Maria Brophy


  • and make good money doing it!

    ‘Strategies for a Successful Art Business!’
business of art / Entrepreneur / More Money


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Once you stop learning, you start dying” Albert Einstein

The main question I hear from artists is this:  “How do I make a living with my art?”

One way to find success in the art business, and any business, is to learn from others who have done it before you, and to be open to learning new things.

Understand that there are concepts and strategies that you haven’t even considered yet.

There are things that you know, and then there are things that you don’t know.  And the real magic lies in the things that you don’t know that you don’t know.  

To understand what those things are, you have to be wide open to new ideas.

I’m always learning new business strategies, sales techniques and mindset concepts.  I learn by reading dozens of books each year, taking workshops and online courses, and working with business coaches.

In 2015 I did something a little crazy;  I invested $7,000 in one online course.   I kept the price of it a secret from my husband Drew for about six months.  Every time he asked “how much was that course?”  I’d divert his attention,  “Hey, look at that thing over there….”

Could we afford a $7,000 course?  In 2015, no.  I paid for it on a credit card, taking advantage of their twelve month payment plan.  But I saw it as a crucial investment in our business.

I took the financial risk of buying the course because I was just sick and tired of being financially stuck in place with our business.  I wanted to make more money, and I felt that if I learned a few new tricks from a master business mind, it would help.

The course was called “Six Figure Consulting” by Ramit Sethi, and what I learned from it was this:  How to up-level our art business to work with “high level clients” and charge nearly double for our illustration services.  (I wrote a blog post that shares a little of what I learned, here:  How to Get Strangers to Pay More for Your Art).

It was a crap-shoot, spending that amount of money on a course; there was no guarantee that I’d see a return on it.  But I was motivated to up-level our business, and I knew that I needed help doing it.

I immediately implemented changes after taking that course.   (When you spend that much on a course, you darn well better make changes!)

I learned how to talk to higher-value clients and how to present more professional proposals; within three months, implementing what I learned enabled me to increase our income by more than $25,000 in just those three months, more than enough to pay for the course 3 times.

We continued making changes in how we do business with higher value clients and we are now able to charge more than 15X what we were charging in the past.

BUT THE MOST PROFOUND THING I LEARNED WAS THIS:   There are so many things that I THOUGHT I knew, until I took this course.  And it was an eye-opener for me that I was playing a small game because I just didn’t know what I needed to know.

All too often artists will say they want to get “unstuck” and “work full time” and “increase art sales” but when it comes to investing in learning something new, they don’t.

And I get it, it’s HARD to change what you’re doing.  But if you want to change your reality, you have to change something!

All of the world’s great business men and women have this one thing in common:  they never stop educating themselves.  And thankfully, we have so much information available to us now, that there is no excuse for not learning.

You don’t have to spend a fortune learning new things; there are many affordable workshops and courses that you can take.  And making the decision to open your mind to new ideas is free.   

I challenge you to make the commitment TODAY to learn a new skill, strategy or habit that will move your art business forward.  And if you haven’t done so already, please sign up for my newsletter at the top of this webpage.   In it, I share a lot of my success secrets that will help you up-level your art business, too.

PLEASE share in the comments – what have you learned that up-leveled your art business?  Would love to hear from you!

Maria xxoo


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  1. Lori Woodward

    That’s such wonderful news Maria. I have been listening to Ramit for several years. He sure chases the insecurity out of his peeps.

    I’m in the process of learning to charge more for my original work. That takes confidence and a willingness to risk on my part, but if I don’t charge more, I’ll never know if it’s going to work.

    I’ve also been listening to Owen Garret’s online course and he charges a lot for his originals and makes a living by selling framed reproductions of his pencil drawings. Don’t know if you’ve heard of him, but his original pencil drawings sell for over $10K.. because he set it up that way.

    I’m finding that a lot of charging higher prices has more to do with self-confidence than the actual work. I’ve studied art for 30 years and if I ain’t good enough to charge more at this point, I might as well give it up 😉

    Thanks for writing. I’m enjoying and getting a lot from your blog.

    1. Maria

      Lori, thanks for the comment. Yes, I know Owen and I’ve learned a few things from him as well. But Ramit’s business training takes you to another level!

      I agree with you, the charging of higher prices does take confidence. And I have found that getting older has one good thing about it – our confidence gets stronger as time goes on. And so does our mastery. I suppose it all goes hand-in-hand!

      Thanks for reading. I value your opinion greatly.

      1. Lori Woodward

        Thanks Maria… I grew up poor with a single mom, and because I have trouble spending a lot of money, I do still suffer from feeling insecure about charging others.

        When I worked with galleries, it was easy to charge higher prices coz my work had to relate to the general gallery prices, but now that I sell totally on my own, it’s harder to charge those same prices. Thanks for your blog. It gets me thinking seriously about my business choices and avoiding making the wrong choices based on my own psychology

  2. artMann

    Maria asks, “…what have you learned that up-leveled your art business?”

    Without question, having studied intellectual property law has provided my art-media business with lots of dividends! Thank you mentors!

    Among other things, I understand copyright law (and how to correctly register all my works + affix watermarks + embed metadata), trademark/patent laws, fair use, stock & licensing, how to draft agreements, and how negotiate deals (always a work in progress+ always learning!), how to contact infringers/unlicensed users and PUSH them to settle quickly without going to trial.

    I’m SHOCKED that so many artists lack business+ copyright 101 basics. No wonder so many are never able to jump to the next art level.

    BEFORE you go to art, photo, film, or journalism schools, get some accounting/business/marketing training: How much to charge/license your art?!

    After your business training, go to law school: How to protect your art and not get ripped off with one-sided BS licensing deals!

    Once you complete your business + legal training, NOW you’re “qualified” to go to art, photo, film, or journalism schools!

  3. Norma

    Hi Maria
    I am new here,, I am an artist as well , I do digital and abstract art, I can do other art as well, photography is fun too. it is true ,, never stop learning no matter what field of interest your in. I am always searching the internet for information on art and photography ,, I love your article I found it very interesting

  4. Linda Ursin

    I have learned so many things since I started marketing my art in 2011 it’s impossible to list it all. I’m still working hard to find the new things I need to learn, and learning every single day.

    Right now, I’ve gone back to basics to figure out a better target and restructure my services in a way that will work for me and the clients.

  5. Diane Meyers

    Hi Maria–I found your web site while researching the art world that I now find myself front and center with. My husband is the artist and he died recently. His art is worldwide thanks to publishers he has worked with for over 10 years. He was always the one marketing/selling/licensing his art. We had talked about continuing his art in that I know he wants to have his legacy out there as long as it is viable. I want to do right by him and feel updating his web site, registering his work, and getting the best licensing deals for him would get us where we want to be, but I am a novice and my learning curve may be detrimental. We do not have money to spare but I’m trying to figure out if it would be in the best interest of his work/business to hire someone who can restructure his work and make it more profitable at the next level of business versus me doing all the workload. I know where I want to end up but not sure what is the best path to take to get there. I have read many of your articles and took something away from each one but right now I am just feeling overwhelmed and I’m hoping some of your advise would help me see clearer. Thank you.

  6. Morgan Mural Studios

    Thank you for another insightful article, Maria!

    Investing in education is investing in yourself. It’s one of the most valuable things you can do for yourself.

    Personally, I invest in one or two conferences per year. They are not cheap, but they are always worth it. I meet interesting people, learn amazing new ways of thinking about various aspects of my business and life, and I always come out feeling inspired about life and my work.

    In the end, these educational experiences end up moving my art business forward in new and interesting ways that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. I feel the pinch when I pay the registration fee, but I always come out feeling that it was more than worth the expense.

    Morgan Bricca
    Morgan Mural Studios

  7. Sunnie Schearer

    Hi Maria,
    I have been following you since I started my business at the beginning of this year. I know you specialize in paintings, I am a graphic designer. I am looking to upgrade to less low income busy work to more productive higher income work. I love your work and business perspective. Thank you for your time to help the little guys. Any advice on how to ask for more money after the approved estimate has been well exceeded?


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