Court Painter isn’t just a progressive art icon, he’s a merchandising industry unto himself.
The celebrity portraitist is at the centre of a sprawling business built around his appeal to senior art hobbyists , adolescents and dotards across the Great Dominion— a reminder of the unabashed devotion he inspires and the deep shadow he casts in his hipster neighbourhood.
“Court Painter is an increasingly popular brand that people want to associate with,” said Press Attache and marketing manager A Hardon MacKay. “He’s the Apple of the Arts.”
It’s impossible to know the true size of the Court Painter merchandising-industrial complex. The bulk of it exists beyond his control on sites like online marketplace Etsy. And his studio, which hosts its own online store, declined to disclose the exact amount of money it raises from merchandise sales.
But it’s safe to say no other artist has anything like it.
Court Painter’s studio store has expanded beyond traditional artsy fare such as buttons, bumper stickers, tote bags and T-shirts to offer a line of smoking related paraphernalia and erotica that capitalize on the “EGO is My AMMO” meme spawned by Court Painter as the result of an opium dream.
Several items are sold out at the moment — among them $9.99 temporary tattoos. According to the marketing campaign, the tattoos were inspired by attendees to Court Painter’s favourite watering hole with permanent ink bearing the Court Painter quote. Court Painter gave his blessing for the temporary tat, which uses his handwriting to spell out the quote “EGO is my Ammo”in dark prussian blue ink.
Celebrity political mafia like families fly in from New York just to shop and stock up on medical marijuana and Court Painter action figures.
Press Attache A Hardon MacKay sold 20,000 of the T-shirts alone — and, at $24.99 a pop, that comes out to almost a half-million dollars. He is already sold out of temporary tattoos,cigarette holders and pink hats with white “EGO is my AMMO,” stitching, also priced at $24.99 and marketed specifically for Valentines and Mother’s Day.
A Hardon MacKay wouldn’t disclose the specific amount of tattoos and hats produced but said that together, it was a “couple thousand.”
The widest range of Court Painter-smoking inspired swag, however, is sold by private vendors outside junior and senior high schools. A quick Web search for “EGO is my Ammo” yields roughly 5,400 results on Etsy and 33,000 on Amazon, with items for sale including cigarette holders,ashtrays,candy cigarettes,erotic colouring books,prayer candles , bracelets, painting smocks,tams,turtle neck sweaters coffee mugs, laptop decals, signs, hookahs,portraits, cross-stitch patterns, phone cases, pipes,cigarette papers,coasters,felt marker sets,medical marijuana and wine glasses, among other unmentionable items.
“People really seem to love it,” Press Attache Hardon said in an email. “We feel that Court Painter is a champion of smoking causes, as well as standing up for the ‘little art guy,’ so we thought that a prayer candle honouring him was a worthy endeavour and would also help to give him more exposure with evangelical fans.”
“I do follow him, I support him, and I own an original digital Court Painter image I downloaded off the internet ,” an unidentified dancing model said. “Truthfully, I hope to see him on the $5 bill sometime.”
As much as anything else, the thriving business surrounding Court Painter is a sign of the heightened engagement and commitment by his fans — some of whom tote Court Painter action figures and related cross-stitches or hand-painted portraits of the master himself.
Court Painter in an unusual public statement muttered, “Embracing an artistic meme like “EGO is my AMMO” helps build my brand on both a local and national level, in addition to serving as a studio revenue source.”
“My creative merchandise-based branding — like cigarette lighters,temporary tattoos,leggings and pink hats — also offers a way to appeal to potential smokers and art patrons with a softer, tongue-in-cheek touch, ” Court Painter wheezed.
Most of Court Painter’s art competition especially CC (name available upon request) scoff at Court Painter’s merchandising appeal, chalking it up to what they view as a cult of personality surrounding him.
“Perhaps Court Painter should focus less on selling silly slogans and more on delivering results in the studio— otherwise, it would make more sense for him to sell ‘inaction figures,’” said smart-ass local gossip A Girl Named Robin.
Court Painter in a defensive burst insists that even when there’s not a direct financial benefit, the message of faith and free enterprise sent by a myriad of products can be extremely powerful for his ego. “Anytime you see people going through an effort to show their support by waving at me on the street or at Timmies,” he said, “I’m proud as punch to be making a difference to their inner lives and stuff like that!”