An Artist in Transition

By Carolyn Edlund

Times change, and selling art presents new challenges and new opportunities. Artist Antar Dayal shares an intriguing story of success, disaster and rising from the ashes.


Artist Antar Dayal at the easel. Read his story at


Antar Dayal has always worked for himself. He’s actually never had a “regular” job. As a child prodigy in Germany, with an artist mother who encouraged him, he was earning money from regular clients who bought his illustrations as early as the age of twelve.

His charmed life continued as he migrated to the U.S. and built his illustration business into a powerhouse. He was able to catch a wave that brought him enormous good fortune.


Collage of Antar Dayal's scratchboard illustrations. Read his story at


The artist introduced scratchboard as a hot medium for corporate advertisers, beginning with what he calls his “big break” in 1989. Dayal was hired to work on an ongoing advertising campaign to launch Lexus automobiles in North America. This exposure played a major part in acquiring more corporate work, attracting clients as diverse as Absolut, American Express, Glenlivet, and even Barack Obama’s political campaign, which used his distinctive illustrative style to sell their candidate.


Yes We Can Campaign poster of Barack Obama by Antar Dayal. Read his story at


Business got so brisk that he built a corporate office in California, and hired a team of assistants. Ranked as one of the top 5% of illustrators in the United States, Dayal negotiated his own contracts, and was able to command top prices for his vision and work product. His income was at a high level. Life was good.

Then, in 2008, his house burned down. At about the same time, the U.S. economy also burned down. And everything changed. As he struggled to rebuild his home and deal with the economic downturn, competitors moved in and took some of his accounts. Other clients did not renew their contracts.

The market was not only in “correction” but the way the business of art was being done was going through a major transition. Artists of all types have experienced this, many of them at a loss to explain why opportunities declined and income fell.


The artist Antar Dayal. Read his story at


“This is the story of a lot of artists,” says Dayal, “they are always on fire. But I am like a phoenix rising from the ashes.”

He began to adjust to the new realities of the marketplace, developing a plan that would focus on fine art, which has always been his greatest passion. But he also planned a new venture to create products using his graphic skills, using the income to support himself.


Ink and Milk Designs by Antar Dayal. Read his story at


Ink & Milk Designs is his new brand. He kicked it off with t-shirts on a Shopify store, and has other products in mind. “This is an outlet for all the crazy ideas I have that need to be circulated on this planet,” Dayal explains, “That may even evolve into fine art.”

“As an artist in the 21st century, you must have other streams of income, so you have a financial base that frees up your time. You need to ask yourself, how can I pay the rent tomorrow?” he asks. “Running a studio can be $5,000 to $10,000 per month. You need an additional income on the side to be able to make it.”


"Composition with Iceberg" by artist Antar Dayal. Read his story at

“Composition with Iceberg” by artist Antar Dayal.


It has been an uphill trek to enter the market for his paintings, starting with spending this summer in Berlin so that he can be more active in the European art markets, and planning to exhibit at an upcoming art fair there.

Antar Dayal is not disheartened by the dramatic swings in fortune that he has experienced in his life. He simply moves on to the next phase. And he offers a bit of advice for other artists in transition.

“You are always a creator,” he says. “Make a market for yourself, your own niche, and make something better than the mass-produced crap that is out there.”

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  1. Antar is one of the most gifted and creative artists I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. He has been dedicated to his art and has not let the outside forces around him defeat him or his vision. His art is a feast for the eyes and senses.

  2. You are an inspiration! You give people hope 🙂 I was so sorry to hear about your house burning down and at an awful time. It is upsetting when competitors move in but you have risen again and keep on doing well 🙂

  3. Wow – what an inspiration! Your tenacity and great attitude are so very admirable and a wonderful example for all of us, no matter our profession.

  4. You have a great story that inspires artist to keep moving ahead no matter what obstacles there are. I think each artist has a mission to create beauty in this world which can be left behind for many decades ! Thanks for your story !

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