Art Publishing: Everything has Changed, Nothing has Changed

Guest blogger Harriet Rinehart Flehinger has been an art poster publisher since the early 1980’s. She writes occasionally about that industry for Artsy Shark. 

The Growth and Nurturing of I-AM-AN-ARTIST, INC.

by Harriet Rinehart Flehinger

Harriet Rinehart Flehinger

My parents once asked me if art publishing is just a fad. My response? There has been a decorative art reproductions market since roughly 1460 AD, a few years after the first printing presses turned out the Gutenberg Bible.

The challenge of art publishing is to keep up with the methods of distribution to get that art from you, the artist, to the end user who acquires your creation and grows to love it.


I’m here to tell you that everything has changed and nothing has changed. 


Everything has changed:

  • Years ago, there were few channels to sell your art. There were galleries, limited edition publishers, and open edition publishers.
  • Today, there are an overwhelming number of ways to offer your art for sale. The Internet allows you to potentially reach everyone in the world but conversely, the potential buyer can chose among every artist with an on-line presence. Yikes !!
  • Galleries can be great, but they are no longer the sugar-daddy (or sugar-mommy) who takes you under their wing, protects you from harm, and provides all the money you need.
  • The internet provides ways to market your art yourself. You can have your own website; you can offer art on sites such as If you are successful, you may need staff as you will need to pack and ship your art, as well as constantly update your website.
  • You must now think of yourself as a marketing company entitled “I-Am-An-Artist, Inc.” You are not just a creator of imagery; you are running a small business with responsibilities of marketing, shipping, and accounting, as well as product development (sorry for the business terms, but that’s how you should think.)


Courtesy Ballard Designs


Nothing has changed:

  • If you make one unique painting, you only need to find one person to love it. If you are creating art for licensing and wall décor, you need art which thousands of people will potentially enjoy.
  • Remember, you will not be there to explain the art. It must stand on its own. Can your art be understood without your personal explanation?
  • You must have a “look” (also known in business as a “gimmick”) which make your art distinct and stand out among all those choices.
  • If you are creating anything with political, sexual, or highly emotional content, your work is probably not suitable for decorative marketing.
  • The most successful decorative art has some element of luxury or romance.
  • Color is still the most important factor in marketability. No matter how good your work may be, if it’s not in “trend sensitive” colors, it won’t get picked up by wholesalers.
  • Ballard Designs give you the current colors for traditional and transitional colors. They are even nice enough to provide fabric swatches!!
  • Crate and Barrel has many departments which showcase the more contemporary color palette. Check out their page of decorative accent pillows for colors.


Crate and Barrel colors


Harriet Rinehart Flehinger is now a product development consultant to both Image Conscious for wall décor and to Bentley Licensing Group for other products. Her job is to help you curate and art direct so that your work stands the best chance of being selected by these companies and then generating substantial sales in this marketplace. If you think your work might be suitable for decorative art licensing, please contact Harriet to review it at [email protected].




  1. “■Crate and Barrel has many departments which showcase the more contemporary color palette. Check out their page of decorative accent pillows for colors”.

    The comment or Point you made above resonates with me very well. I even use some of my Paintings on my 18×18 Accent Pillows to add that cohesive feel to my room. It looks wonderful! Just finished a huge Commissioned painting of an Oyester Shell. I suggested the lady if she would consider to have that image produced on her Accent pillows….she loved that idea. Her Beach House looks like a Beach Paradise with Oyester Theme. Thank you so much for all your awesome suggestions Ms. Harriet.

    Really enjoy reading what you have to say about Decorative Arts. I am always on a look out for your new articles and contributions.[img]!/photo.php?fbid=378055862299168&set=pb.139166759521414.-2207520000.1371051267.&type=3&theater[/img]

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