Guest blogger Todd McPhetridge is a photographer with considerable experience in art publishing. In part 2 of his guest article, he discusses money, timing and change.
Persistence and timing will pay off
I reached out to a close friend of mine that founded Wet Canvas to get his opinion on art publishing. Scott Burkett has been around the block a time or two, knows technology like nobody’s business and has an incredible eye for art. Here is what he had to say about the business side of art:
“As an artist, you are free to pursue your craft in the manner of your choosing. But the business side of the art world is no different than many others – timing plays a big part in things. Art styles fall in and out of favor, and publishers and buyers all have their own preferences when it comes to content. But at the end of the day, you have to find the precise union of supply and demand. I am a firm believer that eventually, most any reasonably crafted artwork will sell to someone.”
It’s all about the benjamins, or is it?
Yeah yeah, but get to the money part. Well I’m here to tell you that you won’t get rich in art publishing, at least not in the beginning anyway. So if you go into this thinking you’re going to be the next (insert your favorite crazy rich artist name here), it won’t happen. Sorry to burst your bubble, but I’m trying to keep it real here, times are tough and the art world is changing. This comes from someone who sold over 4,500 posters last year and barely made enough from those sales to take a nice vacation. Zoinks! Ruh Roh Raggy! Now I’ve got your attention, eh? It’s not all doom and gloom though, keep reading.
The royalties that you will receive from art publishing will probably be in the neighborhood of 10% of wholesale prices. If you are a well-known artist you may get more, but 10% is pretty standard for emerging artists. Some of you old school cats that know way more than me feel free to chime-in down in the comments section. You may get a higher percentage if they sub-license your art to another manufacturer. That is something you will need to look at when you receive the contract. Checks are usually cut around the 3rd week after the end of each quarter.
Know your numbers
For me it’s a numbers game and that’s all it is. The more work you get out there, the more people become familiar with you and while it doesn’t seem like a lot in the beginning, it can and will build over time. If you’re looking to get rich overnight, the only advice I can give you is to keep playing the lottery homie.
Building a successful art career is more like a calculated, nice even pace, long distance run, rather than a short sprint to the finish. Sure, your piece of the pie will be small at first, but as you gain notoriety and popularity you will have more opportunities and leverage. Consider this – on a three year contract it will most likely take one year to get your art into their printed catalog, onto their website and out into their network of connections.
Are you open to change?
Some art publishers may even want you to change certain things about a painting or photograph (GASP! They what? No way! Yes Way!). They may even want you to create specific pieces of work. You will want to iron out whether you are open to these types of requests before approaching an art publisher.
Art publishing can be a rewarding experience when you’re working with an exceptional art publisher and you have realistic expectations going into it. I highly recommend searching out the answers, developing a style and having a clear end goal in mind before pursuing anything with your art career. Above all get out there and do it! You never know until you try, and all it takes is one solid connection to shape the whole future of your art career. So what are you waiting for?
Oh, and finding an art publisher doesn’t have to be a long drawn out process either. Once I decided to pursue this avenue I was signed in less than 24 hours and had the contract in hand 48 hours later. Your results may vary and it could boil down to, I was in the right place at the right time. You can read about how I was signed over at Lori’s Fine Art Tips blog.
Face palm moments
Yes my artist name was Todd Ridge. I thought “Ridge” would be easier to market than McPhetridge. You live and learn. Stay tuned for that story, I’m sure I’ll get around to telling what I learned from that branding mistake someday….and another thing, find a mentor that can help you along the way. They have a wealth of knowledge that can help you avoid the pitfalls early in your career. Build a mastermind network of other artists that you know and trust. Work hard to cultivate great relationships in the art world. Share what you’ve learned with other people and above all tell your family and friends you love them. They are all that matters at the end of the day. Even some of the most successful artists have had it all taken away. I would like to thank Carolyn at Artsy Shark for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you all.
About the author
Todd McPhetridge is a Fine Art Landscape Photographer, marketing ninja and an accomplished air guitarist that makes a mean omelet and produces white collar redneck art. His spot on the map is North Georgia where he enjoys spending time with his son.