10 Art World Predictions for 2021

10 Art World Predictions for 2022

Though my crystal ball is cracked and I’ve shaved my Nostradamus beard, I have some thoughts on 2022 from the perspective of an art publisher who is in constant dialogue with artists, collectors, galleries, and art experts.

Everyone is in agreement that all bets are off for predictions in the event of another massive lockdown or spread of the virus, but we’re observing that people are starting to normalize and gain confidence in being out and about.

1. Money in the Marketplace

Though there will always be people who never seem to have enough money, it appears that money has become a secondary issue for some others. Most people remained employed, but the employed were not traveling or dining out, meaning they may have a significant amount of disposable income. Many who were business owners received PPP benefits, and others received extra compensation from unemployment. 

During the lockdowns we saw a substantial increase in home upgrades, remodeling, painting, redecorating, and art buying. One can only stare at the walls for so long before needing something new to hang on them. Additionally, a substantial number of people have chosen not to commute and now work from home, so a lot of love and care is going into home office spaces.

2. Tax Benefits

For 2021 and 2022, those who own businesses can depreciate 100% of the cost of tangible business goods, which means that items that would normally be depreciated over their lifetime of several years can be depreciated this year. This tax law gift happens only this year and next, though this year has more favorable terms. Galleries are pointing out these benefits to people who are decorating offices or home offices — it can add up to a serious reduction in actual cost. (Check with your tax specialist for details; I do not give tax advice.) This should also apply to tangible items for art studios like easels, furniture, etc. Also note that gifting benefits can apply to art if you have a collection to gradually leave to your heirs over time.

3. Online Buying

Though most of us were up to speed with online buying even before the pandemic, the rest of the world, much of which was not up to speed, has now caught up. After being forced to buy essentials online, a full generation of non-online buyers are now buying online and getting more comfortable with substantial online purchases. Galleries and artists not offering online buying should take note. 

Also, online buyers do not suffer inconveniences like “e-mail me for the price,” or “price upon request.” You can build and buy a Tesla online without ever talking to a human, and the same should be true for art. We’ve seen galleries making sales of highly expensive paintings without ever speaking with the buyer.

4. Christmas Sales
Two issues dominate the holiday giving market: Many families will be together for the first time in a year or two, so many are gifting at higher levels. But at the same time, last-minute buyers may be left without options as they enter stores, even online stores, and find limited choices or bare shelves. Galleries and artists would do well to point this out and remain highly visible throughout the season, stressing last-minute shipping.

5. Impacts of Inflation

People who are sitting on a lot of cash are seeking places to put that cash where it will remain valuable in spite of inflation. Housing and real estate are always popular, but art has also historically been a hedge against inflation. Investors seek assets that go up in value, protect their cash, and can easily be liquidated. Historic art and investable art are already seeing an uptick in sales.

Again, a provision in the 2020-2021 bonus tax code is that tangible assets can be depreciated 100% in the first year. That means office furniture, equipment, and art may be acquired for considerably less cash investment once the bonuses are used. (Check with your tax professional.) This also makes a case for art sales as a hedge, at a discounted (to the buyer) depreciation rate.

6. Migration 

A massive migration is taking place across America. Pandemic fears, not wanting to be locked down, social concerns regarding the safety of communities, and higher taxes have resulted in a massive migration out of bigger cities into small towns and into states like Texas and Florida. New York City has been hit the hardest, with city dwellers moving to surrounding counties and to Florida. A migration away from California is also occurring — or, at least, away from the big cities. This has brought rapidly rising real estate prices as populations have doubled in some Florida and Texas communities, as well as higher housing costs in previously reasonable small towns. Moving companies are backed up for months and storage units aren’t available, meaning new furnishings for many (though supply chain issues are ongoing). While some maintain other homes, many people are establishing residency in income tax zones like Florida. More time in second homes — making them primary homes — will also mean more decorating.

The New York Times reported that a significant number of restaurants in New York City have been forced to close because of pandemic restrictions, and some of the better known restaurants have relocated to places like Miami and Palm Beach, following their customers. Will New York galleries be the next to follow? 

New homes often result in new paintings purchased, and second homes often mean new artwork in a different style. For instance, more colorful artwork might be desired when moving into a second home in Florida. Can artists and galleries find a way to tap new residents in growing communities? We think so.

7. Realism Growth

Our magazine Fine Art Connoisseur has always been a standard bearer for realism, the resurgence of realism, and a solid future for young realist artists. Recent evidence indicates that realism may see its boom years sooner than expected because there is ample inventory available with the influx of young, talented realist artists. Additionally, some highly influential modern art dealers have started to show realism as something new, representing top realists and driving prices up. If this continues it should be a financial boon for realist painters and sculptors.

8. Plein Air Events

Prior to the lockdowns, the plein air world was booming. Tens of thousands of artists had started painting outdoors as a hobby and thousands more followed artists as collectors at plein air events. Sadly, lockdowns resulted in the loss of a few shows, and of course hundreds of shows were forced to cancel for at least a year. Early reports indicate event attendance is starting to return to healthy levels, and it is expected that once communities begin to feel safer about getting out, attendance will be at an all-time high, as will sales. This should mean a healthy year for plein air painters and events.

9. Gallery Survival

The pandemic proved to be a challenge for some gallery owners and death for others, but was a blessing for many. We must not forget that many galleries have the disadvantages of the high costs of rent, electricity, staff, etc. It appears COVID flushed out those whose survival was precarious. In some cases closures simply meant gallery owners retiring earlier than they had planned. Others were driven out of business by high rents and low sales. Those who survived were the ones who did not stop marketing, who kept active and visible, and who looked for ways to stimulate business via phone and online sales. Of course, further lockdowns may impact businesses, but we’re seeing some galleries in discussions about downsizing physical spaces and relying more on online and phone sales strategies. Others are considering relocation, in many cases for the same lifestyle-driven reasons buyers have left bigger cities.

Based on the high-end modern interest in realism, I suspect more galleries will dip their toes in the water and follow suit until it’s a verifiable trend (though others will wait till it’s too late to jump in). 

The predicted end of galleries has not occurred, and does not appear to be on the way. Their role and approach may change or adjust, and, as always, galleries will evolve.  

10. Art Workshops

COVID created a necessary pivot for those doing live workshops. Many shifted to online training via Zoom and other platforms and managed to survive and in some cases thrive. Though the adjustment required new technical proficiency, most people quickly figured it out. 

The biggest concern we’ve heard is that the work involved in producing and planning training, and dealing with customers and payments, has resulted in unexpected headaches and time issues. Most artists, when calculating their hourly rate for time spent on online workshops, realized they were not being paid well. And though online was a good alternative to produce income during COVID, most feel it won’t be fruitful moving forward when time is tighter. Many have suggested that they intend to move away from or reduce the amount of personal online teaching that eats into valuable painting time.

Most artists have started returning to live in-person workshops or are eager to return, and there are strong indicators that attendance will be strong and that people are even willing to travel. We had a large crowd at both our June and October events, though we were probably off about 20 percent overall based on COVID fears. We seem to be coming out of that; for instance, early indications are making us believe our May Plein Air Convention & Expo will be sold out before February. Our hotel is already suggesting it may sell out sooner. This is great news, indicating that people are returning to life before COVID.

Because we discovered many people are unable to attend live events (for reasons other than COVID), we plan to continue our online training weeks like Watercolor Live in January, PleinAir Live in March, Pastel Live in August, and Realism Live in November.

A Strong Outlook

Most artists and galleries I know were worried that COVID lockdowns would kill their businesses, but the opposite has been true: Many had their best year in a decade. Though the level of spending on art has already declined slightly from the peak, it appears it will remain high for at least another year or so. Those who thrive will be those who continue to stay visible to art buyers and collectors through publications and websites. Social media has also offered a big boost, with more social art sales happening (though fewer than might have been expected). Whether that will continue remains to be seen, but those social outlets that have accumulated large, curated audiences appear to still be the most important places to be seen. 

2022 looks strong. Of course, all bets are off if further lockdowns are required. Even if that happens, there will remain pockets where things are stronger or weaker depending on regional or local rules. Overall the prognosis is solid, though artists and galleries may wish to focus their efforts on regions where fewer lockdowns are occurring, or focus on getting in front of locked-down families who are in need of new things to make the walls they are staring at more bearable. In both cases, artists and galleries, they’ll need to adjust their 2022 plans and marketing to reflect these changes.

Eric Rhoads is founder and publisher of Fine Art Connoisseur and PleinAir Magazines. He is the author of Make More Money Selling Your Art: Proven Methods for Turning Your Passion into Profit. He is the founder and CEO of Streamline, a company that produces art events, artist retreats, and art instruction videos. He is an artist whose work is exhibited in three galleries, and is the father of college-age triplets. He writes a weekly blog called Sunday Coffee and writes in each issue of the magazines and for ArtMarketing.com.

By |2022-12-14T16:52:14-05:00December 20th, 2021|Branding, Business, Sales|0 Comments

Artists: How to Build an E-mail List in 2021

Artists and craftspeople should consider the value of building an e-mail list. When you can e-mail people, you have your own medium that allows you to contact them as much or as little as you wish. (Once they have opted in.) 

E-mail is an excellent way to grow your business, sell more paintings, and deepen your customer relationships. 

Not sure HOW to build an e-mail list? In this article I’ll share lots of ideas and methods that can work for you. Keep reading, and I’ll make it simple to understand and do. 

Why, exactly, should you consider building an e-mail list?

Well, if you were suddenly stripped of all your Facebook, Instagram, and social media accounts, what would you do? What if all the websites and advertising vehicles, like art magazines, disappeared? What then?

Though this is unlikely to happen, we’ve seen artists make a simple mistake (like posting a nude painting) and have their Facebook accounts cancelled. All it takes sometimes is one complaint, and you’ve lost years of accumulated followers. Starting from scratch and getting those followers back may not be possible. 

Therefore I believe your e-mail list is so valuable that you should guard it with your life. Make sure it’s never shared and never lost. And, of course, your list must be treated with respect. Your e-mail list may be the most important thing in your marketing arsenal. 

But, just like a website that is out of date and not managed can hurt you, so can a weak or outdated list. You need to make sure you stay on top of your e-mail marketing list. 

And just like you don’t want a bunch of non-buying tire-kickers visiting your studio and wasting your time, you don’t want people on your e-mail list who will not become potential customers. So you need to attract the RIGHT kind of people who will become valuable customers and be willing to avoid all others. And you need a strategy, following my ABG (Always Be Gathering [e-mails]) method. 

Of course, you must nurture your e-mail list, not just do basic maintenance. If they are ignored, you will be ignored.  

Where do you start to build an e-mail list?

In the simplest possible terms (no, it’s not complicated), you want to reach people who are a fit, often called your “target prospects.” These are people you know love art, people who have bought art from you or others you know, or people who have expressed interest in your art.

Caution: You’ll make a lot of enemies (and be breaking the law) if you just start adding people to your e-mail list without their permission. People have to opt in (give you their permission to e-mail them). If you start sending to people without their permission, you will make them mad, and they might report you by hitting the dreaded “spam” button. This could result in your e-mail service provider NOT delivering any more of your e-mails, and could result in big companies like Google not delivering them either. It could take years to solve that problem.

Getting a Fast Start

Walk before you run. That means get some experience driving before you hop into a Ferrari. Things can go at high speed and you don’t want to crash. So start by getting some experience, and keep it simple.

Start by enabling a tool on your website that allows you to collect names. You can have a button offering something of value, like a newsletter or e-book, so people can click it and put in their information. You’ll have to build a form.

Caution: The longer the form, the lower the response. Your main goal is to get nothing more than an e-mail address and a first name. Anything more  than that will lower response rates; people don’t like to hand out information. (There are tools to gather more information at a later point.)

Once you have your web form up and running, there needs to be a button that opts people in to your list (and you’ll also need a privacy policy explaining how their e-mail will be used).

Once you’ve been collecting names of buyers and potential buyers for a while, you can drop them an e-mail and ask if you can add them to your e-mail list (please explain the benefits). If they say yes, you can add them or provide a link so they can add themselves.

Of course, you can use your social media to announce your e-book or newsletter and invite people to come to your new website to sign up.

If you advertise, invite people to visit your site for their free gift, e-book, newsletter, etc. Put it in every ad forever. ABG.

A speedy way to advertise to get people onto a list is to make it the focus of your ad two or three times in a row (offer a benefit!). And you can run ads on social that are designed to offer a benefit for a visit (“Visit my website for my free e-book”). You can do this with print, web, or banners, or with campaigns on Google or social media. 

If you have something specific to offer, you can promote and advertise a webinar on that topic and get people to sign up (which also opts them into your list). Then present the webinar, and possibly ask for an order for something else you offer — for example, signing up for a workshop. Make the webinar a sample.

Your Free Offer

Note: If it’s all about you, they won’t care. (Sorry, truth hurts). If it’s of benefit to them, they will care. Your free offer, free gift, e-book, etc., should benefit the reader. Will they give their e-mail for something valuable in return? Absolutely. 

In the direct marketing world, these are called “lead magnets.” They can be books, planners, guides, white papers, reports, checklists, materials lists, color lists, etc. Come up with something people want.

Note, we as artists tend to forget there are two worlds … the world of our friends (other artists) and the world of our customers (art buyers). In some cases BOTH can be customers, such as when we’re selling workshops or training. If that’s the case, have two offers — one per target segment. But remember, the more choices you offer, the lower the response. Maybe start with what matters MOST to you, like potential art buyers. 

Don’t Forget to Sell

Put some sell behind your freebie. Make a nice picture and write a small paragraph about the value of the item. You may want to use a pop-up so people see it right away when they visit (if their filter is not engaged to prevent it).


Should you offer actual gifts that cost money?  That’s up to you. You have to assume that only a small percentage of those receiving a gift will become customers. So if you give out 10 gifts that cost you $1 each, is it worth that much to get one customer? (Absolutely.)

Know Your Data

You need to know how much people spend on your artwork. If you sell one out of 10 visitors who get your free gift, it could be a big win. This is why it’s important to know your audience and your numbers. Track everything.

Get Interviewed

A great tool for getting people to sign up is to do interviews on other people’s platforms (their web shows, podcasts, Zoom teaching) and mention that you have a free offer for those who visit your site. Also mention your social media handles. Then you can link those shows in your social pages, which can bring new listeners and maybe new e-mails. 

Make sure your gift or offer is targeted or you’ll get lots of visitors who are not ever going to be customers. 

E-mail Signature

Don’t forget to put your offer in your e-mail signature and in your social media profile (“Sign up to get my free e-book on X by clicking on this link”).

You can also offer things like discounts (“Visit my website for 20% off, this week only”).

Sharing is important, so in your newsletter or your free e-book, make a request that people share it with others. Offer a link they can send.

And — if you’re able to be tasteful about it — if you see people on social media you want to meet (maybe a collector), send them a private message or a comment, inviting them to get to know you. 


Contests or giveaways are a great way to get leads. You can offer a painting giveaway and require e-mails to enter (let people know they are opting in to your list). Keep in mind that this is harder to use for qualified leads because some will sign up for anything free but will never buy anything from you. Also, know the law. If someone has to pay or buy something to enter, your contest may be considered a lottery (three criteria for creating a lottery: prize, chance, and consideration), and the laws concerning lotteries can be complex.

Set Goals

Oh, and set goals. If you are deliberate and tell yourself you are going to get 10 quality names a month, you will do it. By the end of the year, if you have 120 quality prospects, that beats having a list of 10,000 people who are not prospects.

Happy 2021

If you start now, you can start seeing results soon. Repetition of offers, shows, special events, etc,. can be very effective. Be creative, have fun, and make your e-mails fun to read and entertaining. If not, they won’t get opened (and that’s a story for another day).

By |2021-01-13T15:46:49-05:00January 12th, 2021|Branding, Direct Marketing, Sales|0 Comments

How to Become #1 as a Result of This Financial Downturn

You, me, and every artist on earth is wondering the same things right now. How do we survive this virus shutdown? How do we survive this economic downturn?

Today I’d like to suggest some ideas you may want to consider. I have had the benefit of surviving three recessions before this one (whether this is a recession, a depression, or a temporary downturn). Survival was not easy. But I came out on the other side ahead. Here are a few ideas. I’m sure I’ll have more later.

Be smart. Don’t close your doors for business.

I’ve been in the media business (mostly radio and TV) for decades, and I have deep experience in this. Though you want to react, if you overreact, you’ll be out of business forever. I’ve probably seen it happen to a few dozen companies. If you’re selling art, you as an artist are a businessperson or a company. The same things apply to you. Let me explain.

The first thing we all do when there is no money coming in the door is trim expenses. It’s a must, of course. Yet when I held a company meeting this week, I outlined what we were going to do and not do. One of the things we’re not going to do is turn off the income faucet.

Few people understand that the income faucet is their lifeline. This faucet may not have as much “water” coming out as before, but if you turn it off, there is no water at all.

The income faucet is marketing and advertising.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Of course you’re going to say that, Eric, because you’re in the magazine business.” No doubt. But I’ve lived it, which is why I told my team we’re making cuts in all areas, but we’re actually increasing advertising.

Why? Why increase advertising and increase risk?

I’ll give you two gallery examples. I’ll not mention names, but you can figure out who they are if you know galleries from around 1998, when another big recession hit.

Gallery A called me and said, “We have to cancel our advertising. Things are really bad.” I talked to them about the income faucet, but they cancelled their ads with us and everyone else. They also stopped all other forms of marketing. They stayed open, but that was it. About six months later, they announced bankruptcy and eventually disappeared.

Gallery B called me and said, “We’re starting up a new gallery and we want to buy a bunch of advertising. Several pages in each issue.” Within one year they became one of the top galleries in America, and they still are.

One day I had lunch with Gallery B’s founders and asked what their strategy was at the time. What they told me was something like this: “I’ve studied recessions and what happens to businesses because I was a business consultant. We knew we were going to start a gallery, we had our artists lined up, but we wanted to wait for the recession to start. I knew all our competitors would stop advertising. And I knew that though their businesses were soft, they would still be selling art because rich people always buy. They buy less, but they keep buying.”

He went on, “But I knew if they did not keep advertising, they would soon be out of business — and there were about eight big galleries that went under. Had they kept spending in advertising and made deeper cuts elsewhere, they would have survived. Instead, they handed their customers to me.

“I was advertising, and even though I was new, I looked strong because we had big ads, in some cases several in a row. And I stood out because there were not as many people advertising. I started hearing from customers, sold them art, and they were then on my list. I’ve sold many of them millions in art over the past years, and we’re now their go-to gallery. This is exactly what I was counting on.”

As I probed deeper, he told me he did not buy wide, meaning he didn’t buy in six or 10 publications, but he bought deep in about three. In his case, he picked my magazine Fine Art Connoisseur because he knew we had lots of ultra wealthy readers, and a couple of other publications. He told me, “Always follow the money.”

I have a saying I use in my marketing classes for artists: Always stand in the river where money is flowing.

It’s no secret that money won’t be flowing as well. But consider this.

Let’s say there are 10 galleries (or 10 artists) who have a strong customer base and who have been advertising. Now let’s assume each is only getting 20 percent of the sales they normally get — but five of the 10 stop advertising. That 20 percent of continued spending will go to those who remain visible. In the case of Gallery B, eight galleries stopped advertising, and Gallery B couldn’t keep up with the business.

There is another important principle, and that is to prime the pump for when things get better. All the people who love and buy art are not going to stop loving it. They will continue to read their favorite magazines. They need to see you the entire time. The reason is that when the money faucet turns back on, some galleries or artists will have stayed visible, branded themselves, and stood out when others had gone away, and they created interest and demand. Buyers may never have noticed you before, but now you stand out, and you are soon on the “eventual buy” list in their heads.

As a business owner, I know every dime spent is painful. But a visibility strategy is important to retain customers.

So is social media the answer? Of course it will be helpful, but there are a couple of things few people realize. If you have 5,000 Facebook friends and you do a post, only 2 percent are fed that post. So you think you’re reaching 5,000 people, and you’re really reaching 100. And just because you posted something does not mean those 100 saw it: Only 3 percent actually see or notice a post, based on their browsing habits, how the post looks, and how attention-getting it is. So you’re being seen by about three people.

You also have to remember that the people who follow you may not be people who buy art. Maybe some do, but chances are most are other artists. To reach people who spend money on art, you need to find a place that has a concentrated audience of known buyers.

Even if you can’t do what Gallery B did and buy several ads, some presence, any presence, will keep the money flowing in, though more slowly. No presence is like turning off the money faucet.

If you’re new and have not been an advertiser, there is no better time to launch a campaign and be seen and stand out. This is when kings and queens are made.

Case in point… during the Great Depression, Post Cereal was number one in America by a landslide. Because they were so confident that everyone knew them and loved them, the board made a decision to stop all advertising. Meanwhile a young startup called Kellogg’s launched during the Great Depression. The Post board still did not advertise, believing Kellogg’s could not possibly hurt them. By the end of the Depression, Kellogg’s was the number one cereal brand in America and had taken away more than 50 percent of Post’s business. They remain the leader to this day. Post tried everything but could never catch up. That’s why recessions and depressions are kingmakers.

You and I are faced with difficult decisions. Every dollar counts. We don’t know how long this will last, or when things will get better. But just because we’re frightened, we shouldn’t be foolish and assume nothing is selling. Just today a friend told me he sold a big, expensive painting, and earlier this week another friend told me she’d sold a painting.

In the Depression there was a money shift. Lots of millionaires were made during the Depression, and they were spending. In fact, the bankruptcy lawyers and others who made a lot at that time bought up real estate and businesses for pennies on the dollar, and many became the barons of the time. There is still money out there, and people are still buying.

This virus containment time can be an advantage to you. People are spending a lot of time in their homes, and many are focusing on redecorating or rearranging. This will reveal needs for new art. Also, they have lots of time on their hands, and they will read more. We’re seeing massive, bigger-than-ever open rates on our newsletters and websites, and others tell me the same. I’m assuming they will spend more time with the print magazines like PleinAir and Fine Art Connoisseur as well.

With every downturn, there is an advantage. Be smart, don’t turn off the faucet. Turning it off could turn off your business forever.

Oh, one more thing …. there is a principle in advertising called momentum. If you’ve been visible issue after issue for years and you suddenly stop, you kill your momentum. Though everyone thinks, “People know me they will remember me,” it’s simply not true. Out of sight, out of mind happens fast. I could name artists who were big brands making a lot of money who are not selling at all now because they were resting on their past brands. People no longer know who they are. Only the artists or galleries who stay visible will survive this long-term.

Food for thought. I hope it’s helpful. Please let me know what you need and how we can help you.


By |2020-03-21T21:11:55-04:00March 23rd, 2020|Branding, Business, Sales|0 Comments

The Ultimate Power of Branding: Why a da Vinci Sold for $450.3 Million

Image: Christie’s

Chances are you saw the buzz about the painting called Salvator Mundi (Latin for “Savior of the World”) by Leonardo da Vinci, which was offered recently by Christie’s auction house.

The painting was sold to an undisclosed buyer for $450.3 million, the highest price ever paid for a work of art at an auction. Prior to this, Picasso’s Le Femmes D’Alger (Version “O”)  held the record at $179 million. Willem de Kooning’s Interchange is known to have been sold privately in September 2015 to Kenneth C. Griffin, a hedge fund manager, who paid about $300 million.

The history of pricing for Salvator Mundi makes this branding story even more amazing. The painting was once owned by King Charles I of England, but after his death it was sold several times, then dropped from view until 1900, when a British collector acquired it. At the time it was attributed not to Leonardo, but to one of his students.

In 1958 the painting was sold again, and then, in 2005, it was acquired by a consortium of art dealers who bought it for less than $10,000 because it was damaged and not attributed to the master himself.

With great patience, the dealers had the painting restored and authenticated as a genuine work by Leonardo. Via Sotheby’s, they sold the painting in 2013 to Swiss businessman Yves Bouvier, who paid $80 million. Bouvier quickly flipped it to billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for $127.5 million, making a quick $48 million. (That transaction and others between the two buyers led to a tangle of lawsuits, still unresolved.) It was Rybolovlev who commissioned Christie’s to sell the painting, and it sold for $450.3 million.

So why did this painting sell for so much, and what marketing lessons can be learned from that?

  1. Branding
    If you were to ask people what they think is the best painting in the world, most would say da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or The Last Supper. People who know little about art will visit the Mona Lisa at the Louvre and not even look at anything else in the museum. That means the da Vinci brand is probably the most important of all artist brands. It’s the brand of the artist and his two most famous paintings that make this painting so desirable.

    But is that the only reason this painting went from $10,000 in 2005 to $450.3 million just 12 years later?
  2. Scarcity
    Part of the da Vinci brand is the scarcity of the paintings. Fewer than 20 paintings by Leonardo are known to have survived. People want what they can’t have. Christie’s referred to the painting as “The Last da Vinci” — the only known painting by the Renaissance master still in the hands of a private collector.
  3. Making the Painting Famous
    Christie’s broke all the rules for auction houses on this painting. Rather than sticking to the conventional approach to bringing a painting to auction, they hired a marketing agency, Gouzer and Heller. Christie’s knew this was a chance to make the sale of a lifetime, so, rather than relying on their own expertise, they hired professionals to make the painting famous leading up to the auction.

    The agency created a video that positioned the painting as “the Holy Grail” of the auction business and compared it to “the discovery of a new planet,” and the video soon went viral. They also brought in top experts to verify the painting and talk about how remarkable it is. Outside experts’ approval is more powerful than singing one’s own praises.
  4. Patience and Timing
    Christie’s took their time. Rather than jumping the gun and putting the painting up for auction the moment they received it, they carefully built out a series of viewings around the world. Thousands of people lined up to see the work at pre-auction viewings in Hong Kong, London, San Francisco, and New York.

    And the auction itself was timed to take advantage of the release of Walter Isaacson’s new Da Vinci biography, which was bound to help create interest in the painting (and now the painting is creating interest in the book). It never hurts to ride someone else’s wave.
  5. A Change of Setting
    Christie’s knew that Old Master paintings were not selling well and that attendance at those auctions has been thin. They determined that if they packaged this painting with the Old Masters, it might not bring the buzz and the price they wanted. So they put the painting in a contemporary auction known to attract the best collectors. Sometimes the best way to stand out is to stand where you’re not used to being seen. I always say, “Stand in the river where the money is flowing.”
  6. Star Power Creates Buzz
    Christie’s managed to get a number of celebrities to come to the auction, creating a buzz of anticipation and making the event more important. The auction ultimately had a capacity crowd and attracted the top dealers and collectors in the world. They even created special red paddles for the event, which became collector’s items.
  7. Publicity Makes a Difference
    Christie’s generated lots of press about this painting and its heritage before the event. Publicity created talk and desire to see the painting. Well placed articles by credible third parties can do more than any amount of advertising.

There is no doubt in my mind that this painting would have been the most expensive painting ever sold at auction no matter what Christie’s did, but the money spent on marketing probably doubled or tripled its value. Rather than selling for $150 million, it sold for $450.3 million. Whatever Christie’s paid for the marketing was well worth it.

This is the best example of art marketing in the history of art.

What can artists learn from this great marketing experience?

1. Understand that it is important to make and keep your reputation known. Branding is important to all artists, whether it’s done accidentally or deliberately.

2. Don’t rely on hope that people know who you are. Chances are you and I are not as well known as we think we are. Professional advertising and PR campaigns to build awareness can make a big difference.

3. Building a story, a legend, is part of brand-building. Keep your story in front of the eyes of collectors. If you stay visible over your entire career, you can leverage your notoriety into more sales and higher prices. Look for quirks and distinctions, and tell stories to build your own legend.

4. Scarcity matters. Look at artists like T. Allen Lawson or George Carlson. They don’t produce a lot of work each year, but when they do, collectors snatch it up because it’s rare. It also makes their prices higher. If you flood the market, you keep your prices down.

5. Quality matters. Always strive to be the very best you can be, and to become known as the best. Quality alone isn’t enough if no one is aware of you, but it’s absolutely important. Though one can market bad artwork and turn a mediocre artist into a success, I don’t recommend trying it.

There is ample evidence that millions of dollars have been made by artists you and I may not respect from a style or technique standpoint. Yet in most cases these artists did not get “discovered” to become famous. They orchestrated their careers with marketing by building their brands, building awareness of the importance of their work, and increasing their notoriety. The result is that many have been reaping the rewards for years. And after they become well known, they don’t just rely on the momentum they’ve created, they continue to seek ways to stay visible and well known for their lifetime. They understand that if you’re out of sight, you’re out of mind.

Is marketing “evil” or “manipulative”? Well, it can be, but I don’t recommend those approaches.

Marketing done right is really nothing more than helping others find you when they otherwise may never know you exist. Marketing can be done tastefully and with elegance, or it can be done brashly and inappropriately. You control how your marketing is presented.

Christie’s took advantage of the fact that millions of people make a trek to the Louvre each year, walk by hundreds of masterworks, and visit the Mona Lisa behind glass, take a selfie, then leave.

Though Leonardo was one of the most brilliant minds ever to have lived and one of the most masterful of artists, much of his perceived value has been driven by modern marketing efforts by the Louvre to promote the Mona Lisa, which is the biggest draw to the museum. Even still, Christie’s did not rely on that alone; they worked with outsiders to build on that and make that painting even more famous.

Never underestimate the power of a well thought-out marketing strategy. It can make an unknown artist known, or take an artist whose work isn’t selling and make it sell. It can get an artist invited to events and get people buzzing. If marketing is good enough for one of the finest and most respected auction houses in the world, if it’s good enough for Leonardo and Christie’s, it’s good enough for you.

By |2017-11-27T15:20:30-05:00November 27th, 2017|Branding, Direct Marketing, Fine Art|0 Comments

Clobbered By My Own Advice


The Power Of Repetition 


My kids desperately want a dog, but their mother and I have mixed feelings about taking care of their animal once the kids go off to college in three years. But at every turn, when we ask them a question of any kind … like, “What do you want for dinner?” or, “What do you want to do this weekend?” the answer is always, “I want to go get a dog.”

Just yesterday my wife saw twin dogs online that are available for adoption. Suddenly the kids went into sales mode to convince us to get one of those dogs.

Last night as I walked into my studio there was an 8” x 10” glossy of the dog on my easel. When I went to bed, there was one on my pillow. When I got up this morning, there was one at the breakfast bar. And today when I came to work, there was one on my keyboard.

Though I’ve been pretty opposed to a dog for all the practical reasons, I have to admit, each time I see the picture, it melts my heart a little more and I get a little closer to saying yes. In fact, I’ve already gone from a firm “no” to a “maybe,” and I’ve even agreed to go visit and meet the twins this weekend.

Of course my kids have clobbered me with the advice I’ve given them about marketing. Repetition is powerful. The more people see something, the more it warms them up.

Back in the dark ages when I first learned marketing, the average marketer needed four repetitions to sell something. Then it went up to seven. Now, with all the noise in media, some experts say the number has doubled to about 15 impressions.

Ever wonder why you see things on television or hear things on radio over and over again?

The first reason is that it takes a certain number of impressions to sell someone. For discussion, let’s say it takes 10 impressions. Does that mean you only run 10 ads? Nope, it means the ad needs to reach an individual 10 times. If you ran 10 ads and the prospect happened to see only five of them, then it’s not enough. The prospect needs X number of impressions to be sold.

The other reason frequency is important is that circumstances change and moods change. For instance, a dealer once told me about a man who kept coming into his gallery for years but never bought anything. Then one day he came in and dropped a half million bucks. When questioned, the man said, “I had kids in college and no extra cash. Plus, I just sold my business for a lot of money, so now I can afford to collect.”

You see, tire companies or car dealers repeat constantly on television because they know you may not be in the market today, but if you blow out your tires, or decide you want a new car tomorrow, they need to be there when you begin to move into shopping mode. Most of us ignore all those ads until we decide we’re in the market, then we start paying attention.

One more reason for repetition is what is called top-of-mind awareness. You may not need tires now, but the goal is to hammer a message into your brain so that when you do need tires, you know exactly where to go. (But just in case you don’t, you’ll always find tire ads in the sports section of the local paper or on your local station.)

I believe people go through a few stages to get to a purchase. The first is attention — you have to get noticed. Then they move into the interest stage. They may think, “Hmm, maybe this is for me. I’ll have to pay closer attention next time.” Then they move to the desire stage. “Yes, this is for me. I should do something about it someday.” Of course, some then move into the purchase stage. “I’m going to buy this one day.”

Most marketers blow it because they forget that everyone has their own timing, and therefore you need to be there all the time for those who are coming into the market.

For example, let’s say you have an article coming out about your art in an art magazine like Fine Art Connoisseur. It’s not uncommon for a gallery or the artist to advertise in an issue with an article. But you’re assuming instant action. People don’t work that way. They may be thinking, “I’ll keep an eye on this artist,” but then your ads are not in the next issue, or the next, and there’s nothing to remind them of you or your work.

I once talked to a collector who told me he saw an article on an artist and decided he wanted to buy one of the paintings in the article. He set the magazine down, fully intending to go back to it, call, and inquire about the painting. But later, he couldn’t find the magazine and he didn’t remember the name of the artist or the gallery that advertised. He never did find the name of that artist.

Yet if that same artist had repeated her ad in the following couple of issues, she would have increased her chances of reaching and reminding this collector, and others. The ad could have even said, “As featured in the April issue of Fine Art Connoisseur.”

Why is repetition important?

Every person needs a certain number of impressions to take them through the levels of attention, interest, desire, and purchase.

People are always in and out of the market. One day they have no money, the next day they have money from a bonus, an inheritance, or some other event.

Moods change. A person can feel poor the day they have to replace their roof and feel rich the following week because their business made a big sale. Also, if they happen to see your ad on a day when they are in a bad mood, you need to make sure it keeps being seen so they see it in a different mood. That’s why I like to re-send direct mail campaigns.

You’re creating top-of-mind awareness so they think of you when they have money burning a hole in their pocket or a house that needs some paintings.

Branding. Building your brand takes repetition over years so that people will hold you in higher esteem, which will make you the choice if they are deciding between two paintings, will sell you as a status item (sorry, but it’s true), and will help you get higher prices because you’re well known. It will also drive people to you for events and shows, which then builds on your brand.

I’ll let you know the outcome of the puppy campaign, but my gut tells me I’ve already lost that battle. Certainly, repetition has softened me up.

By |2017-03-31T11:42:03-04:00March 31st, 2017|Branding|18 Comments

The Magic Lamp: Just Rub It and Your Art Career Will Soar

Magic lamp art marketing eric rhoads art marketing.com


Much like the Fountain of Youth, I think we all tend to seek out a “magic lamp.” All we have to do is rub it, and “Poof!” A genie will grant us the success we dream of.


Over decades as a marketer, I have sometimes fallen prey to the belief that a magic lamp exists — and I’m happy to report that yes, indeed it does. There is a way to rub a magic lamp and watch your career go “poof” toward success. It will take more effort on your part than you might have hoped, but if you rub the lamp, it will happen.


A “magic lamp” is usually the promise of something too good to be true, raising unrealistic expectations of success with little effort or small investment.


I’m always looking for shortcuts, and even when I know something seems too good to be true, it often tempts me. So I spend my money in hopes of magical results, and poof! Nothing happens.


The biggest seduction in art marketing is the belief that big audience numbers can equal instant success from a single ad. Yet every time I fall into that trap, I wish I had realized that the physics of marketing always matter. There are things that will give you that desired success, and things that won’t. Violating the physics of marketing almost never works.


Most think that advertising to a big audience is like rubbing the lamp. “If only,” they think … “If only I advertise to a giant audience, I’ll sell a painting, or a couple of dozen.”


So they prepare an ad, pay the money, and poof! The money is gone, and there are no results from rubbing that magic lamp.


Oh, in case you think an experienced marketer like me doesn’t sometimes fall for it, think again. One year I decided that the subscribers to a major auction house list would be great potential subscribers for one of my magazines targeting art collectors. It was a big number, and a very high price.


I ran a spreadsheet, and told myself that if just 2 percent signed up, I’d pay for the campaign and make money on it. So I paid $18,000 for one ad, and poof! Something amazing happened. My money disappeared and I sold a grand total of two $40 subscriptions. It cost me $9,000 per subscriber.


Of course I kept waiting for more results, rationalizing that some readers hadn’t seen it yet, or some hadn’t responded yet.


Nothing happened other than my feeling like a buffoon for throwing away a big amount of money.


If there is a magic lamp to marketing art, it is to follow the physics of marketing. I’ve found that every time the physics are right, the results are amazing, and every time I try to shortcut the physics, I fail.


Here is the formula.


Massive Frequency + Great Creative + Targeted Audience + Concentrated Audience + Time + A Ready Buyer + Stability


How big or how small an audience is really does not matter. It’s a trap we all fall into, but the reality is that a small audience could result in the sale of every painting you could possibly produce.


Though it seems logical to believe the odds are better because you are exposed to more people, more isn’t what you need.


The physics of advertising work very much the way friendships work, or the way business relationships work.

  • When you meet someone new at a cocktail party, it’s a quick hello.
  • If by chance there is some interest in getting to know the person, you may engage in a conversation.
  • Then maybe you run into them at another event, and remember you found them interesting.
  • That conversation may lead to a follow-up call or meeting.
  • Then maybe another call or meeting.
  • If, over time, the relationship gels, it can turn into a casual friendship.
  • Combined with time, that friendship might lead to a deep friendship, at which time trust happens.
  • The longer the time, the deeper the trust.
  • The deepest relationships tend to develop over long periods of time.


But there are also other factors to relationships, like chemistry and bonds through common interests.

In the early stages, you know you don’t dare abuse the relationship with a big ask, like a favor or an introduction. It’s just too soon to ask for anything, and doing so could result in the end of the budding friendship. If you ask for too much, too soon, or inappropriately, trust is lost. But the deeper the relationship, the bigger the possible ask.


Let’s examine the elements of the formula, the “magic lamp”:


Advertising and marketing is about frequency. The more they see you, the closer you get to a point of awareness, then deeper awareness, then the early stages of interest, then deeper stages of interest, then finally trust and its deeper stages as well.  


Frequency is different from repetition. Frequency is the number of impressions a single individual receives within a certain amount of time. For instance, you could repeat an ad in a publication, but if a person didn’t see or notice that instance of the ad, that repetition doesn’t count toward their frequency.


Marketers have known for decades that a person needs to have a frequency of seven before they will be ready to buy something. If you can get seven impressions — repetitions that are seen — within a shorter window, the process can, in theory, be sped up.


But if you’re selling art, the message has to get someone’s attention and appeal to their interest and the buyer has to be in the right mood and the timing right to buy.


Great Creative:

The problem is that most advertising is competing for the attention of the buyer. We are all exposed to thousands of ad messages every day. Which ones are going to get you to sit up and take notice?


The creative is the content of your ad, made up of your design, your headline, the art featured, the story or message you’re communicating, and the call to action.


In the art world, most ads tend to look alike.


I was once in a meeting with an advertising agency and the CEO of a company who wanted them to help him sell aluminum siding. His instructions to the agency: Don’t do a before-and-after picture. Why? That’s what all the other aluminum siding companies did.

What are you going to do to stand out? If you’re in a 100-page magazine with 40 pages of ads, why will someone stop and read your ad instead of the other 39?

The answer is in powerful creative concepts. Frankly, the most important part of any ad is the headline. Ninety-five percent of the results from an ad will come from a powerful headline that stops the reader in her tracks.


Once you have a great headline, the other elements come into play, like a great opening line, a real emotional connection through your story or message, and a call to take a specific action. Plus information on how to get in touch with you, and an incentive to do so right now.


Concentrated Audience:

Perhaps the biggest mistake people make, and one of the most common, is assuming that the people who read one art magazine read another. Though there is some overlap, it’s not all that large. So an advertiser will run an ad or two, not see results, and jump ship to a different publication. A couple of ads there and they jump ship to another, then another, and so on. It is imperative to concentrate your advertising in a single place. Otherwise you lose momentum and the opportunity to build awareness and trust.


Though using multiple publications or mediums is fine, you should only do it if you can afford to dominate and build the necessary frequency over long periods of time.


Targeted Audience:

Big audiences alone are not enough. You could go into Reader’s Digest, with millions of readers, but the chances of selling art would be slim. You could even go into an art publication with a big audience and still have a slim chance of selling. You need a publication or website or mail list that has a proven track record of selling paintings in the price range of the paintings you’re selling.

Many publications sell wholesale copies for a few dollars to build their audience numbers. Their subscribers love art, but they may not have two dimes to rub together. If they’re not buyers, the audience numbers might be good for your ego, but ego strokes won’t pay your rent.



Like friendship, it takes time to build awareness, interest, and trust before anyone will take action. People want to watch you, see if you consistently produce good results, see indicators that you are becoming successful or collectable. They might discover you, love your work and be keeping an eye on you, but are not responding because, in their mind, it’s not time yet. About the time you’re getting frustrated that you’re not getting any results is about the time people are just starting to pay attention. Marketing is a commitment of time — an ongoing commitment. As long as you’re in the art business, you’re in art marketing.


How much time? You’ll need to assume that as long as you are in business, you’ll need to keep a constant presence with the audience you have chosen. It takes about one year to start seeing results, but the second year makes up for the lack of sales in the first, and it builds on itself over time. The more your brand grows, the more trust, prominence, and collectability grow. Old Masters are famous both because they were, in fact, masters, but also because of the passage of time — their names have been known for generations. The good news is that there are many ways you can speed up time, with some good strategic thinking.


A Ready Buyer:

Art purchases are unpredictable. Sometimes the buyer sees a painting and buys it on impulse. Other times it’s because they have a need to fill — a home or office to decorate, a gift to buy. Just because someone sees your ad does not mean they are ready to buy right now. Everyone has their own timing. Maybe they get a bonus at work, they sell a business, their kids are no longer in college and they feel flush with cash. There is no way to predict this, and that is why the next point is so important.



Imagine this. Someone looks at an art magazine, and has been seeing your paintings for a few months in a row. They’ve grown to like the work, but don’t always remember the artist’s name yet. Then a new issue comes in, and they see THE painting and decide they want to buy it. They mark the page and put the magazine in a pile, fully intending to go online or inquire about the price. But they get distracted, they forget, life goes on, and you fall off their radar. Then the next issue of the magazine comes in and they suddenly remember, “Last month there was an artist in here I was interested in. Who was it?” So they flip through looking for an ad that reminds them of your name or your painting. It’s not there. They move on, and you miss a sale.


Stability means a constant presence. Understanding that people won’t remember your name and that it takes a long time to get them to remember it, so you need to be there at all times. They may have a birthday gift to buy and know their spouse liked your work, but neither can remember your name. If you’re not always present, you’re not there when they come into the market to buy.


We discovered that this is true of articles, too. If someone views your work in an article, not only do you need to be present in that issue so they know how to find you, you need to remind them of yourself for at least one or two issues after. People get busy and forget to take action, and your presence in the issue acts as a reminder.


It took me decades of mistakes and experimentation in the advertising and magazine publishing business to understand how this all really works. It really is counter-intuitive.


If you want to build an overnight success, just know that physics still apply. Though there are strategies you can employ to speed the process, it still requires all the key elements of the physics of marketing. This is the closest thing I have found to the magic lamp, and if followed, it will grant you all your wishes.

About the author:
Eric Rhoads has been a publisher of ad-based magazines for over 25 years and is the publisher of Fine Art Connoisseur, PleinAir, and Artists on Art magazines. He writes a regular blog on art marketing at www.artmarketing.com and has produced five videos in the Art Marketing Boot Camp series on art marketing techniques and strategy, available at www.streamlineartvideo.com.

By |2020-01-21T11:56:05-05:00August 3rd, 2016|Branding|0 Comments

How You Can Sell More Artwork by Becoming a Celebrity Artist



Artists are always asking me how to sell more artwork, how to get their prices up, and how to become more successful. Usually they assume that they will improve their income if they improve their painting skills, but after a certain point, that’s simply not true. It’s no more true than a great restaurant’s improving its recipes a little bit more and thinking that means it can raise prices and sell more food.  


I learned a critically important lesson at a young age, when I started writing a column for the radio magazine I had just founded. I went from being a complete unknown to being somewhat well-known within a year, and each year, as my exposure grew, I saw my business grow in proportion to the awareness created. Then when I released my first book, awareness grew even more, expanding beyond the industry to some small level of consumer awareness because I’d been on national network TV and the Home Shopping Network for my book, and on hundreds of radio shows and in over 400 newspapers. It grew even further when the TV show Newsradio wrote an episode about me and my radio magazine (you can see it here). The more my perceived importance grew, the more my business grew.


If I were to ask most Americans to name a famous artist, they would probably say Monet or maybe Norman Rockwell, or even Thomas Kincade. If I asked them to name a famous living artist, I’m not sure what names I would hear. Unless they are tuned in to the art world like we are, they probably wouldn’t mention people we consider icons today. Those artists are famous within the circle of artists, but are not famous to most Americans.


Consumers are drawn to importance and celebrity, not necessarily because celebrities are better at a particular skill than someone else (other than PR). I still cannot tell you what Kim Kardashian is all about, but her fame is making her extremely wealthy. Money is drawn to celebrity and importance. People will wait in line to spend money at the restaurant of a celebrity chef like Wolfgang Puck, when the food next door may be equally good at half the price. It’s true of all things. Celebrity sells.


Most art dealers will tell you that sales in the art world are frequently driven by perceived importance. Either a consumer will visit a gallery because that gallery handles a name they already perceive as important, or they will be swayed to purchase based on statements like “This artist is hot.” “This artist is getting critical acclaim.” “This artist’s prices are soaring.”


Though most artists want to believe that quality will outshine brand name, that is very rarely true. Brands outsell non-brands. And brands are built by constant exposure over decades, usually intentionally and with non-stop advertising, but occasionally simply due to “showing up,” being frequently seen over a long period of time.


Importance and celebrity not only help sell artwork and increase pricing, they operate like a perpetual-motion machine. The more you are perceived as important, the more you sell and the more you’ll be invited to the right events. And, of course, the more that happens, the more your celebrity increases.


The process of branding is somewhat complicated, and there are a lot of elements to doing it well, but it is indeed a process, and it can be achieved through advertising and publicity. I’ve watched unknowns become well-knowns in a few short years because of it. Most collectors won’t think of what you’re doing as paid brand-building because in art magazines, the ads tend to be perceived as part of the content.


The strength of your sales and collectability are directly tied to the strength of your brand and your perceived importance or celebrity. Brand in art is really about trust (“Is it good?” “Is there critical acclaim?” “Do other collectors like it, and are they buying it?” “Are prices going up?” “Is it a good investment?”) Trust is built in branding much as it is built with new friends. It requires a lot of time together for people to come to know and trust someone new. The more you are seen, the more comfortable they become with you, and the more you gain their trust. That is the essence of celebrity-building.


There are four kinds of celebrity: local, niche (e.g., art collectors) national, and worldwide. For some, being the best-known artist in their town is enough to fuel their sales. For others, it’s about being nationally known, either by a niche group like art collectors or by all consumers — something that, of course, is harder and more expensive to achieve. And of course there is worldwide awareness as well. All are possible, based on the amount of effort you are willing to expend, but few artists become important without making an intentional effort. All the celebrities I know started with orchestrated PR efforts, advertising, and by doing something that got them a lot of attention fast. Stunts are a powerful way to get people talking about you. Do you think the feuds between Donald Trump and Rosie O’Donnell just happened? Probably not. It was invented by some great PR expert.

Consider what you can do to build your brand, your celebrity, and your importance. It rarely happens overnight, and it is a beast that dies if it’s not constantly fed. That’s why celebrities always want the press writing about them. Out of sight is out of mind. Building your perceived importance, and therefore your brand, will have a huge impact on your career.

By |2019-01-14T16:17:18-05:00September 17th, 2015|Branding|2 Comments
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