Just before Heidi and I were married, I worked for the marine life artist Wyland. He’s most well known for his huge murals of whales, dolphins, and other sea life on the sides of huge buildings throughout the country. In addition to “tagging” buildings, he’s also an amazing sculptor and works with oils and brush art.
Working for Wyland was an awesome experience. It was fascinating going to the art shows in his galleries in Laguna Beach, La Jolla, and San Diego.
My job at those shows was to assist him by laying out the paints, brushes, and canvases for him to paint with. If he needed something, I was the little gopher that would bring it to him.
At these shows, one of his favorite activities was to paint Chinese brush arts in front of an eager crowd all trying to watch the artist work. He would then auction the painting off right then and there.
Some eager bidder would usually pay around $4000 on the spot. My job was to record their name and then take their new painting to a safe spot where it could dry.
Before I could even finish doing that, Wyland was already busy on working on his next painting.
He would repeat this process about 4 or 5 times or until he felt the crowd was starting to dry up. It was absolutely nuts to me that I could watch this artist in action make about $20,000 – $30,000 on the spot within a period of about 30 minutes!
Not a bad gig huh?
I learned a lot of things through the whole experience. For starters, I learned that in order to live your passion, you need to be willing to go for it. Wyland always related the story about how he had 3 jobs in two days and that was it. He was meant to be an artist and he knew it. So he went for it.
Another thing I learned is that Wyland knows business. This is why most artists starve – they can’t sell their stuff! Wyland is a business man through and through. He loves profit and he loves making money. When I was working with him he had homes in Laguna Beach, North Shore, and Key Largo. Not too shabby for a guy that paints dolphins!
The biggest lesson I took away from my experience with Wyland is what I’ve termed “The Wyland Principle”. Before explaining the principle, let me give you some background.
Some of Wyland’s critics have tried to degrade his work by saying he sold out. Because he’s licensed his art to calendars, tote bags, and key chains, he can’t be a true artist. After all, true art can’t be motivated by money right?
They’ve also criticized his work calling it, “dentist office art”. No serious collector would ever consider buying a piece that you can also see while you’re getting your root canal done.
But here’s how I see it.
He’s making a killing doing what he loves. I don’t know enough about art to tell you if it’s the best out there or not. But it’s out there! And he’s making a lot of money!
So this is what I call the Wyland Principle: live your passion, get others to believe in it, and sell the crap out of it. Does that sound too capitalistic? Maybe. Maybe not.
Let’s explore this further.
Wyland is happy because he’s selling art and doing what he loves. The collectors are happy because they’re getting a piece of art that they feel enhances their lives. It’s a win for everyone right? The only people not happy are the critics. Who cares! Besides, is there such a thing as a happy critic?
So I tip my hat to Wyland and thank him for instilling in me some important life lessons.
What is one way you can apply the Wyland Principle in your life? What is something you’ve always wanted to do and maybe you can make money with it?