And by the way, OPA stands for Other People’s Artwork.
Here’s how it works:
I’ll call her Sally because, well, when I talk to her she giggles a lot and sounds kind of silly. Sort of like a high school girl, and yet she’s in her mid-twenties.
Sally has several different identities on Etsy and Ebay. Each identity sells a certain type of artwork. One sells paintings of animals, one sells landscapes, one sells abstract art, one sells hearts (I’m not kidding!) and so forth.
She has a real life assistant (we’ll call him Gorgeous George because as Sally tells it, in addition to working for her George also does some modeling and fitness instruction.) George makes all the listings for the artwork, gets the prints made from the originals, fulfills the orders and handles any customer service requests.
What does Sally do? She outsources work to several artists who do all of her paintings for her. Just like hiring a ghostwriter to write a book which you then sell, Sally is hiring “ghost painters”. She has them sign a non-disclosure agreement that gives her all rights to the paintings. And she never tells her artists what she does with the paintings, either.
If I were doing this business model, I might consider giving the artists a percentage of sales, but Sally likes to simply pay one fee up front to keep things simple.
Sally chooses the styles for the paintings by finding examples and showing them to her artists. She then asks them to replicate the style and not the actual painting. She sells the original paintings for a good price ($300 to $1,000) and sells limited edition prints for a lower price.
Her listings never claim that she or her persona is the artist. She’ll use generic language such as, “This painting was created May of 2021 using pastels on canvas.” She has her artists use several mediums, including acrylic, watercolor, pastels, ink, charcoal and so forth.
She also has a virtual assistant who has one job: Promoting the artwork through various social media channels. This is why her business is growing so fast, because word is getting out via social media. And she’s very good at picking her subjects, too, some of which are extremely timely and most of which prove popular.
As you can see she has expenses: Her real life assistant George, her virtual assistant, the artists and selling fees. But even after all this, she pulled in $4,400 in profit the month she revealed her system to me, and like it said, it’s increasing every month.
The real key here is to choose subjects that will sell. That’s why she likes animals, hearts and landscapes because they always do well. And her paintings aren’t super elaborate, either. An experienced painter can likely create one in a short afternoon.
One of her best-selling stores sells paintings that are somewhat cartoonish, including caricatures of real people as well as animals doing silly things. As mentioned earlier, one sells hearts. I suspect this artist probably does 4 or 5 paintings in a day because they are that simple. But they sell like hotcakes because people love hearts and bright colors.
This business is easy to replicate and if you use assistants, it takes very little time at all.