Tag Archive for: agent

How to sell your artwork: Know Your Value


Cute English Bulldog in Hat

Charlie is more than a dog. She is constant love and creator of joy.


People ask regularly how I ended up in the arts with my background from rural Minnesota and two engineering degrees. I will spare the details of the journey for another post, but my vocation in the arts is due to my recognition that art is the most valuable creation of humankind. 


Art is hoarded by people in positions of influence across history and frankly, it is what endures from every civilization. As much as we revere science and technology today, they will always be a part of the process, never the destination. 1000 years from today our data and the findings gleaned will make us look like flatearthers and I have no doubt the iPhone 12 will overwhelmingly end up in the heap of refuse.


What is it about art that makes it so valuable?


To the creators, their artwork is an opportunity to be fully seen. Art is the tool we use to express ourselves. It brings the deepest parts of our being into the world. The word on paper, the paint on canvas, the harmony of stroked keys, the movement through space and the images captured on film are the manifestations of our thinking, our feeling and our intuitions. The work we create is the essence of who we are. It allows us to understand ourselves and just as important it allows others to understand us as well.


To other individuals, artwork is an opportunity to also be seen as well as expand the resources that are available to them. An artist allows their audience to say things that they could never put into words themselves. But more powerfully, the artist and their work allows the audience to think, to feel, and to sense the world in ways beyond their own faculties. Artworks allow the audience to gain knowledge, to build new relationships and to navigate the world in new ways. Through art, the audience is able to open up new opportunities.


When the audience becomes more than another individual the artwork is amplified. Society operating with a collective idea, feeling or sensation is a powerful tool for world changing activity. Art is often the catalyst that bends the universe towards love, justice and all the good things we aspire to. And yes, I should note it can also be used for detriment in the wrong hands.


Art has incredible power, for the creator, the audience and society and as such it is incredibly valuable! 


My vocation is to help artists harness the value of their artwork so they can impact the world, and simultaneously help the audience harness the power of art to enrich their own lives and the world around them.



Mental Prowess Part 1: Stop and Think, you don’t have time not to

Post 100 miles and 13,000 feet of climbing

On Sunday September 1st 2019 I got beat up.

It was my fault. A series of decisions, and probably my biology, put me in the position to be in immense pain that day.

I completed the Shenandoah 100, an ultra-endurance backwoods bike race in the mountains of Virginia. The experience was taxing on my body. My quads were quaking, my forearms were on fire, and my body was bruised. Twelve hours of physical exertion is a lot to endure.

I thought I planned my recovery week accordingly. I allowed myself to step out of my rigorous workout routine and planned to refrain from general physical activity. My body rebounded quickly. The following day I was achy but was not debilitated by pain. On the second day, I returned to my bike to commute to meetings and by the fourth day I was back in the gym.

However I had not recovered.

I neglected to consider the mental aspects of regaining normalcy.

I planed to proceed through my typical professional week. I maintained my usual load of meetings, I had a major event on the books, and the calendar had a launch date for a significant project. My mind needed to be incredibly active to accomplish the load.

I unknowingly did not create space to process the experience.

A critical part of endurance athletics, or doing anything hard in life, and quite possibly the true challenge, is the mental aspect. It takes a tremendous amount of will power to push through extreme activity. There comes a point where you are bored of having done the same thing for extended duration of time. You just have to keep going. There comes a point where irritation hits your awareness. You just have to keep going. There comes a point where you feel the pain. You just have to keep going. There comes a point where you ask why am I doing this. You just have to keep going.

To accomplish the big and challenging things in life you have to override your brain.

Mental prowess is developed through such exercises. This self induced trauma creates frameworks to see things differently. This new perspective is where you will find power to leap over personal and professional hurdles.

So what happened on my ride that I needed to get out and what value might doing so provide?

Do I need an agent… or any expert

Last week my accountant emailed me with the out come of our tax return. He suggested that if I move some cash into retirement savings I could reduce my burden by 2x what I am paying him for this year’s service. He has paid for himself with a simple suggestion. It is the second time in as many meetings he has added depth to my knowledge and numbers to my bank account.

He is a valuable resource to have. It is interesting though, that the value of the accountant seems to go up as our net-worth goes up. When there is little to account for there is little opportunity to recoup the cost of counting. Yet, I have utmost confidence that had a professional financial guide been at my side in the beginning we would be in an even better position today.

When resources are scarce one of the hardest things for us to pay for is knowledge. Yet it is precisely knowledge that we need when we have little else to work with. We need to work smarter in tandem with working hard, because often times we are working harder due to lack of efficiency, or rather, lack of knowledge..

The benefit of efficiency is a curious thing, it has drastic impact at the start and overtime it compounds.

One of the most evident signs of our need for knowledge is with our most precious resource: time. When we first start a business, we are constantly busy. We are terrible at time management because we can not assess what is important. Assessment is about awareness. We lack knowledge of the right questions to ask to gather the right information to guide our actions. Is the product more important or finding my audience? Should I work on a partnership or focus on a sale? Is that gig worth it? Furthermore, when we lack time because we are busy, the last thing we prioritize is sitting to think. Thinking seems like doing nothing and how can we afford to DO nothing.

Unfortunately doing nothing is likely one of the most valuable things you could do to not only win back time, but also win the life you want to lead.

If you are unable to think, who will for you?


Confidence is hard to find because it is not something that exists on its own. It is something that has to be developed.

In our early life, confidence comes easy. We do not have any limits because we do not understand the physical boundaries of the universe nor the social constructs of society. And, if we are fortunate we have cheerleaders. We touch hot stoves. We leap off sofas. We work on an ollie repeatedly until we get it. Our parents congratulate our first simple words. Our grandparents push us to try new foods. Our friends egg us on to hit the jump one more time. We push ourselves out of naivete, out curiosity, out of ambition and out of the encouragement of others to mature and get better.

The opportunities are endless in early life. We will become the next Shaun White. We will master the Sommelier’s level four. We will write the next To Kill a Mockingbird. We literally can do anything.

Then something happens.

We learn to fear. We get hard introductions to gravity. We get laughed at for our crude drawings. We get told our writing is not good because of technical conventions. We start to experience the ease of being comfortable and rarely venture beyond the simple tastes we were able to develop in early childhood. We get stuck and our confidence falters.

How much better would our ability become if we got back up after the fall and did it again? How much more refined might our skills become if we pressed on through the practice? How much more nuanced might our taste be if we continued to explore the unknown? How much stronger would we be as a person if we ignored the external and internal critic?

How much further could we have gone if only we had continued to expand our confidence?

Building your Business: Saying NO to Clients

Time is our most valuable resource. Unlike money, we will never be able to produce more of it.

We likely have to think differently about how to find ourselves with more time.

In the early stages of growing a business we particularly feel the limits of time. We are likely the sole employee of our enterprise which means all tasks fall upon us. We are the visionary, the salesmen, the manager and the labor. We also have to do all the admin that has no one to bill for the service other than ourselves when we do not do it. Time is furiously present when deadlines loom yet always absent when rest and play are needed for the entrepreneur.

So what can you do?

The answer is very simple to state, it is actually one word, we need to say NO. But what do you say no to, everything feels eminant. No visionary time no distinction. No sales no revenue. No management no efficiency. No labor no invoices. No admin, no foundation. It is not a matter of saying NO to any of the overarching hats on the whole, it is matter of saying NO to the circumstances encountered while taking on the role.

To win back time, one of the best places to consider saying no is in your SALES. Yes saying no to customers is one of the most important steps in building a flourishing company. Customers dictate not only the pipeline of revenue coming in, but also the time spent creating revenue. If the cost of serving a client exceeds the amount of revenue in, it is hurting your business.

You can be reasonably accurate in determining the revenue that a client might bring in, how many widgets will they buy or how many hours might you bill them determines your top line. The more challenging consideration is what will it cost you to do so.

Here are a few things to assess when consider the cost of serving a client:

Are they competent? Do they do what they say they will do well? If they are unable to add value because of thoughtless work efforts internally or externally they will not be in business long and will not be an account you will receive funds from. You will spend time and see no return.

Competence shows up early in building a relationship. There is a good chance that if someone can not manage their own schedule to show up prepared and on time they probably can not handle scheduling a rigorous project calendar let alone a company trajectory.

Are they able to communicate? There are very few things that are in our control. Circumstance will almost always create situations where things do not go as planned. Not to mention high achieving people will push limits of their ability and mistakes happen. An ability to articulate what will happen, what has happened, and what can be done saves everyone time and just as importantly saves on everyone’s stress account. Remember communication is not only about the words that are said, it is also about the timing and the manner in which they are said.

Communication skills show up early in building a relationship. You certainly have to set up a time to meet. You can recognize when a client abuses a medium. 6 three word emails to schedule a lunch likely means there will be waste when launching a new marketing campaign.

Are they a nice person? You would think that in a rational business the ability of someone to extend empathy to humanity is not important. It is. Humans are not only rational, they are also emotional. This means energy and effort are consumed when emotional experiences are encountered. An email that is egotistically crafted likely causes a mental pause for the recipient that is far longer than the thought required to step down off the pedestal. Mean people cost a business a lot of time and also tax the emotional accounts of others who have to work with them. Besides do you really want your day to be spent with people you do not like.

It takes time for underlying colors of a client to come out. However small interactions say a lot about the character of someone. Thank you is very cheap to say but incredibly costly to forget. Recognizing the dignity in all humans does or does not happen as someone walks down the street. If lunch focuses entirely on the work and life of your table opposite, what might a meeting talking about the collaborative project look like?

Being selective of your customers early on in building your business will serve your accounts well. Saying no to people that will cost your business more than what they bring in will grow your receivables faster than your payables. This is true for your money, your time, and your emotional well being. And all of them will need to grow if you are going to build a flourishing business that you love.

Tracking Resources: Time

I am getting organized. I decided to start tracking my time in 2017. If time is my most valuable resource it is surely important to understand where it is going. It will also be incredibly helpful for determining the value of what I am doing.

In a year of tracking time there have been a few things that gave me pause.

First: There are plenty of hours in a day.

I am only allowing myself to track productive hours and I am being honest about the actual time spent. It is very difficult to exceed 7 hours of meaningful work in a day yet. (This is billable or truly productive hours) I may be too strict with my definition or I may be unrealistic in time spent but I think there is more I could be doing on a daily basis. I need to keep working on completing my three most important tasks everyday. (This will be a future post about priorities.)

Second: Productivity is not always billable, should it be?

In 2017 I had limited hours that are truly billable. I have had even sparser hours that I will recover what I think my billable rate should be. So what is the deal with those hours? I still consider them productive as they are leading to a meaningful payoff in the future.

This is particularly true when it comes to sales. My work in 2016 at a tech startup doing business development further heighten my understand of how relationship is what drives sales. If people do not trust you, what you say is possible is irrelevant. The personal relationship is often what determines trust. There are certainly ways to improve the pace of building trust and I need to focus on that in 2018. I need to be attentive to tracking my “time to close” along with my “closing ratio”, knowing both will help my sales cycle.

The other area I understand as productive but not necessarily paying is infrastructure building or rather working on the operations side of business. I am presently not paid to manage my finances, nor am I paid to develop a time tracking system. However, my work on those operational aspects will pay in the future. I assume efficiency will result which enables me to invest more time in billable hours. I also assume that analysis of these hours relative to my billable hours will determine when it is appropriate to hire staff and what amount of payment they should receive for their work.

Third: Tracking time allows for transparency with clients

Having a record of my time will assist in defining value for clients. As someone who has not tracked time in the past I can attest to how oblivious I am to how long things take.  This is particularly true early on in my own career. I thought a city wide mural project with my skill set and access to resources would take a year, it took five! Unfortunately, I only paid myself for part time work for a year. Yikes! Needless to say folks who do not track their time do not know the real value of their time, nor the value of others.

Fourth: Tracking time allows for better definition of expectations.

Heighten awareness of any data about past events allows for better hypothesies about future events. Knowing how long things take me will enable me to more accurately define my own value in the market place. If I am slower to do something is there more value delivered elsewhere? If I am more efficient does my price reflect that?

Resource tracking is vital to successful business. And although an unseen resource, time is the most valuable resource to a service business. Just as I account for money, it is time to start understanding my time.

A side note on “hustling”

I cringe when someone refers to spending their time “hustling”. For a while I had an aversion to people who describe themselves as overly busy. They are one in the same thing. Hustling and busy are the result of a lack of plan and awareness of what is truly productive. I find when I am “busy” I am working on many things because I do not know what I  want. I have not decided what my goals are and without a destination I am trying to get everywhere, which is physically, emotionally, and relationally not possible. It is not human to be able to do it all, it is just arrogance to even try!

Taking the Next Step

I have been saying that a lot to folks lately. It is time for my own.


Excellence: the quality of being outstanding or extremely good

This past weekend Jenn and I traveled to Asbury Park New Jersey. The Jersey shore was felt but not truly experienced which makes for great, yet pleasant, people watching. My quick note on Asbury Park, they are doing boutiques right. What separates a boutique from a small shop is awareness of audience. You can carry highly curated and high margin goods but you have to be aware of your niche market. The beauty of Asbury is the easy vacation destination of a monied population with Brooklyn style, and the shop owners know it!

Beach trips are about reading in the sun whilst smelling tanning lotion and absorbing the beyond time notion of the ocean. You have to work to not be contemplative. I was prepared to spend my time exploring the images of Christ through History and the initial espousers of existential philosophy. Instead I got worked out by crossfit. No, I did not do WOD after WOD but rather discovered Ben Bergeron’s (he is the smiley man atop this post) book Chasing Excellence.  (Thanks to Jamie Gasiorowski co-flaneurer, and my Beatrice of Crossfit)

The book was meh on writing, but the content was on point. It left me questioning myself and my processes. Of course I wish I was in the running for fittest human on the planet; but my age, and likely my genetics, will hinder that pursuit. I found myself exploring excellence in my work. 

What does it mean to be an excellent agent?

As I am reading a coach talk about making excellent athletes, I realize my role as an agent is to make excellent artists. To be an excellent agent is to excel at making excellent artists.

So what makes an artists excellent?

That is a big question!

There is a lot of debate about what art is, so to define what makes an excellent artist is yet another level. As an agent, my definition of art and therefore an artist is what I hang my shingle on, and what will seperate me from others in the field.

In my mind (and as of today) to be an excellent artists is several fold:

Mastery of a medium

Unending supply of ideas

Ability to communicate in words

There is likely universal acceptance that mastery of a medium is part of the definition of an excellent artist. For even the non-art-scholar their is respect and appreciation for the ability to do things with a medium that others cannot. The technical prowess and the craftsmanship of an artist is likely what first separates them from the mere mortals of communication. An artist can make a canvas say things that other people are unable to make the blank page say. The ability to manipulate a medium is also important because it allows ideas to be put into action.

But where do the ideas come from?

When we speak of creativity, we are talking about the appearance of ideas out of seemingly nowhere. Observations, connections and unexpected mash ups are the essence that puts art beyond the category of craftsmanship. An excellent artist can readily chat you up on concrete scientific knowledge or delve into the current political state of society or certainly explore the cultural phenomenon dejur. Artists are not only aware but have given thought to the world.

There are geniuses out there who have mastery of a medium and a never ending supply of ideas that can whip reality into alignment by the mere act of bringing something into existence that did not exist before. However genius is hard to come by, just as the perfectly proportioned body for ultra fitness is elusive to the majority. What most artist also require to be excellent is an ability to communicate through words. Yes, they must master a second medium. An artist certainly does not have to, nor should they, define the meaning of their work, but they must be able to provide the context of the matter for it to transcend from object to subject. An excellent artist must be articulate either in spoken word, or written, to enable ALL audiences to find meaning in their work.

Now, if only I had a concept for a gym to equip an artist to work on the traits of excellence.