How to Be Creative and Make Money with Productivity

Productivity is indispensable


  • Do you want to be the best artist you can be?
  • Do you want to make as much money as you can from your art?

Whether you desire being highly creative or or earning a generous income, or both, productivity is an essential ingredient. It comes down to this: if you want to make more money and continually improve your skills, you have to make more art.

Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working. — Pablo Picasso

Experience proves the power of productivity.

During my 25 years in the art business. I’ve known many artists from millionaires to those barely making it. In observing those who by their measure of success, whether money, fame or the satisfaction of making art that readily sells, I’ve found productivity the most common trait.

What is productivity?

A measure of the efficiency of a person, machine, factory, system, etc., in converting inputs into useful outputs. Productivity is computed by dividing average output per period by the total costs incurred or resources (capital, energy, material, personnel) consumed in that period. Productivity is a critical determinant of cost efficiency. – courtesy of the business dictionary.

Okay, that’s pretty dense egghead jargon. To my mind, productivity, as it relates to artists, comes down to making art steadily. It is about finding efficient ways to cut down on the mechanical aspects of making art.

It is about making judicious, quick decisions about the entire process. Starting with choosing subject matter, color scheme, size of the art, and materials then working to get the intended result in as little time with as little effort as possible..

Quality in art comes out of experimentation.

In most cases, before and after they became successful and wealthy or both, the successful artists I’ve known made a ton of art. They were driven to make more art because they knew it helped them improve as an artist, and that having more art gave variety to their collectors. How many haystacks did Monet paint?

Productivity is a universal aspect of creativity.

I don’t know if it’s true, but would not be surprised if it were,  but it’s been said Bruce Springsteen had written 1,500 songs before he recorded his first album. Bob Dylan was so prolific, especially in his early 20s that 50 years later a box of song lyrics from the 1960s was found. Choosing from among dozens of Dylan’s song lyrics, a group of musicians assembled by producer, T Bone Burnett, including Elvis Costello and Marcus Mumford, recorded The New Basement Tapes: Lost on the River. It was released in late 2014.

Pablo Picasso arguably is the most prolific artist of all time. It estimated he created 50,000 works of art in his lifetime. That is a long way from the 1,000 piece career average (33 pieces per year x 30 years) that I talk about in my Guerrilla Marketing for Artists: How 100 Collectors Can Bulletproof Your Career book. Picasso’s oeuvre gives you an idea of what is possible on the high end of the productivity scale.

Successful artists are productive artists.

The theme here is that successful artists create lots of work. It is the only way to hone your craft. Making art is as much a mechanical process as it is a creative one. Your creativity might inform how you want your artwork to look like as a finished piece, but your mechanical aptitude will determine your ability to see it through to fruition.

Your creativity helps you find new ways to make new art. Improving your art making techniques helps you churn out more art. Embedded in each new piece of art is an improvement in your skills. It is the drive to succeed that invigorates artists to stay busy when the tedium of the mechanical process kicks in.

Making art is not always easy or fun.

Chair designed and built by Barney DaveyI can tell you from firsthand experience from my fine woodworking days there was exhilaration in conceiving a piece of furniture and watching how it became a beautiful finished piece due to my artistry and skill.

Still, sometimes I could barely stand the monotony. Sanding and finishing make all the difference in a how a piece of handcrafted furniture looks. Nevertheless, the work involved in that part of the process was mind-numbingly tedious to me. I never let that part stop me from finishing a piece.

Had I gone into woodworking as a profession, which I seriously considered, I would have worked diligently to ramp up my income so I could hire out the tedious work. There is a lesson for you in that concept, which is to come to work everyday thinking about how to replace yourself. What are you doing now that you can pay someone else to do for you?

Discovery is part of the creative process.

Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just get to work. – Chuck Close

If you want to improve your art, you have to make more art. You can imagine how a piece will work, but you won’t know until you get to work. If you want to grow as an artist, you cannot sit still. I nearly always found something in the doing that was fun and unexpected. A straight line might give way to a curve in a place where I had not planned on it with the unintended result more appealing than I conceived in my initial vision and drawings .

The only to make more money as an artist is to sell more work. Duh!

You instinctively know you have to have enough work to sell to make your business profitable. In addition, you have to work steadily at creating art in order to fill the demand.

First things first.

It’s a linear process. That is you first need to make compelling work in sufficient quantity and with ongoing and improving productivity capabilities before you spend your time and money marketing your work on creating demand you cannot meet.

You should measure to know where you are in the process to honestly evaluate your current production capabilities. If you are confident this area of your art career is under control, it is a good time to start looking for ways to create more demand for your increased ability to turn out more work.

Ready to get started marketing?

If you have production under control and need help with how to create more demand for your art, here are a couple of options for you. Purchase my Guerrilla Marketing for Artists: How 100 Collectors Can Bulletproof Your Career book. (It’s available for as little as $9.99 on Kindle.)

Alternatively, join my 8-Steps to Art Marketing Master Workshop. The live sessions have begun, but all are recorded and available 24/7 with lifetime access. As such, you can catch up or choose to learn at your own pace.

Commit to your career! Join my 8-Steps to Art Marketing Mastery program today.


Some links in the post may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

Art Marketing Mastery Makes the Best of Your Career

Visual artists can take control of their career using the 8-steps to art marketing mastery.

8-steps to art marketing mastery

Creating success and enjoying its rewards are at the heart of every entrepreneurial business. The process is simple. Make or have a product or service that you repeatedly sell  to new and existing customers. It’s the same for visual artists.

Running a successful small business is a challenge.

Now you instinctively know when you break down a simple process it often gets complicated, sometimes even confusing or confounding. For solo entrepreneurs, who have everything on their shoulders, it’s nearly always the case.

The 8-Steps to Art Marketing Mastery.

The subject of this post is about how using the 8-steps to art marketing mastery will improve  your career. That said, it comes with the expectation that you don’t attempt to tackle employing those steps until you have the making the art process under control,which is a two-fold proposition:

  1. You have developed a recognizable style of art people want to buy.
  2. You have developed a system to produce enough art to meet the demand created your marketing.

Once you have gained mastery over the creative aspect of your art career, it makes sense to work on gaining mastery over marketing your art. Marketing includes all the myriad details required to get your art seen and sold.

Here are the 8-steps to art marketing mastery, as I see them:

  1. Set Achievable Goals
    • Make them within one’s reach
    • Set high range that is not readily achievable
  2. Realistic Resource Assessment
    • Honestly evaluate what you bring to the table
    • Understand where weaknesses need shoring up
  3. Branding – Self-promotion
    • Create an online & offline identifiable persona
    • Take charge to develop a unified image, message, and perception
  4. Local Marketing / Networking
    • Fully use hometown advantage of built-in contacts and familiarity
    • Realize selling locally is easier and less expensive than long distance
  5. Online Marketing
    • Gain an understanding of all available tools
    • Determine and use those best for the individual artist
  6. Traditional Marketing
    • Gain an understanding of all available tools
    • Determine and use those best for the individual artist
  7. Project Planning / Synergistic Marketing
    • Focus marketing efforts on high-value projects
    • Create overlapping marketing agenda using use all tools to frequently reach targeted audience with consistent messaging
  8. Develop Direct Buying Collectors
    • Research to find who your customers are and how to find them
    • Use customer hunting techniques to associate with and become known to them them

The Basis for the 100 Collector Theory.

The 100 Collector TheoryIn the past few years, the Internet and changing consumer buying habits have rolled over  and drastically altered many industries, including the art business. The changes wrecked the magazine business where I made a living for nearly 30 years. It certainly walloped the art industry and the art gallery business.

Before all these changes, working through galleries was how most artists got their work seen and sold. Yes, there were exceptions, but marketing to collectors was expensive, and collectors were not nearly as open to buying directly from artists as they are now.

There are not enough galleries to go around.

Because they are fewer galleries now, and the remaining ones have less dominance in how art gets sold, I believe it is incumbent upon artists to find ways to sell direct to collectors now. I still believe in working with galleries, just not exclusively to distribute your art.

Fortunately, a couple of things make this more possible. First, the same advancements in tech and the Internet that wrecked my trade magazine business have also made it very affordable and easy for artists to market their work directly to collectors. Secondly, consumers are much more comfortable buying expensive items online than they were in the past. A case in point is that is the largest online diamond retailer in the world.

What Is the 100 Collector Theory?

There is a common belief that an average artist will make 1,000 originals in a lifetime. A believable example is making 33 pieces over a 30-year career. Without question, your mileage will vary. However, that example supports the basis of the 100 Collector Theory.

Because artists can sell direct as never before, I think they can work to build a base of 100 or more collectors over the course of their career. I further contend those collectors can account for as much as one-third, or more, of the artist’s original work.

Art buyers are not the same as art collectors.

There are art buyers and art collectors. The distinction to me is art buyers need art for a one-time purchase to fill an immediate need. Collectors, on the other hand, desire relationships with artists and have the notion they will buy more than one piece of work from those whose work appeals to them.

You learn a lot by watching what people do.

I have observed human nature and buying trends for more than 30 years in sales and marketing. From that experience, I know that when a seller has a warm, long-term relationship with a buyer there is a high probability that the purchaser will recommend the seller without being asked, or with an easy prod to make it happen.

I contend if you amass 100 collectors who like you and your work that among them will be those who have friends and contacts who can assist your career in untold ways. These benefactors may know influential people in museums, galleries, cultural organizations that can use your art. They may know developers who can strongly suggest your work be included in public or private buildings being constructed or remodeled, and those are just some obvious things that could happen.

How to build a buffer against problems you don’t control.

Furthermore, when an artist sells direct to collectors, they give themselves a buffer against the problems that invariably occur when their other distribution channels fail. For example, Facebook might fall from popularity or change its policies that negatively affect you. Galleries are nearly always a tenuous proposition. It is a high-risk business, and only the best stay around for a long time.

Selling direct to collectors is not all artists need to do to get seen and sold. I don’t recommend trying to go that route exclusively. I believe having a mix of direct buying collectors and other distribution channels, including galleries, is the healthiest way to grow and sustain an art career.

A book based on 25+ years advising artists.

It is from my deeply held beliefs that I wrote Guerrilla Marketing for Artists: How 100 Collectors Can Bulletproof your Career. The book details the steps artists should take to set themselves up for long-term career success.

I am aware from my personal experiences that learning from a book and then taking actions on the suggestions put forth in it is difficult. That is, I can read a book and be excited about the ideas I find in it, but then I will fall well short of taking the steps to reach the goal the author had in mind for the readers. It’s human nature.

A path for artists today.

tenacityUnderstanding that translating excitement from reading a book into positive action rarely happens is why I launched the 8-Steps to Art Marketing Mastery Workshop.

I also know it’s human nature that you get more done when you commit to taking action by getting involved in an organized program. Moreover, it is far more likely the action will be taken consistently when one is involved in a group where all the participants are on the same path.

The sum of the parts is greater than the sum of the whole.


In those situations, a group dynamic happens, and the participants gain from the encouragement and knowledge offered by the other members. It becomes a classic example of the idea that the sum of the parts is greater than the sum of the whole.

I began this workshop with the idea of four weekly 90-minute recorded webinars as the foundation of the program. After two weeks, I announced there would be a fifth session added to the agenda. It is because I have realized I have more to offer than I can reasonably put forth in just six hours that the four 90-minute sessions allow. To that end, I am committed to continuing to present as much information as I can that I think will help the participating artists.

Making good on promises.

I don’t believe that delivering more content than originally promised will cause a problem for the workshop attendees. My goal is to provide enough ideas, information and inspiration for all who attend so that they will come away with the confidence, commitment and motivation to make a splendid, rewarding career for themselves. I want them to have a plan of action they can use and refine throughout the rest of their career that will help them meet and exceed all their sensibly set goals.

In some ways, that may be an ambitious goal for me. Nevertheless, it reflects what I expect and hope for from the artists involved. I want them to set goals that are realistically attainable, but also a stretch from just being comfortable.

It is never too late or the wrong time to get started.

The way this program is evolving, there is no bad time to get started. Yes, there is some very slight advantage to asking questions in a live session, but they it is easy to pose them the private Facebook group at any time. Otherwise, all the material is recorded and available on demand anytime. Plus, there is new information, new resources, and other material continuously being added to that which is already available.

There you have it. This is my theory and my beliefs on how visual artists today can take control of their careers. If you grasp the concepts, have a buy-in that they will work for you, you can use what you have learned here as your outline to create your success on your terms.

Go it alone or get some help.

If you want some help with more fleshed out ideas and the support of a community of similarly minded artists and me, you should join the 8-Steps to Art Marketing Mastery Workshop. There are weekly live recorded sessions under way, but it is easy enough to get started now and catch up, or work through the materials at your pace.

At $197 for lifetime access, for most artists, it will cost less than the net profit from selling one original. I am sure the realizations, organization and productivity artists gain will far outweigh the cost to participate. Your small investment today will pay dividends for your art career for as long as you stay in the game.

If you want to register or learn more, CLICK HERE.

Some links in the post may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

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