that'd be 115 per day.
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September 16th, 2009 #17Sheriff
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September 17th, 2009 #18
September 17th, 2009 #19
I wonder if getting fancy with it would help?
Like setting up a flatscreen so people could watch as you paint them (the person AND people walking past). Have a laptop with a tablet and a printer set up.
Then, you could offer a digital package. Burn it onto a CD (or email it to the person) along with a printout. Even offer a special postcard deal...where you draw the character onto pre-drawn backgrounds of the local area with a little frame (And then print it out onto postcard sized paper, so they can send it to people).
The reasons for digital?
Well, mainly it is to be able to stand out from the others and offer something unique. Also, digital you could probably work a LOT faster and be able to correct mistakes a LOT easier (so, in the end, a lot better quality portait in a lot less time). Then, there is the crazy flexibility in what you can produce from the artwork once it is done (postcards, prints, buttons and stickers even).
You could even do light color washes and other quicky digital painting things (which your competition wouldn't be able to come close to).
Some people see digital as "not real artwork" though...they think the computer does everything or something. So that might run the risk of cheapening your work (but, i think will everything else you are offering above what the competition has, you could actually charge a premium for your work).
Hmm, maybe the print you print out right there in front of them you would sign by hand...to make it really personal and try to get rid of the "just digital" feeling they would have (so that picture in their hand is unique, even if they get a disk with it also).
edit: ooo just thought of something else! you could try to speak to a local shop where you are setting up and work out a deal to use their credit card machine for a transaction fee (they pay you what the person was paying minus a small cut). This would make you a lot more accessible to those who don't have cash on them!
The more I think about it...the more I feel you could REALLY make a killing at it! Even going as far as advertising and creating a local persona for yourself... something that really stands out from the rest. A new modern take on the street artist.
Last edited by Ivory_Oasis; September 17th, 2009 at 04:44 AM.
September 17th, 2009 #20
Don't go in there expecting to become rich from it. I mean sure, you could make a lot of money. But it's unstable work: there won't be ANY (or very very few) customers on a particularly rainy day etc, depending where you're setting up shop.
Plus, if you go in there expecting a bare minimum, you'll come out with more. Just to be safe though, try to save up a substantial amount of money to tide you over for a while in case. Not saying it won't work out, but preparation might make things easier to transition into.
October 2nd, 2009 #21
Ok research has suggested that to portrait busk one does not need a street vendors license, as an artists is exempt from such rules.Unless of course you are selling prints/jewelry/crafts etc these do not count under the heading Artist in the case of vendor permit restrictions
HOWEVER, there are designated streets that one can work (in London) it cannot be done everywhere
Also public liability insurance is not required but for the sake of covering ones back against potential scammer quick buck claim mother f**kers its probably a sensible idea to have some cover. Ya know case someone decides that swallowing one of your pencils and choking is your fault and decides to sue you
I will keep researching, as I do want to be absolutely sure, but so far this has been the case from talking to others doing it and talking to the local borough council.
hope that helps anyone thinking of doing it, I say best bet is to ring ur council and see what they say about where you ca do it in ur town!
LETS GO MAKE SOME MONEY FROM OUR ART!!!! SO WE CAN MAKE MORE ART
October 2nd, 2009 #22
In the states, every state is different. In Massachusetts you don't need a street vendors license - that's a license to sell food, and it's very expensive. You need a hawker's license. That's what I got when I tried it. I just tried selling landscapes and it didn't work out. Portraits would be more fun, and probably more lucrative.
One time I was out in a different state selling art, and someone yelled that she'd called the cops on me and that she pays taxes, yada yada. I tried telling her I pay taxes too, and I have a license - it's just Massachusetts is getting the taxes. But she was crazy. Long story short, it helps to be able to wave a license at people.
October 2nd, 2009 #23
I'm actually going to be doing this tonight. With a group, though. A group from my school is heading to a gallery, since tonight all the gallery's have openings, and we're going to be doing some portraits to raise money (though we still get half). Should be fun.
Last edited by Noah Bradley; October 2nd, 2009 at 05:59 PM.
October 2nd, 2009 #24
October 2nd, 2009 #25