Since starting this new art endeavor, the Brazilian jiu jitsu community has been very encouraging and positive! As an artist, I take encouragement from friends and family with a grain of skepticism to hedge against overconfidence; although people have always expressed admiration for the work, the look in people’s eyes when they see it is a totally new level of excitement that I haven’t seen before around my work, and I’m feeling very positive! Within my first couple of weeks of launching this project, I’ve got my first BJJ art commission!
In this post, I’ll go over:
- what I’ve done over the past month to promote my artwork locally, and the tangible results of that promotion
- The Feedback that I’ve gotten about my artwork from bjj enthusiasts, and how I measure the importancec of that feedback
- The process of starting my first bjj portrait commission, and next steps
My current promotional strategy to date: I got a print made and brought original art to BJJ Gyms
Since I launched this website at the end of January, I have only really shared the finished work, and done zero online promotion. I got a print made to test the printer, and had some small paintings to bring to show the local BJJ gyms. I also started contacting regional tournaments about setting up a vendor table, but I need to have more to display ready, and make business cards and flyers. I was also thinking of a promotional giveaway for the tournaments, but I don’ know what that would look like yet.
The reviews of my artwork from the BJJ gyms
The reviews have been more positive than I could have hoped! The BJJ gym that I work out at wants me to put together an art show in their space, and I’m thinking of the possibilities for having art and Brazilian jiu jitsu enthusiasts in the same space; maybe live art and music performances, and some introductory jiu jitsu or open mat.
I brought the art to the jiu jitsu school that I used to go to, and the owner had the teacher take my art in front of the class, and it got a round of applause, which I was totally not prepared for, and people came up to me and told me that they loved it.
The best review I got was was when I brought it to a place where I attend an open mat, from the owner who I had only just met. I approached him when he was talking to one of his employees, with my art on instagram on my phone. I think that he saw me coming, and the look on his face was like “oh no, this random dude is going to show me his workout pics on his phone.” I knew his reputation as a BJJ champion, which is why I wanted to show him, and when he saw what it was, his disposition and expression totally changed, and he became very excited about it! It was so humbling to have such an accomplished BJJ practitioner, successful gym owner, and virtual stranger to me become excited about my artwork!
My First BJJ Art Commission!
Finally, I was sketching friends at the BJJ gym I work out and learn at, and I got my first BJJ art commission! I was at the gym observing the class but not participating, because of a strained neck muscle, so I decided to do some quick gesture drawings of people practicing jiu jitsu. After class, one of the students surprised me and said, “Theo, first thing I want to say, cost is no object: I want you to paint me choking out a demon.” This blew me away! I am super excited about this because it really reflects value on my work and a risk that I am taking by focusing on jiu jitsu artwork, but also because painting both BJJ and demons are totally things that I want to do!! These are things I’m good at, am interested in, and I think I can do better than most people! I am paradoxically proud that he wants me to do it, but also feel really humbled by this responsibility and faith in my skills.
Where I am with my first BJJ art commission
I started by taking pictures of my subject in a couple of positions with a willing partner. We decided that a knee-on-belly position would be really powerful and clearly dominant, as well as trying out a bow-and-arrow choke. Because there are a lot of ways to draw a demon, I am working on several sketch proposals. I am excited about painting the demon, and will find some great reference photos for textures and effects. I will also be doing a lot of work to get great figure lighting and skin textures. I kind of wanted to go all out, and paint a little demon trying to free this demon, and others fleeing but the client expressed that keeping it simple would probably be best, and he’s probably right, for now 🙂
BJJ Jiu Jitsu Guard Painting Print$49.00 – $199.00
Double leg sweep to mount$59.00 – $159.00
Judo Throw Painting Print$49.00 – $199.00
Judo Throw Painting Print #2$49.00 – $199.00
Open-guard Shift to Armbar BJJ and Judo$54.00 – $159.00
standing-armbar-open-guard-yin-yang-composition$54.00 – $159.00
Underarm collar choke from s-mount$59.00 – $159.00
Yoga Inversion, Handstand Warrior Pose$55.00 – $175.50
Do you want Custom artwork?
Custom art pieces are made to order! All that is needed are high-quality photos of the person or people engaged in the sport, or however you'd like them posed! For fees and agreement, please contact!