In the Art Marketing Minute Podcast, you’ll learn how to sell your art, how to market your paintings, and everything else you need to know in order to have a successful art career. Each episode answers questions from artists by host Eric Rhoads, author of “Make More Money Selling Your Art,” publisher of several art magazines and newsletters, and author of 

In this Art Marketing Minute, Eric Rhoads addresses how to gain broader recognition if you live in a small town, and how to put together an art portfolio.

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FULL TRANSCRIPT of the Art Marketing Minute:
DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of a transcription from an audio recording of the Art Marketing Minute. Although the transcription is mostly correct, in some cases it is slightly inaccurate due to the recording and/or software transcription.

This is the Art Marketing Minute with Eric Rhoads, author of the Amazon best-selling book, “Make More Money Selling Your Art.” In the marketing minute, we answer your questions to help your art career brought to you by, the place to go to learn more about marketing. Now, here’s your host, arts magazine publisher, Eric Rhoads.

Eric Rhoads 1:04:05
So the whole goal of the marketing minute is to help you help you learn if you’re somebody who wants to sell your artwork, if you there’s no pressure to do that, but if that’s something you want to do, my goal in the marketing minute is to help you do that. We also have the marketing minute podcast, which is the exact same content as this. It’s just we carve it out as a separate podcast for people who don’t want to listen to a plein air podcast why they wouldn’t want to I can’t possibly ever imagine. If you have questions, you can send me a video to a video question, questions or you can just email me [email protected] And we have a really terrific blog called And that’s a really great place to go if you want ideas on some techniques and things a lot of the stuff that’s in my book is there. A lot A lot of the stuff that I wrote there got into my book. There’s a lot of stuff that’s not. So, Amandine, my producer from France is going to read the first question. But first Amandine, where in France are you from?

Amandine 1:05:12
I’m from the Champagne region. An hour and a half east from Paris.

Eric Rhoads 1:05:18
Okay, good to know. All right. Okay, here we go.

Amandine 1:05:22
So the first question is from Edwin Amelia Kentaur from Costa Rica. Even though I studied in the Florence Academy of Art many years ago, I’m living in a country with a tiny, tiny art scene and very few collectors, what would be your advice to gaining recognition in more important places or countries, when you’re stuck in a tiny country like this one with not many possibilities?

Eric Rhoads 1:05:51
Well, that’s a loaded question. There’s a lot to unpack here. First, congrats on going to the Florence Academy, one of my favorite art schools. I would go there if I could. But right now, yeah, putting kids through college. I think the first thing that I just want to say to you and I don’t mean to be disparaging by any stretch, but you might be telling yourself a story. That’s not true. This is something that we all do. I do it. We all do it. We make assumptions about things. And we need to test those assumptions and find out if they’re true. First off, you said you live in a small country, you’re in Costa Rica, Costa Rica is a small country compared to the United States. But what do we have in Costa Rica? We have First off, there’s 1000s, probably 10s of 1000s of expats who have homes there, some of them are pretty big homes. And what do they have inside those homes, walls, empty walls. And when you move into a house in Costa Rica from America first, for example, which might be fun, I’ve never been to Costa Rica, but I’m going to visit you down there. So you don’t want to drag all your stuff from your home in Texas or your home in Florida, you’re going to try to get something that feels local, right? So you’re going to buy local furniture, you’re gonna buy local paintings. And just because you’re telling yourself there’s not much of an art scene, doesn’t mean you can’t sell paintings there. And that’s, by the way, true of other places other than Costa Rica, you know, you live in a country, a country is filled with a lot of people, people who own businesses, people who have great jobs, people who work in medical centers, or legal centers, or courtrooms or, you know, I mean, there are a lot of a fluent people in every country and every city, every town, even the smallest little hole, Buck towns in the middle of nowhere, have some regular folks. And then there are some folks who have a little extra to spend, sometimes a lot of extra to spend, you know, you go into, you think you’re going into a small town in the middle of Texas, and you find out these people own oil wells, or have oil rights, that are getting checks. They call it mailbox money. Mailbox, money might be you know enough to buy 30 of your paintings. So be careful about the stories that you tell yourself that that’s the first thing to do. Secondly, is okay, let’s assume it is true. First off, how many paintings do you produce in a year? And assuming that you sold 100% of your paintings, which very few people do, but some do? How many paintings Do you really need to sell? Let’s just say that you’re really extremely productive. And you paint 60 paintings a year? All right, how many people do you need to buy 60 paintings 60 people or less, because oftentimes, people will buy two paintings. So if you got if sold two paintings, to everybody bought a painting, you only need 30 people, some people buy for six paintings, some people want to become your collectors. And so you can sell in a lot of situations. Now. Let’s just take the local example for a second. Let’s say you’re in a small town in the middle of nowhere. Maybe there aren’t a lot of wealthy people around maybe there are a few. And by the way, people people buy paintings they’re not they don’t have to be wealthy to buy paintings just depends on the cost of your paintings, right? So you might want to think about this. You need to make yourself a local icon. You need to say okay, how do I become known in my community? As an excellent artist, Rose Frantzen did this she lives in a small town. A coca was Makoto Makoto, small town in the Midwest, she went out and she decided to do a project where she was going to paint 50 or 60, or 100 or 150 of the local people in her town, and do a show out of it. And I don’t know if she pre arranged this or it happened afterwards. But she ended up in the National Portrait Gallery with the show, but she went out to local people and they came to her studio and she spent a day or two painting them and she get to know him, she got to know everybody. And she said to me, that she’s now known everywhere she goes into the grocery store, people know her. She’s the known local artist, I guarantee as she’s selling paintings, locally, she’s also nationally known so she’s selling paintings nationally. My friend Diane Leifheit, who lives in Saranac Lake, New York, at least now part of the year, she did the same thing, she started painting, a lot of local people did a show, that’s a great way you want to look for something you can do that will get you publicity, get the local paper, local media, local websites to write about you, you want to look for ways that you can get known get your name known, get yourself known, get your work known. I think charity events are a great way to do that. One of the things I talked about in my book, one of many is that you can a lot of paint, a lot of artists will contact me and they’ll say I don’t want to get people are always calling me and saying give me a painting for a charity auction. I don’t want to do it, because I can’t deduct it. That’s foolish, do it, do it. Because why? If it’s a charity auction, if there are the 50 or 100, most prominent people in your town there, if you can figure out how to get them to feature you on their postcard feature you on their website, make sure they hold up your painting, make sure they have you stand up and introduce you, then what happens is that you’re starting to develop your local celebrity, they see you at this charity, and the next charity and the next charity, all of a sudden, you’re a big deal. And now everybody knows who you are. And then you know, you have your local studio sale at Christmas and maybe another time a year and you do a show at the local restaurant or a local courthouse, you know, things like that, you’re gonna get known. And that’s how it works. And you can do that. And you can sell paintings in a lot of small places, and I have friends who do it, you can do it too. Now, if for some reason, you just don’t believe me, and you don’t think local is going to work for you, then you’ve got to go regional. And regional is just doing the same thing. Except maybe you live in an area that is a small piece of a bigger area, maybe it’s a whole state. You know, if you live in a small town, and let’s say Indiana, where I grew up, if that small towns not enough, and by the way it is but if it’s not enough, then you expand to the region, you know, the Northeast region or the southeast region, or maybe you expand to the whole state. You know, my friend, Rick Wilson, has become known as a pretty famous painter in all of Indiana. And why did he become famous, because he launched a project where he was going to do one painting in every county in Indiana, and then do a show at the statehouse and then do a book and that kind of a thing. And he got a lot of publicity all sudden, everybody wanted him because he got all this publicity. And so that’s the kind of thing you can do. Now, if you want, you can go for another country, or another state, right? So if you lived in the United States, and you don’t feel like the people in your state are going to buy your art and maybe they won’t because your art is a little different art or different level of sophistication or maybe it’s got to be maybe it’s really expensive. So then, you know, you work on getting a gallery. We’re going to talk about that in a minute. And then you get known in another area you there are a lot of people like yourself, who are painting in and sending paintings to other places. I met a young artist in Cuba, his fabulous artist. And he said to me I’m in galleries and you know, Lisbon, Spain and or Portugal and and Madrid and you know, he started naming all these, these countries where he was sending paintings to and so the key is getting representation in those places, finding people that want your work and again, we’ll talk about that in a second. And the other thing is, you know the world today is blended. The world today is all about everything right? It’s online, it’s offline, it’s in person, it’s, you know, it’s everything. So you don’t have, you can sit in a little town that has 30 people, and ship paintings all around the world and sell them online. And that can be very effective. Now, there’s techniques for doing that. It’s not always just about showing up online and posting things and say, hey, buy my paintings a lot more to that we don’t have time to get into that, um, that’s probably a day or two of teaching. But you can do that too. So you know, you can put your put your things on Instagram, and Facebook, and Snapchat and Twitter and you know, everything that that’s out there. And you know, there’s online auctions, there’s all kinds of things you can do. So you’ve just got, you just got to quit telling yourself stories, you can do this. And you can be successful, you can be as successful as you choose to be, but it starts here, in between your ears, so that you are telling yourself the right story and believing. And by the way, you know, right now, a lot of people are asking me a lot of questions about the economy, and can I sell paintings in the economy and inflation and all that nonsense? The answer is yes, of course. You know, I know people who this economy isn’t hurting as much as it’s hurting you or me. Right? I know people who, instead of maybe they’re not going to buy a $500,000 painting, maybe they’ll only spend 300,000 on a painting. Right? There’s always people with money. You just got to you got to figure out how to target them. Talk about that. The second okay, Aberdeen, what’s our next question?

Amandine 1:16:42
Next question is from Betty McLean Henderson from West Helena, Arkansas. Eric, how should oil painters put together a portfolio to present?

Eric Rhoads 1:16:57
Okay, how should oil painters put together portfolio to present the galleries Betty? Getting into galleries is kind of like baseball, or football. Right? You’re if you’re getting into galleries, you’re in the big leagues now. Right now, maybe you start out in the minor leagues. But even getting into the minor leagues isn’t easy, right? So you got the you know, the galleries are professionals. They want to be treated professionally, they have ways that they do business. And it’s very important to understand that a gallery is a business, and what is the most important thing to a gallery business. And that is that they are selling enough paintings, to pay for the lights and pay for the employees and pay for all the expenses and pay the exorbitant rent if they have rent and make a profit. That’s their goal. And so what are they going to do, they’re gonna pick the artists who have a track record. Because it when you pick a new artist who has no track record, and you’re taking up 5% of your wall space, that could be generating money. Remember it shelf space, and wall space is really important. So if you’re, you know, like, if you’re in a Kroger, Coca Cola will pay extra money to be on that end aisle space. That’s how much you know, visibility is. So a gallery a good gallery will look at every painting that’s hanging and ask if that’s taking up real estate and other painting would be better off to sell. And so they’re looking at you from the standpoint of Will you sell? Is this too risky? Is this person have consistent enough work? Do they have a good body of work? There’s a lot of other things like that. So you’re talking about preparing a portfolio, don’t waste your time. That’s my opinion. Don’t waste your time, because they don’t want to hear from you. I’m sorry, you don’t want to hear that. And I’m sure there are exceptions to that rule. But galleries don’t want to hear from you why I had a gallery owner tell me that he said I get roughly 2000 2000 pieces of mail every single year, from artists who are soliciting send me pictures of their works. I said what do you do with them? He said I don’t even open them. I peek into it. Make sure it’s not something else. And I throw them away. I said, Well, yeah, but these people have gone to all this trouble. He says, you know, if I spent five minutes with each one of those times 2000 I’d be losing money. And he said, and I get another 5000 emails and I have to have somebody clutter. declutter my email before he even gets my email. He says, If I have to sit there and delete 5000 emails a year, it’s costing me money. He said and then they call you and they waste your time and he’s And I, you know, people call me and they said, I’d like to be in your gallery and you say, what kind of work do you do? And they say, Well, I’m a, I’m a modern artist, he said, did you bother to look at my website? I don’t sell modern art, you know, so he doesn’t even take the calls. So they don’t want to hear from you. So if that’s the case, how do you get into their gallery? Well, there’s a whole chapter on that in my book, but let’s touch on a couple of key points. First off, think about fishing, you’re dropping a line in the water, you’ve got bait at the end of that line. And what you’ve got to do is to get them to bite on your bait, and then reel them in. But if you’re, if you’re just, you know what, think about throwing bait in the water without a line on it, you’re just throwing bait out there, you’re sending out your portfolio, you’re sending out all this nonsense, and they’re not even seeing it, right. Or maybe they’re maybe you’re throwing the bait not in the water, you’re throwing it in the grass. But the idea is you want to get invited in. So how do you do that? How do you get invite in? And well, you got to figure out how to make them look at your work without making them think that you’re trying to make them look at your work. Other exceptions to this. But galleries typically invite people in, they typically reject people that are just soliciting, because the majority of them aren’t very good. That’s it’s a fact it’s true. I know you don’t want to hear that. But where do they ask yourself these questions? Where does the gallery owner or the person making those decisions? Where do they spend their time? With whom do they spend their time? What is the most important thing to them? I think having something to sell and also protecting their brand and their reputation. They don’t want to be known for having crummy paintings. What’s in it for them always ask this question? What’s in it for them? And what is your bait? Well, there’s a lot of things you can come up with strategy. We could go in through 30 things right now. But it might be something as simple as you know, you follow the gallery owner on social media, and they make they post something, you make a smart comment, you say, you know, it’s really interesting that you say that about this John Singer Sargent painting, because I was researching this. And here’s what I learned. And you do that enough times, they’re gonna go, Hmm, I wonder who this Eric Rhoads cat is, right? And so but here’s what you don’t do. You don’t troll them. You don’t get out there and say, hey, you know, why don’t you look at my portfolio, come to my web page, or come to my FaceBook page or my my Instagram, you don’t say that. Because that’s just our Troy. So, you know, smart comments. And don’t do it all the time. Because if you’re doing it all the time, you’re gonna become obvious. So just, you know, once every couple of months, maybe say something. And then at some point, they’re going to be curious and going, I wonder who this person is. And they click on the Eric Rhoads icon and they look at your work, now. They’re looking at your work. And it better be good. And here’s what happens. A lot of artists post everything, they put it on their websites, they put it on their Instagram, they post things that are not complete, you know, this is in progress. But if somebody’s coming on there, and they’re checking you out, and they’re not taking time to pay attention to your captions, they’re just kind of floating through what’s on the on the photos, or the video, then, if you’re putting things that are not your best out there, you’re getting judged, because what is the gallery want, they want a body of work that is consistent and high quality. And so if you’re putting out things that are not consistent and high quality, you’re gonna hurt yourself. The other thing is, don’t put your dog vomit pictures on there that you know, your head in the toilet. When you’re at a party or you know, you’re you’re walking around in a bikini, or whatever, because the stuff that it looked for, ask yourself, what happens if somebody looks at this, and I’m going to turn them off. And don’t put your political views on there, because you will lose half of the people. And so avoid that stuff. That stuff and you’re like, Well, I have an artist friend who’s like, I don’t care. I’m gonna say my political views. I said, let’s find where you’re gonna lose half of your people. I don’t care if I lose them. I still need to say my views. That’s fine, if that’s who you want to be. I don’t have a problem with that. But just keep in mind if this is important to you. And you know that artists, by the way is so big that maybe it doesn’t matter. But be careful about that. Be careful what you’re putting out there. And next thing is you want to get invited in right? You see you are more powerful. Not that we’re in a power game here, but you’re more powerful if you get invited in rather than being 1000s of needy artists trying begging to get in. So who do you know that knows them? A good place to start is to look at the website, look at the artists, is there anybody out there? You know, if you know him, you call them. And you say, hey, I want to talk to you about XYZ gallery. But you don’t. I mean, it’s a best friend, somebody you really know, you can be completely forthright with them on that. But you know, sometimes you can’t. So you might just say, hey, you know, what do you know about XYZ gallery? And they’ll say, Well, you know, I don’t know. Why do you ask? So well, let me ask you this. Do you like dealing with them? Yeah, I do. Do they pay their bills on time? Do they give you your commission checks? Yeah, they do? Do they promote you? Yeah, they do? Well, then they’ll say, Well, why do you ask so well, I’m kind of thinking about targeting one or two galleries, because I’m going to add a couple more. But I’m really doing my research and my homework before I figure out who I’m going to target. And then that artists will say, Well, if you, you know, if you think you might want to get into that gallery, I’d be happy to make an introduction, or I’d be happy to tell them about you. And sometimes they won’t say that. And sometimes it’s too soon. And sometimes if you don’t know the artists, well, they won’t say it. And by the way, they may not respect your work and might not say it, so don’t necessarily expect it. You got to take these things slow. You know, you got to plan. It’s like a chess game, you got to play in 30 months in advance. And I you know, I’m not about playing games, I like to be as forthright as I can be. But you know, you don’t call up somebody met at a party last night and say, by the way, we loan me $100 It take it slow, right? You get to know them, they become friends. You know, once they trust you, you call them and say hey, would you loan me 100 bucks, though, like, yeah, if I can sure I’ll loan it to you. So be careful about that. And make sure your work is the best it can be. Don’t put the half cooked stuff on there. And this will help you. It’ll give you it will help you ultimately. Okay, that’s the art marketing minute.

Well, this has been the art marketing minute with me. Eric Rhoads. My goal in life is to eliminate the idea of the starving artists to help your dreams actually come true. So if you want to submit questions, simply email [email protected]. And to learn more about marketing ideas, you can visit Thanks for listening.

How to Submit Your Art Marketing Questions: What questions do you have about selling your art? Email Eric today at [email protected] (include your name and where you’re from) to hear your question answered on an upcoming Art Marketing Minute Podcast.

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