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Am I in the right business? Perspective from an Artist

Discussion in 'Business Models, Niches, Industries' started by jdcorwin, Aug 15, 2018.

  1. jdcorwin
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    jdcorwin New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    I recently finished reading The Millionaire Fastlane and it confirmed prior thoughts I had toward my business. First of all, The Millionaire Fastlane is an incredible book! I have read dozens of other financial/self-help book and they come no where near the content delivered in The Millionaire Fastlane. Most times I would read a book that makes me feel inspired, but failed to understand how to get from A to B. The Millionaire Fastlane provides an excellent foundation, roadmap and guide to achieving your business and financial goals.

    Having said that, I felt not only inspired, but also lost in my roadmap and perhaps I can have some insight and feedback? Here is a bit of what I am struggling with...

    I am a professional wildlife artist and have established myself as a widely collected artist at a very young age. My artwork is collected nationally and internationally as I participate in prestigious exhibitions and auctions throughout the year. My artwork has taken me around the world to exotic locations for photography and ideas. Pretty cool right? Wait...

    For as long as I know I have been interested in entrepreneurship, proclaiming to my family that I will never work for anyone but myself. So far I have been able to create income for myself. Art became the vehicle I leveraged when I was 18. I live in Montana and create paintings every day! Along with my business are art kits, an art business course, licensed images and limited edition print series.

    My business violates the Command of Time. I have control of my business, and even though anyone can be an artist (easy entry), I feel I am exceptional at what I do, however, I am trading my time for money... and I have little free time anymore. Unfortunately I can't hire people to paint my paintings.

    I feel stuck because I don't believe there is a great need for what I do. I do believe I provide value and touch those who do buy my artwork, but obviously sales are never guaranteed in a timely manner, no matter how good the painting is. The right person has to see it, have wall space for it and the budget. And I am competing among many other talented artists for that sale.

    Fortunately I can scale, but not quickly. Artists build brands and recognition over time through consistent sales, rewards and demand. I wish I could sell my paintings for $100k but it takes a long time to reach that point and often after I am dead, sadly.

    The question I keep asking myself is, am I in the right business? Or would this be a great hobby in my early retirement? Right now my sales are consistently breaking over 6 figures every year, so I am profitable!

    I have introduced other extensions of my business to help feed the income streams such as an art business course, limited edition prints, art kits, and licensed images. But nothing truly substantial amounts from these. And worse... they aren't consistent revenue streams.

    Should I be looking for a new business that can move me into the Fastlane? Or stick with this one and continue to grow the brand? The passion for art has left... which is consequence explained in the book for doing what you love as a career.

    www.jamescorwin.com is my website so you can get an idea of the type of painting I do.

    I suppose I feel lost because I am already burnt out of painting every day at age 27.... knowing every new painting I do is an opportunity for another sale. But I don't want to just paint for the next 60 years with fingers crossed it will sell.

    Thoughts?

    Thanks,
    James
     
  2. levijean
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    levijean Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Who in your line of work has accomplished what you hope to and how have they done it?
     
  3. jdcorwin
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    jdcorwin New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    There are several artists who have achieved great wealth and fame with the realistic painting style (artists like Wyland, Kinkade, Bob Ross, etc..) But many more in the contemporary abstract genre, and that I believe is even more difficult to break into because how to do you convince someone to spend $300k on splatter paint?

    I know several of these artists had gallery chains/franchises. But many of those galleries have closed their doors in recent time. It is super challenging to keep an art gallery afloat. I have my art in galleries around the country. While I give away 50% of the sale price, I don't have to manage any.

    I know many of these artists captured massive attention which is why they become a household name. Wyland with his lifesize painting walls... Bob Ross on PBS... Kinkade mass produced and printed on every household object...

    So it certainly is possible... I just don't want it to take a lifetime... It still doesn't seem like a Fastlane to me.
     
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  4. rollerskates
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    rollerskates Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Your work is wonderful! And it's easy to be an artist, but not a successful one, so major kudos on your accomplishments thus far. Have you thought about writing a book on how to paint wildlife? And I know you offer a tutorial with your kit, but what about general painting courses that people could purchase? I saw some PDF booklets for sale on Etsy that were art instruction courses and they seem to sell well.

    The other thing is, have you thought about thinking of your painting that brings in the better income as something that can fund some other fast lane venture that's not art? Or having it help you get your investments to where you want them to be?

    And lastly, I'm not sure how much you license, but you might think about expanding that, because that might help.
     
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  5. Get Right
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    Get Right Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    Maybe it's time for a pivot. It worked for me.

    I was a burned out architect that pivoted to a real estate developer.
     
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  6. DamienDee
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    DamienDee Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Hey Levijean,

    First up, I should say - I've never heard of an artist getting quick fame/success except in very rare and exceedingly luck related circumstances. That doesn't mean it's not possible for you, just that there isn't a path you can look to to mimic, and it could be tricky.

    BUT, this would be my advice to you. Or rather this is what I'd do were I in your shoes.

    I'd Pivot where my money comes from, and stop trying ot derive an in come from painting sales. It will make you hate painting and you will turn out worse work over time, of that I'm sure.

    So here are some thoughts based on your area of expertise:

    1) Can you rent out your paintings rather than sell them? Think Interior decorators, real estate agents etc. If you found the right markets for painting hire, then you could potentially start a more passive stream happening.

    2) Could you open a painting studio - In Australia a number of places have done really well where you go with a group of friends, you get champaign ro wine and you get a canvas to paint for a few hours - They arrange different themes on different days/nights - They have kids times, so parents can take their kids paining etc.

    3) Could you develop a series of online videos that teach people how to become better painters?


    Maybe all of those ideas are terrible, as I admitted, I really don't know your industry too well. But I don't think I'd advise anyone to be in teh busienss where they are the sole expert.

    BUT I'm willing to bet my left kidney, that there are opportunities in the art world. Look around, ask yourself 'what's FRUSTRATING to people who want access to art?" "What's frustrating for artists?" "What prevents artists from getting access to buyers? What prevents them from getting seen?"

    Then test the new idea, while you paint on the side.

    It's hard beause I also believe artisans of all types are undervalued in our current society and that's difficult for you becauase it's easy to feel under-valued for the soul you put into your work.

    But from a business persepctive you trying to paint to make money is no different than an accountant trying to make money by getting more clients - IT just creates higher and higher work load, an ddefinitely isn't fast lane (or healthy for one's sanity)
     
  7. Real Deal Denver
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    Real Deal Denver Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Wow James - your talent overflows. Your painting skills are stunning.

    I am somewhat of an artist myself, and definitely an art lover. When my wife and I take cruises, we attend their art auctions, which are always fun. On our last cruise we bought a beautiful set, done by Peter Nixon. He was an artist we were not familiar with, but his style resonates across the spectrum of all art lovers. Which brings me to my next point...

    My first suggestion to you would be to make your work less "static." Although it is of high quality, it is, well, dull. Before I buy art, I ask myself, could I enjoy looking at this every day? Your Kudu picture, for a prime example, is - no, absolutely not. No question you have the talent part mastered, but your pictures do not stir emotions, or tell a story. As an example, instead of a lion staring head on to the viewer, how about a lion leaping in mid flight? Same subject - vastly different levels of engagement with the viewer. You have reached the summit of talent - now concentrate on delivering the excitement in the message!

    Okay - enough of that. We do own canvas prints of Thomas Kinkade also. I never tire of looking at them. One artist that I did not like at first is Peter Max. It takes a long time for this work to sink in and be appreciated. But, surprisingly enough, I really do like his work now. Same with Romero Britto. Once he gets through my initial wall of rejection, his work gets better every time I view it. He has done themes on entire cruise ships.

    Why do I say all of this? It's certainly in no way intended to disparage you in any way. I want you to look at these artists and experience how their paintings engage your brain. A rhino staring at me is, well, not engaging at all. Interesting for a few moments as I admire your skill - but no emotional connection taking place. Sorry. As an artist myself, I very much like to hear critique, so I can evolve. Your work, no slight intended, could be at least ten times more interesting.

    Fun fact - I also have studied Bob Ross. Did you know he was never paid for his TV program? Not a dime. He became ultra successful from his kits and courses. His paintings today are highly sought after and command super premium prices. Hard to believe, since he put so little work into them - but he appeals to what people like. If, for example, he would have painted classic cars, and as good as he was, still - boring with a capital B! See my point?

    So... my suggestion. You need an identity. I think with your talent you could compete with Peter Max, or anyone else for that matter. You need a "hook" that captures the viewer. Classic cars, buildings, and animals staring blankly at the viewer are on the bottom of the list. Sorry - again!

    The reason this post is long is because right now I am in the process of creating commercial artwork myself to mass market. I am steering away from the "masterpiece" type of work, and heading headlong into the "this will sell to mass markets" type of appeal. In a word - cool. My work in development is not to show off my level of talent, but to push buttons with consumers. And I'm not only going to push buttons, I'm going to SLAM those buttons hard. I want everyone that sees my work to say - wow, that is really cool. My goal is for them to buy it - if not for themselves, someone they are close to - "Jimmy would LOVE this design." Like Kinkade, I am in it for THE MONEY. Sure it's nice to have talent and vision, but money is the measure of success I'm after. I don't want anyone to be a "fan" and I don't want to be "noticed" in any way. Just buy my stuff! I think I can pull that off, as I have a lot of years under my belt in having the skills to do this, as well as knowing what gets attention.

    You can do the same thing. I once trained under a painter that won the duck stamp award, Charles Pearson. He was a perfectionist, much like yourself, and his work was stunning. But, it was ducks. Okay - great - ducks. How many people are going to get excited to see a loon sitting stationary on a lake? (that's one I vividly remember) Not too many. But he did it because he truly admired the beauty of birds. I wish I had his talent, because his talent added to my pizz-azz, could turn out some outstanding work!

    I think you have a great opportunity to do extremely well in your field. You could be recognized among the modern masters. If I were you, I'd go for something along the lines of Frederic Remington bronze statues - for starters. Google that! They are highly sought after pieces that are ALL exciting. They all convey an intense snapshot in time of something that stops people in their tracks. Nobody walks by one of these pieces without stopping to admire it! You can do that, even better I would guess, because you could infuse intense color to get an even greater "reach out and grab you" effect!

    Okay - I've done my job. I've given you the good and the bad. And I've opened the door that can take to you higher levels. Remember me at your showings! I want a hand signed canvas print of your work! And even better - like Stan Lee does with his Marvel action movies (Spiderman, Thor, etc.) - he gets a cameo scene in every movie! Would it be asking tooooo much to include me in one of your paintings? Hey - I'd be immortal! Hundreds of years from now, someone somewhere will be looking at that painting and be saying - "why do you think this great artist chose to have this ugly guy in his painting?"
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018
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  8. jdcorwin
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    Thank you!! Yeah I know my art course can certainly be made into a book... all the content is written down. I just need a good editor. But I haven't considered a book on how to paint wildlife. The kits do offer video tutorials and I can always do advanced versions for those already skilled in painting.

    Yes, I have been saving as much of my income as I can for investments. I would like to acquire multi-family real estate. The problem is I need at least $400k to leverage for any of the investments to be worthwhile. Buying a $300k house with 25% down to rent out is hardly enough monthly income to get excited about. But 8% from $1.6 million is.

    My goal is to have recurring revenue streams that I can rely on so that I can paint freely without worrying about selling.

    I hold on to the licensing of my images for my limited edition prints... though I could license more. I need to find some good companies because ones I have worked with in the past have literally sent me checks for $0.10 per quarter. LOL.
     
  9. jdcorwin
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    jdcorwin New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    I LOVE the idea of real estate development. How did it work out for you? I have talked to some multimillionaires who said it was the wost financial decision in their repertoire... while I see so many others making millions doing so....
     
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  10. minivanman
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    minivanman Platinum Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Good ol' Bob Ross, I think we all watched him back in the day. My wife works at a very well known museum and loves it. She says she might retire for 3 months at some point but then she would probably go back. lol Have you thought about Youtube?
     
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  11. jdcorwin
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    jdcorwin New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Working in a museum would be nice at times. It can get very lonely painting and I love being around people and engaging in conversation. To be honest, I have never really given Youtube a try... I suppose I don't know exactly what I would post. Videos of me painting and tutorials I guess. It could be an excellent tool to build an audience... but for me it is like Instagram... I could put all the time into building my following, but are they really going to convert into buyers, or are they just there to look at pretty art? In the end, I want to make sales, and if there is great opportunity to profit from Youtube, I would love to learn and hear ideas!
     
  12. minivanman
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    minivanman Platinum Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Just remember, those who want a guarantee they will make money is called an employee.

    Any Youtubers here that can answer his questions? If not, it looks like a perfect time to put Google to use.

    If you do decide to make Youtube videos, let us know so we can subscribe.
     
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  13. Fotis
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    Fotis Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    You can always leverage some good old information marketing for your niche. It probably isn't saturated like the Holy Trinity of niches (make money, lose weight, get laid) so it might be even more effective for you.

    It can go something like this:

    1) Book on wildlife painting (this will also position you as an author and might open up speaking gigs)

    2) Video course on wildlife painting

    3) 4 to 1 people seminars on wildlife painting

    4) 1 to 1 coaching

    This will give you a nice side income and, who knows, it might allow you to paint less while saving you time. Plus, if there are some good students in the classes, you can hire them as teachers, and only show yourself in the 1 to 1 coaching choice.

    Let me continue by saying that I'm the target market for the above products. I've tried multiple times in the past to draw (I'm one of the guys who can't even draw a round circle) and couldn't find a decent book. I ended up finding one, but with biz and life I still haven't found time to fully immerse myself in it (and it stings because even at lesson one I was excited with what I learned)

    But I was disappointed when I found out that after the book there was...nothing. No extra books, no video courses, no new ideas to try - nothing. This is a frustration that I, and probably other's who can't draw to save their life, have.

    Hope it helps and welcome to the forum ;)
     
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  14. jdcorwin
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    jdcorwin New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Thank you for your feedback!! I am always searching for new ideas and needs that I can fulfill... often within the realm of art, but certainly open to anything I can do outside art.

    To address your ideas...

    1) I have often considered renting paintings or even leasing artwork... this would be a great opportunity for people to enjoy artwork in their home without the expensive price of buying it... Like an expensive car. The major hangup I have with this though are the shipping costs... It can be very expensive to ship original artwork both ways because it often needs to be crated and it is very heavy. So who pays the lofty shipping costs? It would be easier if it was local, but I want to scale so that someone across the country who wants to hang my art in their home can afford to do so at a monthly rental price... I could even set it up as rent to own. Do you have more ideas on this?

    2) I do already have a painting studio. I teach classes like this where I take people through completing a painting in 2 hours with wine and food. I also teach these classes at top resorts around the country. It is great money! But again there is only one of me... perhaps there is a way I can train people to teach the way I do and then i would be able to do several a night.

    3) I have recently created season 1 of my art instruction videos. They take you step-by-step through the completion of a painting in 2 hours. I have made 15 professional videos. They will be available for rent on my website soon!

    I think the key is to find ways to share my art and knowledge without using up more of my time. I feel like I am doing well at coming up with ideas... the problem is getting it seen. Like the Art Business Course for example. That is SO valuable and there are very few, if any, courses out there teaching artists how to start, build and grow a successful art career. However, the artist audience is low to begin with and it seems near impossible to convince them to spend any money... I know this because I have been there, hanging on so tightly to my wallet, because I am barely getting by so no way would I spend $12 on a course... even though I know it could make me so much more. It's hilarious. I have reached out to so money artists and they just don't want to part with their money. Or they think they know it all already and let me know they don't need any help. I look at their website and marketing and I can see there is so much they aren't doing.
     
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  15. Merging Left
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    Merging Left Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    I think that any extreme wealth you get from your paintings will need to come from scale. That's how Kinkade did it. I'm not sure wildlife paintings will generate the kind of cult following that other super-successful artists find.

    Anyway, on to scale. How do you get your pictures into Target or Walmart? What about licensing your images to Stock photo websites like Shutterstock?

    I see that you sell posters and limited edition prints. Do you sell canvas prints? With the quality of your paintings, you could license post cards to national parks and zoos as well.

    You could create a range of images under a pseudonym so as to not dilute the value of your current prints.

    I think your ticket to capitalizing on your artwork is by increasing the number of people who buy your art - not necessarily by making more and more and more art. You need to increase your exposure.
     
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  16. jdcorwin
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    Thank you for your feedback! Art is of course subjective and what may appeal to some people will not for others. It is difficult to make everyone happy and like your art. While you don't see the emotion from my work, others do. And it is quite funny actually, because I am often regarded as the wildlife artist who actually infuses emotion and a story into his work. My paintings bring people to tears all the time at my shows. Also if you were to read the story behind each painting that I have on my website you would understand it more emotionally. Every painting has a purpose. For example the rhino staring out at you may seem static and boring... but if you read the story about that rhino and how it was poached may be a completing different experience next time you see it!

    Anyway I understand your criticism and while my art may not be to your interest, I do enjoy what I paint and every painting starts with a story and emotional experience I want to draw out of my viewer.

    I think there will always be a market for wildlife art because it is relatable. I am afraid the brightly colored animal art will fade out with time. While it is colorful and decorative now, I doubt it can stand the test of time and be regarding as "great" art.
     
  17. jdcorwin
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    These are great ideas! Thank you! Have you checked out my art instruction kits? They be something that can help you with new ideas to try!!

    Online Painting Classes - Fine Art Kits
     
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  18. Real Deal Denver
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    Real Deal Denver Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Of course, I agree with everything you say.

    In trying to make my point, I could not find what I would consider a great painting of a lion that invoked excitement. There is a huge void of exciting lion artwork, so you can add that to your list of ideas to pursue. The main style of painting is of a lion - wait for it - staring directly and blankly at the viewer. Seems to be the overriding theme of what people think a lion painting should be, I guess.

    What I did find, which exaggerates the extremes of art, I have pasted below. One of these I like so much I think I will be buying it. One of them makes me gag and I would burn it before it would be hung anywhere in my home. I don't want to point fingers. Judge for yourself; everyone has their own taste. But here you go - art that stretches across all styles, and is of a fairly simple subject: a lion.

    The point I am illustrating here is some of the art has power to trigger intense emotions - the others... meh.

    Lion Dull.JPG Lion Poor Quality.JPG

    Lion Stupid.JPG Lion Style Lounging.JPG Lion Color.JPG
     
  19. Xeon
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    Xeon All Cars Kneel Before Pagani. Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Have you tried this book called "Drawing from the Right Side of your brain" by Betty Edwards? After that, "Keys to Drawing" is a good follow-up.

    Also, random thought to OP, one area which I find lacking in online / long-distance art education currently is lack of work reviews by the teacher/instructor.

    I used to buy a lot of these courses and DVDs on drawing, but there never was one where I could submit my work to the instructor for critique. The most I found was those where you post online and let fellow students review and post comments which is not useful, tbh. There's probably a few out there, but the costs are so high I might as well go to an art school lol.

    One can read all the books and paint a thousand times, but with a trained instructor to correct and guide him/her (the critique doesn't even need to be detailed), they can rectify their issues and progress a whole lot faster.

    Check out this guy Darrel Tank: https://www.fivepencilmethod.com
    He built a brand around himself, uses his art knowledge to write helpful articles for his blog to draw in potential students (he also has a youtube channel), he showcases all his happy students on his homepage.
    He monetizes this by selling DVDs (check out his online shop), events and most likely also conduct physical classes. Heck, he can also sell his own branded, private label art kits! Not easy to pull off IMO.

    His target market, unless I'm wrong, are mostly people who want to draw/interest in art/want to take up a part-time hobby/sunday painter types, not the ones who want to go into commercial art (e.g: concept artists)
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
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  20. jdcorwin
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    jdcorwin New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    He has a great business model... some ideas I could take from there. I already have my own branded, private label art kits! But definitely need to get on the Youtube train.
     

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