Can artists use giclee prints as a form of passive income?
Should artists hire someone to handle their marketing?
Eric Rhoads answers in this week’s Art Marketing Minute Podcast.

In the Art Marketing Minute Podcast with Eric Rhoads, 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. 

Get your copy of Eric’s #1 Amazon Best Seller, “Make More Money Selling Your Art: Proven Techniques for Turning Your Passion Into Profit” here.

The Art Marketing Minute Podcast has been named one of the 2023 “Top 25 Art Business and Marketing Blogs on the web” by FeedSpot.

Listen to the Art Marketing Minute Podcast: Episode 136 >

Submit Your Art Marketing Question:

What questions do you have about selling your art? Visit or e-mail Eric 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, it is sometimes 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, art magazine publisher, Eric Rhoads.

Eric Rhoads:
So you guys can send your questions to me [email protected]. Or you can come live on the podcast if you want to do that. And we can pre arrange that just let us know. So I have never seen these questions. I’m doing this stuff off the top of my head. The first question is from Trish Dorton in Columbus, Georgia. Question is about passive income, for example, giclee prints of works? Does that impact your brand and marketability as a fine artist? And can it be done in a way to accentuate your career? Well, I think that, you know, there’s really two questions in this maybe more questions. The first question is about passive income. Let’s talk about that. Before we talk about prints. I think that every artist needs to look for an opportunity to find passive income, passive income are things that that you can do without. It’s essentially leveraging yourself right. So think about this, if you’re a doctor, you only have so much time and you can only see so many patients. But if you’re a doctor who has some other special skill, maybe it’s something you can train people and then you have the opportunity to create passive income so passive income as an artist isn’t necessarily teaching right. So teaching in person is taking up your time. Right so if you’re teaching online, or you’re teaching in person workshop or you have a class on a Thursday night or something like that, that’s, that’s really not passive income, that’s income. It’s important income. But if it takes your time that it’s not passive, it’s active, right? So passive income would be like, if you came to streamline pink tube, for instance, and you created an art instruction video with us, that’s passive income, you invest a few days of your time, a little bit of planning time. And then we sell it and it continues to sell over years and years and years and years. And you get a check in the mail every month, hopefully for 20 or 30 years. Right. So that’s passive income. The same thing would be true for a print market, or something else. But of course, what you have to figure out is how do I make it passive? So if you decide you want to go into the print market, which a lot of artists do, then how do you? How do you leverage it? Well, in one way, or print is a leverage of an original right, so I had dinner one time with Thomas Kincaid, and he said to me, my biggest regret in life is that I sold a lot of my original paintings. And he said, You know, I, I didn’t make prints of all of them, because I didn’t know how to do it. I don’t even have photographs of all of them. But he said, in a world where I can make prints, he said, I keep my originals, I don’t sell my originals, they become more valuable. And then I make prints off of them. And so I can potentially make prints off of one painting for for decades. And I’m sure even though he’s passed, I’m sure somebody is still doing that. And so, you know, there was when I first got into this, there was a lot of people who were dissing the idea of doing prints, and because it cheapens the artist. But you know, I know a lot of artists who were very successful doing that, and in in a couple of ways, John Stoll Bart was a dear friend of mine, John was a multimillionaire. And he became a multimillionaire by selling prints. John had full page ads, if you can imagine, running in the New York Times, selling prints. Well, he didn’t sell a few, he sold 10s of 1000s of prints. Now, John was leveraging himself because he was on PBS at the time. So some people knew him. He was at the peak of his career, you know, he was very popular and well known. And even if he wasn’t, you know, he advertised a beautiful print. And people would buy them. That was what I call direct marketing, right? He ran an ad and had a place that you could, in that particular case, you could fill out the form on the ad, cut it out, put it in an envelope and send a check to him, and he would send you the painting and return. Nowadays, of course, you can do that all online. You know, nobody has to send checks, everybody can just do it online. And it’s easier. There are lots of artists, I’ve got a friend in Texas who does. He has a huge print business he’s got, he does his own printing, he does his own framing, he makes his own frames. And it’s, it’s a huge income for him. Now, the way he sells them, though, is he does these art shows. It’s taking his time. So it’s active, not passive. But he has art shows where he’s selling originals, but you’d see an original and it’s a two or three or four or five or $20,000 original, you go well, maybe that’s not for me, but I love it. And so somebody goes, well, here’s a print for $50. And, you know, and he knows that his cost to create that print is $16 or whatever. And so he’s making good money on it. And if he sells 100 of them an art show, hey, that’s better than not having them and because sometimes you don’t sell an original. So I think it’s perfectly fine. I think that you need to talk to the people who support you. Meaning if you’re in an art gallery, how do they feel about it? Some art galleries don’t feel good about prints, and some do, but I would encourage everybody to say, okay, in what ways can I create passive income? What can I do one time and repeat it multiple times where it doesn’t require me to be there physically, that’s leveraging yourself that gives you passive income. And I think it it can be very valuable. So what the question that is that Trish said is is can it be done in a way that accentuates your career? Well, I don’t know what that means. Is it going to build your brand? Probably not. I mean, likely somebody buys a print and they don’t even know who did it and it gets framed and hung out. a while and they might see your signature, they might know who you are, they might not. Same thing, by the way is true even with an original song. It’s it’s sometimes that just happens. And I even have paintings on my walls that I’ve forgotten who, who did them, and I shouldn’t. But it’s just kind of the reality. So I don’t know if it accentuates your career, it accentuates your income. And if you have income, then that buys you freedom, right? Freedom buys you a lot of things. So income, I look at income, not as do I need that income, to be able to pay my bills, and to be able to go on trips and travel the world and all that stuff. Yeah, I need that. But I also take a percentage of my income. And I use it in other ways, right? So like, I might want a percentage of my income going to, in my case tithing to help other people. Or I might want to say, look, I’m going to take 20% of my income. And I’m going to devote that to advertising. My giclee prints and setting up a direct marketing thing. So that people can click on these ads and see him and by him, or I’m going to use percentage of that income towards advertising to build my brand and to get more collectors familiar with me so that they know who it is. They’re hanging on the wall. So I hope that helps Trish.

The next question is from a user whose name is @paintpot7623. I have difficulty following through with any marketing. Welcome to the club. I’m older, I’ve struggled for over 30 years to chase up money for sales. Should I keep trying? Should I hire myself to hire somebody to market for me, or just concentrate on the art itself? Well, you’ve touched on a big nerve. So I was watching something on X last night on Twitter. And it was a speech from a woman in Silicon Valley who was talking about growing a business. And one of the things that she said, really struck me, and that is that you can’t grow. Without help. You can only get so far on your own. Because you are limited in what you know, you’re limited in your abilities, and you’re limited in your time. So I have a staff of 55 people. And I used to have no staff, right. And as soon as I could afford one person, I hired one person and I said, Okay, this is what you’re going to do for me. And then that person got to the point where they were maxed out. And if I wanted to grow and I wanted to do more things, I had to figure out how to afford a second person. And a lot of that, of course, is sales. If you have somebody to help you with sales, then that funds everything else, right? You don’t want a bunch of employees and are not generating income, you want people who are helping you generate income. So should I hire someone to market for me? Well, you have, I think a couple of options. There are a lot of artists out there who are doing marketing with a marketing professionals. Sometimes it’s an ad agency, sometimes it’s an agent, sometimes it’s a husband or a wife or a friend. If you can find somebody that you know and trust to do your marketing, then you’ve got to figure out, okay, how do I pay them. Now, you might pay them as a percentage of sales, that’s one opportunity, you might just say, I’m gonna pay you a flat amount of money, here’s what I need you to do for me. And by the way, if you don’t understand marketing, you might not even know what you need them to do for you. So I’m a big fan of other people helping you first off it, it’s going to leverage you because the the one thing that painters forget, you know, I, I get so frustrated because I see I see painters who are pretty good. Who could be getting to the next level if they were putting eight or 10 hours a day into it. But instead they’re they’re getting distracted by income distraction. Right? So an income distraction is I got to figure out how to do my own shipping. I gotta figure out how to package these paintings. I gotta figure out how to frame them. I got to figure out how to sell more. I got to figure out how to deal with gallery relationships or get a gallery or I’ve got to figure out how to sell more stuff online. I got to do more social media, so I sell more stuff online. All of these things are shiny objects, and they’re distractions. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do them, but if you had somebody to doing this Social Media for you, if you had somebody helping you with your marketing, if you had galleries representing your work, you’re leveraging yourself, there’s that word again, leveraging, right? Because you can only do so much. But you know, you picture a fulcrum, right? There’s a rock, there’s a rod, and you don’t have to push very hard on that fulcrum to lift something heavy. Well, that’s what other people do for you. So if you can do it, if you cannot afford it, then find a way to get somebody to help you do it temporarily. AND, and OR for a piece of the income. Now you want to be careful with that. Because if you’re given up pieces of income, next thing, you know, you don’t have any everybody thinks that that’s an easy route. My dad told me something when I was very young, he said, don’t ever have partners. And I immediately went out and got a partnership. And so immediately, B and another guy were splitting things 5050. And, but I was doing a lot of work, I was doing all the sales, he was doing all the product. And it seemed like a really good relationship. And it was until it failed. And then all of a sudden, we went from, you know, 100 miles an hour to zero because he decided he didn’t want to do it anymore. Or, I’ve had other situations where I’ve seen people say, Well, you know, I have this, this guy is going to help me I’m gonna give up 10% of my company for him. And then there’s another helper, I’m gonna give 10% for them, and then another helper, I’m gonna give 10% for them. And if it’s actual stock in your company, then one day, if things don’t work out, which sometimes they don’t. Next thing, you know, you know, your company’s more valuable, you got to buy him out. And so that’s why I’m a little bit reluctant about that. Be really careful about just giving away the farm. It’s much better if you can hire somebody and pay them a fair fee or wage for the product that they’re producing for you rather than giving up equity. Because someday you’ll regret it. It doesn’t seem like much. Now, you know, you might say, well, I don’t mind giving up 10% To somebody now, because I’m only making $1,000. But what if you were making $100,000? And you realize you gave him 10 to $10,000? Or what if you’re making a million dollars, and you were given him $100,000 And they’re not working that hard anymore? So those are the things you have to keep in mind. Yes, leverage yourself if possible. Find a way to get somebody to help you with marketing. A lot of artists, you know, my big frustration, I teach marketing a lot. I’ve got a website devoted to it. Art I’ve got a book, I’m going to be teaching at the plein air convention, I’m going to be teaching Lunch and Learn art marketing sessions. And my big frustration is that artists want to be artists. And they don’t really want to learn marketing. They know they need to learn marketing. You need to understand it and learn it even if you have somebody else doing it for you because you need to control your messaging and make sure you’re not getting perceived as sleazy or otherwise. But I think that just just keep that in mind as you’re as you’re progressing. Anyway, that’s been the art marketing minute. I hope it helps.

How to Submit Your Art Marketing Questions: What questions do you have about selling your art? Submit it at to hear your question answered on an upcoming Art Marketing Minute Podcast.