Control How Your Art Business is Perceived – Maria Brophy

maria brophy headshot cropped

Maria Brophy is an art-business consultant and the author of Art, Money, & Success. She got her start managing her husband’s surf-art business (, and she applies that experience to her work with other artists. Her areas of expertise include licensing and the creation of multiple income streams. In this podcast, she discusses the importance of identifying a niche, the ways that licensing is used for different mediums, and how to make your art career profitable. 

Artists Have to Have a Business Mindset:

  • “If you want to have a successful art career, you have to view yourself as a business owner, and to remain in business you need cash flow, profit, and growth.” 
  • “There are absolutely benefits to artists managing their own careers; it’s difficult to find an agent who will manage everything for you.”
  • “It’s absolutely feasible to be able to earn six figures, but you have to think like a businessperson: you have to charge for everything. Don’t eat extra costs; pass those costs on to the client.”
  • “There are ways to make everything you do profitable.”

The Importance of Finding Your Niche:

  • “If you are painting every subject matter and in every kind of medium, you won’t connect with anyone.”
  • “If you can work within a niche and market yourself within it, it’s incredibly powerful. There’s a lot of power in being a big fish in a small pond.”
  • “A lot of artists don’t realize they have a niche, and it’s right under their noses.”
  • “You find a way to connect with people, to reach those buyers that will connect with your work, because they share a love for the thing you’re doing.”

Marketing an Identifiable Style:

  • “The artists who make millions from their art are not the most talented, but they’ve hit on something that mass amounts of people really enjoy.”
  • “Don’t go the traditional route of licensing, but look for opportunities where your art would be the perfect solution for a company.”
  • “Tell clients your requirements and say, ‘This is how I work.’ Those are the five magic words.”
  • “When you sign your agreement with a gallery make sure it’s not exclusive to anywhere other than their area. You should have the freedom to show your work in any other gallery outside that geographic area.”
  • “When you’re younger, it’s fun to get that pat on the back, but you learn quickly that a pat on the back doesn’t pay the mortgage.”

Pricing Your Work:

  • “Choose which market you want to be in: the high-end marketplace of galleries, the low-end marketplace of Etsy, or somewhere in the middle. Then follow the rules of that market.”
  • “If you’re struggling with pricing, you can follow simple formulas such as figuring out a daily, weekly, and monthly rate. It’s good for working on new projects or one-off projects.”
  • “If you don’t stay in front of people, they will forget about you. Everybody on the planet knows what Coca-Cola is, but even Coca-Cola advertises!”

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Daniel DiGriz
Daniel DiGriz is Director of Audience Development & Educational Programming. He's co-founder of enterprise consulting firm Free Agent Source Inc.. He is Corporate Storyteller and Digital Ecologist® at MadPipe which provides sales enablement and campaign direction to various firms. His background in Fortune 500 life is in sales, education, and technology. Daniel is a musician, storyteller, and karateka. His personal website is

12 thoughts on “Control How Your Art Business is Perceived – Maria Brophy”

  1. Thanks Maria, you shared a lot of great information – especially reminding us that while we paint from the heart, we need to remember the business side.

    1. Steve, great question. Before approaching a company for licensing your art, first prepare collections that they can review. Have collections in different themes, and extra bonus points if you create a sheet of mock ups of your art on their products. Then, send an email introduction, call, find a way to get a meeting over the phone so you can discuss what you have to offer. You have to court a lot of companies to get one deal, so don’t give up too quickly!

  2. Maria is so generous with information and she has been so inspirational for me. I came to some major self discoveries today while listening to this interview!

    1. So glad to hear that, Megan! Thanks for listening and sharing your experience. I appreciate the kind words.

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