Blog / 2008 / Paint Your Life

July 3, 2008

PaintYourLife.com creates paintings from any photo you give them. Their motto is “you capture it, our artists will paint it,” and that’s precisely what they do—for very little money. Possible subjects include portraits of anyone from loved ones to celebrities along with landscapes, homes, or your favorite vehicle.

The paintings are handmade, but they certainly don’t qualify as original. The finished product has zero personality.

It’s only with some digging that the truth about PaintYourLife comes out. The company provides a Painter’s Forum (accessible only through the FAQ section) where aspiring artists can ask PaintYourLife’s professionals technical questions.

The forum doesn’t seem to be particularly popular, and one of the few posts questions the company’s ability to provide the service it does for such surprisingly low prices. The answer is a depressing commentary on the state of our world economy as well as on the way that some people view the work an artist does:

PaintYourLife doesn’t use any computers or printers in order to paint a portrait, our artists paint only 100% handmade. the reason that our prices are low is because we own a studio in Asia and all our artists are highly talented in painting portraits, they can paint much faster than most painters in the western world. In general, artists don’t have stable orders and therefore they must charge a high price for each painting (because they can’t know when will he get another painting order). PaintYourLife has many orders per month so each of our painters feel secure in having a stable work and therefore the price is lower than an independent artist.

I think that pretty much speaks for itself. So why do I keep thinking about the company and what it does?

I guess that I’m just a sucker for “making special.” Though PaintYourLife is just one more case of uninspired craft being passed off as real art to the wider community, it at least has the customization factor. It’s not another Thomas-Kinkade Hallmark hotel-room cookie-cutter version of art. It’s your life that the company is painting.

And I happen to think that there’s something to that. It’s true that detractors of portraiture in the fine art world can point to PaintYourLife as the embodiment of everything that’s wrong with the genre, but at least the company is beginning to put value back into a certain kind of individuality that must be custom produced, if not original.

In some strange way, PaintYourLife is a kind of comfort to me. I’m happy that people still want painted portraits of themselves in their homes—even if they don’t want them badly enough to pay a slow, independent, non-sweatshop artist like me.

painted portrait of a woman with fantastic glasses and flowers in the background
Gwenn Seemel
Margo
2007
acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
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