Before photography, portrait artists were the only means of recording the appearance of people. But even with photography, portrait painters have not dwindled. The art of portraiture is more popular than ever.

I’ve proven this fact to myself many times over. I’ve been doing portraits for many years, and have found that portraiture is the easiest way for me to make money doing what I love. I also regard it as one of the best methods to promote myself as an artist.

There are a few portrait artists where I live. I do not feel I am competing with any of those because I have no trouble receiving commissions. There have also been many times I had to turn down commissions because I did not have the time.

 portrait painting

The Old Time Hat - Tahirih Goffic

The artist really provides the building blocks for society. Without artists where would we be? Who designs the buildings we live in, the cars that we drive, the movies we watch, the music we listen to? We show people beauty and remind them what it is we live for.

Why is portraiture still a common art form despite advances in technology from digital art, Photoshop manipulated images and portrait studios?

I have included some of the portraits from portrait artists from our artist spotlight in this post.

Here are some reasons for the undying popularity of portrait artists:

  1. Portraits are loved

    In spite of the popularity of photography portraits, people still love a painted or drawn portrait. The unique combination of a one of kind artwork and a visual record of the person, seems to make portraits treasured more than photographs.

    Gary Clark Jr
    Gary Clark Jr. – Nicola Lautre

    With my portraits I hope to capture their personality, and the mood, rhythm and style of their music. For example my painting of the late Australian bluesman Dutch Tilders is very different in style and mood to my painting of the Australian rock singer and guitarist Dallas Frasca. With Neil Young I wanted to capture the intensity and intelligence in his eyes.

  2. Portraits make a thoughtful, original gift.

    What I often do is have special promotions around holidays, such as Christmas, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, graduations, etc. I find these are the best times for gift giving.

    One person, after discovering that I draw portraits, decided to commission two from me. She was looking for a portrait of her father as a Father’s Day gift. In our conversation, she voiced her frustration she had with finding a proper gift for her father.  “What do I get for someone who has everything?” she asked. She was very happy with the portrait she commissioned from me, and her father was even more honored when he received it on Fathers Day.

  3. Portrait art often stays on the wall indefinitely.

    While photographed portraits typically get replaced for updated ones, the painted portrait is often a more permanent fixture for a wall, and may even turn into a type of heirloom.

  4. Portraits are amazing for promotion.

    grandma portrait julia sattoutI see portraits as a type of promotion in itself. Imagine someone commissioning a portrait and hanging it in their home. They will likely hang it in a prominent position for everyone to see. Then, when visitors view and ask about the portrait, the artist is the one being talked about. Many times I have received commissions from the recommendations of others in similar situations.

    Grandma! - Julia Sattout

    Inspirations - All the faces around me! I have school-aged children, and I will often ask mothers at school if they would mind me painting their cute kids.


Can  you think of any other reasons why the art of portrait drawing and painting is still thriving, despite the popularity of photography?

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  1. I think portraits are an outward form of status especially in the old countries. A portrait on your wall of you or an ancestor says that at some point you or your ancestors could afford to hire a skilled artist to paint something specifically personal to the family. I love portrait painting. It's a way to get really close to a person and you have to be very skilled and knowledgeable to achieve a likeness which is a powerful challenge. (b) (c)

  2. The surprise element - for a photogrpah of the portrait recipient, they need to be in the photograph, and therefore it isn't a surprise. The look of surprise (and hopefully delight!)from a portrait that's been gifted to them, and commissioned for them, is therefore unique to an artwork.


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