Jack Vettriano was born in Methil, an industrial town on the East coast of Scotland. He grew up in poverty and was sent out to work from the young age of 10, halving his wage with his father to support his family. He started painting for a hobby in his twenties. It was not until his forties when two of his canvasses sold immediately after submission to the Royal Scottish academy that Vettriano decided to paint full time.
Vettriano is part of a new breed of professional painter. In past years it was only big names like Monet, Picasso and Dali who made any money from painting. Today the accessibility of low value reproductions makes it easy for painters to make money from selling their work. These low value prints are how Vettriano has made his name.
His seductive style is instantly recognisable and has become synonymous with his name. He sites his inspiration as ‘many years of sexual misbehavior’ and the women in his paintings are said to represent different women from his past. The popularity of his paintings has made them incredibly marketable across a multitude of formats.
Vettriano’s popularity in cheap reproductions has helped make him a staple name in art shops and gift shops around the UK. His versatile and erotic style make his paintings an ideal fit for greetings cards and greetings cards are where his work has sold in the thousands. The fact that there are businesses such as Vettriano Cards, an online store dedicated to producing greetings cards of his work, demonstrate his popularity in this market.
Critics have often criticised Vettriano for relying on cheap reprints for his popularity but his response to this is priceless. In an interview with Radio 4’s today programme he said this: “Let me put this to you, if Van Gogh were alive, if Monet were alive, and you were to say to them, ‘look, you can sell a print to a Frenchman for 10 francs’, they would have jumped at the chance.”
He doesn’t mean to compare himself to the greats of Van Gogh and Monet but the notion is poignant. Today you can buy cheap Van Goghs for as little as £10 but in the 19th century Tesco didn’t sell Van Gogh. In fact, in the 19th century Tesco didn’t sell anything at all. Artists crave recognition and respect but what is better recognition than being sold in 3000 stores up and down the country?
I, for one, lament the 15 minutes spent patrolling the greeting card aisle searching high and wide for a card that looks like it was not purchased in a petrol station the night before. In the future I will definitely think in advance and buy a Vettriano card. In practice, however, it is more likely to be a case of hoping the nearest petrol station happens to stock Vettriano cards.
Purchase Vettriano cards from http://www.vettrianocards.com/