Stroke of Brilliance: Live Event Artist Taps Into Wedding Market
Painter Ken Lund discovered his unusual market niche in 2005, after a chance meeting with a “live event artist.” These creative types are commissioned to attend parties and other functions and paint the festivities as they transpire; the client then takes home the personalized artwork as a memento. Lund shadowed the artist for a few events and then built his live event business by taking referrals when his mentor was booked. Today he mostly paints weddings.
We talked with Lund, who recently relocated from California to Maine, about his artwork — and how he markets his small business.
ISBB: Not many people have heard of live event artists. How do you position yourself?
Lund: Having a wedding painting produced on-site is something that every guest can be a part of. It breaks the norm of your typical photographer or videographer, so it appeals to clients who are looking for something unique at their wedding. In addition, a lot of the videographers I’ve worked with set up time-lapse videos of my paintings, and it’s neat to see the progression. It’s not often that art lovers get to see the process of a painting they purchase.
How long does each painting take?
Typically, the event will take three to four hours. I normally paint the reception, but sometimes the bride and groom may want to capture the ceremony itself. At the end of the event, the piece is finished. I’ll bring the painting home, allow it to dry, take care of the edges and any other requests from the client, and either ship it to them or drop it off.
How do you market yourself?
It’s been really word of mouth. I’ve done some simple brochures and a website. I have dropped off business cards at different venues, and I’ve gotten a few clients in that respect. However, I just moved to the East Coast, where I don’t have many clients and do plan on trying some different things.
What are the biggest challenges with this type of work, and how have you overcome them?
There aren’t a lot of bad things about it. The guests are great; they’re typically in a good mood based on the fact that they’re at a wedding. I do occasionally fly to other states, so that can complicate things. I’ve been to Texas a few times, and the logistics of getting my materials and easel there were challenging. So was dealing with an oil painting after the event. In those cases, I usually leave the piece with the client.
What about weather? Is that a problem for you?
The majority of my events have been in California, and — knock on wood — I’ve only been rained on once. The bride and groom usually choose a wedding venue that’s gorgeous, and I enjoy outdoor events a little more [than indoor ones], because of the scenery. In Maine, I might have to look into using some sort of canopy.
Susan Johnston is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.