This grew out of a an email exchange with Barney Davey whose savvy advice on, along with his comment on my “discovery” that I could batch convert in minutes all 166 pages of my latest book, SALES TIPS FOR ARTISTS – What I Learned In 20 Years As An Rep - along with all the text, full color pictures, cartoons, examples of what sold and what didn't, - into a single attractive, readable PDF file and burn it all to an easily mailable CD. This was a real technological “breakthrough” for me, given my rudimentary computer expertise and it was one way I was considering to market, or, perhaps, give away, my book to help artists sell what they create.

Barney, whose cutting edge knowledge on “making it BIG” in the art world, which he shares through his blogs, book, HOW TO PROFIT FROM THE ART PRINT MARKET, and now through seminars and webinars (see his website for exciting details) very gently took a bit of wind out of my “sales,” when he said, ”Friend Richard – CDs are twentieth century technology,” and then added, as he always does, links to more up-to-date information on publishing in today's world than I can possibly absorb.

It came after a frustrating day I was having, but brought what I'll call a “marketing epiphany.”

I had wasted the whole day taking my cable company's non-functioning TV modem into town to be replaced, then talking for hours trying to get it to work properly by following, to the best of my limited ability, their pages of installation and programming directions, probably written by a non-English speaker – all to no avail. 

I finally called our TV installation and repair guy whose shop is around the corner. He came right over, fixed everything, removed the hundreds of new “special on demand channels” we hadn't ordered so that neither my wife, who has some memory problems, nor I could inadvertently go there and never find our way back, which has happened before because one of us pushed the wrong buttons on a TV controller that looks as if it were made to operate a 747. 

The house call cost $95, but compared to the frustration and time lost, was well worth it. I should have called as soon as I was dumped or dropped for the third time by the cable company and going through their endless phone tree each time to reach a live person - in India.

Are you wondering  why I posted the photo at the top of blog?  It was taken in India.  That's where most of the, often very knowledgeable, tech experts we are connected to live and work.   :>)

When the TV was working again, the news was reporting on hundreds of people lining up in advance to buy Apple's I-Phone 5 - “early adapters” who understand and appreciate the wonderful new technological wrinkles. It's a huge market - one I'm not yet part of. But, my art blogging, years ahead, friend, Barney Davey, definitely is.

Here's the epiphany:  As soon as a new product is introduced and creates a new market, it also creates, or adds to, a huge, viable, counter-market. That's why “OLD JOE, HERE” is one of the growing millions who buy a “Jitterbug” - the cellphone for my generation, which wouldn't know, or care, what the latest AP might be. Joe just wants a big, clumsy phone, with oversize buttons he can see easily if he makes a call, and an easy way to talk to someone who will help him understand, in terms he relates to, what to do if he screws up.  

And he'll pay extra for it – just like I did to have my TVs fixed so I can't screw them up.  If you are willing to pay extra for the latest 1954 tecnology, you, too, can own a Harley!

Part of my epiphany is:  just because it's dazzling, new and expensive doesn't make it better. That applies to the art Barney Davey and I write about. During twenty years as an art rep I sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of art many of today's up and coming creators might call “old fashion” - a lot of it that well loved “special” piece they have hanging over the sofa or mantlepiece. A lot of it is still giving pleasure every day to the people who bought it. 

There's a growing market for the “ground-breaking” vision of what “early adapters” consider beautiful. But, just because we all grow older every year, there's also a growing counter-market for what's behind the “cutting edge” - like CDs for people who haven't yet “Kindled.” And plenty more who would rather have a book they can put on the shelf after reading it.

Barney, bringing it all back down to the business of creating, we both love, write and teach about, YOU, ME AND OLD JOE have our differences, but for artists looking for somewhere to sell what they create, it doesn't come down so much to what they create as it does to identifying who is most likely to buy and finding the best way to reach out to them.


I was experiencing “one of those days.” We all have them, and in this technologically challenging time, trying to correct a screw-up with someone in India, for whom English is a second language to the “tech jargon” that got them one of the jobs we shipped overseas isn't always easy. 

My sister, Ruth, put up with my “frustration rant” and returned an email that made mine fade to insignificance. You see, she's in Home Hospice care, dying from bone cancer. We've exchanged emails for decades, through good times and bad, and I've saved every one of them – must be in the high hundreds now, or more. She wrote:

Let me tell you about my frustrating days, while you are waiting for yours to get fixed. I have opted out of the new, radioactive injection for pain. It seems that my wonderfully attentive Hospice cannot pay for the injection. In order to get it, I would have to allow them to take me out of their hospice program, so that Medicare would pay for it, and then re-enroll me as soon as possible. 

However, there would have to be frequent blood tests because the drug potentially reduces the white blood cells, and they would need to be monitored frequently. So, if I am between Hospice care and Medicare, who will pay for that coverage? Will I be in Hospice or in Medicare? Do I want to risk any hang up with the Hospice since they have been such life savers to me? My answer keep coming back as 'cancel the injection.' It doesn't work in all cases anyway, and I can foresee so many problems if I allow them to take me out of one program in order to get Medicare to pay for the expensive medicine. It just doesn't feel good. I'll just stick with the Morphine.”

(Sadly, Ruth has just passed away because of her cancer)
Despite the cancer, Ruth is one of the most joyful people I know. She has a “bucket list,” which is mostly figuring out how, and whom to help, before she passes. Over a lifetime she acquired many beautiful things. Now, between her “meds” she's giving them away. Each of the many gifts she has already given provides her with more pleasure than she had in acquiring it.
At age 81, I have a “bucket list,” too. At the very top of my bucket list, after continuing to live to the best of my ability by the precepts of my Lord and Savior, and remain fit enough to care for the wife I've loved for almost 60 years, is to continue to exchange emails with Ruth for as long as we both are able.
Underneath those important aims, there are a number of others – from sharing or giving my latest book, SALES TIPS FOR ARTISTS, to as many of the creative people who provided beautiful art for me to sell for more than twenty years or to those artists from more than sixty countries who have listened to my free podcasts on on how to sell what they create. 

That sounds like a “business bucket,” doesn't it? It WOULD be nice if it brought in a few welcome dollars in this unstable economy, but if it doesn't, I'll find a convenient way to get it into as many hands that want and feel they might benefit from it as possible.

Below that are some fanciful “maybes,” which will probably never happen, like doing an “elder Bush” parachute jump or a ride in a hot air balloon.

Here's one, I'm pretty sure I can accomplish. I live in Venice, Florida, a lovely place just a short drive from Casey Key on the Gulf and almost eight miles of beautiful road, lined on both sides with spectacular, multimillion dollar mansions. I'll never own one, nor would want to, but they look out over some of God's most beautiful views. There's very limited public access to the white sand beach; just a little at the two extreme ends. Unless you own one of the mansions, or know someone who does, most of that eight mile stretch is very private. 

Because I'm still in good health, one of the things in my “bucket,” when it get's a little cooler, is to walk the entire stretch of beach along the water's edge and look at the views the mansion owners paid millions for.  
I can do that because their private property, by law, only extends to the tide line. West of that, all the way to the horizon, I own it. 

So do you and everyone else. I can sit and drink a cup of coffee looking out at the same scene, Mr. Big Bucks sees when his pretty French maid brings him his coffee in the morning in the finest porcelain cup and saucer. If he's actually out sitting out in his cabana, he may be surprised to see me sitting with my coffee and ask me what I'm doing there.

My guess is, that if we chatted, I'd find he was a pretty nice guy. You don't earn that many dollars by mistreating people. He might even send his French maid to get me a cold drink or freshen-up my coffee.
For years and years, my wife always fixed the coffee and brought it to me. Now our roles, by necessity, are reversed. Sometimes we make it together in the kitchen of the nice little house we own, and she hands it to me in my favorite mug, just like she used to. 

Do you think Mr. Big Bucks' coffee, brought to him by his French maid in the fine porcelain cup tastes any better?

No comments: