- by Barney Davey
Congrats to Wild Wings on its 40th year in the art print market!
My colleague of many years in the art print market, Larry Richardson, recently sent the interesting informative newsletter seen below. It is a bright reminder the wildlife art field is one that remains vibrant. It was this genre that led the way to the print market’s greatest sales figures in the heyday of limited edition reproductions. Artists such as Bev Doolittle, Robert Bateman and Carl Brenders, to name just a few, became superstars in the field.
Numerous art print publishing companies such as these: Wild Wings Art, Mill Pond Press, Greenwich Workshop, Somerset House, Hadley House Publishing, Applejack Art and many others flourished alongside their superstar artists in the golden era of limited edition art prints. Though market conditions have changed, these publishers continue to produce successful print editions and introduce new artists as well.
The genre spawned two publications to serve it, Wildlife Art Magazine, which remains a stalwart in the field and USArt, which met its unfortunate demise as the mania surrounding large number limited editions lost luster in a market that ultimately became over saturated.
Here are Larry’s observations and thoughts on the wildlife market:
The art of wildlife and outdoor scenes that sprang to its zenith in popularity over three decades ago is still a viable fundraising tool with organizations made up mostly of hunters and fishermen. But even those who are not “joiners” want to decorate and daydream by looking at a beautiful, realistic scene. Yes, realism and more so photo-realism has been kept alive by this avid group of conservation-minded individuals who in most part are not art aficionados, but nevertheless, support a segment of artists who otherwise might not pursue their chosen career.
Like other artistic pursuits, the majority of the very successful wildlife artists made their early living in an associated field if they were lucky. Waiting tables as a second job helped support their dreams. The elements to become successful as a wildlife artist are found in other vocations as well. First is artistic talent that is recognized by a particular public and, yes, even exploited (read–take it to the bank). Perseverance and initiative must be present. You don’t have to be an extrovert, but having a little ability to relate to people sure helps.
The adage of being at the right place at the right time…luck, is still a big part of the equation, i.e., the Federal Duck Stamp Contest. But most of the very successful wildlife painters have plied their trade for years, some of them over very bumpy roads. Not to be overlooked as a medium to get ahead has been the option to reproduce their work in paper prints, billboards for the artist. This route is not for all artists, and fortunately there are other outlets for talent. I had a college roommate for a year, an art major, who would sit up all night working on his chiaroscurist designs. I haven’t seen or heard about him since. I hope he is happy.
(Using my limited HTML skills, I moved some things around on Larry’s newsletter to have it fit my blog configuration and avoid having information truncated on the right side. Apologies to Larry and any graphic designer for somewhat crudely altering the newsletter from a 3-column to 2-column format. Contact Larry to have him send the original or to be added to his newsletter.)