Artup 1.0

March 2017 was when I decided to devote my full time to art and see if it would provide me with a sustainable livelihood. The idea was to live off my savings for the next 6 months and try to sell my art works. I understood that I had to stay with my efforts for atleast 36 months to really say “I tried!”.

The first exhibit — encouraging

March ’17: I showed 25 of my drawings along with a few paintings to an event organised by the Junta art market on a rooftop restaurant in Bangalore. The response was great. Of the 400 people that came for the event, around 30 people bought one or more of the A3 size prints. I just about managed managed to recover the amount spent on prints and participation fees.

Encouraged by the response I decided to exhibit every month with fresh drawings. The intention was to gauge the response of the audience and act on their feedback.

Some of the buyers suggested smaller prints which they could put together on their kitchen walls. About 98% of the buyers were women. Some buyers wanted the originals. Most buyers were young professionals who didn’t carry cash and preferred to make payments through PayTM. Most of the younger folks were on instagram but not on facebook.

The second exhibit — debacle

April ‘17: I signed up for Sunday Soul Santhe in April 2017. Although the fee was high I was confident that I could possibly recover the amount. I put up smaller prints at a lower price based on feedback from the earlier event. I sold a few prints by noon.

Some of the buyers wanted the prints framed to save them the trouble of having to get it done themselves. Most of those who saw the drawings did smile even if they didn’t buy them. A few mentioned that the drawings reminded them of R K Laxman from Malgudi days.

But at 4 pm there was a mild drizzle which turned into a hailstorm. The whole venue was gutted by rain. Many of my prints on display were drenched and I had to abandon them. The event was cancelled. I suffered my first loss.

Towards the end of April a close relative expired and I had to spend a few weeks in Hyderabad. I didn’t carry my pens and pencils. But I continued to draw with books and pencils from a local stationary shop meant for school children.

May ‘17: Once back in Bangalore, I was eager to put up the new drawings for display. The response of facebook and instagram was looking good with 100 followers. I uploaded digital versions of my work on Cupick and Redbubble for people to order prints online.

An architect wanted a mural to be done for an office space and I obliged. I executed the murals enthusiastically and didn’t exhibit any of my drawings for the month.

The third exhibit — disaster

June ’17: I was deeply disturbed by an event at the beginning of the month. I did not make any new drawings for a whole 20 days. I felt insecure and made frequent calls to discuss with close friends for advise. The month was nearing an end and I was under pressure to seek an exhibition space for the latest works. I essentially wanted to get back to understanding my audience.

I signed up for an event whose entry fee was modest. Also the audience was employees in information technology. I assumed they constituted my target audience and would gladly buy my work.

I had spent extra effort to get a few of my original works framed and priced them a little higher. People who walked into my stall found the pricing to be very high. I didn’t sell event one print in 2 days.

I was totally dejected and questioned myself if cartoons would ever sustain me in the long run. I decided to spend the next six months on paintings which could sell at a higher price.

In the last 3 months the only source of revenue came from doing a wall mural for an office space.

Changing direction — pivot

July ’17: I was fairly relaxed and enjoyed the first two oil paintings I made. I was not in a hurry to exhibit them until I had made half a dozen paintings. I said I would give myself time until December ‘17.

I received frequent requests on facebook for wall murals. Some expecting me to do it for free. I saw this as a market with continuous opportunities which could sustain me in the long run.

I floated a website showing the few murals I had done. An architect friend saw the works and suggested I do wall art for one of his projects.

I signed up for a 10 day event in Leh. I got to learn from Matthew, a French artist, who did installations. We created a few sculptures with drift wood.

Positive Signs — Stay on course

August ’17: I saw a notification from Cupick that I sold my first product. Someone bought a phone case with my drawing. Although the volume of sales on products would never sustain me, it was a good sign.

I got another message from an earlier customer seeking a repeat order for a print. Her 6 year old nephew from the United States loved it. To me this was the most flattering moment in the last 6 months.

So now I am back to getting busy with the rigour with which I had started and you will get to see some interesting works emerging hopefully over the next few months.





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Pudi Ravi Krishna

Pudi Ravi Krishna


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