Walking along the perimeter of the tables on the inside of his garage, Cory Hamic can’t help but smile as he shows off his miniature market of newly sprayed paintings, each ready to be shipped to the next anxious Chuck with a buck. Only the smile he has on seems more like a grin.
22-year-old art enthusiast Cory Hamic recently realized that one of his favorite hobbies had potential to not only draw a smile on his friends’ faces, but also put money in his pocket. He just didn’t realize how much money he was about to run into.
It was almost two years ago, in the summer of 2013, that Cory began to use stencil art, accompanied by mixes of spray paint and a little creativity, to make colorfully customized posters. He was looking to decorate the walls of his Macomb apartment with posters of musicians and other artists that he enjoyed. After making a few posters that he calls “space paintings,” and receiving a lot of positive feedback after showing them on his social media accounts, he recognized his potential.
Through the next year and into the following summer Cory sold over two hundred of his paintings. Although he never kept any accounts to track his earnings, he estimates he has profited at least $5,000 from his spray art within the first year of production. He came up with an idea of selling his art outside of the venues that the artist on the poster would perform at. He would bring twenty or more paintings and they would be gone a few minutes after the show ended.
“People kept hitting me up on Facebook saying how cool they thought they were. A lot of people wanted one, but I thought they were kidding at first,” Cory said.
Cory had barely finished his fifth painting for himself before receiving his first order request. His long-time pal Anthony asked him to make a custom painting that he could hang in his room. He offered twenty dollars. Cory made it for free.
Other friends began to message Cory. He continued to make posters for a lot of his peers, charging nothing. Giant signs with signature stamps of bands such as STS9 or Big Gigantic stenciled and colorfully sprayed across a black space background studded with tiny white stars.
Eventually, he received messages from people who he had never met. Word of his art spread more quickly than he expected, and after running out of paint for the first time, he realized that the hobby wasn’t cheap.
“Each of the posters cost about a buck or two to make, tops. The supplies add up though, because I’ll make up to six at a time. I might do that a few times a day. Plus, time is money.” Cory said with a smirk.
The demands for “space paintings” began to fly in, and he knew he was on to something special. Cory decided it was time to get his spray art business organized and official, so he created an online shop on Etsy.com to put his art for sale to the public. He placed six paintings on the site for $25 each and posted an update on his Facebook to let his friends know about it.
The paintings were gone within two days.
“Someone told me they would pay fifty bucks for a Griz (poster). Not just one person, too. But I felt like that was a rip off. However, I do want to make money too, so I figured I’ll sell them for half that online.”
Cory decided to take his art to a four-day-long camping music festival called Electric Forest, where a variety of artists gather in Rothbury, Michigan to perform in mile-wide forests and fields filled with stages and music fanatics from all around the world. He painted multiple posters with multiple artists and sold them for $40 all weekend long.
He went to another festival in Somerset, Wisconsin a few weeks later. A promoter at the fest saw him displaying his art and thought it was superb, so he got his contact information. The following day Cory was introduced to Umphrey’s McGee, a “jam band” that he had a poster of and has listened to for over half of a decade. He was able to give them one of his pieces for free, taking the pleasure of meeting one of his favorite bands as payment instead.
He’s a huge fan of the music along with the festival experience, so he enjoys painting and sharing the love with fellow music lovers.
“It’s nice to make people smile. It’s also nice to go to festivals for pretty much free. There are perks, too, like when I got to meet Umphrey’s. I usually walk out with a bunch of cash on top of that. So, I can’t complain,” Cory said with a shrug of his shoulders. The Cheshire cat grin on his face stayed as consistent as the request orders of space paintings in his Etsy inbox…
22-year old Cory Hamic, holding a painting he offered for sale at a music festival in Michigan in June 2014