Maria Brophy


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    ‘Strategies for a Successful Art Business!’
Entrepreur / Personal

Despite a challenging Economy Adventure Ruled – My 2011 Year in Review

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Garden of the Gods, Colorado

Often, we worry that we haven’t accomplished much.  But, when we look back on it, we are surprised to find that we actually did get some important projects completed, that we did some fun things and that we cultivated some great memories with those we love.

Grab a piece of paper and take a few minutes to write down some of the things you accomplished in 2011.  Include not just work projects, but fun things that you did, places you went and people that you became friends with.

And then, after you write it down, put your arms around your back and give yourself a pat.  You deserve it!

When December came I was feeling as though I didn’t do enough.  There were goals that I didn’t meet.  I was being very hard on myself.  In many ways, 2011 was a real challenge for our business.  But then Drew reminded me of all the things that I did in the year, and I realized that I am truly living my dream life, even when my business is going through a rough patch.  If there’s one thing that I’ve figured out in my life is this: how to live the lifestyle I desire.

When you read my list below, you will quickly discover my top priority in life.  Let me know what you think it is in the comments!

Here’s a list of my highlights of 2011, focusing mostly on the fun stuff:

Consulting:  I had never planned to do any consulting, but this year I decided to give it a try.  And the result was that this past year I worked with dozens of artists to help plan their art licensing program or to solve a business deal they were having trouble with.

WHAT I LEARNED:  That I love helping artists navigate the world of business deals. It’s my gift and it comes very naturally to me.

Business:  2011 was my most challenging year since we’ve been in business because art sales and licensing royalties plummeted due to the economy and other factors.  There were months where I was truly concerned about how we were going to make it.  But we always came through and we refused to let the worries keep us from living the lifestyle we love.

WHAT I LEARNED:  You have to just roll with the punches.  Tighten your belt (spend less).  Make it happen.

The rest of this recap is 100% positive, and you’ll wonder how in the world we managed to do all this when we were having a challenging year financially.  The answer is this:  we don’t let anything stop us from living a great life!

TV Show:  My dream of getting The Paint Shop on the air came to fruition in February of 2011.  It was a blessing and a curse, because it was a dream come true, and at the same time, I suddenly was working 16 hour days for months on end!

WHAT I LEARNED:  Producing a TV show is a full time job x 2.  There’s no time to run your business while producing a show – this is partly why our sales fell this year.

My Blog:  The year started with me writing 2-3 posts a week.  Then I ran out of steam for writing once The Paint Shop was being produced.  Eventually, I got out of the habit of writing weekly and started posting monthly.  This made me feel bad, like I was neglecting my blog.  This year I plan to write once a week again.  Hold me to that, will you?!

WHAT I LEARNED:  To accept that I can’t do everything perfect all the time, and its okay.  My readers will stick around and still love me, right?

HAWAII:  Went to the North Shore for Drew’s 40th birthday.  We had a great time surfing and hiking, even though we got caught up in the Tsunami warning and were evacuated in the mountains for 24 hours!

WHAT I LEARNED:  It’s scary up in those dark mountains in the middle of the night.  Next time, be prepared with plenty of water and food.

FLORIDA KEYS:  A month later I went to the Keys in Florida, a place I’ve always wanted to go.  It was my sister’s birthday and we had a blast.  Spent time checking galleries in Miami and drove Alligator Alley so that I could see alligators in the wild….

WHAT I LEARNED:  If you’re a beach girl, the Florida Keys may not be for you.  The beaches are almost non-existent.  Crazy, but true.

RIVER RAFTING:  In July I flew to Spokane then drove to Montana with a friend to go rafting down the Blackfoot River in Montana.  It was crazy because we were in great danger, not knowing that the river was running high and we were completely unprepared.  We had a few near-death experiences that day.  We had a great laugh after we lived through it!

WHAT I LEARNED:  It’s stupid to think that a river is always the same.  It changes year to year and if someone tells you it was calm last year, look into the conditions before you go.  It’s like the ocean; it changes every day.

 HIKED MT. WHITNEY the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states, in August with a group of hikers.  It took us 23 hours – we did it straight without camping over night.  It was more physically difficult than giving birth.

WHAT I LEARNED:  That you can overcome your fear of heights when forced to, and that I am a bad-ass!

SPENT 3 WEEKS IN MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA:  In August and I got a lot of paddle boarding and kayaking in.  Spent quality time with family and yes, I was working while I was there.  Thank God for internet connections!

WHAT I LEARNED:  That I can go to the beach every day, all day, and still get work done on the side.

WROTE A BOOK:  I teamed up with Tara Reed and wrote HOW TO UNDERSTAND ART LICENSING CONTRACTS in November.  I was very proud that I got that done – it was hard work.

WHAT I LEARNED:  That Tara Reed is an amazing woman – she got her part of the book written in one week.  Mine took 2 months.  And here’s the lesson:  We all work at different paces, and its okay to take your time, as long as you meet your deadline (which I did).

BOULDER COLORADO:  In November we drove to Boulder to watch my son receive an award at the Boulder Film Festival for his work in a film called Playgrounds Re-imagined.  It was the first ever award given to a child at that festival for “Most likely to save the world.”  (You can watch his hilarious acceptance speech here!)

Along the way we visited Arches National Park, Great Dunes Park, Garden of the Gods and many other great places.

WHAT I LEARNED:  Never drive through a massive snowstorm on regular tires.  We almost got stuck driving over a mountain pass.

LEANIN TREE LICENSE:  While in Boulder we met with Leanin Tree and signed a license deal for Drew to have his art on their wonderful greeting cards.

WHAT I LEARNED:  When you make the effort to meet with the people you want to do business with, you’ll eventually get the deal. 

QUIT A BAD HABIT:  In November Drew and I finally quit drinking wine.  Since the late 1990’s, we have lived like Europeans, having a bottle of red wine with dinner every night.  It was a hard habit to break.  Now that we have stopped drinking daily (we did have wine on New Years and Christmas) we both lost weight, saved a ton of money and feel great.

WHAT I LEARNED:  Once I put my mind to something and commit, I can do it.

ADDED A NEW HABIT:  After many past attempts, meditation is now a part of my life.  Just like brushing my teeth, I don’t have to try to remember to do it or to fit it in.  Meditating is part of my daily routine, and my loving attitude and peacefulness is the result.

WHAT I LEARNED:  Developing a new habit takes doing it over and over again, for months, until it becomes second nature.

Jumbo Rock, Joshua Tree

JOSHUA TREE: Our last fun trip of the year was to Joshua Tree National Park, land that looks like another planet.  We did some rock climbing and camping and it was great to end the year that way.

2012 PLANNING:  I always wait until after the holidays to plan out my new year.  That’s why you haven’t seen a post from me on that topic yet.  But it’s coming.

And I don’t consider it late; I think it’s good to get well rested and enjoy your holidays fully before putting on your thinking cap.  I’ll share with you in the next post how I plan for a new year and suggestions for how you can do it, too.

How about you?  Have you sat down and written all the fun things you’ve done, or your big accomplishments this past year?  

Try it – you’ll be amazed at all you did.  And you’ll be that much more excited about 2012!

Here’s to a great new year for all of us!

Maria xxoo

PS:  One of the first things I’m doing in 2012 is speaking at the SmARTist Summit.  It’s a one-week online seminar with some of the top art business experts – put your name on the list to get information by clicking here!

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12 Comments Despite a challenging Economy Adventure Ruled – My 2011 Year in Review

  1. David

    Maria, this post woke me up. I really do need to focus more on creating those experiences that have nothing to do with Sparky Firepants business stuff.

    After I make my 2011 list, I think I might reverse-engineer it for 2012.I need to bring back those family trips, personal connections, and just exploring in our own backyard.

  2. Maria

    Sparky, I was HOPING to hear that from someone! I know that so many artists are working so hard – because let’s face it, it takes a lot to make it.

    BUT, you have to LIVE too. And I was hoping this post would remind people that you can have your cake and eat it too. Even in a down economy.

    ONE LITTLE SECRET: On most of our travels this year, we managed it financially by packing lunches everywhere we went, rather than eating out. Often we camped rather than spending $ on hotels. And when we weren’t camping in campground, we were camping at friends houses.

    It was all fun, and this year I plan to pack in just about the same, if not more!

    So, Sparky, yes, get out and ENJOY! You’ll come back to your studio refreshed and happy and ready with new ideas.

  3. Bill Werle


    Thank you! What an awesome reminder to stop and smell the roses along the way. I know part of my 2012 plan is to allow for some get away’s again.

    You and Drew are inspirations in more ways than one. Thanks for sharing it with us!


    1. Maria

      Thanks, Bill. Now for your challenge: Name the first adventure of smelling the roses for yourself – and put a date on it. That way you are sure to do it!

  4. kara rane

    hi Maria*
    You give everyone a present by your Presence.
    Congratulations on a beautiful year spent with people you love, in nature, creating art. Our world thanks You.
    Living a pure, simple life, awake to our higher purpose is a greater reward than any amount of money, things, or identities.
    Many Blessings for 2012

    1. Maria

      Thanks Kara, you are so right! Living pure, simple, awake to a higher purpose IS a great reward. You say that so poetically! 🙂


    Hey, Maria! congrats on a great year for you and your fam! i had the pleasure of discovering your site a few months ago, and i’ve been hooked ever since! i’ve checked out some of Drew’s artwork before so i finally got to actually watch some of the videos. you both inspire me and i’m still in the process of putting my 2012 list together, but will be in next few days. i finally launched my website last month and have been getting artwork ready for launching my licensing company this year. i follow Tara as much as i can too. thanks for all the positive energy!!

    1. Maria

      Thanks for finding my blog, Torian. And stay tuned – tomorrow I’m posting an easy way to set goals for the new year. I hope it’s helpful!

  6. Archan Mehta


    So glad to know you are having fun and reaching your goals. It is always a pleasure to read your blog.

    You are like a role-model for all those who want to live unconventionally. You have a habit of following your bliss no matter what life throws at you. Your writing is an inspiration, so keep on sharing. We, your readers, appreciate what you have to share here.

    May this new year bring peace, prosperity and happiness to you and your family and friends. May all your dreams come true! Cheerio.

    1. Maria

      Thanks, my longtime online friend Archan! Yes, you’re right, I do make it a point to follow my bliss no matter what life throws at me.

      The question I always ask myself is this: If I’m not having fun, then what am I doing here?! Why bother?

      Sometimes I forget to feel joy, but I catch it quickly and make a correction.

      Feeling joy is the highest ambition of mine, I think!

      Thanks for being there for me, and for always having a nice comment!

  7. Lori Woodward

    Hi Maria,

    Wow! I’m so impressed! and I appreciate your sharing the reality of your life. When I just assume that everyone else is having an easier time in this economy than I am, it makes me feel needlessly insecure 😉

    I hope you continue to travel and share your adventures with us. Although I hope it’s a bit less adventurous, but just as much fun in 2012. I’m so glad you started consulting. There’s a lot of coaches out there, but I like your approach, personality and transparency. If I seek out consultation for licensing, it will definitely be through you!

  8. kat cameron

    Hi Maria, Great post.
    I always love checking your blog, i find it very inspirational. I love the way you live your life – and that is your main goal it seems. People do forget that.
    For me that last year wasn’t as successful on the business front as I have 2 small children to look after, but I did participate in some exhibitions and have my artwork on notebooks so that was great.
    Hopefully this year will bring in some new exciting work with a lot more ‘action’ and effort on my part too… i think that is the key for me!


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