Maria Brophy

HELPING ARTISTS MASTER THE BUSINESS OF ART, ONE STRATEGY AT A TIME


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Where the Money is Hiding and the Thriving Artist Summit

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In 2008, when everyone was hit hard by the recession, Drew and I were still going strong with our business of selling and licensing art.

But our revenues gradually started to decline, as many of our best clients and licensees, went out of business.

OUR INCOME DROPPED BY 40%.  Then it continued to tank…

By 2011, we were bringing in 50% of the revenue we were earning before the recession.  And we started to panic.   You see, just like many small business owners, we thought the recession would be a temporary thing, and that we would go back to selling art in the way we always did.

But we were wrong.  Things changed and never went back.

To put it into perspective, in 2008 our average painting sale was $5,000.  Often we would sell two to three of these large paintings a month, no problem.  On top of that, we had our licensing and design revenues.

Now, our average painting sale is under $1,000.  The collectors that paid the $5,000 slowly disappeared.  Licensing revenues went down as well, because they are dependent on retail sales, which declined significantly.

SO WHAT DID WE DO?  When we realized things weren’t going to go back to the way they were, we had to learn a new game. 

We hired a business coach to help.  And he gave us the three best pieces of advice ever:

1 – RUN YOUR BUSINESS TO EARN A PROFIT TODAY, WITH WHAT YOU HAVE.  Stop running your business like it’s going to go back to “normal.”  (This meant that we had to cut back on everything that was non-essential and ensure that we made a profit, never a loss, every day and every week and every month.)

2 – NEGOTIATE FOR LOWER STUDIO RENT (we did, and we got our studio landlord to drop our rent by $600 a month!)

3 – LEARN A NEW GAME – GENERATE NEW FORMS OF REVENUE – TRY NEW THINGS! 

In case you haven’t noticed, everything has changed in business today from 2008.

While our old customers are no longer spending $5,000 on paintings, that doesn’t mean that there’s less money in the world today then there was in 2008.  The money isn’t gone; it’s just “moved”.   So we either needed to find new collectors that can afford what we sell, or we needed to create new ways of selling the art.

I’ve been learning a new game these past few years, and I’m seeing our business come back to life.  Though our original painting sales have decreased, our canvas print sales have increased.  We are connecting with software companies and cloud companies for design work, which is where a lot of the money went!

And, we are continuing to INVEST OUR TIME IN LEARNING NEW TRICKS.

So I have to ask:  HOW ARE YOU INVESTING IN YOURSELF?  ARE YOU LEARNING A NEW GAME?

Now, more then ever,  I attend business workshops, retreats and have hired coaches to help me grow.  I have never, ever regretted the time or money spent on these things.  The programs I’ve signed up for have helped to propel me further, when I just couldn’t go further on my own.

I have found that often, we hit a plateau where we just can’t go further without the help of people who have already gone where we want to go.

And here’s where I introduce the THRIVING ARTIST SUMMIT – A (FREE) online, conference that will help get your Creative Business to the next level!

This summit will help you to create and grow a powerful business with your art, either full time or part time.  It will help you to stay focused and motivated, and to take your business to the next level.

And I’m one of the speakers!  (Yah!)
Bonnie Glendinning is the Founder of Artmuse.com and The Thriving Artist Summit.  She is on a mission to help artists be successful and thrive, not, just survive.
And that is music to my ears, because if you’ve followed my writings for a while, you know that my personal mission is to help artists create a lifestyle around their business of art.  I think everyone should have the freedom to do what they love, and to earn good money doing it!

Bonnie has brought together 20+ highly successful artists, experts, and mentors to share their key insights for real success.

I will be one of the speakers, and I’m very flattered to have been invited to speak at this popular and prestigious event!

You’ll learn from the best of the best How To:

• Make Your Creative Biz a Real Success 
• Build Your Brand for Your Ideal Buyers 
• Price for Real Profit and Growth 
• Increase Your Sales with Marketing, PR, and Social Media 
• Diversify into Licensing, Wholesale, and Direct-to-Consumer 
• Get Into Galleries, Shows, and Raise Project Funds
I’d love for you to experience this yourself and JOIN US FOR THIS FREE summit.  All it costs is your time; and if you’re willing to invest that, then you will reap the benefits!

The Thriving Artist Summit – Online Audio runs from December 02 through December 13, 2013
SECURE YOUR SPOT HERE: http://ThrivingArtistSummit.com/MBrophy  
I hope to see you on the line at this summit!P.S.   A replay will be available, but you still have to register to receive access!

All the Best, Maria xxoo

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24 Comments Where the Money is Hiding and the Thriving Artist Summit

  1. kara rane

    Maria-
    Thank You so much for sharing this event! So happy You are one of the advisors. In all hope~fullness, a new world is emerging. It is time for Artists to lead a consciousness revolution. We are not selling products necessarily, but innovation, spiritual evolution, and a new way of Being.

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Kara, thanks for the comment. And yes, it’s exciting, isn’t it? That so many people are sharing ideas, giving of their time, and helping each other. I love this new way of doing business. It’s a true community. And it feels right!

      Reply
  2. Jim G.

    This latest post is yet another example of why I have such respect and admiration for you and Drew… your posts, that provide such personally candid perspectives, immensely insightful and valuable advice, while always striving to connect with the positive, are truly inspirational.
    Having come to know you both, the quality of Drew’s art, your professional business acumen, the sincerity and energy you both display, your teamwork and the way you balance your family life, marriage, business, and art is such a rare gift.
    Thank you so much for sharing your success in all the ways you do with me, and, with the larger audience you unselfishly speak to.
    I am honored to know you both not only in business, in artistic endeavors, but as the wonderful human beings and family you are.
    May all the days ahead bring to you nothing but the best of continued success, great joy, personal reward, and love.

    Reply
  3. Lance Klass

    This is an extraordinary posting because you’ve put down in writing and disseminated broadly the actual financial situation that virtually all of us who are in or around the business of art licensing have experienced since the Great Recession began in 2007.

    I too have lost long-term licensees, seen others bought out by former rivals, faced consolidation in once-thriving industries, lost friends who have left my client companies suddenly after being let go or having seen the writing on the wall. And I know art licensing agents who are getting by with funds taken prematurely from their 401-K’s or other retirement savings.

    I’ve witnessed the plague of austerity that is ruining much of Europe, including Ireland and the UK, and which threatens to bring about a new Great Depression, as my own sons are trying to get ahead in the labor force and build lives for themselves.

    The stimulus that we need for job creation is being thwarted by those who would cut unemployment benefits, cut food stamps and aid to dependent children, and deny healthcare to the poor and income-threatened, while keeping in place huge welfare programs and tax breaks for the giant corporations, lobbying groups, and ultra-wealthy.

    All the while, they claim that economic health will come from cutting the national debt, but even if we were able to wipe out half that debt tomorrow, we wouldn’t be creating one single new job.

    Uncertainty and insecurity hurts consumer confidence so there’s less spending at retail, which hurts the manufacturers who are our active and potential licensees.

    Your article is also extraordinary because of the personal measures you’ve taken to remedy your own situation. Focus on new income, cut overhead, change the way you do business – all smart responses to an economic crisis that seems to just go on and on.

    Reply
    1. maria brophy

      Lance,

      Thank you for the thoughtful, and detailed comment! I agree with everything you say, and I know many others do, too.

      I’m surprised at the number of people that responded to this post (many were private emails) and how much it resonated with them. I suppose most of us (myself included) aren’t telling the world how hurt we are financially from the economic downfall. Admitting our weaknesses could hurt our business, right?!

      But, just by letting a little bit of the truth out in this post, I think I helped others feel better – that there’s nothing wrong with them, that things are just HARD!

      I try to put a positive spin on everything, because you have to to survive, right?! But, at the same time, it helps to know that we aren’t failures but rather in the same financial boat as most everyone else.

      The determination of never going back to the corporate world (or, God forbid, go work for someone else) is what keeps me moving forward, trying new things, cultivating new customers and getting very creative in this business!

      I love what I do, and I’m determined to continue!

      Reply
      1. Lance Klass

        Thanks Maria! I agree with all you’ve said in this email.

        Initially you feel that yes, the market has taken a dive and the economy
        is screwed and the banks are being bailed, so it all makes sense. Then
        you look at the numbers and wonder – is it just us? Are others
        experiencing this? So I got on the phone and talked with friends in the
        industry, and many were worse off than I was. I was only down 30% (lol!), and 2009 might just as well not have happened.

        But no one speaks about this publicly because it might indeed make people feel like you’ve screwed up, you’re ineffective, it’s just your art or
        your artists, and maybe they should take their business elsewhere…

        Yours is the first public statement of the current reality in art
        licensing. It ain’t pretty, but remembering that famous line from The
        Godfather – ‘this is the business we have chosen!’ So we carry on.

        Take care,

        Lance

    1. Loretta

      Well rats… this came out in BrushBuzz on Dec 13th! I definitely would have attended. I hope you consider holding it again.

      Reply
  4. kara rane

    hi Maria-
    You have given me so much stellar advice via your newsletter/blog e-mail.. which I always check out & btw was delivered to my inbox a few days before the event. You are AMAZING!

    Reply
  5. Lori Woodward

    Maria and Lance, I thank you both from the bottom of my heart for being real. It really does help us all to understand that even great businesses fall on hard times.

    Your words are an encouragement. In a way, we are all forced to take two steps backward, but what you’ve done is helped us to begin taking steps forward again, thinking out of the box, and most of all, being brave enough to work with what we have.

    The good news is that many of my friends who work with galleries have seen their sales spike in the last 8 months. Prices had gone down, but they seem to have stabilized.

    Reply
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  8. Lisa

    I just discovered your website. Thank you for such an incredible resource that supports artists. I just signed up for the conference and am listening to the first recording with
    Kiffanie Stahle

    Reply
  9. Shari Warren

    Maria,

    Thank you for this very relevant article about art licensing and diversifying income streams. Something I have been doing as well since the downfall in 2008. I just signed up for the Summit so I can hear the speakers.

    Reply
  10. Nancy S.

    Maria–
    Thank you for this very honest and succinct article. So helpful to see a brief, yet detailed, overview of what has been going on.
    All the best in the new year!

    Reply
  11. Kyle Anderson

    Thanks Maria! I’ve been searching far and wide for different strategies to improve my art career and your site has proven quite helpful even in a very short period. I’ll be seeing you at the summit. Cheers!

    Reply
  12. Suzanne Vreeland

    Hi!
    So happy to find your site and learn about you both – thanks for all you share and your positive energy!
    Is there a link to a recording of the Thriving Artist summit please?

    Reply
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