It's summertime, and art is selling. I'm hearing from galleries around the country that are having a great summer. If you're an artist they're representing, that's great news. But what happens when summer is over? Can you survive on a few paintings sold over the summer? Or would you like to have consistent business all year? I'd like to share a strategy that can keep the cash coming in every month of the year. Vacation ModeWhat I failed to mention is that the places selling a lot of art this summer are vacation spots. Anyone who runs a retail location knows that people are a little looser with their pocketbooks when they are on vacation, in a non-stress, non-work environment. Those vacationing in expensive resort areas are likely to be able to afford a nice memory of their trip to hang on their wall, whether it's a painting of the local area they're visiting, or just something they love that will help them remember where it was purchased. I have a house filled with memories purchased when we were in "vacation mode." We're out to dinner having a great time, maybe we've had a couple glasses of wine, and we wander into a gallery, and WHAM! We fall in love with a painting. Since we want our vacation time to last forever, this is a great way to [...]
The Pearl inlay surrounding the guitar I made in the summer of 2014. As I approach a giant milestone birthday, my friends and family have asked me about my plans. On the past two big birthdays, I've had my closest lifelong friends visit the Adirondacks to help me celebrate, because the Adirondack Mountains is the place I love the most. This year, I wanted to do something different, but I wasn't sure what. Then it came to me. Since I started playing guitar just two years ago and have come to love guitars, I decided to challenge myself to make a guitar to celebrate this milestone. Cutting the boards for the side of the guitar. Making a guitar seemed like a giant challenge and something I'd never do on my own, and that was the attraction. I simply wanted to push myself, as my way of celebrating. I also thought about it a lot and knew it was so far out of my routine that I'd probably never do it. I didn't want to keep thinking about it, and I knew that if I didn't tell others of my plan it would be a lost dream, so I started spreading the word to a few friends, knowing that I'd be embarrassed if I didn't produce. Bending the wood with heat. The problem with making a guitar [...]
Fireworks will light the skies around our great nation this week as we celebrate our independence as a country. Yet thousands of artists I hear from are lacking independence. They long to quit their jobs and create their art full-time -- without having to live the life of a starving artist. Yesterday I met a man who told me the story of spending years in art school to get his MFA, yet he was never able to make a living with his art. He said to me, "No one around here can make a living as an artist." I didn't want to disagree, but I know artists nearby who actually make a great living as artists, and who are not as accomplished as he. The reality is, you can quit your job and become a full-time artist and make just as good a living or better in most cases. If that sounds like a stretch to you, it's not. I work with people every day who have done it, including some professionals who were already making excellent money. One artist who follows my plan sent me a photo last week of a pile of checks. She is living the dream, just three years after she started. One of my missions in life is to help artists (painters, sculptors, photographers, crafters, etc.) live their dream. I have lived the life of [...]
As artists working on our own marketing and branding, we often feel like we’re in the desert. We feel barely able to make it, but then something gives us hope, something gives us the feeling that we’re making great strides — but it’s only a mirage.
Though we like to think of ourselves as artists, if we’re selling paintings, we are running a business. According to trainer Tony Robbins, businesses go through the following cycle: Birth Infancy Toddler Teenager Young Adult Mature Adult Mid-Life Aging Institutionalization Death Rather than explaining these cycles in depth, I’ll just say they are much like life. Each of us and our art businesses are at a different point in the cycle. If you’re just launching or planning your art business, you’re pregnant and about to give birth. If you’re a teen, you make reckless decisions. The longer you’re in business, the more you mature, until you grow old. The part of the cycle I want to discuss today is death — when your business is no longer sustainable and there is no one to support it. My goal is to help you, or those you know, to prevent death — to keep art selling. All Cycles Are Predictable One thing always follows the other. The problem is that we often cannot see when we’ve gone from one part of the cycle to another, and if we’re not paying attention, it’s often too late. Recently I met an artist who had been a queen in the art world. She was a big seller, she’d made a lot of money, but she came to me for marketing advice because nothing is [...]