The Australian artist Anthony White was recently working as a stockbroker for Credit Suisse First Boston. Early this year he quit his day job as a stockbroker to take up painting full time. He hasn’t completely left the money industry behind though, as he is now painting it.
I asked him a few questions about his money series that he is currently working on..
# What got you started on the money series?
My girlfriend got sick of me thinking about money all the time. I guess this happens when you work as a stockbroker. My girlfriend thought I needed to get a hobby to try and get a more rounded personality. I went back to art and The Money Series was the first thing that came out.
# How did a stockbroker become an artist? (Paul Gauguin was also a stockbroker before being an artist)
I started painting and exhibiting my work about 15 years ago before I became a stockbroker. Being dedicated to my art generally kept me quite poor. I worked part time to support my art habit. During this time I was also trading shares which I was quite good at. Unfortunately I never had big funds behind me so I was only making a lot of small wins. When I started working for Credit Suisse First Boston I was well and truly over being the poor artist. During the last 6 years that I worked as a stockbroker I was able to acquire some property and more shares. I left stockbroking in February to go back to art. I guess I am a glutton for punishment.
For inspiration I tend to think of Jeff Koons who was a commodities trader which is similar but different to stockbroking.
# How have you been marketing/selling your work?
Living in a small town of 11 000 people I try and take advantage of all local opportunities because I don’t get many. I don’t think I will sell too many more works locally because everyone who wants one of The Money Series has already bought one. A lot of locals hate my work but I find that they do the best job when it comes to advertising.
I try and use the internet to overcome the lack of local exhibiting opportunities. When I sell a painting I always write my web address on the back. This is not really artistic but it is good marketing. At a couple of group art exhibits I have entered a painting that all it had on it was my web address.
eBay has been very good. I would say don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. This could be the future of art sales.
I do send out press releases but they never seem to be well written. I think I need to have sex with someone famous for anyone to take notice.
I keep good records of people who have bought my work and tend to get in touch every six months. I also aim for 100% customer service and I think this results in repeat sales.
I spend a lot of time writing to curators of corporate art collections and private galleries telling them to buy my work.
I find that I focus a lot more on marketing than the production side. When I am not focused on marketing then I don’t tend to get the sales.
# You sell the works for whatever the amount is painted on them. Do you plan to stop at any number? What about more currencies like the Yen and Euro?
I don’t really have any incentive to stop at any particular number. If people stop buying my work then I will stop painting them. I think the series will just get better with age. I do see it as a large piece of conceptual art that gets better as the numbers go up and more people from around the world participate in it. I see my web site as an integral part of the work as well. I am aiming to launch the Euro in London next year. I have not really worked out how to make money from the Yen yet.