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Hesitant to execute until I feel there's a market - feedback needed

Discussion in 'Ideas, Needs, Concept Feedback' started by AndyW, Jan 27, 2019.

  1. AndyW
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    AndyW New Contributor

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    Background: So I'm an artist and have worked for several years trying to get some job security in the entertainment industry. I posted in here in 2015 in quite a desperate state. There's been a slight shift but overall I'm in a station where I'm facing a saturated job market and need an escape plan.

    So I started a side hustle that so far as yielded $0. But to be fair, I haven't properly started, just made a web site and put the feelers out. See I did some fan art that went viral just about everywhere I posted it. And people were asking for prints. So I thought I need to start a web site dedicated to that theme and make it a business.

    Goal: My goal is to be able to generate an annual low six figures from this business (I know of a few business savvy artists that have done this but they're at the top of their game) but to have the POTENTIAL to grow to more than that. That's key. I don't want a firm and low ceiling.

    Basic premise of business: I made a site. It sells a few prints based on 80s nostalgia (cartoons, movies, all the favs of that generation). I know that earning an income form online prints alone is a terrible idea, so I can boost this with going to conventions. But I want to expand into as many areas of 80s nostalgia as possible (clothing, collectible toys etc). The idea being that it's a place for those who miss their childhood to get a piece of it back.

    Question/problem: I know one of the core principles of building a sizable income is to solve a problem that everyone has and so I wonder just how popular this idea can be - can I only sell to those who were kids in the 80s? how big is my market? Does it sound too niche? and whether it does or doesn't, (and here's my main reason for posting) is there a way to make it bigger and keep it scaling so it appeals to more people?

    Ideas please!
     
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  2. rogainer
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    rogainer Health is Wealth FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Have you researched on trademarks/copyrights of the work you want to reproduce?
     
  3. AndyW
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    AndyW New Contributor

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    Not quite, I've researched the... how can I say... culture of making fan art and (I hope this doesn't come across as naive) basically, if you're changing the art and you're not mass-producing it, you can get away with it, and many do. So I should mention that I would plan (have to) to scale that kind of product back in proportion to growth and start trying to get official licenses. Therein lies another issue, I've heard it's incredibly expensive to get official licenses. So perhaps it could be that I shift from known IPs to my own.
     
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  4. amp0193
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    amp0193 Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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  5. AgainstAllOdds
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    AgainstAllOdds Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Quick summary on the art market:

    Supply outweighs demand. If your goal is to make a significant income from this, the probability is that you won't. The majority of artists fail financially. There's too many of them.

    A good parallel would be male pornstars. There's definitely a few that make money, but the vast majority make nothing and fail to ever catch on.

    One of my strong beliefs is that the best economic approach for an artist is the same as Jeff Koons': Jeff Koons - Wikipedia. Read his bio.

    Basically, he realized that it was better to accumulate wealth first via Wall Street and then return to art full-time than it was to start as an artist and commit to that singular path. Now he's America's richest artist and the second richest in the world.
     
  6. AndyW
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    Thanks for the suggestion. Here's what I'll come back with. I'm not really aiming at the art market, I'm aiming at the nostalgia market, specifically 80s. As I'll eventually be aiming to sell apparel and other items.

    Art wise, unless you've been in this industry I'd be careful on judging how lucrative it is. The average salary for an artist in the games industry is 70k in the US, and that goes to 100k for senior roles and more than that for Art Director roles. Artists in the entertainment industry who get a following from the community will then sell tutorials and courses via patreon etc. and can take in an extra 2-4k per month if they're popular. Some then go on to sell assets and products. So it's an outdated misconception that artists are all doomed to starve. Yes, if you're just trying to sell paintings, quite probably. I'd be in the running for the former scenario if I'd started earlier, hell, I might still be if I can just stop falling off the career ladder but I don't want to risk it, hence wanting to start my own thing. And in terms of supply and demand, you can't tell me there's a dearth of online-marketing and similar producers. Many markets we could think of are heavy on supply.

    But yeah, back to my main point, it's about a nostalgia products model and where I could take that really.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2019
  7. Kid
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    Kid Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Off topic - create school for artists.

    On topic - make sure your domain name/business name is general enough to allow
    for change from nostalgia to other niches.
     
  8. AndyW
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    Hmm, my domain is VHS Slime. So not too sure. But that is a good point.
     
  9. AgainstAllOdds
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    AgainstAllOdds Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Your post is filled with parallels for "why this will work" while overlooking what you're offering.

    Is that what you're offering?

    Quick answer: No.

    There's no correlation between you and games industry artists.

    So you're telling me the top guys that marketed themselves enough and are talented enough make $24-48k a year plus salary? That's like saying "...But Lebron James make $30,000,000 a year, so I can make that too playing basketball if I just try; the potential is endless."

    They're not all doomed, but economically it's not as profitable a pursuit as other ventures.

    Online marketers are revenue producing, you're not.

    You're not competing for "business dollars", you're competing for the disposable income that's left over.

    This captures the industry perfectly. You capture the state of the market in your first post, but then lie to yourself later on about why it's the opposite...

    ...And this is the biggest pitfall in your plan.

    You're building a business around someone else's IP. Your entire potential upside is built on someone else's product and generosity. You're relying on them not to send you a cease and desist and destroy your "business" overnight.



    Look, I'm not trying to be an a**hole. My only point is that it's easier to make money outside of art, and then to use that in order to create profitable art at a scale that makes sense.

    Later this year I intend to release my first sculpture. The piece is running me over $10k to make. The reason that I can do that is because I followed the Jeff Koons career approach to artwork.

    Your approach can work, and I hope it does for you, but I would bet on failure being a lot more likely than success. My apologies is this post is too harsh - I'll see myself out of this thread... just wanted to highlight some of the pitfalls in your thinking so that you can adjust accordingly.
     
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  10. Suzanne Bazemore
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    Suzanne Bazemore Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    This suggestion is similar to MJ's thoughts about writing: if you're Fastlane first, then you can write whatever you want, because your income won't depend on selling it. Of course, people make it writing anyway without doing that, but it is a really good point.
     
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  11. AndyW
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    @AgainstAllOdds

    No, you make fair points. I think I was just trying to say that it's a misconception that you're screwed if you want to do art. That was my main thrust. But then maybe you weren't necessarily saying that.

    I do know how foolish it seems to count on fan art, and I wouldn't just do that blindly. But it's a topic that's been well covered in the industry and it is a grey area that can be utilized to build upon. Lots of artists do it as a springboard to get noticed. And so my logic was to start off doing that and transition depending on scale. If it didn't scale, then it would still run itself passively as a side-income, and I could then pivot.

    I think my issue might be that I don't think I'd have the energy to put my whole heart and soul into something that wasn't artistic/involved in the entertainment industry in some way. I know the pictures I make, and the branding/visuals I make, generate funding. I recently worked for a startup where we did pitches for video game ideas and my work got the attention of Wayne Gretzky and some folks at Mattel. A few successful images could lead to big money. So there's gotta be something in there. I'm just very inexperienced with biz dev in order to know exactly what to do, and my brain doesn't snap into gear like that. I just don't see the Matrix like they/you guys do. But art I know.
     
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  12. minivanman
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    minivanman Platinum Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Not to go off topic, but, can we see the sculpture when you are finished with it? Our curator friend loves sculptures and statues.

    It would be fun to see some of your work too AndyW........ IF y'all want to share. If you don't, I totally understand. :)
     
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  13. AndyW
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    AndyW New Contributor

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    Sure thing, just google VHS Slime and there's a few samples there. And there's links to my social media.
     
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  14. minivanman
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    minivanman Platinum Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Excellent art.... website really sucks though. Let's say you were giving away your art, with that website, I'm not sure anyone would let you give it to them. It reminds me of 2003. Yes, you are selling nostalgia but the website needs to look fresh and new, not old and neglected. Now this right here is what most Weebly sites look like and why they fail. But this is a great thing.... we have figured out you need a new website if you are going to sell anything.
     
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  15. maikooo
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    maikooo Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    Hey there, few tips

    1. Conventions - build awareness and network - as many/often as possible - not artistic conventions, but rather role plays, dress ups, 80s, even 80s music concerts ... basically, where the buyers go ... you don't want to sell to other artists, that's not profitable ... unless you sell online courses and workshops to them
    2. Get on Inprnt, RedBubble, Society6 and make sh*t ton of merch from this - people don't buy only prints anymore, they want stickers, pins, etc etc. Be creative and think of what 80s kids were wearing, using, etc ...
    3. Instagram - do it right and grow your following/fans so they can find you and purchase - again, focus on buyers, not other artists
    4. Your website could be better from offer point of view and "why should I buy from you". If it's 80s nostalgia, make it look like 80s (obviously with modern UX practice) and convince me why I should buy from you ...
    5. IPs - be careful, they tolerate it, but aren't dumb. Conventions are full of artists selling fan art, but there are limits. Artists buy from other artists but not in 6 figures. If you go after buyers, then you may strike gold, but then you have an issue with IP owners ...

    Wish you success!
     
  16. Johnny boy
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    Johnny boy Gold Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    All business works the same way. You solve a problem/fulfil a need/do something for someone. That “someone” is your audience and the problem you solve, the need you fulfill or the thing you do is the transaction that makes you money.

    The essense of business is just
    1. Monetizing
    2. An audience

    You do this by
    1. Getting attention
    2. Completing a transaction

    That’s business. Period. They all have their problems and sticking points, but it’s about those two things.

    You’re about 80’s nostalgia? Perfect.

    Blog about 80’s nostalgia.
    Start a podcast about the 80’s.
    Tweet, insta, Facebook about the 80’s.
    Bring on other closely related influencers to your podcast and YouTube show. Any other 80’s nostalgia people? Start there. Work your way outwards.
    Cut up the content and edit it. It’s about 1 thing: engagement. Engagement and offering value is the way to get attention today.

    Think of the world in terms of “audiences”.

    I have a lawn care company in Washington state.

    My audience isn’t “people who like lawn care” It’s “pretty much everyone in my town”.

    So that’s my audience. I make content for “people in my town” and very little is about my business. I’m having a printing company on my podcast pretty soon. Totally unrelated to lawn care, but people will see it and follow me and I’ll get local people to sign up. That’s how it works.

    Your audience isn’t a location, it’s very simple and straightforward. It’s 80’s nostalgia. People who buy that stuff have an interest in it and will consume content about it. They’ll search about it or see it on Instagram and follow.

    Only after you get their attention do you monetize it.

    Post post post all day every day. Always be networking with people with similar interests and businesses. You aren’t competing with another 80’s nostalgia store, you’re both fighting against people’s lack of attention span for your niche. You’re teammates.

    Build the site, build the social platforms, write down who your audience is and what you’ll do for them, spend all of your time building an audience that cares and offer tons of awesome free content and entertainment to them, be creative and then sell something to them that they’ll love.
     
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  17. Mainstream7
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    Mainstream7 Beauty is Truth

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    Artists are F*cked. They love art too much to pursue entrepreneurship full-time. Tell Van Gogh to give up art and start a cleaning business. He will probably cut your ear.

    The survivorship bias in the ent. Industry is real. Followers are consumers not producers.....

    To be on topic, your site is pretty cool. It seems niche, but it reminds me of these miniature and also board game producers.
    Its hard to build a business only built on prints, but eventually you could scale out.
    Maybe you want to become a PUBLISHER.
    Your first sale is important so think about ways to drive traffic without being too salesy

    Ultimately your success depends on YOU and your commitment.

    If you arent committed you will fail. You will also fail if you dont have a positive feedback loop or cant find a market. Thats YOUR task.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2019

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