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 ArtMarketing.com.
In this Art Marketing Minute, Eric Rhoads answers the questions: “How do you know when your art is good enough to sell?” and “How does entering art contests help one’s career?”
Have a question about how to sell your art? Ask Eric at artmarketing.com/questions.
Listen to the Art Marketing Minute Podcast: Episode 111 >
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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.
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 artmarketing.com, the place to go to learn more about marketing. Now, here’s your host, art magazine publisher, Eric Rhoads.
The first question is from John Roberts from Oklahoma City. How do you know when your art is good enough to sell?
Eric Rhoads 44:20
Well, John, thank you so much. And I love Oklahoma City. I’ve been there many times. I’ve got great stories, but I won’t get into them right now. I think one of two things happens, John, either you’re feeling your artwork is better than it is. Or you’re feeling it’s not good enough. I go through those moments. I have moments when I’m feeling like wow, I really think I aced it. I really think I did a great job on that. And then you have other moments like you know, I can’t even paint I’m not sure. And so you know the question about whether or not you’re ready for prime time You know, that’s a that’s kind of a loaded question. I remember a friend of mine out in California, Carol, Carol was working with her mentor and her mentor, you know, for many years and her mentor said, You’re not ready yet, you’re not ready yet, you’re not ready yet. And I looked at our work, and I said, I think you’re ready. And so she went out, immediately got a gallery immediately started selling work, and it was selling successfully. Her mentor was looking at it from a different perspective, which was, you know, you can be better. And by the way, you could, you can be better, you’re always going to be better, you’re always going to be growing. And, and you’re not always going to be completely satisfied with your work, I walked into my art gallery, one of three that I’m in, and this woman who worked with the art gallery has kind of given me a tour of my walls, and, and I saw a painting that I had done years and years earlier. And I cringed, right. So I thought, well, that, that doesn’t really live up to anything I do anymore. And I really probably should, you know, burn it. But I didn’t say anything, thankfully, and, and the woman said, This is my favorite painting in the entire gallery. And as a matter of fact, I’m making payments to own it. And I was like, wow. And that really said something to me. And I think it’s an important thing. And that is that no matter what your journey is in art, there are people who are going to come along on the journey, no matter where you are now, maybe if you’re doing, you know, sixth grade quality art, and you’re just really not not doing very well. You know, maybe that’s not quite ready yet. Although we’ve all seen art that makes us feel like that. I think that, you know, the best way to find out is to ask and what do you mean? What do I mean by that? Well, I like to have a panel of people who are trusted experts, you know, if you ask your mother or your father, or your brothers or sisters or your best friends, they’re going to tell you how wonderful you are because they love you. But how do you get somebody to tell you how horrible you are? Now, you don’t want to hear that. But that’s the reality, you need to hear if that’s the case. And the reason you want to have multiple people to ask is because I have three out of four say are wonderful, and one out of four says you You’re awful, then, you know, go go with your instincts on that, you know, somebody, again, may think well, you need to be developed to the level I am. Well, they might not be. So what I would do is first off, I’d say to myself, am I going to sell locally? You know, if I grow up in let’s say it’s Indianapolis, if I’m in Indianapolis, you know, how good do I need to be to be in Indianapolis? Well, I think you got to be pretty good to be in Indianapolis, my my take on it, but I would say I’m going to ask some local people. So I would call a gallery owner. And by the way, or, or curator, I would call somebody who is within the range of what you do. You know, if you’re a modern art painter, and you call somebody who does traditional realism, they’re probably not going to respond well to what you do. So call somebody who’s an expert in modern art, if you’re a traditional painters call somebody who’s a traditional expert. So locally, you know, call a couple of galleries, call curator call a couple of artists and say to them, and I mean this sincerely, and you have to be willing to do this to say to him, Listen, I need some help, I need to understand where I am. And I need some perspective, because I can’t see it myself. And I’d be willing to pay you for half an hour or an hour of your time, if you’d be willing to look at some of my paintings and give me some feedback on whether I’m ready. And if I’m not what do I need to hear. And by the way, I give you permission not to say anything nice. This is not about hearing compliments, I truly want to know where the problems lie, because you can’t see him. Or maybe you can but one, one way to see him is to put your paintings away for a year and then look at him a year later, sometimes you can see him, but I would do that if you’re going national if your goal is to be nationally recognized or worldwide recognized, then go for some people who are outside of that local market as well. And get some feedback from them. Because you know, depending on the level of what the local person is, is seeing, you know, somebody who’s at a national level might see things differently because there may be seeing a lot more artists a lot more work. And so find out from an expert, you know, how do you feel and remember to give them permission to be negative because you’re not trying to get compliments. As a matter of fact, just just rule that out say I don’t want any compliments. You don’t have to say anything nice, tell me what, what’s good or tell me what’s right, what’s wrong. And and that way I know how to improve and then Once you find that out, then you got to figure out, okay, how do I get there? How do I improve? How do I push through this? And you can figure that out. That’s something. The other thing that I would say, is be careful not to call on galleries that you want a foot in the door. In other words, don’t say, Don’t do this pretend thing of, hey, I want you to look at my work, I’m willing to pay you to look at it in hopes that they’ll say, Hey, would you come into my gallery, don’t even go to any galleries that you hope to get into? Because I think that that could backfire on you. And I don’t want you to do that. So that’s just one thing. Another thing is, I learned a really interesting lesson. Because as I went through my painting journey, there were people who said things to me, like, Oh, pretty colors, or Oh, interesting. approach or interesting composition, or, wow, that that tree really is nice, you know, and they’re kind of hesitating, you know, they’re looking for something nice to say. And, you know, we all want to have our compliments. But you know, you’re hearing that hesitation, or you’re hearing they’re not giving you what you would believe are genuine comments, it probably means there’s a problem. And the problem is something you can’t see. And so, you know, you’re trying to get around that problem. But what, what I noticed is, I had picked out a very prominent painter, and spent a lot of time with this painter and said, You know, I really need you to help me work on some stuff. Because I had done that I knew I knew where some of my weaknesses were. And I worked with this painter, and then I kind of stuck to just figuring this stuff out for a year or something. After about a year, I was getting unsolicited compliments that were not pretty colors. But wow, that’s, you know, that’s really a spectacular painting. Who did that? Well, I did it that’s like, oh, wow, I didn’t expect that. You know, there’s so you know, you want to look for things like that. So keep an eye out. And that will help you. Okay, Aberdeen, what’s our next question?
The next question is from Christine, from Denmark, Iowa. How does entering contests help? They’re not cheap. So are they really?
Eric Rhoads 52:22
Well, the first thing you got to get over Christine is, is that, you know, competitions are quote, unquote, not cheap. You know, there is you got to ask yourself, Why am I entering a competition. And I have some very specific thoughts about that. And of course, I have the plein air salon competition. So I understand it pretty deeply. And I’ve been a judge, and many of other competitions, including the art renewal center competition. And I will tell you this, that there are good competitions, and there are not so good competitions, some competitions are just about getting your money. And you want to look at the quality of artwork that are that are getting picked and winning. And ask yourself, you know, is this something that’s living up to the quality that I like, and you know, if it is great, go for it. But you know, you can check it out, talk to people see what they like, and so on. The other thing is, the most important reason to enter a competition has nothing to do with winning the competition. Now, that probably sounds odd, but it’s about your head, it’s about your mindset. It’s about putting yourself out there. You see, if you’re an amateur artist, and you’re deciding to start working towards selling your paintings, or getting noticed or marketing yourself, then you have to have a different mindset. And that mindset changes everything, right? Because if you’re suddenly you’re about to upload a painting that you’ve done, knowing you’re going to be judged by a famous judge or gallery owner or something, and knowing that you’re going to be competing with some pretty darn good artists. Now you’re looking at that painting. It’s kind of like you never noticed the stuff in your own house until you have a visitor and then all of a sudden, it’s like, oh, I need to paint that wall. It’s got dirt on it, right? So it’s the same kind of approach. Once you feel and figure out that you’re putting yourself into the game, you’re going to treat your art differently, you’re going to try harder, you’re going to work to push yourself more, and that’s going to have a positive impact. That is a great reason. The first time I entered an art competition. That’s exactly what happened to me. There was like three or four weeks to enter and I was getting ready to upload it and then I started thinking about it thought, you know, this isn’t really there yet. And I worked on it for three or four weeks intensely until I got there. I didn’t even win an award. I didn’t get an acknowledgment, nothing happened. But I could see the positive impact on myself. Now, that’s one reason that you want to do it. And you want to kind of get yourself into a what I would call a professional mindset. Now, not everybody enters because they’re professional, you know, sometimes it’s nice to know that you’re that other people like your work or that other people appreciate your work, or that somebody who knows Art likes your work, even if you’re an amateur, that’s a beautiful thing. And that’s worth going for as well, because we all need recognition. But, you know, you say that, that entering a competition is expensive. But if you think about it, you know, most competitions are 30 or 40 bucks to enter. That’s a lot of money, I get it. But what if you became a finalist, and you got listed on some of the promotion, and maybe there was a page showing all the finalists and your work is seen and your name has seen that you’re buying basically an ad, that’s probably worth 1000s of dollars for 30 or 40 bucks. And even if you enter 20 times to get to that point, you’re probably still ahead of the game. And because because of that happens, and the more you enter, the better you’re likely to get, the better you’re likely to push yourself. So that’s another thing now. Also, as a marketer, and teaching marketing, there is the marketing aspect, right? If you’re looking for recognition from let’s say, a gallery, and let you want to get invited into a gallery, if if you could pay any amount of money, let’s say there was a top gallerist. And you were like, I wish I pay 100 bucks, I’d pay 1000 bucks to get that gallerist to look at my paintings, right? Because what if he or she likes it? And what if they pull me into the gallery that could change everything in my life? Right? So you know, you ask yourself, what would you pay for that? And so what happens is, I can’t speak for all competitions, but most competitions have relatively prominent people, curators, editors, gallery owners, top artists, and what would you pay to have that top artists notice your painting. And we have for instance, we always try to get a lot of, of gallery owners and gallery curators and museum curators. And we have had many, many situations where they’re judging a painting. And by the way, they don’t know the names and ever see the names. They’re judging a painting and they fall in love with a painting. And they you know, maybe they make it a finalist or something, maybe it makes it all the way to the end, maybe it doesn’t, but they’re paying attention. And I’ve heard from a number of artists who have entered our plein air salon who’ve said, hey, you know, that judge called me and invited me into their gallery or they called me and said, Hey, do you mind if I introduce you to so and so because I think your work is really good. And when you enter multiple paintings, then they get the impact of a body of work galleries love a body of work, and they’re gonna want something that shows that you’re consistent, you know, you can have one good painting and 20 bad ones. They don’t want that. So if they’re seeing, you know, I judged the aarC competition recently, and I saw several paintings from one particular artist and somehow I could tell it was the same artist. I didn’t know the name. But it was like, wow, this person is consistent and they’re good. I’m going to pay attention once the idol is names are announced. So I can do a feature on that artists in the magazine because I thought, well, this is great. And so that kind of thing happens. So this is gallery recognition. It could be publicity and other things. But you know, prizes and money are wonderful covers of magazines are wonderful. You know, if you enter the plein air salon, and you when you get $15,000 all cash, not pretend cash, but all cash meaning pretend cash is a lot of people will say, Well, we’re gonna give you $15,000 where the value and that’s just a bunch of stuff you don’t care about, but $15,000 in cash, and then you get the cover of plein air magazine? Well, you’re on the cover of a magazine being seen by hundreds of 1000s of people in bookstores and newsstands and all these subscribers and all that that’s a big deal. And I mean, that’s a big, big deal. There are artists who are prominent artists who have strived their whole life to be on a cover of magazine never done it and you get the cover of magazine that’s worth the effort. So, you know, the idea is about instant exposure. You can you know, I teach marketing and marketing is something that is a process that you got to do over and over and over again. But you can have explosive moments that will skyrocket a career. And one of those things explosive moments is winning something, I can tell you that there are many people who were unknown nationally, maybe known locally, who won our plein air salon, who became instant celebrities who all of a sudden, the minute they win, you know, we’re putting their magazine, their picture in the magazine on the website, you’re putting it everywhere. And all of a sudden they’re getting known in their painting is getting known. And all of a sudden, they’re getting calls from Art Gallery, say, hey, hey, we’d like to have you in our art gallery. They’re getting calls from somebody who’s doing shows, I remember one artist said, you know, the first thing that happened is I got called and invited to be a judge me a judge, I’ve never been a judge. And so there’s a lot of value to that. And, you know, it’s great if you win, but it’s, it’s and when you win, when you become a finalist, even in one category, like we have 20 categories. So if you if you were a finalist in the sunset category, and maybe there aren’t a lot of entries there, you know, you’re gonna get noticed, and you’re gonna have something to talk about something to put on your resume, something to forward to your list and your friends and put on social media. All of that is, is career building and marketing. And so, you know, it’s, it’s really not about winning, winning is really sweet. But what’s sweeter than winning, is building a career that is going to last a lifetime. And that’s why you do it. And that’s why we have hundreds of people who enter 5678 paintings every single time. And they will sometimes enter those same paintings, five competitions in a row, because one judge didn’t pick them, but another judge did pick them or another one after that, pick them and we’ve seen this happen. So you know, every judge has different things that they like. So anyway, I hope that you understand that this isn’t about the prize. This is about the journey. Anyway, that is today’s art marketing minute.
This has been the marketing minute with Eric Rhoads. You can learn more at artmarketing.com.
Eric Rhoads 1:02:08
Christmas is coming. Put out a hit that you’d love to go to the plein air convention in Denver in May. PleinAirconvention.com and or watercolorlive.com In January, or a subscription to plein air magazine. And by the way, if you’re a plein air painter and you’re listening to this, you really should have plein air magazine, just saying, you know, and by the way, if you get the digital edition, especially those you overseas, you know, we got 103 countries listening to this, if you’re overseas, you don’t want to wait for the mail. I’ve had people in Australia say You know, it takes six weeks to get here to get the digital. And that way, you get 30% more content that’s not in the print magazine. By the way, if you’ve not seen my blog, where I talked about art and life and lots of other things, it’s called Sunday coffee, you can find it at coffeewitheric.com. Also, I’m on the air daily on the air or on the internet daily anyway, on Facebook, and YouTube. My show is called Art School live. And there are hundreds of artists who demonstrations and talks and things like that we’ve done it every day since COVID. We did seven days a week for seven months now or five days a week we continue we’ve got hundreds of them. The entire archive is at YouTube and you should go to YouTube. Look for art school live, search, search for it and then subscribe and hit the little bell so you’re notified when we go live. And of course, if you don’t mind to follow Eric Rhoads at Facebook and Instagram. That would be cool. My name is Eric Rhoads. I’m the publisher and founder of plein air magazine. Thank you for your time today. Remember, it’s a great big world out there. Go paint it. We’ll see you soon. Bye bye.
Well, this has been the art marketing minute with me. Eric Rhoads. My goal in life is to eliminate the idea of the starving artist 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 Artmarketing.com. 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.
> Visit EricRhoads.com (Publisher of ArtMarketing.com) to learn about opportunities for artists and art collectors, including:
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