If you were to enter the home of painter and investor James Corwin, you might be surprised to notice he displays very little of his own art there — because he hopes to sell it. Art and business are James’ two greatest talents, and they often intersect for him in meaningful ways.
James lives in Hamilton, Montana, a city anchoring Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. The beautiful natural setting of southern Montana forms the inspiration for James’ artwork, an impressive collection of wildlife oil paintings. Today, James owns his own art gallery, and his work is on display in over 20 different galleries across the country. But James didn’t always know he wanted to be a painter. In fact, he didn’t develop an interest in art until high school.
“It wasn’t until senior year that I took an art class and realized I enjoyed it and ended up getting a scholarship. I started selling my art. When I graduated, I already had enough sales to cover rent and still had a little bit leftover. That was January of 2014, and I just went into it full-time from there,” James reflected.
Predating James’ passion for art was his aptitude for business. Even from a young age, he knew he didn’t want to work for anyone else.
“When I was 12, I knew that I wanted to work for myself and create my own business. I would do things in the summer to make money so I didn’t have to work for somebody,” James said.
He always had an interest in business, and as he grew older, he began reading up on how to start one. James eventually married his artistic talent with his financial know-how to get his gallery up and running.
“I think it’s interesting that I probably chose one of the most challenging businesses to scale and be successful in, but it’s also very rewarding for that reason. You reap what you sow, so it’s been rewarding to see all the efforts I’ve been putting in, and how it’s been paying off,” he said of his business.
Never forgetting where he started, James has kept his very first wildlife painting of a rhino — but someday he plans to sell even that. Selling paintings is where James’ two passions most visibly converge: He gets the opportunity to be creative and close a deal.
“It’s cool because it’s exciting to see the value of the art increase and that a person has made a profit from their investment in my art. And that’s one of my main goals as an artist, to create investible value in my art so that after people acquire it, the value will only go up,” James said.
Speaking of investments, art isn’t James’ only one. When he isn’t busy painting wildlife, he dips his brush into the world of real estate investing. But being the busy painter and entrepreneur that he is, James doesn’t have the time or interest to manage properties full-time. Instead, he found the passive side of investing to be the area that suited his financial goals and time commitments.
“I’m so busy with work that I don’t want to deal with being a landlord. I also just don’t have the time to invest in researching the right places that have a good cap rate or cash flow. It’s much easier to invest in syndications where I can think, ‘Okay, I know I’m getting the return that I’m looking for.’ As far as going into real estate vs. the stock market, I really like more of a return where I don’t have to worry about it tanking in one day,” James explained.
With investing, James has an end goal in mind: to cover his expenses. But when it comes to painting, there’s no end in sight. Painting is his passion, and James has no plans to retire anytime soon.
“I don’t think I could ever retire from painting. I’ve met other artists who have retired from painting, and I’m like, ‘How could you just stop painting and not feel like you need to go back to it?’ But people do. I probably will never retire from painting,” James reflected.
Going forward, James plans to stick to the numbers. Investing is not unlike painting in that you need to have a vision before you begin. So James has formulated a 10-year investment plan, and he intends to honor it.
“I wrote out my 10-year investment plan. Now, it’s about sticking with that schedule. It’s easy for me, sometimes, to be like, ‘Oh, that’s a really nice painting that’s $25,000. Maybe I should buy it.’ But then I’m like, ‘Oh wait, I’ve got to stick to my plan,’” James said. “Buy less, invest more. And of course, paint.”
About the Author:
Leslie Chunta is a marketing consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in creating dynamic marketing programs and building brands for startups to enterprise organizations. She has worked agency- and client-side with high-growth companies that include Silicon Valley Bank, JPMorgan Chase, SailPoint, EMC, Spanning Cloud Apps, Ashcroft Capital, Netspend, and Universal Studios. www.thelabcollective.com
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.