Monday, September 16, 2013

Art by the Numbers

(Brought to you by Self Employment In the Arts )
This is not the first time I have written on this topic and I'm sure it won't be the last.  As artists, all you have to do is look at the numbers to understand why you need to know more than just the creation process and implementation.  

I do not consider myself an artist.  Sure, I might dabble in a little French Horn or trumpet playing now and then - but that is the extent of my artistic pursuits.  Administrator, program director, marketer, fundraiser - these are all words that describe what I do.  And guess what?  These descriptions match pretty closely to the academic courses I took while in college.  Of course there are skills I have picked up along the way, but I graduated from college with a lot of the knowledge and tools needed to start my career in business.

On the other hand, you have artists.  They are taught all about creating but very little about business while pursuing a degree in the arts.  You might be saying, "Well of course, they are majoring in art and not business."  Correct.  But, here is where the numbers become so critical.

  • There were over 2 million artists employed in the United States in 2001, according to the 2001 Current Population Survey.  
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6 out of every 10 artists are self-employed
  • Also according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50% of musicians work for themselves
If I'm an art student right now in college, my chance of being self-employed in the arts sometime in the future is greater than always being employed by someone else.  Simply put, you're more likely to be self-employed than not.  So, if you want to increase your chances of succeeding - you will also want to increase your knowledge of business.  Otherwise, it is like only preparing yourself for half of what your career is going to demand.  Would a baseball player only learn how to throw but not catch?  Would a piano player learn only to read treble clef and not bass?  You need to develop yourself not as an "artist" but as a "professional artist" - one that has both artistic skill and business savvy.
Here are my top five tips to get you started:
1)  Take a business class.  If you are already at a college, take a look at what is being offered in your business department.  If your lucky, some schools have music business or other similar classes.  If not, intro to business, accounting 101, business law, and intro to entrepreneurship would all be good choices.

2)  Shadow a professional artist.  Find an artist in your area and see if you can shadow them for a couple of days and if possible, longer.  Make sure you have the opportunity to see all of what they do and not just quick snip-its.  The more shadowing you can do, the better understanding you will have of the skills you need to develop.
3)  Read. Read. Read.  Whether it be on your tablet or in a magazine, find articles and books written about being an artistic entrepreneur.  There are a variety of types from those that profile working artists to those that are in the form of a workbook.  For a list of great resources including books and blogs, visit our website at

4)  Sign up for an internship.  While similar to shadowing, an internship will allow you to be more involved with a business over a longer period of time.  Remember the key here isn't getting paid, but learning the business.  Even if the internship isn't exactly what you are looking to do, there still will be valuable lessons learned.  Maybe you don't want to own a gallery, but interning at a gallery will help you understand the gallery world from the non-artist side as well as other business skills such as marketing and client relations.  

5)  Attend a workshop or conference.  See if there are any workshops or events in your area geared towards career development for artists.  Remember, the key is to find a program that addresses business. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Taking the Leap | Making Art Your Full-time Profession

(Brought to you by our friend Jason Horejs of Xanadu Gallery)

Making a living as an artist is hard. Getting to a point where art sales are sufficient to sustain life can take years of sacrifice and hard work. Many of you know I grew up in the home of an artist. My father, John Horejs, has been a full-time, professional artist for over thirty years, so I’ve witnessed the challenges an artist (and the artist’s family) face. I remember periods of extreme financial hardship growing up while my dad worked to establish his career. There would be periods of months where nothing would sell. These difficult times challenged my father and mother’s resolve to pursue my father’s dream of making a living as an artist.

This experience is nearly universal for artists. The words “starving” and “artist” seem to fit naturally together. Many artists feel compelled to pursue other work in order to make ends meet and have to relegate their artistic endeavors to the side. In my extensive interactions with artists from around the country, I’ve met many who’ve worked very hard to carve out time to create art around a busy work/family/life schedule.

Artists who are in the struggle to balance their outside work with their art career often ask me whether it’s possible to build a successful art career while engaged in another job. This is a difficult question to answer. The definition of “success” can vary dramatically from one artist to another. Everyone’s tolerance for risk and sacrifice differs as well. A young, single artist can withstand a lot more sacrifice than an artist who has a family to support.

If your definition of success includes showing and selling your work in galleries, however, you’ll find it very difficult to break in if you are working full time and creating art on the side. As a gallery owner, I see very few artists who are able to juggle a full-time, non-art career and their art, and are able to create enough high-quality art to successfully work with galleries.

Why it’s Necessary to Take the Leap

Production Math
Why is a full-time commitment necessary? To a large extent, it’s simple math. In order to produce enough inventory to sustain gallery relationships, you’ve got to spend a lot of time creating. Successful artists typically show in multiple galleries. They know that not everything they produce is going to sell. While every artist’s level of productivity varies, the math is pretty simple:
Annual Work Produced * Percentage of Artwork Sold Annually * Average Net Sale Price (after commissions and expenses) = Artist Net Income

A successful artist is going to be working on all three components of the equation. Net sale price and % of  artwork sold annually rises as demand increases. Demand will increase as the artist expands reputation and markets her/his work. Increasing demand takes time though, and early in the artist’s career the factor that is most readily controlled is the first, production.

An artist who has a full-time, non-art career can certainly carve out time to create and be very disciplined about production, but they are still at a disadvantage to full-time artists. The non-art work is going to sap energy, creativity, and time.

In addition to having more time to create, there’s great value in the focus an artist gets when their livelihood relies on art sales. An artist who depends on their art to eat is going to push themselves harder to produce and to get their work out there.  An artist who is hungry is going to push a little harder when talking to a gallery owner about representation.

Gallery Respect
Galleries are more likely to invest their efforts and resources in an artist who has made the full time commitment to art. Speaking from personal experience, it’s harder to make a commitment to show an artist when I feel that I may not be able to get the inventory I need because the artist has outside obligations.

How to survive the leap

Have a Strategy
Let me be clear, I’m not suggesting that you tender your resignation from your full-time job today. If you know you want to go full-time with your art, it would be wise to plan ahead. Talk to full time artists in your area (or in your social media circles) and ask them for advice on how to proceed. Council with your significant other and family members about the commitment you’re wanting to make to your art.

Create a business plan for your art business (you can find  great tools to help you with this at Try to be realistic about your projections regarding sales (sales will be lower than you expect) and your expenses (they’ll be higher than you expect).

I might humbly suggest reading (or re-reading) my books, “Starving” to Successful and How to Sell Art . These books are resources that will help you build a general approach to your art business and find gallery representation.

Live Within Your Means
Over the last several years I’ve had a number of conversations with artists who survived the Great Recession, and even saw their business grow. It was interesting that they have all mentioned to me the importance of steering clear of debt – especially consumer debt. While they may not be driving the newest luxury car or watching the game on a brand new, giant TV, these artists are able to create without the stress of unnecessary debt looming over them.

Simplify your finances and avoid luxuries. While I know many artists who have attained a level of real comfort in their lives, most still work to keep things simple by avoiding too many possessions.

Be Mentally Prepared for the Worst
I would encourage you to also allow for the fact that things may be harder than you can currently conceive. As you contemplate taking the leap to full-time, you are probably imagining that whatever hardships you might face will be worth it because you’ll be doing what you love. From my experience pursuing my dream of having a gallery, and from talking to full-time artists, I can tell you that your vision of what it will be like is probably overly-romantic.

As you dive into the daily work of being an artist, you are very quickly going to discover that it is  . . . WORK! Some days it’s even going to feel like drudgery. This is probably one of the greatest shocks you can face when you’ve built  art up in your mind as the greatest pleasure in your life. Be prepared to push through periods of frustration.

You should also prepare for the discouragement that comes from lack of recognition for your work. It’s going to be harder than you realize to find fans and buyers for your work. It’s going to take longer than you expect to cultivate gallery relationships.

Your savings will drop at an alarming rate. Your car will break down, requiring costly repairs, and your air conditioning will go out. It will feel like the universe is conspiring against you.
I personally know artists who have been through bankruptcy, divorce, depression and worse.

So, Is It Worth It?

After reading how hard it can be, you might be asking yourself, “Am I sure I really want to pursue my art full-time?” For some, the answer may be, “nope!”, and that’s fine. You may decide that you can pursue your art as a passionate side-interest. You may choose to wait to do more until you’ve earned your retirement. As I said earlier in the post, your definition of success is your own. There is still great satisfaction, and even financial reward, to be found in a part-time pursuit of your art.
For those of you who can’t shake the siren song of a full time art career (and yes, I chose “siren song” deliberately), I hope you go into with eyes wide open and ready to work harder than you ever have.  Success won’t come easy, but when (and if) it does come, you will feel the most intense satisfaction possible. What could be better than finding success doing what you love? You’ll be spending your days creating art, and your hard work will allow you to share that artwork with people whose lives will be forever improved because of their experience with your art.
In my conversation with artists who have taken the plunge, fought their way through, and found success, I hear them say over and over that they couldn’t imagine doing anything else. In spite of all the hardships, they have found their vocation in life.

Reposted By:
Adam Brown
Osio-Brown Editions Website
Giclee Printing FAQs

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Print Madness Promotion from Osio-Brown Editions

We're celebrating March Madness & the Final Four by offering a crazy mad promotion of our own. Now through the NCAA Championship Game on April 8th, you will receive one print FREE when you order three prints of the same image!!!

Don't wait...this promotion ends when the final buzzer sounds on April 8th. Some restrictions apply. or more details, please visit:

Posted By:
Adam Brown
Osio-Brown Editions Website
Giclee Printing FAQs

Friday, February 15, 2013

VIP Artist's Club

Osio-Brown Editions has finally gone mobile!!! Join our VIP Artist's Club to receive exclusive offers, updates & information.

Posted By:
Adam Brown
Osio-Brown Editions Website
Giclee Printing FAQs

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Selling Art | Words that Make a Difference

(Brought to you by our good friend,  Jason Horejs)

Several weeks ago I struck up a conversation with a gentleman who was visiting the gallery and was fascinated with the art gallery business. He is a business owner himself and was curious about the mechanics of the art business. He asked a lot of questions about how I decided what art to show, how the relationship with artists worked, and about the challenges of the business.
Any of you who know me know that I love talking about art and the art business and he probably ended up learning more than he ever would have wanted to know. As he was leaving the gallery he said, “This seems like a really interesting business, and it seems to me that the art would just sell itself!”
I just smiled . . . if only that were true! While there are those times that exactly the right buyer appears and finds exactly the right art, it is much more frequently a significant amount of effort to close a sale.
If you’ve followed my writing here at reddotblog, or attended one of my webinars or seminars, you probably already know that I take the art sales process very seriously. I consider sales a craft, and as such I have become a student of salesmanship (I should probably call it “salespersonship” to be more accurate).
Very early on in my gallery career I picked up a copy of Zig Ziglar’s classic sales book “Secrets of Closing the Sale.” Even though Ziglar wasn’t in the art business, his timeless advice about how to close a sale has helped me countless times over the years. Some of his advice has to be adapted to fit our business, but his core outlook on the sales process applies to any sales opportunity.
While much of what I learned in the book makes its way into my daily sales life at a subconscious level, there is one page in “Secrets of Closing the Sale” that I consciously think about quite frequently. In chapter 22, Ziglar talks about words that help sell. He provides a list of 24 words that should be used when attempting to sell. The first word he mentions is your client’s name – and if you’ve read my book “How to Sell Art” you know I am a big fan of using a client’s name repeatedly throughout a contact.
Not all of the other words apply to our business, but the ones I find particularly apropos are:
These words help create a positive atmosphere around you and your art.
Even more helpful to me are the words he recommends avoiding. Again, not all apply, but words to vigilantly avoid include:
You’ll notice I bolded several of the words – these are the words I find I have to make the most effort to avoid (and are all closely related to the question of $). I recommend that you avoid talking about the “cost” or “price” of your art, and instead talk about the “value”.
Even though we might think of those words as synonyms, there is a world of difference between a sculpture that has a cost or price of $3,000, and one that has a value of $3,000. Take a moment and look these three words up in your dictionary and you will see that the first two have a negative connotation (you’re losing or giving up something), while value is positive.
Ziglar also discourages the use of any profanity when conversing with a client. Vulgarity won’t necessarily kill a sale (though it might), but it’s never going to help make one.
Making a conscious effort to select the right words is particularly important when working on any marketing or advertising copy, when speaking with a client or a gallery that might want to represent you, and when you find yourself negotiating to close a sale.
If you don’t believe that word selection is important, I would encourage you to experiment with your word usage and see what impact it has on your sales.
Have the right words made a difference in your sales? Are there particular words you try to use or avoid when interacting with a customer? Have the wrong words ever cost you an art sale? Share your experience and thoughts in the comments below.

Re-Posted By:
Adam Brown
Osio-Brown Editions Website
Giclee Printing FAQs

Monday, January 7, 2013

2013 New Year's Promotion

 2013 New Years Image - Week1
2013 New Year's Promotion

What will 2013 bring? An exhibition at a local gallery? A retrospective showcasing your best work? A traveling show that tells your story in multiple venues?

January is a time to set goals and start making them happen. The best way to fuel your motivation is to take action...scanning your images and beginning to work on new prints.

To help stoke your creative fires, Osio-Brown Editions will be offering a different promotion each week during the month of January!!!'ll have to act fast, as these promotions only last one week. For the week of January 6th, we're offering our high-quality art scans for just $55/Scan. This is a savings of 33% off our regular rates. Some restrictions apply. Please call today for more details or to schedule an appointment.

Posted By:
Adam Brown
Osio-Brown Editions Website
Giclee Printing FAQs

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy 2013!!! We are now back in the studio and eager to hear from all of you. Wishing you all a year filled with happiness, good health and creativity!!! To schedule an appointment, contact us at (630) 461-4525.

Posted By:
Adam Brown
Osio-Brown Editions Website
Giclee Printing FAQs