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Why I Sell Prints of Custom Portraits

Many of the cat portraits in my portfolio were commissioned by customers who wanted me to paint their cat(s) dressed in a particular style or costume. A large percentage of those commissioned paintings are available for purchase as archival prints, greeting cards, and assorted merchandise ~ from my Etsy shop, my booth at art fairs, and in select retail gift-shops around the world.

I let my customers know this information up front when commissioning me, as I want them to understand my work and how I make my living.

Creating reproduction prints and gifts using my artwork allows me to sell original cat paintings at prices that are affordable to people with average budgets. I’m one of those people, so I think about myself. ;)
If I add up the number of hours that I spend on portraits, in order to pay myself a living wage, my paintings would need to be sold at higher prices… however, I will recoup my invested time with print sales for years to come.

Sure, it will be flattering to sell my paintings for thousands of dollars someday, but my greatest thrill is in sharing my work with as many cat lovers as possible. It is one of many reasons why I will post original cat paintings periodically on eBay, with a low starting bid. I don’t want to court an elite group of buyers, if it means ignoring the 99% of my fans who might only be able to afford a greeting card or a small print.

Every single customer is important to me! If you only purchase a bookmark, I appreciate that you spent a few dollars on my cat art.

I usually test the waters by sharing my finished work on my Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram, in order to get feedback and determine whether or not people are interested in buying prints.

Needless to say, not every commissioned portrait is available in printed form; some custom paintings are very specific, include personal references and “inside jokes”, or otherwise wouldn’t appeal to a wide audience. If I love the concept, and get a good feeling about it, I will accept a commission that may not be “marketable” to my usual customers.

So far, I haven’t met anyone who objects to having their cat’s portrait available on cards, bookmarks, and other gift items; in fact, people are excited to see their cat on display when they visit my booth!

I love telling the story behind the art.  Your story.  


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Tara Fly

About Tara Fly

A Crazy Cat Lady ... who divides her time between painting portraits of cats dressed in period costumes, watching BBC mini-series, growing weeds and wildflowers, and baking pumpkin pies seasoned with cat hair. Would you like some fur-flavoured coffee?

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