Dig Baton Rouge

Crafts for Cash

By John Hanley

 
“Create what you want, and the rest will come.”

As most artists know, the art business is not an easy one. Notorious for its difficulty when it comes to finding employment or a steady income, many people shy away from the arts in fear of the homelessness and poverty that capitalist America tends to relate to arts professions.

However, as most artists also know, one does not pursue an artistic profession for its financial allure. In the words of local artist Bryson Boutte, “Create what you want, and the rest will come.”

Boutte has been doing art his whole life, but has only recently stepped into the world of business. Originally wanting to make comics, he drew as a child, but says he naturally progressed into painting, which eventually led to his first commission for a friend of his mother’s.

Boutte says that since that very first commission, he has been shocked to find that people will consistently offer to pay for his creations. He has since begun a sort of business of his own, making artwork and selling it online, at shows and festivals, or through commission work.

Several weeks ago at an arts festival held at the Healthcare Gallery, Boutte was surrounded by a sprawl of prints and original art, which he was selling from underneath a tent. Enticing attendees with both high quality artwork and good deals, he happily accepted both cash and cards, which he swiped through a small credit card terminal.

“I’m still finding out exactly how to handle the pressures of handling other people’s money,” Boutte said later in an interview with DIG. He has received advice and support from other painters, photographers, and his mother on the business end of things, but said he views the price tags as more of a necessary evil than an anticipated benefit.

“I really wish I could just give it away, but no one values something they get for free, and I want my work to be appreciated if someone else has it,” he noted candidly.

Reflecting the sentiments of many artists, Boutte is making art for the love of it, selling it to those that love it just as much, and viewing “anything else that happens [as] a bonus.”

However, money is still a stark reality for artists. Boutte works two jobs, and has dealt with his fair share of tribulations.

“I lost hope for a minute,” he said, detailing a period of time where he found himself couch-surfing, living day by day with various friends for about a year.

Thoughts of a life like this are a major deterrence for many, but it pays off. In the case of Boutte, he is now working alongside one of his local idols, Brandon “B Mike” Odums, for the NOLA artist/filmmaker’s new project, Exhibit BE. The exhibit is a part of Project.3’s Notes For Now art festival, which features art exhibits from artists around the world. Exhibit BE is a continuation of Odums’ earlier venture, Project BE, which featured large graffiti murals of famous civil rights leaders and activists. Boutte will be creating a mural of his own for Odums’ new graffiti exhibit, which will premiere to the public on November 15th at 10am.

Boutte’s art varies in style between surrealist and expressionist, and includes both paintings and digital art. Since he began taking painting seriously, he says he has made leaps and bounds in his abilities and his willingness to take risks.

“Everything is temporary and can be changed if I wish to change it,” he said, “I’m realizing that now and applying it to everything that I do.”

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