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Art Business: The Art Print Market

Barney Davey Book Cover

Barney Davey entered the art print market in 1988. In 2004, painter and A.C.T. Art Business Mentor Pat Fiorello introduced me to Barney. It led to a series of Artist Career Training Teleclasses. Six years later, it is a different art market. Barney is back to help artists in the A.C.T. community make more money, diversify their marketing, expand their price points and grow awareness of their artwork.

Barney Davey' s book "How to Profit from the Art Print Market: Creating Cash Flow from Original Art - 2nd Edition" has been a bestseller on the "Business of Art" category since it was first published in 2005. Barney also publishes the highly respected Art Print Issues blog. With nearly 10,000 unique monthly page visits, it is one of the industry's most heavily trafficked business blogs.

How to Profit from the Art Print Market


Barney interviewed me. If you missed it, here it is:


Ten Questions for an Art Marketing Expert


Posted in Art Print Issues    18 Oct 2010 07:59 PM PDT

In 2004, a series of events led me to advising artists about the print market, which eventually led to writing How to Profit from the Art Print Market, and, of course, this blog. When I finished the book, I began looking for others in the art marketing community who would partner with me to help spread the word about my specialized knowledge of the art print market.


Aletta de Wal of Artist Career Training was the first to respond. We did a series of tele-seminars on the subject of how to get one's work into the print market. Today, she has kindly agreed to answer 10 Questions from an Art Marketing Expert for me.


While there are good questions here on subjects artists always ask, Aletta's answers are superb. She packs a lot of meaning in a few paragraphs. I am sure you will find more than a few nuggets of useful advice and expert insight here. Keep an eye out for her forthcoming book.


1. Tell me about Artist Career Training.

Artist Career Training serves part-time and full-time artists who are serious about a career in fine arts. Artists learn to be more focused, organized and confident in all art business matters.  A team of art world insiders share art marketing information and step-by-step instructions in lively group telephone classes, on-site workshops and interactive seminars. Personal consultations allow in-depth work on specific projects. Independent study is available through recordings and e-books at


Aletta de Wal is equal parts artist, educator and entrepreneur. She inspires fine artists to make a better living making art in any economy. Aletta makes art marketing easier and the business of art simpler.


Bottom-line: No drivel here ~ just friendly, focused information to let you get back to making art.


2. How does your experience as a recovering banker help you to help artists?

1. I started my career in banking as a management trainee in a branch. I learned to greet everyone like it was the first time I was meeting them and the last time I might see them. Every artist gets my full attention while we connect. Every artist should do the same with everyone they meet. You never know whom you are dealing with and what might come of the interaction.


2. To get promotions and pay increases, I learned to do what I said I would do, on time, on budget and with the results I promised my customers. To do that, I learned to set goals and take action steps weekly on a variety of projects. I still follow that work ethic and use it to help artists to build credibility, visibility and desirability.


3. In my last corporate job, I was responsible for Operations & Management Training for 30,000 employees worldwide. First I checked if they had the right tools and work environment to do the job. If not, we fixed that. Then I checked what kept them motivated to do the job. If we discovered a bad fit between the employee and the job, we fixed that next. Then we found out what they already knew and had accomplished.  That built their confidence before they built new skills. Training was often the last thing employees needed.


I learned the importance of asking questions before suggesting solutions. Most artists know a lot about what they need to do. They can fix tools and environment without any help. They come to me because they are passionate about art and want to make a living with it. My job is to figure out what could make their lives easier, more productive and more enjoyable. I supply missing information, guidance, and encouragement. I help them create a path to their ideal lifestyle within the time, money and energy they have. I teach artists to understand what their audience needs and how to deliver it to build an audience and make more sales.


 3. How is it different for artists these days from when you took the reins at ACT?

The quantum change has been the impact of technology. It's a double-edged sword. On the plus side, you can reach more people without leaving your studio. On the other hand, there is more competition and more complexity. Artists need to be able to navigate cyberspace as easily as the bricks and mortar world.


▪   Technology has changed the way people find art. Now there are thousands of web sites to browse and comparison-shop without leaving home.


▪   Technology has changed the way artists, art professionals and galleries promote. A web presence and involvement in social media are no longer optional.


▪   Technology has changed the way artists offer art. It's now easy to create digital versions of originals on various substrates, in various sizes, on demand without resorting to upfront expense for production or dealing with storage. The newest innovation is i-Phone art for people who don't need to match the sofa.


▪   Technology has changed the way we communicate. We live in a nano second world where speed can supplant quality.


I remind artists that technology is a tool to spread the word, not a replacement for communication person-to-person.


 4. What things have not changed, i.e., need for an artist's statement, a résumé, and

     so forth?

"The more things change, the more they remain the same." The human element is still the core of making, appreciating and marketing fine art. Even art mediated by technology starts with an idea in the artist's mind.


▪   Artists still need a solid body of signature work as the core of their business;

▪   Artists are still in charge of their brand and the audience is still in charge of sales;

▪   Exposure is still fundamental to success so the work is seen by the right audience;

▪   Consistent marketing is still the key to a sustainable art business;

▪   Relationships and trust are still the bedrock of sales.


 5. Are you seeing artists having success using social media?

First, you have to define success. If you measure success by numbers, connect with anyone and everyone. The great promise of social media is relationship building. If you want to build relationships, you have to be more selective. Decide what you have to offer and what you want to know. Limit yourself to people who want the same things. It's Pareto's Law: 80% of the possibilities come from direct contact with about 20% of the people. Success for me and artists I work with has come from actually having extended conversations with people online and talking by telephone or meeting them in person. I know - it's shocking.


 6. What advice do you give artists to help them maintain balance between creative,

     business and personal activities?

I'm glad that you included three categories here. Artists often think only about two at a time, which turns life into a teeter-totter. I define balance as a dynamic equilibrium of all the things that matter in your life. It's dynamic because life is always in flux. There is no such thing as finding the perfect still point if you want to fully live your life. You know things are in balance when your stress level goes down and you get the results you want, most of the time, in all areas that are important to you.


There are no hard and fast guidelines for creating this delicate balance. Like balancing a mobile sculpture, it is a matter of experimenting with different configurations until you find the one that works. Many of the artists I work with have health issues, are caregivers for elders or children or have jobs other than making art.


For some artists, it works better to have certain days for production that are "sacred"-no matter what. If this fits with the rest of your life, that's great! But not every life is so orderly - and on principle, many artists resist a schedule that is too rigid. In the end, it doesn't matter what method you use to get it all done. Just make sure that balancing is one of your goals.


 7. What common misperceptions do you hear from artists regarding how a formal mentoring program, such as with A.C.T., and how do you overcome them?

The most common misperception is that there is a quick fix for every art business. Books, programs and recordings are a great source of information - but you have to apply them for things to change. It takes personal reflection and/or discussion to turn that information into knowledge. Knowledge without application goes nowhere. You have to apply knowledge to see what works for you and what doesn't. That experience - along with successes and failures becomes wisdom you can take to the bank.


"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb." Winston Churchill.

A hallmark of our brand is personal service. I deal with these misconceptions one artist at a time. I offer a free 15-minute call to talk about how Artist Career Training can help each artist achieve what they want to do with their art with the time, money and energy they have.


 8. Has the Internet forever changed the artist-gallery dynamic?

Galleries were never the whole art market but artists can now easily represent themselves if they are willing to do all the work. On-line galleries come in various flavors and artists need to do their due diligence to make sure that they know who they are dealing with. There are many reputable galleries with an on-line presence, but there are always a few that artists need to look out for. My money is still on the gallerists who limit the number of artists they show and have direct contact with each artist.


What has not changed is that the artist-gallery dynamic is a business partnership.


 9. What is in the future for visual artists? Will the digital age overtake traditional forms of

     making art? Have new marketing paradigms changed how artists get their work to


Art has survived since the cave days and I don't think demand for it will disappear in my lifetime. Creativity is hardwired into all of us. We live in a visual and graphic world, so there is always a future for image-makers.


▪   The drive to create is timeless.

▪   The need to see and interact is human nature.

▪   There are more ways than ever to create and communicate.


The challenge remains making the best work and the best choices of marketing. New channels and speed have changed how artists market and how fast we need to respond, but the buying process is still in the same.


 10. Any pithy advice for emerging artists?

Find the spark that makes you and your work something only you can do. Make lots and lots of art. Make lots of connections. Build a handful of great relationships and nurture them.  Art marketing is not as mysterious as it seems - it is simply a series of conversations designed to build abridge between you, your art, and your audience.


E-mail to book a free 15-minute conversation about your art business.

Aletta Signature

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