Early Deer Painting Giveaway

"Road Traveler"
Road Traveler, Watercolor/Gouache on paper, 1985

My first job was selling the Grit newspaper on weekends. I was 9. During that time I began selling greeting cards for a company that advertised on the back pages of my favorite comic books. I made enough money to buy a bicycle and a pair of roller skates. I used the bike to help me deliver newspapers faster. The skates were shared with my younger brothers; they had no income other than their weekly 25 cents allowance.

I sold enough cards to purchase some colored pencils and drawing paper. Then I made my own greeting cards—Merry Christmas, Happy Easter, Get Well Soon, etc.—and gave them out for free to my newspaper customers. Later I learned my handcrafted cards were treasured by many customers for the artwork.

I gave away a lot of my art as gifts, even when I became an adult. “That’s not a good business venture,” an acquaintance told me when I started my career as an artist. He asked how I thought giving away my art could be profitable.

All my gifts are given with love, and my profit is the smile on people’s faces when I give them my art as gifts. Being an artist isn’t always about making money.

On the other hand, the painting I’ve included in this post is one I gave to a brother for his birthday. That was 1985; I was 28. Twenty-seven years later it is proudly displayed in his home with the other paintings he has received from me. During that time his friends told their friends about my artwork, word got around and I made money selling my art to them and their friends, and then to their friends, and so on.

Not profitable? I suppose it’s how you define the word.

17 thoughts on “Early Deer Painting Giveaway

    1. Steve Campbell

      Yes, it’s a wonderful cycle: Sell a painting, buy new art materials. The only reason I ever raised the prices of my paintings was because the art suppliers raised their prices. Still, nothing is more satisfying than giving.

  1. Beautiful painting, beautiful philosophy, beautiful lesson here. What we give does come back, often in unexpected ways.

    I felt a big grin break out on my face when I saw the reference to Grit newspaper. I remember those ads in comic books very well. I wanted to give it a shot, but we lived in a small town and my parents talked me out of it. Ah, well– becoming a millionaire so young might have spoiled me… 😛

    You’re a good influence, sir!

    1. Steve Campbell

      Thank you for the kind words, Mark.
      The first half of my childhood was in a farming area, the second half in a small town, I delivered newspapers both times and was so taken in by the comics. Peanuts was one of my favorites. Years later I was a student at Art Instruction Schools and Charles “Sparky” Schulz was one of my instructors for two months. He was very kind, patient and a great teacher — I learned a lot from him in that short time. He too made the comment that had he become successful at a young age (younger than he did — he was drafted in the Army during WWII), it might have spoiled him and kept him from working harder. He was a great optimist and believed strongly in studying the craft and working diligently.

  2. mothcaterpillar

    That 1985 painting of yours is really lovely! not kitchy at all, yet quite Christmas-like… and I couldn’t agree more that giving is always profitable (in one way or another) 🙂

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