12 votes

Inside the surreal world of $20,000 pet portraits (gifted link)

25 comments

  1. [15]
    Grzmot
    Link
    Grifting the attention of people who have more money than sense has always been highly lucrative. Art's always subjective, but tbh you can get a lot better quality for a lot less than 20k. There...

    Grifting the attention of people who have more money than sense has always been highly lucrative.

    Art's always subjective, but tbh you can get a lot better quality for a lot less than 20k. There are some really good painters and drawers who will give you a killer portrait for a couple hundred bucks up to like 1k on the highest end, and all of them operate in the TTRPG space where they turn DnD characters to life.

    It's of course absurd and surreal, but the ultimate thing is that if you are so out of touch with reality that money just becomes a number on an account somewhere, sure, why not drop 20k on an item that has some personal value to you? I'm not rich, but I have spent like 200 EUR on a fancy fountain pen. I enjoy the idea of "buying for life" and try to buy locally, supporting European companies and craftspeople. Of course, 20k is far removed from a sensible price that is at least somehow tied to the value of the object, but it's also art. How do you value it in a monetary sense? If the painter says a number and some stupid idiot with a 12 digit number as their networth goes "Sure." then that's the value of the artpiece. Supply and demand.

    It reminds me of the guy who makes a living reviewing luxury resorts for really rich people before they go there.

    8 votes
    1. [3]
      AugustusFerdinand
      Link Parent
      There's also a subset of people that associate price with value and simply won't bother with something cheaper even if it is better, especially when it comes to art/handmade items. An example of...

      There's also a subset of people that associate price with value and simply won't bother with something cheaper even if it is better, especially when it comes to art/handmade items.
      An example of this is within one of my hobbies: blacksmithing
      There is an upcoming high end art show/festival that my local blacksmithing group has been invited to attend. Most exhibitors at these shows, this one included, have to pay to attend. This show in particular requires the exhibitors to be invited to attend and then pay for the privilege.
      We are being paid to be there, sell our wares, and we're not even demonstrating (actually making anything on-site).
      The first year this happened, items were priced as they usually are for us at one of these shows, that is to say very reasonably and rarely at an actual profit (most of the time we're just trying to continue to fund the hobby, not make a business out of it). The first year, nearly nothing sold.
      One of the other exhibitors came by on the last day and made a comment along the lines of "This kind of crowd won't pay that kind of money, if you're coming back next year, triple your prices."

      Next year comes around, again invited and paid to attend, follow advice (it had been validated a bit by asking around to other exhibitors at similar events); same items offered, what is usually $30-50 at a "normal" art show/festival, for what amounts to trinkets for a blacksmith to make, is priced at $150.
      Everything sold out.

      16 votes
      1. tanglisha
        Link Parent
        I don't think it's as small a subset as you're implying. I know someone who used to offer free women's self defense classes. Maybe one or two people would show up. They started charging $5,...

        I don't think it's as small a subset as you're implying. I know someone who used to offer free women's self defense classes. Maybe one or two people would show up. They started charging $5, suddenly more people appeared. They experimented with $20, now the classes were full every time.

        It's an anecdote, but I've also seen it in other places. Meetups that charge any kind of fee usually get a high percentage of people who said they're going to attend, no fee means less people show up.

        Selling art isn't really different than selling yourself for any other kind of job. If you want to know what you're worth, keep asking for more until nobody is interested. Then back down to what you can get.

        7 votes
      2. papasquat
        Link Parent
        It's understandable. Crafts are hard to price. If you're offering things at cost, people are going to (correctly) assume you're not a professional, and most people don't want things made by an...

        It's understandable. Crafts are hard to price. If you're offering things at cost, people are going to (correctly) assume you're not a professional, and most people don't want things made by an amateur.

        3 votes
    2. [11]
      cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Was it really necessary to call people "out of touch" and "stupid idiots" because they spent that much on a pet portrait? I get it, it's a lot of money to a lot of people, and could have...

      Was it really necessary to call people "out of touch" and "stupid idiots" because they spent that much on a pet portrait? I get it, it's a lot of money to a lot of people, and could have potentially been put to better use. But I feel like you're also missing the fact that, at least in this case, it was a fairly sizeable oil painting... which is not something you can get typically get commissioned for "a couple hundred bucks" or even $1k in most cases. And it's not like that money is disappearing into the ether. It went to an artist who likely spent a significant amount of time and resources making the piece, not to mention all the time they spent over their life developing those artistic skills, and building their business.

      I personally wouldn't spend $20k on a pet portrait, nor could I afford to... but I totally understand the sentiment and desire to have something like that done. I recently lost my dog, Quincy, and have been considering commissioning a piece of digital art to remember him by, which is why I posted this topic. My price range is "a couple hundred bucks" though, so I do get where you're coming from in being a bit taken aback by the $20k price. But I also don't think it's fair, healthy, or productive to look down on and deride anyone who chooses to and can afford to spend that much on a custom piece of art to memorialize their pet.

      16 votes
      1. [9]
        sparksbet
        Link Parent
        yeah, I'd never get something like this even if I could afford it, but if you're getting a custom sizeable hand-painted oil painting for a couple hundred bucks you're almost certainly underpaying...

        yeah, I'd never get something like this even if I could afford it, but if you're getting a custom sizeable hand-painted oil painting for a couple hundred bucks you're almost certainly underpaying the artist to an absurd degree. I bet the artists @grzmot mentions selling custom portrais in the TTRPG space are selling digital art and/or prints rather than custom oil paintings, which obviously brings down the cost of materials if nothing else -- and that's not to denigrate their skills in any way, large physical oil paintings wouldn't be fit for the contexts most TTRPG fans want custom portraits for!

        Making expensive art for rich people is pretty much the most traditional way for artists to make money doing art that there is. Many of Michelangelo's most famous works are commissions. Is it a grift to charge a lot of money for something high-quality that takes a lot of time, labor, and relatively expensive materials? Is it stupid to pay money for that when you know what you're getting and get what you expected? I don't really think so.

        11 votes
        1. [8]
          Grzmot
          Link Parent
          I find it really interesting that no one seems to have read the second paragraph in my post, which goes out of its way to make the entire thing way more relative. Also, my opinion was originally...

          I find it really interesting that no one seems to have read the second paragraph in my post, which goes out of its way to make the entire thing way more relative.

          Also, my opinion was originally informed by the cover image that the site used, and not by the actual paintings themselves, which are of much higher quality. I wrote a portion of my comment before seeing those as the article refused to load in my browser and I had to open it in something Chromium based. I also fell prey to the click-bait of the headline, which let me assume that the base price of a painting was 20 grand, when in fact the painter lays out a much more reasonable price range:

          Her oil painting prices start at a few hundred dollars and can go up to $20,000 for a large portrait with multiple animals.

          The value of art is subjective, beyond the labour put into a painting, it is up the the artist and the buyer to agree upon a price. Supply and demand.

          I will also say that someone spending a lot of money on a painting that shows their very much not hunting dogs at the end of a successful hunt for much larger game is out of touch with reality. Are they a stupid idiot? Probably not.

          1. [7]
            cfabbro
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Uh... no duh? That's quite literally the joke!!! Alan Tudyk is a comedic actor, and the portrait he had made pretty obviously reflects that.

            I will also say that someone spending a lot of money on a painting that shows their very much not hunting dogs at the end of a successful hunt for much larger game is out of touch with reality.

            Uh... no duh? That's quite literally the joke!!! Alan Tudyk is a comedic actor, and the portrait he had made pretty obviously reflects that.

            2 votes
            1. [6]
              Grzmot
              Link Parent
              I have never heard of Alan Tudyk and the article does not do a great job at conveying the tone of his imagination, so sorry, duh, my knowledge of celebrities is not as great as yours clearly.

              I have never heard of Alan Tudyk and the article does not do a great job at conveying the tone of his imagination, so sorry, duh, my knowledge of celebrities is not as great as yours clearly.

              1. [5]
                cfabbro
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                The first two paragraphs of the article explains his background, and also makes it pretty clear his intent was to get a tad absurd with the portrait idea, IMO:

                The first two paragraphs of the article explains his background, and also makes it pretty clear his intent was to get a tad absurd with the portrait idea, IMO:

                Alan Tudyk was looking for something special. The prolific actor, star of “Resident Alien” as well as the voice of manic chicken Heihei in “Moana,” wanted to commission a painting to honor three beloved rescue dogs, but his visions tended to the fantastical. One idea, a portrait of his 14-year-old “terrier/poodle/chihuahua/goddess” mix Raisin holding a box of matches in front of a burning school, was rejected by a British pet portraitist: “We were told by his assistant he doesn’t do paintings like that,” Tudyk said. So he reached out to Jennifer Gennari, a painter who has been doing animal portraits in oil for nearly a decade, and she “embraced it,” Tudyk said.

                For Gennari, Tudyk cooked up an even more ambitious concept: all three dogs in a scene of epic Boschian carnage. Against an eerie background of the dogs’ favorite Vancouver, B.C., woods, Gennari posed Lola, a Maltese who had recently died at 16, atop a pile of moose carcasses (plus one dismembered human hand), blood smearing her dainty white jowls. Aunt Clara, the 12-year-old cockapoo, holds a limp boa constrictor in her jaws, and Raisin is locked down on a dead squirrel. Several coyotes are vanishing into the trees behind them, presumably fleeing in terror. “We just wanted something that showed [the dogs] victorious over our idea of their enemies,” Tudyk explained.

                1 vote
                1. [4]
                  Grzmot
                  Link Parent
                  Right, unless you know Resident Alien this doesn't tell you a lot. Unless you know more about him, which I do not, to me it totally read like a guy who's completely cooky and calls his dog a...

                  Right, unless you know Resident Alien this doesn't tell you a lot. Unless you know more about him, which I do not, to me it totally read like a guy who's completely cooky and calls his dog a goddess and then proceeds to drop 20k on a dramatic painting displaying his dogs at the end of a victorious bloody hunt.

                  I've seen Moana, and I remember that the chicken was a comedic relief character, but that doesn't imply that the rest of his career is in comedy, or in fact that he's a savoury human being with a reasonable relationship to his pets.

                  You seem to know way more about him, so by all means if you say that it's a tongue-in-cheek joke than there's a good chance it is. But irony only works if someone else in the world meant something similar seriously at a point.

                  1 vote
                  1. [3]
                    cfabbro
                    (edited )
                    Link Parent
                    Fair enough. I am definitely quite familiar with him and assumed most people would be, since he was in the rather popular scifi show, Firefly (where he played a comedic relief character). And also...

                    Fair enough. I am definitely quite familiar with him and assumed most people would be, since he was in the rather popular scifi show, Firefly (where he played a comedic relief character). And also in Tucker & Dale vs Evil, which is hilarious and worth watching if you haven't seen it yet, BTW. So, sorry if I came accross and condescending or overly aggressive, as that was not my intent. And I apologize for being a bit dismissive and harsh.

                    2 votes
                    1. [2]
                      Grzmot
                      Link Parent
                      Eh, no worries, I'm sure my initial (poor) choice of words didn't help in keeping the conversation calm. Firefly is a show I've heard a lot about but won't watch because if people are talking...

                      Eh, no worries, I'm sure my initial (poor) choice of words didn't help in keeping the conversation calm.

                      Firefly is a show I've heard a lot about but won't watch because if people are talking about wanting a S2 so much after such a long time it must be quite good, and it would frustrate me to no end.

                      2 votes
                      1. cfabbro
                        Link Parent
                        Yeah, Firefly is disappointing, but only because it was so damn good and got totally screwed over by Fox, who gave it a terrible timeslot and aired the episodes out of order! If you can tolerate...

                        Yeah, Firefly is disappointing, but only because it was so damn good and got totally screwed over by Fox, who gave it a terrible timeslot and aired the episodes out of order! If you can tolerate the disappointment in that sense, it's still well worth watching though since it was a genuinely great show, IMO. And the movie, Serenity, is a decent enough conclusion to it even though it doesn't answer all the show's open questions.

                        1 vote
      2. daywalker
        Link Parent
        I feel your want to immortalize your recently passed companion, and I think it's very reasonable to want to spend some money on it. But I also get where the person you've replied to is coming...

        I feel your want to immortalize your recently passed companion, and I think it's very reasonable to want to spend some money on it. But I also get where the person you've replied to is coming from, and agree to a degree. However, I think it's not about stupidity. It's about having so much money that you don't care about optimizing your expenditure like a regular person would. The emotional satisfaction they get from that painting is more important to them than using that money for good.

        I think if this was like an extremely rare one-off purchase in a lifetime, the person you're replying to, and the people who upvoted them, wouldn't have thought like this. But most often people who commission that much are extremely rich, and they use that money for selfish and nonsense reasons. That's why it creates a negative reaction.

        I think there's something rotten about having so much money to spend nonchalantly, and that's why it creates so much negative reaction. Most people in the world don't make that kind of money in a year.

        But I also don't think it's fair, healthy, or productive to look down on and deride anyone who chooses to and can afford to spend that much on a custom piece of art to memorialize their pet.

        So this is where I disagree. If it was like a one-off thing, I could understand. But everything I've seen about things like this points to the contrary. One could help a lot of people with that kind of money, and if they choose to spend it on a luxury item like this, it's very much extremely selfish.

        2 votes
  2. [10]
    thumbsupemoji
    Link
    It's absolutely insane what happens when you hit that 1%er mark—because of economies of scale, you don't have to have a ton of customers, you just have to attract the correct customers, who...

    It's absolutely insane what happens when you hit that 1%er mark—because of economies of scale, you don't have to have a ton of customers, you just have to attract the correct customers, who conveniently enough can afford to travel all over the world. Did you know, for example, that there's a Four Seasons at Disney World? Did you know that you can have Disney characters come and visit just you and your family at the hotel? Starting at $7k—but at that point why not?

    1 vote
    1. [9]
      papasquat
      Link Parent
      Because it sounds like the most creepy, awkward and uncomfortable thing in the universe to pay a bunch of adults to dress up in cartoon character outfits to interact with your family in a private...

      but at that point why not?

      Because it sounds like the most creepy, awkward and uncomfortable thing in the universe to pay a bunch of adults to dress up in cartoon character outfits to interact with your family in a private session. Different strokes for rich folks I guess though.

      1 vote
      1. [7]
        stu2b50
        Link Parent
        How is that any weirder or more uncomfortable than in the park? The addition of privacy makes it creepy? It's not hard to understand; it will be a magical experience for your kids, because kids...

        How is that any weirder or more uncomfortable than in the park? The addition of privacy makes it creepy?

        It's not hard to understand; it will be a magical experience for your kids, because kids are fucking stupid, and will believe it's really the characters. Parents of all kinds want their kids to be happy; their kids being happy is a form of enjoyment. Some of them have a lot of money. Nothing more to it.

        2 votes
        1. DefinitelyNotAFae
          Link Parent
          Or to hire a Disney Princess at a birthday party (they're licensed+ish, not through Disney) or a clown, or a magician. My birthdays didn't have those but it isn't only the realm of the super rich...

          Or to hire a Disney Princess at a birthday party (they're licensed+ish, not through Disney) or a clown, or a magician. My birthdays didn't have those but it isn't only the realm of the super rich to pay for entertainment. See also a DJ, band, etc.

          Yes that's an exorbitant amount and the performers are not seeing nearly enough of it, but I just feel like if I want to complain about the rich doing rich people things it isn't gonna be over a Disney vacation.

          2 votes
        2. [5]
          papasquat
          Link Parent
          I think it's creepy in the park also. Ive always been creeped out by mascot characters. It's just creepier in a private setting because you can't just walk past them and pretend they're not there....

          I think it's creepy in the park also. Ive always been creeped out by mascot characters. It's just creepier in a private setting because you can't just walk past them and pretend they're not there. They're devoting all of their energy into creeping your kids, and only your kids out.

          Same reason why an insane person opening their trenchcoat and flashing you is creepy on a crowded subway, but way creepier in your living room.

          1. [2]
            stu2b50
            Link Parent
            That seems like a very personal hangup. Most people quite like the mascots - otherwise, if you just want rollercoasters you can go to six flags.

            That seems like a very personal hangup. Most people quite like the mascots - otherwise, if you just want rollercoasters you can go to six flags.

            4 votes
            1. papasquat
              Link Parent
              I'm fully willing to accept that. Although anecdotally, I've talked to a lot of people who were creeped out by character mascots as kids and whose parents thought it was funny to put them in front...

              I'm fully willing to accept that. Although anecdotally, I've talked to a lot of people who were creeped out by character mascots as kids and whose parents thought it was funny to put them in front of them all the time anyway though. (Not that mine did that, they just learned that it wasn't my thing, just like roller coasters weren't my sister's thing)

          2. [2]
            Grzmot
            Link Parent
            If mascots creeped out your kids, do you really think you would hire them to visit your table at a restaurant? This sounds like a you issue tbh. People go to Disneyland specifically for this...

            If mascots creeped out your kids, do you really think you would hire them to visit your table at a restaurant? This sounds like a you issue tbh. People go to Disneyland specifically for this experience, you can hardly call it "creeping".

            2 votes
            1. papasquat
              Link Parent
              I mean... yes. A lot of parents aren't really involved enough with their kids to know that they creep them out, especially ones that spend enough time working to afford to hire them for private...

              I mean... yes. A lot of parents aren't really involved enough with their kids to know that they creep them out, especially ones that spend enough time working to afford to hire them for private session.

              I fully accept that I'm the outlier here and lots of people think mascots are fun for whatever reason. I definitely have met a lot of other people that were weirded out by them as kids though.

      2. thumbsupemoji
        Link Parent
        I mean if you’re already there lol, and you’re already out $50 grand…

        I mean if you’re already there lol, and you’re already out $50 grand…