Jack Vettriano Paints Sexiness, Establishes Heartbreak Publishing

At the end of the day, no one can simply coach Vettriano or any other really successful artist to flatly follow some pre-disposed plan marketing plan to create success.

The Temptress – Jack Vettriano
"Jack Vettriano is the nation's most successful living artist – his prints outselling the likes of Klimt and Monet. In a frank interview the 'people's painter' talks about his obsession with women of a certain type, why he felt he had to leave Scotland and his ongoing battle to be taken seriously" –
Jack Vettriano is more than Scotland's most successful living artist. He is one of the most successful living artists of his era. Sales of his most famous work, The Singing Butler, are reported to make it the best-selling print in the world.
As with virtually all visual artists who have enjoyed astronomical art print sales, Vettriano has the uncanny knack of communicating viscerally, emotionally and cerebrally with his collectors. There is no way to fabricate such a connection. It has to come instinctively from the artist.
I paint what moves me – sexiness
In an article titled, "I paint what moves me – sexiness – Jack Vettriano interview", and from which the opening quote is taken, the painter has this to say, "I could turn out an abstract painting for you but it wouldn't be coming from the heart. What I paint is what moves me." With the sales of his prints and licensing deals that move astonishing amounts of work, it is apparent what moves Vettriano also moves many consumers worldwide as well.
Jack Vettriano establishes new art publishing company, Heartbreak Publishing
In February 2009, Vettriano established his own publishing company where he is co-owner. It is appropriately named Heartbreak Publishing.Unlike the most typical pattern of many successful artists who go off to start their own solo publishing venture, Vettriano's business model was established to publish his works  and other artists, photographers and designers including: Johanna Basford, David Brayne, Michael Clark, Jacqui Denby, Paul Manousso and Fredi Marcarini. Given the degree of difficulty in launching any publishing business, it is a remarkable and commendable undertaking for Vettriano to cast his net and include other artists.
It seems unlikely to me Jack Vettriano plotted to make paintings that would tap the zeitgeist of a generation in such a way to sell incredible amounts of prints and simultaneously pull in a half million or more in USD for his originals. It seems equally unlikely any artist could successfully calculate and execute such a plan. As with great success in any of the arts, there has to be an intersection where talent, ambition, the ability to touch and influence buyers and a bit of luck all come together to produce it.
Talent of another sort is required to continually create new works that sell well
The trick is to not be a one-trick pony, but rather to continue to mine the mother-lode. That requires staying in tune with collector tastes and  keeping interest in continuing to create new interesting compelling images that reflect an artist's style, but which also show growth. I don't think there is an art school or a business school that can teach such skills. Some of it is inherent or instinctual, some of it comes from gaining business knowledge, some comes from being managed in a way that leverages the interest in the artist's work without overcooking it, but rather a steady simmer.
At the end of the day, no one can simply coach Vettriano or any other really successful artist to flatly follow some pre-disposed plan marketing plan to create success. That is well and good, but it takes more. The smart artists take clues from wherever they come. It can be from family, friends and rivals. It can be from business partners, the daily news or notes from collectors. However, ultimately when Vettriano or any other artist sit at the easel, it becomes a solitary task to wring an image from imagination and talent.
The desire to sit at the easel and work on the painting has to be compellingly strong. In Vettriano's case it pulled him away from an engineering career and a marriage. You see it over and over where the need to create is so compelling it is life altering. Under the right circumstances you get a Jack Vettriano, or maybe a Bruce Springsteen who reportedly wrote 1500 songs before breaking into the big time with his music career.
The best bait will not make the fish bite. They come on their own terms.
When the magic that is in a would be best-selling image is released to the public, it gets a life of its own. Yes, it can be expertly advertised, publicized and skillfully promoted, but if the fish aren't biting, no amount bait will bring them in. Vettriano is a perfect example of that notion that the most successful artists help us define ourselves, express ourselves and connect us in communal ways.
Jack Vettriano has proven the community that shares an interest in his work can be vast and be vastly profitable for him. It will be fun to observe the success of his new publishing venture boldly launched in a most financially disturbing time. I wish him well and hope his success helps keep the interest in the art print market strong for artists, dealers, retailers, consumers and other new publishers too.

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  1. Hi Barney, I appreciate what JV has done. Emily Carr, an artist, was that passionate too. She was compared to Georgia O’Keefe. But I’m wondering about realising that this is a journey and what kind of person and eventually what kind of artist that makes you. I applaud the efforts of artists that make it big time but I ADMIRE the artists who are balanced in their lives and make great art at the same time.

  2. Hi Lori, You make a good point. Sure, the big hitters like Vettriano grab our attention, but there are plenty of unsung artists who grab our admiration. It’s no different than other professions. For example, while some lucky few become a head football coach in the NFL, countless other very talented coaches, who are not willing to devote all their energy to a single pursuit, who want the balance you mention, work in colleges and high schools. What they achieve may be small potatoes to some, but to those whose lives they touch, they are heroes. When a piece of art moves me, I don’t care who made it. I just know I like it. Thanks for your perspective. Cheers, Barney

  3. “I will spend half an hour putting a seam on a stocking and two minutes on a man’s face. I know my priorities.”
    -Jack Vettriano

    “I paint what moves me, sexiness” – Jack Vettriano

    Both quotes reflect his state of mind and what gets him to the easel.

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