Stroke of Brilliance: Live Event Artist Taps Into Wedding Market

Painter Ken Lund discovered his unusual market niche in 2005, after a chance meeting with a “live event artist.” These creative types are commissioned to attend parties and other functions and paint the festivities as they transpire; the client then takes home the personalized artwork as a memento. Lund shadowed the artist for a few events and then built his live event business by taking referrals when his mentor was booked. Today he mostly paints weddings.

We talked with Lund, who recently relocated from California to Maine, about his artwork — and how he markets his small business.

ISBB: Not many people have heard of live event artists. How do you position yourself?

Lund: Having a wedding painting produced on-site is something that every guest can be a part of. It breaks the norm of your typical photographer or videographer, so it appeals to clients who are looking for something unique at their wedding. In addition, a lot of the videographers I’ve worked with set up time-lapse videos of my paintings, and it’s neat to see the progression. It’s not often that art lovers get to see the process of a painting they purchase.

How long does each painting take?

Typically, the event will take three to four hours. I normally paint the reception, but sometimes the bride and groom may want to capture the ceremony itself. At the end of the event, the piece is finished. I’ll bring the painting home, allow it to dry, take care of the edges and any other requests from the client, and either ship it to them or drop it off.

How do you market yourself?

It’s been really word of mouth. I’ve done some simple brochures and a website. I have dropped off business cards at different venues, and I’ve gotten a few clients in that respect. However, I just moved to the East Coast, where I don’t have many clients and do plan on trying some different things.

What are the biggest challenges with this type of work, and how have you overcome them?

There aren’t a lot of bad things about it. The guests are great; they’re typically in a good mood based on the fact that they’re at a wedding. I do occasionally fly to other states, so that can complicate things. I’ve been to Texas a few times, and the logistics of getting my materials and easel there were challenging. So was dealing with an oil painting after the event. In those cases, I usually leave the piece with the client.

What about weather? Is that a problem for you?

The majority of my events have been in California, and — knock on wood — I’ve only been rained on once. The bride and groom usually choose a wedding venue that’s gorgeous, and I enjoy outdoor events a little more [than indoor ones], because of the scenery. In Maine, I might have to look into using some sort of canopy.

About Susan Johnston

Susan Johnston is a freelance writer and blogger who specializes in writing about business and personal finance. Her articles have appeared in or on The Boston Globe, Dance Retailer News, GetCurrency.com, Mint.com, PARADE Magazine, WomenEntrepreneur.com, and other places.
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4 comments
Karen Wall Garrison
Karen Wall Garrison

Hello fellow Live Painters!!It's great the trend is catching on! Maybe wedding directories will finally create a category for us... My website recently went down (pretty major disaster, right?); so I'm building a new site. I market through bridal sites, social networking, blogs and Twitter. Blogging is great and helps us cross-promote with vendors and brides. They share the concept, and we ALL get more bookings! I include links to venues, vendors and especially photographers who give me pics. AND I LOVE other BLOGGERS!People are constantly amazed, and ALWAYS say, "I've NEVER seen this before. How cool!"; whether it's a wedding, birthday party, corporate, charity or any other event. Our greatest marketing challenge is exactly that; people don't even know it's something they can do to enhance their special occasion.I started in 2006, after answering Craigslist ad. I'd never heard of it either. I found only Greg Kalamar (who's been painting live for years), and Rich Flynn in OC, Calif., who calls himself, "Painter of the Moment." He paints weekly at an "art restaurant", TuTu Cafe at The Block in Orange.I recently painted a small intimate baby shower. Suprised Mom-to-be hung the painting in baby's room. And a 50th Birthday party. The big surprise moment was a Chevy Suburban pulling into the driveway, a gift from his wife. How fun is that? A challenge to paint, for sure!So, we are growing a wonderful, unique little niche for ourselves and have the opportunity to network and help each other out. I refer business to other live painters when I'm booked. There are weddings everywhere, all the time; parties and other events in between. Here's to hoping we all fill our calendars with lots of bookings!Wishing you a peaceful, happy and prosperous New Year, Karen Wall Garrisonhttp://www.wix.com/kwallgarrison/1 http://blog.shinyorb.com/live-wedding-painting.P.S. Hi Sam! Hi Joan! Nice to meet you, Ken! Thank you, Intuit! I'm off to update my blog. I'm embarrassed to tell you how long it's been...

Sam Day
Sam Day

I started doing weddings in 2005, just like Mr. Lund. Although I'm based in Seattle, I've painted weddings from Vegas to New York. It amazes me that now that several of us are doing this, people still tell me they've never heard of it! Glad to see another one of us getting press. Hi Joan! http://www.samdayweddingpainter.blogspot.com/

Joan Zylkin
Joan Zylkin

Hello, I am a Live Event Painter/Wedding Painter, based on the East Coast. To see what I do, please visit my website at www.TheEventPainter.com or contact Joan at 302.475.0990 best wishes, Joan Zylkin

Momma O
Momma O

I love Ken's creative talent and his ability to capture the moment. He has given my husband and I a treasure we enjoy everyday we see it, not just when we take out the photo album! (The photo above just happens to be my wedding.) It is an amazing piece of art! Congrats Ken