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Will You Survive As an Artist, or Return to a Life of Slavery?
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Will You Survive As an Artist, or Return to a Life of Slavery?
An Important Art Career Message from Eric Rhoads

Maybe you never thought of work as slavery, but many artists spend
their lives trying to pursue art full-time — therefore the thought
of returning to a former job is devastating.

Today I will focus on established artists who are concerned that they
may have to return to their former careers or take a full-time job.

This morning I heard about an artist who had been in three galleries,
and all three galleries recently went out of business. Fortunately,
he was able to get all of his artwork returned, but he now has to
sell the art himself. He is afraid to go into yet another gallery
that might go under. He had been in a no-win job selling life
insurance, and dreads the idea of going back to it. What should I

Put on Your Business Hat
I, too, am an artist, and the idea of mixing art and business is a
turn-off for some of my artist friends. But if you want to sell
paintings, you have to think like a businessperson.

Let’s Pretend
Sometimes it’s easier to see things if you can distance yourself from
the problem. So let’s pretend you have a widget business. At XYZ
Widgets, you have been selling your widgets through three
distributors — but all three distributors have just gone out of
business. What would you do?

You would try to find three more distributors — fast. Why? You’re
only one person, and chances are three people selling your product
will potentially be three times more effective. It’s a better use of
your time to find sales agents than it is to try to sell the widgets
yourself. Plus, distributors are expert sellers and might be more
effective. You cannot worry that they too might go out of business –
you can make a judgment regarding their solvency when you interview

Preventing Business Loss
Why did XYZ Widgets get into this position in the first place? If you
track the numbers, in every business there are warning signals. If
you required each distributor to sell 10 widgets a month and one
distributor started selling only five a month, it’s critical to react
rapidly to replace the lost five widgets the moment you see a dip in
business. The best scenario is to find yet another distributor that
can sell 10 a month. If they sell only five, you are even. If they
sell 10, you are ahead of the game. Of course, if each distributor is
losing business, you need to find replacements or additional
distributors so that you sell your required number each month.

Using the analogy in the art world: If you count on each of your
galleries to sell a certain number of paintings each month and one
galler is not selling enough paintings, you need to add another
gallery to make up for the loss of sales. In this man’s case, all
three galleries probably did not go out of business at once — but he
missed the warning signals. Had this artist disciplined himself to
count on a certain number of sales for each gallery, he would have
seen the signals that he needed to add additional galleries when they
fell short.

Today he is playing catch-up. Had he added galleries when he first
started losing business, he probably would be about even now instead
of scrambling to survive.

Throw Out Old Rules
It used to be that a good artist could not support more than a few
galleries. One artist I know (name available on request) had two old

1. He only signed with galleries within a three-hour driving distance.
2. He never had more than three galleries.

This artist runs his art business like a business. When things
started getting slow this year, he gave up his old rules and took
these actions:
1. Each gallery he had was selling about 50 percent fewer paintings,
so he set a goal to get three more galleries.
2. Because business was soft in his region, he got three galleries in
different regions where the economy was stronger.
3. He decided to paint smaller, less expensive paintings — but he
painted more of them. The lower price encouraged sales, and he had
more inventory available in the event that all of the galleries were

The result? This artist is not suffering. The addition of three more
galleries did the trick. By having six galleries, he has not skipped
a beat, and is making about the same income as before.

How Did He Find Three More Galleries?
This artist discovered Artist Advocate Magazine, which presented his
artwork to 6,500 galleries by mail and another 8,000 galleries by
e-mail, plus made it available to art licensing companies and art
publishers via a digital online edition. It’s like a catalogue of
available artists for galleries, and it has been successful for many
artists, including the artist mentioned above.

The important fall issue of Artist Advocate deadlines on August 12.
The production team will do the artwork for you and design your
profile page to display your best work.

A Funny Thing Happens When You Remain Invisible: Nothing
As an artist, you can hope things get better, or you can hope someone
discovers you, or you can hope you alone can sell enough artwork to
survive. But are you willing to risk giving up the life of an artist
and returning to a job? It’s important to stay visible and find more
galleries to sell your artwork across the country. Contacting over
6,500 galleries on your own would be a difficult and expensive task.
Plus, many galleries prefer to find their artists in Artist Advocate,
which prevents the inconvenience of artist solicitations. Artist
Advocate exposes your work to thousands of galleries, and has many
recent success stories to prove that it works.

What will you do? Remain invisible in hopes something will change –
or be proactive to save your art career? Hoping things improve isn’t
enough. Being proactive to boost your career stands a better chance
of success.

Yours truly,

Eric Rhoads

Place your COMMENTS here

Read my art marketing blog at

PS: Most artists I know spent years getting into a position to quit
their jobs and be full-time artists. Don’t place your freedom at
risk. If you’re not selling enough artwork, you need someone selling
it for you. Though some galleries have disappeared in this recession,
most of them remain successful. In fact, we talk to dozens of
galleries every day, and most are still selling artwork. The good
news is that most are seeking new artists because they feel it could
boost their business. This is a great time to take control of your
career and ad more galleries. Why remain invisible?

For information on Artist Advocate, go to Or hit reply and say, “Eric, please
have someone from Artist Advocate call me.”

Artist Advocate Representatives:
Peggy Taylor (
Kathleen Lawrence-Davis (
Jaye Alison Moscariello (
Lisa Freedman (


Eric Rhoads

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