What do you do when one of your major sources of art income disappears?
I wish I kept track of how often I have heard this story. It goes something like this.
Artist gets a really juicy gig. Maybe they have a wealthy collector who buys tons of their work to outfit all of their offices and homes (because of course they have more than one). Then the collector is done, dies, or disappears.
Or they have one gallery that is selling their work like hotcakes. Until the gallery doors close or the director skips town because of back taxes owed.
Bottom line: The gig dries up. You have placed all of your eggs in one basket and, due to circumstances beyond your control, what was once reliable income is no longer available to you.
This is what happened to artist Leslie Neumann, who by anyone's definition ranks as a successful artist.
She had a sweet deal going with Firebird Restaurants for more than four years. Their purchases of her original paintings accounted for 50-60% of her income during that period.
And then it stopped. But there’s no need to feel sorry for her! As you’ll hear in this episode of the podcast, Leslie rose to meet every challenge. She does, however, have a cautionary tale.
Music by Wildermiss.
In this interview, you will hear about:
- How Leslie got her gig with Firebirds Restaurants in the first place, and how she landed her deal with them from 2014 to 2018.
- Why her time with them came to an end, and a lesson in when there is a change.
- The role of her art consultant, and the pros and cons of them working so closely together.
- What her production schedule looked like while working with Firebirds including payment, deadlines and production.
- How she came to pick the 10-13 same paintings that were used and replicated over 4 years.
- How she survived her deal with Firebirds ending although it was on average 50-60 % of her income.
- The importance of living frugally and debt free.
- The one person show that Leslie put on in June of 2018, which made her a half of a year’s earnings in just one night.
- The mistake that Leslie made, and why she doesn’t want you to make it — stay in touch with your base no matter how busy you are.
- What she re-established that had gotten pushed aside and how she uses her newsletter and social media to stay in touch using her authentic voice.
- Leslie’s strategy in the next year: Playing to her strengths of interfacing with people rather than doing business over the computer screen.
“The production was like a puzzle, and I like that kind of stuff.”
“What was appealing for me is that I got to paint every day.”
“It always works out.”
“Stay in touch with your base.”
“Make the very best art you can and start planning for whatever it is that will provide income next.”
Leslie on Instagram
Firebirds restaurant locations
Interview with Helen Hiebert about multiple income streams
Collector Relationship Essentials – my course that helps you make sure you are staying in touch with the people who are valuable in your life and career
About My Guest
Leslie Neumann has worked as an adjunct professor of studio art and art history at St. John's University and, at one time, built a business selling prints to other dealers, which produced enough capital to fund a livelihood from the sale of her own art. She has been a self-employed, professional artist for 31 years. Her work is in 10 museum and public art collections, 64 corporate collections, and she has been awarded 5 grants and fellowships.
Her advice for being successfully self-employed? “Be ready with good art. Know your concept. Know your craft. Treat your business as a business. Alyson can help you with this.” (Thanks, Leslie!)
Music by Wildermiss.