The Art Marketing Toolkit’s Essence Is Living the Artist’s Life in Balance.

As I write this post about the Art Marketing Toolkit, I’m thinking about how I got here and why I’m doing this because many people my age are retired, or wish they were or weren’t depending. My thoughts bring these famous lyrics to mind:

Lately, it occurs to me,
What a long, strange trip it’s been. — “Truckin” by The Grateful Dead

Over three decades, I’ve helped publish and market hundreds of monthly issues of the now-shuttered Decor magazine. In its heyday, it was the Bible of the art print and picture framing businesses. We produced the Decor Expo art and framing trade shows that were the largest the industry has ever seen, by far. I’ve also attended or exhibited at more than 200 consumer and art business trade shows and fairs, written 700 blog posts on marketing art, and authored six art business books. Additionally, I’ve consulted with countless artists privately and produced dozens of live and online workshops and art marketing courses.

A massive chunk of my adult life has been dedicated to the art business and in helping artists. So, just because I’m in my 70s, why stop now? Especially when things are twisted so far out of norms, we may never see them again. It’s my feeling if one can help, you should. I chose to give where I know I can make a difference

The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.

Seven Things I Learned about Artists from 30 Years in the Art Business

Seven Things I Learned about Artists from 30 Years in the Art Business

How I Got Here Is Not an Accident

My mother was a 2nd-grade teacher and a talented, knowledgeable fine artist. I learned a lot from her, and I’m like her in many ways. Teaching and art are in my blood. I could have used all the digital marketing expertise I’ve gained over the years in other ways.

Instead of marketing books and courses on the art business, I could have used my capability to market courses on investing in options trading or real estate investing to make millions seriously. But that was not in my DNA any more than it is for artists I know who are smart and driven who could have become stockbrokers or real estate agents. Virtually all who chose such traditional paths keep thinking about the day they can quit to go work as an artist instead — such is the allure of being an artist.

You are an artist. Whether or not you work at being an artist does not define you.

Art Millionaires vs. Art Thousandaires

I’ve known millionaire artists and art publishers, many of whom were my clients or acquaintances from my Decor magazine days. Names like Wyland, Thomas Kinkade, and Paul Brent come to mind. But I’ve known many more artists who work have had enjoyed careers without making millions or basking in the limelight.

The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.

I’ve learned from the thousandaire group that seeking fame and fortune is not worth the price for them. It’s a super challenge to get that millionaire ball rolling, and it’s just as hard to keep it going once you do. You become responsible for the livelihoods of many who depend on your ability and work ethic to keep cranking out art and pushing the marketing and adapting to market changes, so you can keep everyone happy and fed.

Most artists seek something other than a slightly famous millionaire status. They want to create work that excites them and makes them proud. They want to sell their artworks but don’t want to be a slave to the process of getting the work to market. Many forgo making all the sales they could because they want to spend the time and energy making art or other projects. I can’t say I blame them.

The Unconventional Artist

What we do with our lives and talents is a very personal lifestyle choice. I like to say this.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. — Barney Davey

Artists who come to this realization either consciously or subconsciously are the ones who learn to live without regret. They know that their decisions and choices are about more than maximizing their talents. Sometimes they make choices for the greater good of their loved ones. They have a child with special needs, their spouse who will only flourish with their support, or they need more support than is available for them, and it’s not in the cards for them.

It's not a dream if you are living it. Art Marketing Toolkit Project
Become a member.

When they learn to be comfortable with the realization that what could have been, that is their fantasy doesn’t match the situation’s reality, things get better, measurably. Knowing this illusion was never likely to happen allows them to relax and rejoice in gratitude for having the ability and wisdom to know they did as much with their talent as possible. That’s an excellent place to be for anyone, including unconventional artists.

The truth is they – unconventional artists – represent the majority of those with God-given talent. They’re not here to get into the likes of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

I’ve seen artworks that were museum-quality pieces made by unknown artists who will never be lionized for their work. I’ve watched unsung vocal and guitar virtuosos on YouTube, who are as talented as their famous counterparts. Maybe they are unlucky, or more likely they are where they are by choice. My wish for them is they are at peace with how they utilize their talent.

You Get to Choose, Which Is the Way It Ought to Be

There is nothing wrong with being enormously gifted and choosing to avoid the path of celebrity. If that’s you, my advice is never to let anyone shame you for how you decided to live your life. Ignore them, and they will go away. All who strive for greatness have my heart. But especially those who suffer from no awareness of the limits of their abilities. We can’t all throw a 90 mile an hour fastball or sing over three octaves in perfect pitch. Life is not fair that way.

It is a beautiful gift to have self-awareness so one can know their limitations. I suck at golf, singing, and playing the guitar. I gave all three my full commitment to try my best at each only to realize none are within my skill sets. It turns out I’m a darn good writer, and using that expertise is immensely rewarding for me.

What’s This about Jam – And What Is the Art Marketing Toolkit?

Teaching artists and writing business articles and training materials about the art business gives me joy. If I were a little bit hipper, I’d tell you it is my jam.

At this stage in my life, I want to use my talents as fully as possible. Sharing what I know and helping artists is my goal. After all the blog posts, books, workshops, and online courses, I’ve decided to package my knowledge and give it away as close to free as possible.

The Art Marketing Toolkit is the format. Each week on Friday, artists can join me in a live interactive session to discuss a topic relating to the art business. Participate in earnest, and you will learn much useful information and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow artists just like you.

Simple Rules. Big Goals.

There will be a new, quick reading assignment each week, and a short to-do list based on the previous week’s reading. The goal is to make incremental progress. You will chip away at learning the art business and how to market your art. The next steps are to take your knowledge and apply it in the most practical way to boost your art career and advance your goals.

You’ll have the chance to ask questions, to get and give help, and be part of a lively community of artists who each have a personal agenda. No matter how unique your needs and desires, they’ll be a welcome asset to the group.

Together, we’ll all become smarter. We’ll use the enthusiasm of others to help inspire us to do more. It’s human nature to feed off the success of your peers. When you see them succeed, it encourages you to take those steps you’ve avoided or didn’t know existed.

Almost Free

The cost is $4.99 per month. That will cover some of my expenses and show a positive cash flow from the operation. Five bucks a month, along with a willingness to learn and participate in the group, are all you need to join. What you take from it will be equal in large part what you put into it.

I’m not promising results in 30 days. That’s not a reality for most artists. I’m asking for a couple of hours a week to build a wealth of knowledge that you will use for the rest of your life. When you choose the toolkit’s proper tools and apply them to your art business, you will steadily grow your business, confidence, and sales. That’s what I hope for you.

The sessions are recorded and archived so that you can keep pace with your schedule.

Please come and join me in the Art Marketing Toolkit.

The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.


art business, art marketing, art marketing toolkit

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  1. That was a great article, Barney! It had so many good comments and things for all artists to think about. I’m 69 and not ready to retire either. But I’m not looking to set the art world on fire. I have been selling my work since I got out of college and have always been a Thousandaire, which is good enough for me. I made a living as a single mom, but I was still there whenever my kids needed me. Now, my goal is to sell more online, both because of the virus…and because those shows are a lot of physical work, although I still want to do them!

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