What Independent Publishing Can Teach Visual Artists – Eric Rhoads

Eric Rhoads headshot

Eric is the Chairman, Publisher, and CEO of Streamline Publishing, Inc. which publishes Fine Art Connoisseur and PleinAir Magazine. A career entrepreneur, Eric has 30 years’ experience launching companies and media brands, as well as a decade in the art industry, working with collectors and organizing art conventions. In this episode, Eric discusses the difference between digital and analogue consumption of art, how to meet the needs of the market while staying true to your vision, and advice for artists navigating the gallery world. Here are a few highlights:

On weathering art market changes:

  • “I believe that the Masters of today who are still relatively young—the Jacob Collins’ and Grayden Parrish’s and people of that ilk—they’ll see a surge in pricing in their paintings. Younger people following in their footsteps will have thriving careers in their lifetime. This movement is driven by doing something different and not being part of the mainstream.”
  • “We’re getting a sense of something from young folks who say ‘I don’t get this modern or abstract stuff’—to them, this resurgence of Old Masters style has become new and fresh. They are criticized for doing something considered avant garde and almost wrong, yet it’s the exact thing that happened when representational painting came out.”
  • “The rise of ateliers—and the resurgence of Figurative Art—shows that these people needed a home and chance to be together, to realize that people all over the world were interested in this.”

The strengths of digital and analog:

  • “When you look at a digital picture of a piece of art on your Instagram feed, it looks good, but it doesn’t look nearly as good as when you see it in print, which of course doesn’t look nearly as good as when you see it in person. This is one of the big challenges, because we need to get people out there looking at art in person.”
  • “I can do things with digital that I can’t do with print—in our digital edition we have 15-20 additional pages that we don’t do in print, because it’s very expensive. So we give digital subscribers more content, and it’s a beautiful thing to be able to do that.”
  • “Everything we’re doing today digitally will be old tomorrow. There will be something completely different and new in two, five, or ten—someone will invent something to completely disrupt things, and as an artist, you have to play all the angles.”
  • I have a friend who buys all his art on an auction site—I don’t know if he’s ever set foot in an art gallery. But I also know people who will not buy a piece of art until they can see it in person.”
  • “Buyers today wants to be able to research, they want to read about the artist online—so I don’t want anybody else in charge of my brand.”

On marketing and business management:

  • “My motto when we started the businesses, is that I would never do anything that I didn’t love.”
  • “The galleries that are failing are the ones that aren’t being contemporary in how to operate businesses.”
  • “I think the slippery slope with marketing is it can accomplish anything except for good painting—we’ve all seen artists who make so much money and we don’t understand why they’re succeeding because we don’t respect the art that they’re making. Marketing can in fact accomplish selling bad stuff.”
  • “The problem is there’s this belief that if you put it online, you’ll sell a lot of art, but it’s not true. You can’t put everything on a single pillar.”
  • “One has to focus on strategy instead of tactic: tactic is the thing you’re going to do, strategy is the plan of how you’ll get respect, get well-known and get people to buy your work.”
  • “People want to do things the way they used to do them, and are not doing the things that got them success in the first place. In hard times, people cut back, and sometimes cutting back hurts them more.”

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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 DiGriz.com.

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