The Business Behind Creativity: A student artist details selling prints
“It’s incredibly satisfying to know that something I created is a part of their life now, even if it’s just in the corner of a room. It makes all the hassle worth it.”
Photo by Jonathon Duguid
Jonathan Duguid, 24, is a Product Design and Engineering Student who has studied in Edinburgh for the past 5 years. He is currently completing a master's degree in Glasgow. In his spare time, Jon approaches art with a very systematic approach, from selling to the intricate and detailed designs themselves.
Minoricity finds out from Jon what it takes to run a small business on the side of studying.
Diamond by Jonathan Duguid
EXPLAIN YOUR ART IN THREE WORDS
Controlled, realistic, detailed
WHEN DID YOU FIRST REALISE YOU HAD A TALENT
I remember I had a colouring book at my Nan’s and I coloured in a picture of a cartoon bear very carefully, so I didn’t go over the lines. I signed it and boastfully marked my age as “Only 8.” I know I wrote that so my older brothers would see it in an attempt to show them I was better than them at something. I took a very systematic approach to it, done completely straight with vertical lines. Time consuming, but a much cleaner result than the more careless and uncontrolled method I was used to.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS SELLING YOUR ART HELPED YOUR EXPERIENCE?
It has made me realise that being successful at selling art requires a diverse set of skills outside of just artistic ability. If you’re a wonderfully talented artist but don’t have any entrepreneurial drive (or money) then your work will go unnoticed, as it’s a very competitive environment that you need to keep up with. You need a scanner and software to colour correct, remove dust, fix imperfections and resize. You need to go to a print shop and pick a paper that’s the best quality but is also financially viable in accordance to your selling rates.
I’ve realised it’s not a lucrative endeavour. I pay to print a batch of artwork and it takes quite a few sales to break even before making a profit. For me, it felt I had to sell my artwork for as cheap as possible, just so people will pay it some attention. Honestly, it’s a side of art that causes a lot of stress and anxiety, because you do all these things and put them up for sale, just for them to go largely unnoticed.
The only joy I get out of selling is receiving a message from a customer telling me that they love the artwork and attaching a picture of it in display in their home. It’s incredibly satisfying to know that something I created is a part of their life now, even if it’s just in the corner of a room. It makes all the hassle worth it.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE TO WORK ON?
My favourite pieces to work on are the ones that take the longest to complete. I like to pick stupid high-resolution images so I can zoom into them as much as possible and get every last detail. The most satisfying piece to date is an Aperol Spritz cocktail which I proudly display in my room. I also really enjoy drawing drag queens because it’s quite a small community and they find it really flattering.
Aperol Spritz by Jonathon Duguid
YOU’VE STUDIED PRODUCT ENGINEERING AND DESIGN ENGINEERING, HAVE YOUR DEGREE AND ART SKILLS CONTRIBUTED TO EACH OTHER IN ANY WAY?
Product design sketching is really common for university projects and I’ve found that my artistic skills haven’t been as complimentary as you might expect. With my art, I’ll spend hours making sure that the image and drawing is identical. That’s not the case for product design sketching, you need to be able to draw something that isn’t sitting in front of you and you need to do it quickly and move onto another iteration or idea. There’s a lot more 3D perspective work which I familiar with but it’s not something that I commonly practice in my art. It’s more useful for a final presentation sketch for example, when the drawings demand more care, and by that point I have a much better understanding of what the product looks like – I guess that’s where my artistic ability shines. Nowadays, final concepts are rendered with 3D software but I always try to make a drawing to compliment it and show off, making my work more memorable.
WHAT THEMES DO YOU PURSUE IN YOUR ART?
I’ll draw whatever I feel inspired by at the time. I’m really enjoying cocktails at the moment because it’s something people will be interested in buying, and also something that satisfies my fetish for detail. I’m often inspired by fashion and drag art too. I’ll scroll through my art Instagram and be overwhelmed with creative makeup and fashion looks by queer artists, and I can’t help myself but to recreate them on paper. It’s a satisfying endeavour for both parties because it scratches my itch and the queens get some validation in the process.
Yvie Oddly by Jonathon Duguid
DO YOU HAVE ANY GOALS IN ART?
I guess getting widespread recognition and appreciation for my art is what I’m aiming for. Although I decided that the process for achieving this would suck out a lot of the fun since there’s an entrepreneurial mind-set involved. At the moment, I’m happy to draw and sell as a hobby in my own time and whatever comes from that is a bonus.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE QUEER ART SCENE IN EDINBURGH?
In terms of art, I’m not very aware of it. Most of queer artists I found were through Instagram. The performance art scene is much more vibrant. The weekly drag shows are a staple in the community and I always have a great time there.
DO YOU THINK QUEER CREATIVES ARE UNDERREPRESENTED IN THE CITY?
Queer artists are under represented by nature. That’s probably why they’re so unafraid to push the boundaries and think outside of the box. It’s always great to see queer art being showcased on a bigger platform, but being underground is probably where it thrives.
ARE YOU OPEN TO ANY COLLABORATIONS WITH OTHER CREATIVES, IF SO, WHAT?
I’ve never collaborated with another artist before, although I probably would.