Did you know that girls love unicorns? I had no clue until about fifth grade. I discovered this amazing fact much to my delight right around then. In fact, I found to even better effect they loved them so much they would give me their lunch money for drawing a unicorn. This was my initiation into professional artistry for gain and profit. My first sold commission, a unicorn. Like any industrious artist, I made it my endeavor to milk the momentum. I found myself cranking out the mythic beast at the end of my pencil daily. I was in the business of selling unicorns.
After discovering the mysterious creature in one of the books at the library about fabled creatures, my fascination with the illustration it contained, specifically the horn and its construction, had me mimicking and trying to copy the style. Over and over I began to draw the horn and the horse head. It had grabbed me and I found it to be a difficult thing to master. I doodled and worked at it, in most cases, during class, especially the ones that bored me.
One day, I can’t remember who, a girl asked me if she could have the doodle. I looked at it, then at her as she looked at it. “I don’t know,” I said.
“I’ll give you a quarter,” she said.
That’s the genesis. If she would pay me a quarter which was equivalent to a fruit roll up in the cafeteria, would others be willing to do the same? Before long I was selling unicorns to any girl that would part with a quarter. It wasn’t long before the girls returned with specific requests about the drawings. How the mane was to look, the color of the horse and so on. I charged them more for getting specific. For multiple reasons, this seemed the proper course of action. Specific requests took longer and I knew without asking they would pay more because they were already on the hook.
I’m not really sure when I stopped drawing unicorns and I don’t remember why either. Knowing myself as I do, the most likely reason is I lost interest in perfecting the spiraling horn, grew tired of drawing the same thing, and agitated by people bothering me even if they were paying.
This foray into commercial artistic endeavor demonstrated with the right subject matter and appropriate skill that you can, with some level of compromise, get paid for being creative. I see that in writing, drawing, painting, music and every other art. You may be the most talented creative type person in the world but if it doesn’t connect with an audience you’re to be left to your own devices. However, if it does and you find it to not be too soul-draining, you may eek out an existence selling unicorns.
What was your unicorn? When did you realize that your art had a commercial value? Would you even sell a unicorn?