In this Plein Air Podcast, the tables are turned as Jeff Olson, the Art Education Director for Royal Talens, interviews Eric Rhoads during a Creator’s Studio episode. In case you missed it watch below – Jeff interviews Eric about everything from his career path in radio broadcasting to the publishing industry, overcoming creative fears, having confidence to follow your dreams, and more.
“I have a goal to teach a million people to paint because I was a stressed out business guy, and I was working every day,” Eric says. “I thought I was having fun, but I really wasn’t. And then when I learned to paint, my stress would melt. I could go in the studio and well, now I’m getting outdoors. It changed my heart. It changed everything about me. It changed my physiology. I just love it. So I want that for other people.”
Bonus! In this week’s Art Marketing Minute, Eric Rhoads, author of Make More Money Selling Your Art, shares thoughts on opening a pop-up gallery; and turning single buyers into repeat collectors. Have a question about how to sell your art? Ask Eric at artmarketing.com/questions.
Listen to the Plein Air Podcast / Creators Studio with Eric Rhoads and Jeff Olson here:
– Royal Talens online: https://www.royaltalens.com/en/
– Plein Air Convention & Expo: https://pleinairconvention.com/
– Eric Rhoads on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ericrhoads/
– Eric Rhoads on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eric.rhoads
– Plein Air Today newsletter: https://www.outdoorpainter.com/plein-air-today-newsletter/
– Submit Art Marketing Questions: artmarketing.com/questions
FULL TRANSCRIPT of this Plein Air Podcast
DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of a transcription from an audio recording of the Plein Air Podcast. Although the transcription is mostly correct, in some cases it is slightly inaccurate due to the recording and/or software transcription.
This is the Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhoads, publisher and founder of Plein Air Magazine. In the Plein Air Podcast we cover the world of outdoor painting called plein air. The French coined the term which means open air or outdoors. The French pronounce it plenn air. Others say plein air. No matter how you say it. There is a huge movement of artists around the world who are going outdoors to paint and this show is about that movement. Now, here’s your host, author, publisher and painter, Eric Rhoads.
Eric Rhoads 0:00
Thank you announcer Jim Kipping and welcome everybody to the plein air podcast. I hope you’re doing well. Today I am so excited to have Jeff Olson on the program the recording is from a previous recording, I was on his show. And so we’re gonna do something to replay that, and I think you’re gonna enjoy it. This is a new format for our podcasts, meaning we have it on audio like we always have for the past several years. But we also have the ability now to watch and so you can watch or listen, which is good. Some people like to watch, just say it. A few days from now, just a very few days from now like, I don’t know, five days, four days, I’m gonna hop on an airplane and fly to LA and then fly 14 hours to New Zealand. And we’re going to be doing painting New Zealand with a group that I’m taking and leading and showing them all about New Zealand and we’re gonna do some pretty incredible things and some paintings and so wish you were here. I’m excited about it. I know they are too. And we’ll do another event another trip sometime in the near future. I’ve got some ideas, but I haven’t really revealed what they are. And I’ve got some tour people working on them to see what happens. So while there’s been a little rainy around here, and actually a lot rainy all the sudden, but I’ve managed to squeeze in a couple of painting days. Last week I also recently connected with my friend Patrick Murphy who was from Canada who came down and he showed me a couple of his secret spots secret painting spots in the Adirondacks and honored to be able to spend time with him. It was a lot of fun. Speaking of honored I’m honored that the plein air podcast has been rated number one in feed spots, top 15 painting podcasts list, and also honored that we have like 1.7 million downloads of this thing. So you know who knew? Who knew? All right, coming up soon after the rebroadcast of the interview. We’re going to have the marketing minute where he talks about marketing and answer some of your questions. I just want to mention to you a couple of things. First off, the plein air convention is going to be massive, massive it’s going to take place in May, we just had the one in Santa Fe. And a lot of people came to that but it wasn’t as big as it could have been because a lot of people were still on the fence about COVID etc. But anyway, Signups are just coming in, like lickety split. For Colorado, it’s gonna be in Denver, and the pre convention workshop will be on the 20th of May with Laurie Putnam and then we will all be together in person. We have five stages, I believe four or five. And we also have an online streaming package if you can’t make it but we have an ad instructors including CW Mundy’s coming back that’s huge. Alvero Castagnet, the great watercolor artist from Australia is coming Daniel Sprick, Susie Baker, Jill Wagner, and many many many others at to be exact coming to the plein air convention. So make sure you you check it out. If if you’re gonna go this is a great year to go pleinairconvention.com And I suspect it’s gonna sell off because well, I can’t say exactly but we have. We have an agreement from celebrity guest who’s going to come we’re just waiting to hear from this person’s agent to get all the details worked out. But and once that’s announced, everybody’s gonna be there. Just saying so get your ticket. Now we have an event coming up. It’s an online conference called realism live we have an incredible lineup. It’s a three day virtual event online plus a beginner’s day on actually the first day. And then three more days after that for for realism live and it’s everything about realism. So realism can be tight or it can be loose, it can be impressionistic, or it can be academic in nature but if it’s realistic, this is the conference that really has all styles of painting. all styles of mediums you know, like it’s got oil, watercolor pastel, a little bit of everything. Subjects from figure portrait still life landscape floral more. It’s November 10 through 12 beginner’s day on the night and Juliette Aristides is coming. And so his client asked me who was the finest landscape artist in the world, and that doesn’t just happen to have him on this broadcast is going to be remarkable. I mean, that alone is going to be worth the price because he doesn’t even do workshops anymore. So this is a huge, huge deal to see how he paints. Michelle Dunaway, Lisa Egeli. Rose Frantzen, incredible Chuck Morris Daniel Graves, the founder of the Florence Academy, Alex Kelly, Michael Mettler and Ed Mueller, Harold Peoples, John Pototschnik, Tony Pro is going to be live in studio with us. Sarah Sedwick from Studio Incamminati, Liotta and Alexander shakes, Terry Strickland, Dustin van Wechel, Glenn Vilppu, Todd Casey and many many others to be announced soon. He learned more at realismlive.com Also, I just want to mention to you that we have a terrific way of teaching people to paint we created painttube.tv used to be called streamline art video, we have six or 700 professionally produced videos. And when I say professionally produced extreme close ups high definition cameras, we use the same cameras they use in network TV and Hollywood. We have professionals who do this, you know lighting and sound and video and film and we just do it right. And so we have the leading artists in the world teaching and very Hollywood level production, you can really see things clearly. We also have a Roku app. And it’s also on Apple TV and Amazon. So check it out. It’s called PaintTubeTV if you want to learn how to paint or learn how to get better. We have people all over the world tuning in. Now today’s guest is Jeff Olson. Jeff is a fabulous artist on his own, but he’s also the the what would be the term. He’s an artist for Royal Talens, which is a distributor of many of the great materials like Rembrandt and cover oils and many others. And he kind of teaches people how to use all that stuff. He also has a weekly program that he did during COVID. And I think it’s still going on but I did one earlier in the year and we decided we would share that with you. So let’s go to Jeff Olson right now.
Jeff Olson 7:42
Hello, everyone. Happy New Year and welcome back to the Royal talons creator studio live 2022 season. My name is Jeff Olson. I’m the art education director for real talent in North America and I’ll be your host. It’s great to see everyone again after a holiday break. today. If you reside in the US or Canada or currently following us on Facebook and make a comment or ask a question during today’s show. You’re going to be eligible to win a fun prize which I’m going to keep a secret till the end. It’s a great publication which I’m sure you’re going to enjoy. We have a great lineup of artists and art professionals for you in the coming months. And to kick it all off. We have a very special guest joining us today. His career spans decades as an entrepreneur with 30 years of launching companies and media brands over 40 years experience in the radio broadcasting field 25 years in the publishing business and a decade in the art industry. He serves as chairman of the board of streamline Publishing Inc, a company he founded in 1986. Streamline publishes Fine Art connoisseur and plein air magazines. Additionally, streamline produces the annual plein air convention, a phenomenal gathering of outdoor artists. The company also has a video division streamline art video, which creates a wide and diverse offering of how to artists videos, the author of two books blasts from the past Pictorial History of radios for 75 years, and radio The Forgotten medium. He is also a featured columnist in many publications, including Fine Art connoisseur and plein air magazine. He is an accomplished painter and has the distinct honor of being the most painted man in America being portrayed by distinguished artists including Richard Smith, Nelson shanks and David Lefell. He has been featured in CBS tomorrow in Los Angeles Times, The New York Times The Wall Street Journal and many many more publications including over 400 newspapers nationwide. He serves on many boards, including the Bayless broadcast Foundation and the Museum of Broadcast Communications. Additionally, he does private consulting for tech companies, online radio businesses and art dealers. He resides in Austin, Texas, with his wife and triplet children, everyone, please join me in welcoming Eric Rhoads. Eric how’re you doing today?
Eric Rhoads 9:53
I’m well Happy New Year. Jeff.
Jeff Olson 9:55
Happy New Year and thank you so much for joining us. This is fantastic.
Eric Rhoads 9:58
This is a great show and watch it all the time.
Jeff Olson 10:00
Oh, thank you so much. I’m honored. We have been having a great couple of years and I’m super excited to have you start us off for 2022. Where are you at today?
Eric Rhoads 10:12
I’m in Austin, Texas quarantining,
Jeff Olson 10:15
man. That’s right. That’s right.
Eric Rhoads 10:18
That my son has COVID. So we’re laying low.
Jeff Olson 10:23
Hopefully he’s doing okay with it. Yeah, he’s
Eric Rhoads 10:26
coming out on the other end.
Jeff Olson 10:27
Nice. Nice. Glad to hear it. Yeah. It’s been a tough run these last few weeks. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks. We’ll, we’ll be over the curve.
Eric Rhoads 10:35
Yeah, from your lips, right. Yeah.
Jeff Olson 10:40
I got a few questions for you. So a short interview, and then you were kind enough to share some images that we’re going to go through. And I know the audience is going to join that. And we’ll talk about those as each one comes up. And then at the end, and throughout, I’m going to do my best to answer as many questions from the audience as possible. So to kick it all off, I have a question here. Really impressed by the incredibly rich and diverse career you have spanning several industries, I mean, radio publishing art, where did it all begin for you?
Eric Rhoads 11:13
Well, I was, I was a kid who became enamored with radio broadcasting, I wanted to be a DJ used to listen to the DJs on the on my little transistor radio under the covers. And I just wanted to be a DJ. So I ended up envisioning that so much that I, one day I discovered somebody by accident, and he worked at a radio station. So he invited me to go visit. You know, three weeks later, I was on the air and I was 14 years old, and a radio DJ. So it was a quite an experience. So I did that for quite a few years. The biggest city that I was in was Miami, Florida, Fort Lauderdale area. And, you know, as a rock and roll disc jockey for a lot of years.
Jeff Olson 12:00
It’s awesome. I bet you’d have some great experiences. Time. Yeah.
Eric Rhoads 12:04
Yeah, the, you know, the best experiences were first off, I love I just love people, and I love entertaining. But, you know, I got a chance to meet anybody who has anybody through the radio business over the years, I’m still involved because I own a radio industry trade publication. But in those days, you know, that was disco era or pre disco era. So I was hanging out with the Beegees. And, and you know, people like that. So it was it was pretty cool to be a kid hanging out with people like that.
Jeff Olson 12:34
And I bet that would have been so much fun and probably in all kind of awestruck, like pinch yourself. Am I here?
Eric Rhoads 12:41
Well, they’re all they’re all old men are not alive anymore. But it was. Yeah, it was a pretty incredible time, you know, that that era influenced so much, so much of America. And, you know, I made my living as a DJ, but I also supplemented my income with a wet as a wedding photographer. And, and then when I was doing weddings, everybody at all always asked me Do you know a DJ to do the wedding. So I went out and I bought all the equipment. And I would photograph the wedding. And I would photograph the reception. And I would also DJ but I had a friend keeping the music going to when I was out running the photographs. And that led me to photograph a wedding for one of the Bee Gees. And so that’s where we really met. And then, you know, hung out got to go to the reception. They invited me over to the house afterwards. I mean, you know, things like that happened back then. And it was it was very cool. I love a lot of people watching don’t even know who the Bee Gees are.
Jeff Olson 13:42
They’re typing it in, typing it into Google. I think I’m really impressed and amazed by that kind of willingness to take on challenges outside of your wheelhouse. And obviously, that’s led you to this, you know, rich and diverse career. Is there an element that connects them for you?
Eric Rhoads 14:02
I don’t know what that means an element that connects the different
Jeff Olson 14:06
like working as a photographer as a DJ, working in the publishing industry. Is there something that connects those things for you? Is that a common thread at all?
Eric Rhoads 14:16
Well, the common thread really is just trying to figure out how to survive and and everything was kind of accidental. It’s I’ve kind of my whole life has been kind of accidental magic. I now as I look back, and I understand these things more, I realized I had manifested them. My head had been you know, envisioning me being a DJ. I grew up as a photographer, my dad put a camera in my hands when I was old enough to walk and so I learned photography and and then when I was in Miami DJing I took classes in wedding photography, and you know, and the girls that I dated were the models I photographed and and you know it just kind of all ran together and and that’s how it All kind of led in the radio business actually led me into the publishing business I, I was I had created a product called a giant boombox, which was a I had gotten out of the radio industry. I had sold my radio stations, and I was looking for something to do. I went to the state fair in Utah. And this guy had this giant radio on wheels. And I said, What’s this for? He said, It’s a karaoke studio. And I said, Can you make them for me? And he said, Sure. And this was just off the top of my head. And so we made 1000s of them, and sold them to radio stations. And they, they used them as remote studios, they would drive them to, to, you know, events. And so I had these things in every city, pretty much in the United States, in the big cities in the world. And one day I went into I was advertising with a radio magazine called the pulse. And I, I was unhappy because my advertising wasn’t working at the time. I didn’t understand advertising all that well. And I went in to complain and, and the guy gave me all kinds of excuses. And so I went to see the owner who was across the hall. And he said, You know, I’m not really committed to this editor. I’m not really committed to this magazine. So off the top of my head, I said, Well, I’ll buy it from you. And I did. And I ended up in the publishing business publishing a radio trade magazine, which is now in business over 30 years. It’s now called Radio ink. And then I, you know, everything’s been kind of accidental, like that. I learned to paint and I was out. My wife got pregnant with triplets. She said, You got to get the smell of the pain out of the house. And so I went to the garage, and she said, Not good enough. So I went out on the golf course in front of the house, and I was painting out there and I had taken a card table in a studio easel. I didn’t know anything about plein air painting. And I was out there. And that kind of led me into plein air painting ultimately. And then I started going to a couple of events and there weren’t, I don’t think there were five events in the nation at the time. I went to an event and there were a couple 100 people there I thought, wow, this is a movement. So I started plein air magazine. Little did I know it wasn’t a movement. And so plein air Magazine ran for a couple of years we struggled we couldn’t make it go the the art of materials, advertisers, people, like you said, you know, there’s no business in plein air. There’s not enough people doing it. And the gallery said, Nobody buys plein air paintings, they buy studio paintings, so we couldn’t get any advertising. So I really worked hard for a couple years, I had a lot of subscribers, but I couldn’t, couldn’t sell it. And so I I finally switched it to fine art connoisseur, which was broader and more about collectors, which helped me survive. But I could never let go of the whole plein air thing because I was a plein air painter, and I really wanted to do it. So I knew there would be a time. And I kind of waited until I felt like the time was right I was almost bankrupt. So I had to wait till I had some money again. And so I brought it back 345 years later. And now it’s been 10 years. This past year has been 10 years. And when we brought it back what I changed is I brought it back with plein air convention. And then I started doing retreats for artists and so we got more involved as a community and, and also there, there now are more events. I mean, there weren’t, there weren’t many plein air events, if any. And then you know today there are 300 so it’s changed a lot. And so you know, we’re kind of writing that way.
Jeff Olson 18:44
I’m glad you stuck with it because it’s a fantastic community that’s been built around plein air painting and I have been enjoying it for sure. And I know there are many others out there who appreciate all your efforts.
Eric Rhoads 18:57
Well to me a day without painting is a day without oxygen. And it is so important to me I try to get out plein air painting I you know, I don’t do it every weekend or every week, but I you know, I’m painting in my head every time I’m driving, but I you know, I want to be out painting as much as I possibly can. And I do a lot of studio work. But I I’ve gotten to the point. And I think it’s a maturity point where I can’t use photographs very effectively anymore. I want to paint from a study, you know, because that study has more sense of light sensitive form and, and you know when you’re outdoors painting, which of course it changed my life. And you know, once in a while I have to do a photograph and now when I do a photograph, I can see the light and form that’s not in the photograph because I’ve been outside so much. But I think that makes a huge, huge difference. And I would encourage anybody who’s watching who might be studio painter, I’ll just tell you a story a buddy of mine, I won’t use names but a buddy of mine has made his living for 50 years as a painter. And I took some lessons from him and was a great teacher. I said, Why don’t you go out painting with me? So now it’s too much hassle. I don’t want to do it. I said, Have you ever been out painting? He said, No, not not outside. I said, Come on, we’re gonna go out and do it. Well, he hated it for the first couple of times. But he stuck with it. We went out every week. And we got a bunch of buddies together, and we all went out. And all the sudden his paintings got better. And this is a guy who was a professional and was making a good living. But all of a sudden, you could see more light and more form in his paintings. And then he finally became addicted. And he said it was transformative for him.
Jeff Olson 20:46
I agree. I mean, I’m a studio painter, primarily. And I’m not specifically a landscape painter either. But the times that I go play, in your opinion had been plein air painting, and like you said, it’s always a treat, when you’re with somebody who’s knowledgeable and experienced can help guide you. I always take something back from that. And it informs what I do in the studio and a real positive way. I mean, I’ve seen the difference in my work over the last few years that I’ve been working with plein air painters, even though I’m working on abstract compositions, there’s just a great vocabulary that you build from being out there in nature and seeing things right in front of you.
Eric Rhoads 21:23
Well, plein air painting is abstract compositions, it’s just defining, you know how much you want to define it, or refine it, if you will, or deconstruct it. But you know, I said at the plein air convention one year that plein air is the new golf, you know, it’s it’s appealing to people because it’s very, it’s social, like golf, you’re always challenged, you never get good enough, you know it, when you get good, you can still get better. You know, you’re outdoors, you’re enjoying nature, I mean, that doesn’t get any better than that, quite frankly. And then you know, on top of that, you have the satisfaction of bringing something home, I won’t sell I used to, but I won’t sell my plein air studies. Typically, I have a bunch in a gallery right now, because I got talked into it, but I’m seriously regretting it because I’ll take those studies and convert them into studio paintings. And then when those studies are up on my wall, they’re memories for me, because I can remember when you know, I’m painting this one spot, and a deer leaped over the fence in front of me, or, you know, some kids came up to talk to me that kind of thing. That is what it’s all about for me.
Jeff Olson 22:33
No, I’m glad that you shared that because it really is kind of an unspoken value of those works, you know, and I think about our history, and there’s the grand tour, right, you know, the the English used to tour in the 18th century through Europe, you know, their trip to the continent, and often they would bring art materials like watercolors, for example, and sketch their journey. And that was what they brought back with them besides things that they acquired, right. Maybe they they picked up a Raphael on the way. But But yeah, it really is something that gives you a different perspective on the memories and experiences that you have, and then just snapping a picture, right?
Eric Rhoads 23:16
Well, that’s what I’m trying to do. You know, my goal is to get first off, I have a goal to teach a million people to paint because, for me, I you know, I was a stressed out business guy, and I was working every day. And I you know, I thought I was having fun, but I really wasn’t. And then when I learned to paint, you know, my stress would melt. I could go in the studio and I just paint well now I’m getting outdoors. And so I want that it changed my heart. It changed everything about me. It changed my physiology. I just love it. So I want that for other people. So my goal is to teach a million people to paint when I get to a million, then I’ll hit another million and so on. But I you know, I’m trying to bring people into the fold. And in England during that period of time. Plein Air painting was a part of life. They called them Sunday painters everybody did watercolor painting, and they were out in the park. They’re sitting there doing watercolor painting, and it’s a very sophisticated thing to do. And I really want to bring everybody into plein air painting. I’m working on a national television show. We have a network lined up, you know, we have a lot of things like that that are going on to try and get people involved not necessarily so that everybody goes out and sells their paintings because some are not going to be professionals at then that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re you know, you’re observing nature. You know, I used to be a photographer, I still am a little bit but I would fly around the world to get the shot. You know, I remember flying to the spot in Germany and driving up to the top of this mountain and I have this special camera and I get it set up and I you know get it all lined up wait for the sun to be right and then I click that shot and I pack it up and go in the car. And one day I was out out there. And I looked at all these people sitting around eating lunch and just observing the view. And I thought, you know, these people are just wasting time. You know, that’s kind of how my attitude was. And then it clicked. It’s like, why aren’t you sitting here just enjoying the view? Well, when I took up painting, that changed for me, now, I’m the guy out there, I’m not eating lunch, but I am enjoying the view and to be able to spend 234 hours in spots like that, you know, when you spend that time, and you’re observing something, you see things, you hear things, you see, people, you encounter people, you encounter animals and wildlife, and, and you’re studying things I used to take my kids, when they were three, I take him to the Hearst Museum at St. Mary’s College in Lafayette, one of my favorite little museums in California. And I would sit them down with a sketchpad and I’d say, okay, find a painting that you like, sit on the floor and copy that painting with your pencil. And sure enough, they would, first off, they whined about it, they didn’t want to do it, by the time it was time to go, they would be like, Dad, we’re not done yet. Because I keep discovering new things in the painting. And that’s what plein air painting does for me, you know, when I study a scene, or an hour or two hours, all of a sudden, I’m seeing things in it, I would have never seen if I just stood there took a picture and left.
Jeff Olson 26:24
You really are you’re really looking at the world differently when you’re painting it. And that carries over to the way you see the world. When you’re just experiencing it. It really changes the way you look the way you see in a meaningful way. I believe that? Absolutely. So you’ve got all these experiences all these accomplishments? Is there, I’m well, I’m sure there’s many standout moments. But are there any that you feel best expressed the journey as a whole for you?
Eric Rhoads 26:54
No, I don’t think so I you know, each each moment is a special moment, each moment you’re alive, every breath we take is special. And I think that once I got to the point where I understood that and realize that I appreciate things so much, you know, the nice thing about this pandemic, if there is a nice thing about it is that I was able to stop traveling, I’d been spending about 40 weeks a year on the road, maybe not entirely every week, but 40 trips out. And now I have been able to reconnect on a different level with my wife and my kids. And you know, and then they went off to college. And so it’s been really wonderful from that perspective. I think that to me, the special moments are when somebody says, This isn’t possible. And I figure out how to do it. And then I can check that box and say it turns out it was possible. You know, I, I don’t talk about this very much. But I was one of the early inventors of internet radio. I mean, what what Pandora and Spotify are doing today is partially because of some of the things we did it at this company that I started. And when I went out and I went and I engineer, I interviewed engineers to help me with code this and so on. And I said I want to put music on the radio. And I want to make like the super high quality thing. And I want to have it interacting with with the ads. And they all said it isn’t possible. And I interviewed this one engineer and he said it’s not possible, but I’ll figure out how to do it. So I hired that guy. And we got all kinds of patents and we changed the world. And what you’re experiencing with music online today is because of that team and what wasn’t possible. And I think that, you know, the highlights of my career are when people say things aren’t possible, and then they’re made possible. And I’ll give you a really great example. We had, we had gone out of almost gone out of business. Plein Air magazine was struggling. We changed it to fine art connoisseur. It was struggling. I decided I wanted to bring plein air magazine back and I went to my my bookkeeper. And I said listen, I want to bring this back. And she said it. We can’t afford it. If If this doesn’t work, you’re gonna lose everything you have, you’re gonna lose your house, you’re gonna lose your car, we don’t have the extra money, you’re gonna lose everything. And I said, I think it’s time I think it’ll work. And you said, but you said that before? And I said, Well, here’s what we’re going to do differently. We’re going to launch a thing called the plein air convention, we’re going to launch it with it. And she said, How much is that going to cost? And we did the math. And we figured, well, that’s putting about a million dollars at risk. And she said, Eric, you’re not only going to lose everything, you’re going to be in debt. And I said do it. Let’s do it. And so, but but I was being told, you know, this won’t work. This isn’t going to happen. And you know, I went out to a lot of the advertisers and you probably remember some of these stories and they’re like, Nah, nobody will come and it’s it’s not going to happen. Well, it happened and it happened in a big way. And it’s a big celebration for those of us in the plein air world. Now, it could have failed. And if it if it failed, it would have been okay. Because I would have tried, I don’t want to spend my life looking back and saying, you know, that one thing that I, I really thought would work, I didn’t try it. And so for me, that’s what drives me is, you know, when people say, you can’t do something, or, or this, this can’t be done this way, or it’s never been done, that that drives me that’s what really is deep inside of my soul.
Jeff Olson 30:37
I think I’ve discovered a thread that connects all these different experiences. And that’s fearlessness. I envy your fearlessness. Eric, it’s fantastic and inspiring.
Eric Rhoads 30:48
I want to I want to make one statement about that, Jeff, I’m not fearless I have, I have fear. But sometimes when you have fear, you know, you’ll never will get people say to me, Well, I’m gonna wait till I have enough confidence to do this. You’ll never have enough confidence, I’ll never have enough confidence, you know, you, when you’re talking about dipping your toe into some water that’s never, you know, deep water that’s never been done. You cannot have any confidence, you might have some arrogance about yourself, you know, believing in yourself and believing you could do it, but you won’t have any confidence. So there’s fear. Everything that’s good has fear attached to it, what we have to do is we have to look at fear and say, I embrace you. You know, if I screw up, at least I tried, you know, but don’t don’t not do something because of fear. Because fear stops most people but, you know, it’s here’s a good thing. You know, if you weren’t afraid of it, it wouldn’t be that big a challenge. I mean, how does cities and skyscrapers get built, somebody steps out and says, I’m gonna do this? How do they do it? I don’t know, you’re racing here.
Jeff Olson 32:05
Here is probably not the best for courage, maybe because courage is being afraid of something but still being willing to try it out. Right. That’s right. One more question before we jump into the slides, and you kind of touched on a little bit how the pandemic has posed, you know, challenges to all of our businesses and our life in general. Along with these challenges have come opportunities, you know, how has streamline adapted, how have you adapted in this changing environment?
Eric Rhoads 32:37
Well, when, when the first indications of the pandemic hit, and the we’re going to be down for two weeks, or 10 days to stop the spread, or whatever they said. It, you know, we started seeing immediate reactions. You know, we sell advertising for fine art connoisseur and plein air and for all of our newsletters. And I got a call from the ad department and they said, we’ve lost 50% of our advertising. Well, we can’t, we can’t even pay the bills to publish the you know, it costs money to print magazines. And we lost 50% of our advertisers. And then I got a call from the accounting department they said, everything else has come to a complete stop. Nobody’s buying any videos.
Eric Rhoads 33:28
Our plein air convention everybody cancelled for the plein air convention everybody cancelled for the figurative art convention. Everybody canceled for the publishers Invitational the Adirondacks and fall color week. And I’m like, how am I going to make a living? I? I have no idea. I mean, so I went to the employees. And I said, Look, guys, we may not survive this. So I asked everybody to take a pay cut, myself included. And I said, we’re gonna get through this. So I don’t have to lay anybody else off or lay anybody off. We did have to lay off three or four people, unfortunately, to make it through it. Because we’ve got close to 100 people and and then things started changing. I thought I got to do something. And so I stepped up and did this art school live program every day at noon, on Facebook, I didn’t call it that at the time. And I thought, I’m just going to be there because I’m nervous. Everybody else is nervous. I want to be there just to reassure people and give them something to think about are do so I started bringing artists on and interviewing people and doing marketing talks and things like that. And of course others also did the same thing, which was a really good thing. And I did that show every day, seven days a week for seven months and then I went to five days a week for the rest of that year. And then as things started open up I’ve gone to three days a week now live and then I’m still on was still on every day but Three, three of them are live. And that really, really helped. But, you know, it helped our video business quite a bit. But we’re like, okay, all of our income comes from these conventions, you know, we don’t make enough money on the magazines and the videos and everything else. What are we going to do? Because the, you know, we we had to cancel Denver than we put it in Santa Fe, then we had to cancel Santa Fe. And so one of the guys on the team said, Well, why don’t we do it virtually? And I said, you know, I think that’s a really a bad idea. I don’t think anybody will do this. He said, I think they will. I said, Well, we got to try something. And so we scrambled, and I said to the team, look, we’re gonna have to work five times harder to put this together. But if it works, then you know, we’ll be able to get paychecks. And so we scrambled and we put the first event which was plein air live, we put it together. And I think six weeks, you know, everything, which by the way, it takes a lot to do this. And we decided we didn’t want to use Zoom technology, we wanted something better than zoom, we use Zoom for interacting, but we you know, we worked on that. We have a studio, a soundstage here in town. So we built that out for this. And we did it and we had a lot of people on it. And then we thought, well, let’s do it again. So we did watercolor live, we did realism Live, which is about figurative and portrait. And, and then we did pastel live. And so all of those really have helped us save our business now whether or not that continues, you know, the goal is, you know, when you’ve been, I’ve been in business for my whole life, I mean, a long time. And you know, just when you think it’s getting good, it gets bad. And just when you think it’s it can’t get worse, it gets worse. And then when you know, then it goes back up again. And so it’s just constantly doing this throughout your life. And, you know, the goal is just to keep enough money in the bank to be able to show up again next time. And, and so that’s what we’re doing right now is we’re getting through it with these virtuals we’ve got watercolor live coming up this month. It’s the largest conference we do we have 1000s of people who attend it, we have the you know, El Faro, Cassada it and and John Sal mini Sal Salminen. And I always get that one wrong, Thomas shower and a bit Kapoor and you know, 30 or 40 other really great artists, and I know you guys are sponsoring. And it, it not only has taught us some lessons, and we’ll probably keep it going. It has people have stood up and said, Hey, we’ve never been able to spend the money to come to a plein air convention, or we can’t come because of our health or our you know, we’re taking care of a mom or a kid or a grandparent or something. And so we found a lot of people who said, keep it going for us. And so we decided to do that. And so that’s something that we probably will continue to do as long as people show up. And then and so we’re surviving, are we getting rich? No, but we weren’t getting rich before. But it’s, you know, at least we’re getting through it. And whenever somebody signs up for one of these things, you know, they’re getting good value out of it, you know, for for not a lot of money they’re getting for days to content. And, and we’re getting, you know, a lot out of it too, because we’re able to survive, and you know, if we could survive, then we could do more things, and we can launch more things and come up with more ideas.
Jeff Olson 38:37
Well, you certainly have my gratitude, I have really thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be part of those virtual events. And it really has broaden the demographic for the folks that I’m in contact with and able to outreach with and build relationships with that I may not have been able to do before. So it’s been very fantastic. I know that a lot of the participants who I talked to have a lot of gratitude, as well that the opportunity is there. And folks are really enjoying it. So kudos to you guys for sticking to it and taking the risk.
Eric Rhoads 39:13
Well, thank you. I mean, we had no choice, but thank you, you know, and by the way, it’s pretty effective. I mean, I know it sells a lot of art materials. And and the best kept secret is that, you know, there’s all these vendors that are not on they’re missing out on. I think somebody told me, I won’t use names and somebody told me they sell as much if not more at, you know, something like watercolor live than they do at the plein air convention. It’s like good for them. I mean, if we can help, because we’re all in this together. I mean, you know, I’ve got to help you guys. You got to help me we’ve got to help each other. We all have to get through this. And we don’t know what it’s going to look like or how long it’s going to last but we have to get through it and and that’s why we have to have the spirit of generosity to get through these things too. Gather, you know, I get I get criticized because I’m commercializing plein air or commercializing a lot of things we do. And, you know, I get criticized because I’m bringing more people into plein air, and it’s making it tougher on some of the older established artists who, you know, think there’s now there’s more competition, you know, we all have to step up, you know, you got to put on your big boy pants or your big girl pants, and you got to step up, you know, competition is a good thing. We all have to get better. I mean, if if there’s anything that’s come out of this, other than appreciating my family and my team more, it’s that I’ve developed deeper relationships with people like you. And I’ve had to elevate myself to the next level. And, you know, I talk to artists every day in my life as you do. And I talk to galleries every day in my life. And I hear two stories about the pandemic from both. One story is this is the worst year I’ve ever had in my life have never sold less, you know, businesses bad, I’m almost out of business. The other story, this is the biggest year I’ve ever had in the history. I talked to a big gallery the other day said, the biggest year in the history of the gallery. It’s been in business for 50 years, this is our biggest year, I’ve heard artists tell me the same thing. And what’s the difference? Why does one person say this is the worst year, the other person says it’s the best year, it’s because they put on their Big Boy or big girl pants, they rose to the occasion, they did what it took, they didn’t rest on their laurels. They didn’t do what they did in the past. They got current and relevant. And that’s what you have to do.
Jeff Olson 41:44
You have to be adaptable. I agree 100%. You know, we kind of did the same thing. In our world, in the education world for for real talents, where almost everything we did was in person through workshops and events. It was like, What are we going to do now? How are we going to keep our jobs and stay relevant. And so we dove in, like you said, to that deep pool of water, where he didn’t know what was in the bottom and started working on shows like this and other things. And, and in many ways, it has been a year of success, unparalleled because of a willingness to adapt, right
Eric Rhoads 42:22
and willingness, and you’re to be commended. And the people who are doing this are to be commended. Because people don’t understand how much goes into it. I mean, you and I were on the phone preparation, you know, you had several people involved, I had several people involved, you know, to put on something even even once a week is a huge undertaking. And you also you already had a full time job, by the way. And now you’re adding extra hours and extra time to do this. And it’s it’s not just because you want to do it. I mean, we do want to do it, but it’s survival. And you know, you you guys are, you know, I would imagine, you know, you’re facing some of the other issues of the world, like supply chain issues and things like that, if, if I were an artist today, and I am I honestly I’m not saying this for just benefit, I’d go by, you know, a year’s worth of paint, because you want to have it when you want it, you don’t want to go to the store and say, Oh, they’re out a transparent red oxide. And I can’t get it because it’s not come across on the ship yet. And, you know, I have, I have my standard colors, that’s one of them and transparent brown oxide that you guys produce. And I keep six tubes at all times, when I buy them, I buy them six at a time. Because the worst thing is I’m in the middle of a painting or I’m at a paint out or I’m out painting and I and I’ve run out of something. And then I end up you know, using something I’m not used to and it screws up my painting. And so, you know, you guys should be commended for doing this. Well, thank
Jeff Olson 44:02
you. You know, I’ve been fortunate to work with some really smart people. Kyle, of course, is the President at rural towns, North America, my boss, and he’s been fantastic and the folks in the Netherlands, I think they made a decision that kind of mirrors what we’ve been talking about early on the pandemic rather than cutting back they invested in inventory and continued to manufacture and because of that we were one of the few folks who did have product in our warehouse to ship and distribute and still going strong so hats off to those folks for taking the the brave path and and making paid not stopping making pay.
Eric Rhoads 44:42
Well you work for a good company and you work for a good guy. I mean, there’s just nobody better and one thing that makes a difference as you guys are committed to the community. You’re not You’re not somebody on the outside pretending to be somebody on the inside. You actually are insiders, you’re part of the community. Do you have, you know, Kyle knows every artist personally, you know, every artist personally, and you know, and I’m not being derogatory towards others, but there are others who pretend and don’t do that. And that makes a huge difference. And people can tell the difference.
Jeff Olson 45:16
It is a business of relationships, and it’s not a big industry, you know, the art materials industry compared to others is very, very small. And you run into the same folks over and over again. So it really behooves you to build strong relationships, for sure. And think about the long game.
Eric Rhoads 45:35
Well, absolutely. And, you know, I know that competitors work together, you know, everybody sees each other at conventions and things like ours and others and, and, you know, you can’t, you can’t look a key, you can’t act like your competitors are the enemy. And they’re not really I mean, you have to cooperate with one another. Because First off, it’s a small industry. And secondly, everybody knows everybody’s business. You say one bad thing, we all hear it. And believe me, I hear
Jeff Olson 46:06
ya know, and you’re right. It is a wonderful industry, lots of integrity. Lots of great materials and products out there. You know, we’re always striving to create the best thing we can for artists, and it makes you proud to be part of it. I certainly am. Absolutely. All right, we have some great images, Eric, that you sent over. I’m gonna go ahead everybody and share my screen. So we’re going to flip over here. Should see this come up real quick. Eric, do you see that? Okay.
Eric Rhoads 46:34
Yeah. So during fall color week, a couple of years ago, we were in Banff and Lake Louise. And we were there to paint fall color. And they had a rare 100 year storm. And so we all had to become snow painters real quickly. And, and I remember being very, very cold that day. But the one thing I learned is that if you take the car mat from your floor, and you put it under your feet, it helps insulate and keep your feet warm.
Jeff Olson 46:58
There you go. The tip itself is worth the shower. There you go. Everybody. car mats. I love it. Yeah, I mean, I’m getting cold looking at this painting. You look like you’re right at the edge.
Eric Rhoads 47:09
Yeah, that was a 15 minute painting. I mean, I just, it was too cold.
Jeff Olson 47:14
Beautiful, beautiful landscape, though. And then next, I think we have an image of one of your works. Not finished yet. You were saying?
Eric Rhoads 47:23
Yeah, this I’m struggling with this one. But it’s I am learning some lessons. And so the what I struggled with is I I took two photographs. And this is one where I did use the photograph. I was in Russia, driving down the road through the country. And I saw these scenes and I quick quickly took photographs. And there’s a spectacular brilliant sunset, I painted it, you know, brilliant. And, and then I put this this farm from another photograph and so on in it. And my wife walked into the studio and she said, I want to vomit, you know, the colors are too garish. And I thought, you know, she’s right. And I realized that I had two focal points, I was going to put the attention on the house or as they put the attention on the sunset. So I took a bunch of gray and I just muted the sunset way back and put a couple of highlights in and, and you know, I still have a few things I’ve got to fix on this. But, you know, I’m always fighting that battle of where do I want to draw the eye. And so I decided, you know, most important to me was the house. And so I’m working on looking for ways to draw more attention to the house.
Jeff Olson 48:28
Now it looks great. And I think people can empathize with that struggle too often trying to decide where the best place is to guide folks. And what’s most important to you when you decided to paint the picture in the first place right out
Eric Rhoads 48:46
of this disservice, I was honored, the Florence Academy decided to hold a big event at a swanky place in New York City. And they ordered six people for they some were patrons of the arts and the others. There was another title. But it was me and Bo Bartlett, I believe in Jacob Collins, and I can’t remember everybody. But anyway, I was given this honor for my work in the arts world. And that’s just me in my tuxedo, my FBI, my James Bond outfit and just giving an acceptance speech.
Jeff Olson 49:25
I enjoyed this feature. And I included it from the ones you sent me because this is a role that many of us see you in a lot. You’re always up on stage, rallying the troops getting everybody excited, and I thought folks would say oh, yeah, that’s Eric right there.
Eric Rhoads 49:42
This is i This is my friend, Nikolai blogging. He is one of the greatest living Russian masters alive. Those paintings his big paintings behind him sell for six $700,000 Maybe more now, and I shot A video with him I went over in march right before the pandemic and I spent seven or 10 days in St. Petersburg took a crew hired local crew and I shot a video with him on his technique for portraiture and also a drawing video, which is coming out soon. And the guy paints differently than anybody I know and doesn’t speak a lot of English. But his painting technique is incredible. And this is a photo of me doing an interview with him in his studio. He’s also painted my portrait, along with you know, many of the others. I actually I went, this was a different time. I went to his studio a couple years earlier. And he painted my portrait. I had the flu, he had the flu. And so he painted me with with the flu, and so that neither one of us felt very good that day.
Jeff Olson 50:54
What a bummer to be all the way over there and not feel well. Yeah, well. Got to deal with it. I guess I love this picture. You know, to me, it kind of epitomizes you know what you’ve done in the past, but also what you’ve been doing interviewing artists, these these last two years virtually. But I love this shot of the studios, all those paint tubes. I’m sure all the painters out there looking at this going yeah, not exactly what it’s about, right.
Eric Rhoads 51:19
What he does is he he he takes old doors, he goes to dumps and things and finds old doors and they become his palette like cabinet doors and things. Now he’ll squeeze out for every color, he’ll squeeze out a whole giant tube. And of course, guys like you love people like that.
Jeff Olson 51:38
Love it love. That is great. As always. I mean, I love images of seeing artists in their studios, I love to visit artists in their studios. And this is one of the reasons why
Eric Rhoads 51:51
I love that too. I don’t remember the name here, I apologize. But this is the director, Madam Director of the State Hermitage Museum in Moscow. She’s responsible for all the museums in Russia. And, and I had a chance to interview her UNbuilding, a documentary on on Russian art. And I interviewed her on camera. And then we this is us talking just briefly either before or after the interview. But I had she just let me loose the museum was closed on that day. And so she just let me stay and I wandered around the museum for half the day by myself. I had my video crew with me, and just got to look at the paintings when the museum was closed, which was wonderful. I’m trying to get that privilege. I’m taking a group of people to Russia in September to paint for two weeks. And we have a we have arranged for private viewing private access to the Hermitage Museum, which is one of the biggest and most important works of European art. The director is a friend of mine. And so we’re able to get in there and we’re gonna go there, but we also are going to the Russian Museum, but we don’t have private access yet. I’m trying to work on that. And what I really want to do is to get us to set up and do copy paintings while we’re there.
Jeff Olson 53:12
hermitage is on my bucket list. I’m envious.
Eric Rhoads 53:15
It’s incredible. But the Russian Russian art museum is actually in my mind better. Because the artists are all Russians, you don’t know their work. And once you learn about Russian art, it rapidly becomes a favorite.
Jeff Olson 53:31
Now are they both in St. Petersburg?
Eric Rhoads 53:34
There? Yeah, they are. And then there’s this one’s the Tretyakov Museum in Moscow. So it’s also one of the great art museums of the world.
Jeff Olson 53:43
That sounds sounds awesome.
Eric Rhoads 53:47
This is at the plein air convention we do. We do paint outs every day, at the end of the at the end of the day, sometimes we go out at noon or one and we go to all these beautiful spots this happens to be in Monterey. These a couple of folks that I just got my picture taken with but you know, it’s so much fun to be out there and there’s 1000 painters painting away at the scene, you know, whether it’s the Golden Gate Bridge or the Monterey Aquarium or whatever, you know, and everybody’s got their different style, a different approach. It’s it’s just a lot of fun.
Jeff Olson 54:19
Now this one in Monterey, was this the first event? No, well,
Eric Rhoads 54:23
I don’t remember if this one was but we we first did it in Monterey. We did it three times in Monterey. And then they started raising the prices we couldn’t we just couldn’t afford to go there anymore. And they’re trying to get us back but they’ve tripled the price and we just can’t go back you know we always that’s what happens is these facilities get expensive. And we try to do facilities that are within walking distance of beautiful painting because we don’t want to be in the middle of a city. We were in the middle of San Diego but we were close enough to Balboa Park and other places. So that worked out but we it’s always a challenge finding a place that has 50,000 feet of exhibit space and meeting space can accommodate. You know, right now we want it, we’re trying to grow the convention to 1500 people, but we can’t find a place big enough. As a matter of fact, you know, they were doing the plein air convention in Santa Fe. And normally, we could have 1200 people, and we’re counting on that. But if COVID continues, they may cut us back to half that number. So whoever’s registered, the first six or 700 will be the ones that will get in. And so that’s why I’m encouraging people to get it done now, because we don’t know if if we’re going to be able to do our full full tilt convention.
Jeff Olson 55:39
Fingers crossed that everybody is able to go and that’s going to be in Santa Fe, is it going to be at that buffalo thunder?
Eric Rhoads 55:45
Yeah, Buffalo thunder, Santa Fe. And we’ll be painting at ghost ranch in Las Colinas. And some of the old churches and in downtown Santa Fe, it’s a lot of fun.
Jeff Olson 55:56
It’s a great spot.
Eric Rhoads 55:58
So this is, this is a stage from San Francisco. This is Kathleen Dunphy teaching, the stage of the big stage holds about however many of the total is 1000 1200 people. And then we have big screens. And when somebody is painting, we zoom in on their painting, so you actually see it better than you would in a workshop. And so this gives gives you a feel you there’s two big screens on the sides. And then we have typically we have four other rooms where we have watercolor, and pastel and some other things so and then we have, of course, the giant expo hall. Yeah, picture of that idea of
Jeff Olson 56:37
a vision of expo hall. I wanted to comment this folks are watching if you’ve never been to playing here, it really is an excellent opportunity. As Eric was saying, with these cameras, you know, I’ve been looking over the shoulder of people trying to get a peek at somebody’s easel. And here, these cameras really do show you exactly what’s happening, like every seat in the room is the best seat in the room. So it really is a great way to see what people are doing.
Eric Rhoads 57:00
Thank you for that. Yeah, here we go. I recognize these guys. So we obviously we encourage the vendors that all the vendors have usually have products on sale. And you’ll find products in the vendor Hall. A lot of plein air specific products that you won’t find in art stores, especially easels and things like that. And, you know, you get to talk to the manufacturers, you get to try things. And usually, there’s always people painting in all the different booths. And so here is Charlie Hunter being painted by by by Scott Pryor. Yeah, Scott W. Pryor. That’s the kind of w. And there’s Kyle Richardson, the president right there. So pretty cool.
Jeff Olson 57:49
It is a lot of fun. And we have a lot of fun. While we’re there, too. It’s just so great to meet everybody and be able to talk about art supplies. We’re all art supplies geek. So yeah, we love what we revel in the attention.
Eric Rhoads 58:02
I can’t, I can’t buy enough art supplies. This is what I think is cool. As you know, this is Joseph SIPOC vich from Australia, the greatest watercolor artists in the world. And Joseph Paquette, one of the greatest landscape painters in the world. And you know, here we are just kind of hanging out in the bar, I think we had dinner together and, and you know, you at the convention, all these people are accessible, you can walk up to them, talk to them sit and have a drink with them. And, you know, that’s half the fun is that you meet lots of people, when you come to the convention, we do an orientation and we say, look, raise your hand if you’re new. And if you’re new, we give you the opportunity to put we put you in with a dinner group. And so you can have lunch and dinner with the same people every day. So you’re not alone. And you know, usually it’s small groups of six people. And then those groups sometimes get together, we had two groups got together, because somebody knew somebody in another group. So they were all going to dinner together and having a good time. Well, two people from two different groups met, started dating fell in love and a year later got married.
Jeff Olson 59:13
That’s wonderful story. And it is so true. The camaraderie at these events is contagious. enthusiasm is contagious. And you’re right, everybody is so friendly and accessible. And that’s something that you don’t get at the virtual events for all the things that the virtual events offer. The one thing they don’t have is this opportunity to be relaxed, casual and just chat to people. It’s really nice.
Eric Rhoads 59:39
Yeah, there is a chance you can go in the chat room and talk to the artists and so on, but it’s not the same. So this is just a feel we were out in in San Francisco was a foggy day and you know you I mean, if you can’t really see but you just go down that trail. There’s 100 200 300 painters. It’s so much fun to walk and see you know, you You see different different easels, you’ve never seen different gear, different approaches to painting. And you’ll learn about people in paintings just by walking around. It’s really a lot of fun.
Jeff Olson 1:00:11
It is it is. And I think it’s one of the things that’s really valuable too is you meet people who have the same challenges. There. They’re asking the same questions. And together, you’re getting answers and solutions and just seeing the wonderful artwork. And, yeah, there’s a real sense of belonging that comes from this kind of community.
Eric Rhoads 1:00:31
Absolutely. It’s, it’s like Thanksgiving, you know, except Thanksgiving is you’re hanging out with relatives you don’t want to spend time with. So this is like you’re breaking bread with people that you love. So this is me painting in the Adirondacks. I do an event every I live in the Adirondacks five months of the year. And I live on a lake and I found the Adirondacks to be so beautiful. And it’s my muse. I just can’t find it. I can’t stop painting there. It’s just so beautiful. Rivers and streams and mountains and waterfalls and things. And so I started telling my friends about it. And they’re like, Well, why don’t we come up and paint with you. So I started this event called the publishers Invitational. And the goal was, you know, a lot of my friends were saying, you know, we go to these events, but you know, we might see each other at a cocktail party, but we can’t hang out, we can’t paint together. Because we’re competing. We’re trying to sell paintings, it’d be nice to have a place we could go where we’re just all together and just hanging out for a week. So I started that. And then I decided it shouldn’t be invitation, anybody who wants to come come. So I do it every spring in the Adirondacks. We have typically 100 120 people and we go paint together, we have meals together, we sit up and sing and play guitar and dancing. And just hoot and holler at night, it’s like going to summer camp. And, and you know, I will get 16 or 18 studies done in that one week. There’s no other week of the year, typically that I can get that many paintings done. And so it’s and what you find is that after a week of painting, first couple of days, you’re clunky, by the end of the week, you’re painting like a rock star, because you’re doing it every day. And you don’t have to worry about cooking and cleaning and you know, taking care of your family. And so it’s really a really wonderful event.
Jeff Olson 1:02:23
It sounds like it in its looks like a beautiful place. This looks
Eric Rhoads 1:02:29
should come up Be my guest this year.
Jeff Olson 1:02:32
I’ll take you up on that. All right. I of course like to have fun at the plein air conferences.
Eric Rhoads 1:02:38
Yeah, yeah. So we do a closing party will usually bring in a band or a DJ, depending on the circumstances. This happened to be 60s night we did a San Francisco hippie theme because it was San Francisco and that’s where the hippie movement began. So we you know, we, we party, the last night away, we just have a lot of fun and get all of our energy out. And then the next day, the last day, there’s no Expo Hall, there’s no teaching, but we all go the last day to a beautiful place and paint all day. This year, that will be ghost ranch where Georgia O’Keeffe lived.
Jeff Olson 1:03:15
It’s beautiful out there. Beautiful. Okay. That’ll be a real treat. Here we go.
Eric Rhoads 1:03:23
Yeah, that’s, that’s my team. That was on stage. At the end, I bring the team up and introduce them, they, you know, I call them the blue shirts, they’re always doing all the heavy work, I get all the attention, but they do all the work and they are just fabulous. And I wouldn’t be anywhere without them. So I like to give them recognition whenever possible.
Jeff Olson 1:03:43
They are a great group and a shout out to Sarah, who I work directly with. She’s fantastic and really makes it a pleasure to work with you guys.
Eric Rhoads 1:03:50
She is the best.
Jeff Olson 1:03:54
And then this picture just you know, this epitomizes plein air for a lot of ways just so much energy.
Eric Rhoads 1:04:00
You know, I I got that by going to Tony Robbins and Tony Robbins I was very uncomfortable in the beginning because they make it dance around and so on. But I found that I learned so much better. And so I you know, we crank up the music and we dance around and we have a lot of fun and, and I you know, in the mornings we do this during Art Marketing Bootcamp. You know, that room is probably 1000 people. And we’re all just dancing and having fun. You know, there’s a couple people who are just sitting there not doing it. But you know, we were there to have fun. Life is short. We want to enjoy ourselves.
Jeff Olson 1:04:36
Absolutely. Absolutely. And then I think I got one. A couple more pictures, but this picture I thought was super fun too.
Eric Rhoads 1:04:44
Yeah, just a selfie in front of the group. That was that was a lot of fun. And I think that’s Santa Fe looks like buffalo thunder.
Jeff Olson 1:04:51
Yeah, and everybody’s on their feet. And that was happening all the time and all over the place. There really is so much enthusiasm.
Eric Rhoads 1:04:57
Yeah, you know the people We’ll say there’s the way we work is we get you up early, you can go to art marketing in the morning, I started doing it because I had a few requests for help. And we do that at 6:30 in the morning. And it’s like, what, but you know, that room is full at 6:30 in the morning, and then we’re going until 11 or midnight, you know, we burn people out. But you know, you’re there for a week, we want to give you plenty to do. And so we have evening sessions, and we just really crank it.
Jeff Olson 1:05:28
Yeah, well, and I like to is you can get as much as you want, right? And people can curate their experience too. And it’s just really impressive. Yeah,
Eric Rhoads 1:05:40
the opportunity your room and take a nap if you want to, but I don’t get to. You can sleep when you’re dead. Right.
Jeff Olson 1:05:52
I think got one more picture. It’s kind of a segue, because I know we wanted to be talking about watercolor live that’s coming up at the end of the month.
Eric Rhoads 1:05:59
Yeah, yeah, that’s just on the set of watercolor live, we have some new surprises this year that we’re getting ready to reveal. But you know, it’s just so much fun to be together. You know, we’ll get a few 1000 people together and, and great demos, we have a beginners day. So that you know people who want to learn watercolor, I’m a I’m an oil guy. But I keep finding, you know, when I travel, I want to paint all the time and I travel on business and not so much lately. But I finally decided to put watercolor again, I’ve got one of your watercolor, small watercolor kits that I carry in my briefcase. And I’ll sit instead of going to the bar, I’ll sit in the hotel room at night and do a still life or I’ll look out the window or something and paint. And my watercolors were pretty awful. And so after attending watercolor live even as the host and I can’t watch everything, or I can’t paint along, I found that I was 300 400% improved just by watching not even participating. It sticks. And, and then you know you come back year after year and you’re learning from new people and you’re seeing different techniques. And I thought I went into this thinking because I’m not a watercolor. So I went into this thinking well, all watercolor is the same, you know, wet, wet, wet, drippy, drippy, drippy. And I found that we have people who teach how to make watercolors look like oils, we’ve tea, they teach all kinds of dry techniques, wet techniques, I learned so many different things and and including from the sessions that you guys did. So you know, and the same thing happened to me with pastel and, and with realism. You know, I’m learning better portraits and figures and learning how to do everything in these different mediums. And so it’s just been wonderful to see everybody get together. And the promise I make to people, Jeff is, I say, Look, I know you’re investing a lot of money in yourself. And even though people say, look, it’s worth 10 times the amount of money I paid. I say if you come and if you if you don’t feel you’ve got your full investment worth on the first day, let us know we’ll refund your money. Because and and we’ve only had that happen one time and it was a person who thought we were going to be teaching abstract painting for some reason and, and he didn’t want to be there. But we’ve only had to do that one time that I’m aware of. And you know, you get so much out of it. And the thing about the Adirondacks or fall color week or this or the plein air convention, it’s immersive. You know, we’re all busy, we have these busy lives. And if you can immerse yourself in something, and just study something, you know, you won’t do it at home on your own, because you’re busy. I’m trying to watch a course right now. And I’m getting an hour here and there and but to be able to just shut the door and immerse yourself and, and grow, you’re gonna get better. And that’s why we do these things.
Jeff Olson 1:09:00
Absolutely. I mean, you take years off your learning curve by attending these events and spending time with these artists, which just means you get to that level where you’re feeling rewarded and enjoying the process so much more. I just can’t undersell the opportunity. It really is a meaningful experience. In watercolor, I’m not surprised. You know, I agree it gets sold short so often, but it really is an incredibly diverse and expressive medium. And I think folks who learn take the time to learn some of these techniques that you talked about, really will see the potential of it. It’s not something that’s just for Sunday painters or what you saw in the history books, it is very viable, contemporary medium.
Eric Rhoads 1:09:49
Oh, there’s some very important oil artists who are signed up for it who are attending is not you know, not as my guests who are paid to attend because they want to get something out of it. You know the big trend in plein air right now there’s two big trends. One of them is wash, and wash paints similar to oil, but differently and learning how to do that, it’s important that we cover that. But also another big trend is is abstracting things a little bit more in your paintings. And so that’s why we bring a lot of variety, you know, you can find an abstract person, you can find a person who does things very tight. And and what I found with watercolor, there were techniques that I learned that, I don’t know if anybody’s ever done them in oil, I, I assume probably have. But there were some techniques that I learned and some tools I picked up on that I started using it in my oil painting. And I did this one thing, I’m not going to say what it was, but it was like, wow, that just completely changed the painting. And so you know, we grow by putting ourselves out there and getting out of our comfort zone and doing things that are different than what we’re used to doing. You know, the best thing you could do if you’re an oil painter, is to go take a pastel class or go take a watercolor class or you know, a class in sculpting or something, those things all inform you and they make you better.
Jeff Olson 1:11:15
I agree 100%, there’s a lot to learn from each medium, and they really do feed each other. And when you look at artists from history, you know, those those artists that we study, over the years, they express themselves in a variety of media and each media and form their growth and the appeal of their work and the strength of their work. So absolutely encourage challenging yourself to something new this year.
Eric Rhoads 1:11:40
I want to mention something about history. I was watching somebody on Facebook, and they said can you imagine you know, you were you’re alive in the 1800s or the 1600s or whatever and, and you’re on the street and you buy a painting from Rembrandt, you know, or, and, and that’s still possible today. You know, the the level of artwork that we’re seeing today, in the plein air world is every bit as good as any plein air painting, or any landscape painting that’s ever been done in the history of painting. I mean, there are there are some artists out there that are just knocking down all the pins, they’re just really nailing it. And the same is true, probably even more true in the figurative area and the portrait area now because of all these affiliates in and people learning these ancient techniques again, and the people that you’re buying today, someone will look back and say, you know, I can’t believe that I got Charlie Hunter, you know, you got it, you actually knew Charlie Hunter, you know, I have four or five of them here in my office. And, and it is just it’s got to be that way. So, you know, I know painters love to buy art, buy up the art of the people that you love, because they will become important. And you don’t don’t you don’t do it, because they’re going to become important. You don’t do it. Because they’re going to become more valuable. You do it because you love it. But that’s going to be the side benefit. You know, your family will benefit from that there are people who who own duben A paintings or something from the past that that are, you know, they’re worth hundreds of 1000s if not millions of dollars today. And somebody bought that painting, you know, off the street, they didn’t have a plein air convention. So imagine that. I mean, this is a very special time in history.
Jeff Olson 1:13:31
Absolutely. I agree. 100% and your grandkids will be on the antiques roadshow. Without paying and falling over when they find out how much it’s worth.
Eric Rhoads 1:13:41
Kids are a little young for that right now. But I’m like, Come on, don’t get somebody pregnant.
Jeff Olson 1:13:48
Yeah, my daughter doesn’t want to hear about it anymore. She’s 30. And she’s like, I’ve heard enough. I’ve heard enough.
Eric Rhoads 1:13:53
Mine are 19. But and I don’t want that yet, of course. But I can’t wait for that. That time. I’ll do the same thing. I’ll be taking my grandkids to art galleries?
Jeff Olson 1:14:05
For sure. For sure. Well, Eric, it has been wonderful. I know we’ve gone over our hour, but it’s been real pleasure to talk with you. And I’m looking over the comments that are getting fed to me. Not so many questions, as there are just tons and tons of the gratitude that I talked about coming your way. So if you get a chance, hopefully, you’ll be able to see that after the fact I’m certainly going to take some time everybody and go through all of the comments that were there. I want to I almost forgot we’re going to be giving away Eric Yes, we’ve got a publication that we’re going to be giving away,
Eric Rhoads 1:14:37
right? I don’t know anything about it. You told me
Jeff Olson 1:14:41
when we were talking, prepping for this there was a book that you said that was going to be available that we’re going to be able to give away to one lucky winner. If that’s not available. I’ve got tons of art supplies and we’ve been talking about watercolor live I can shoot out some watercolor I’ll tell
Eric Rhoads 1:14:56
you what, I don’t I don’t remember what that was but let’s give away full registration to watercolor live.
Jeff Olson 1:15:03
I love it. You have I don’t know if you are typing vigorously right now into the comment.
Eric Rhoads 1:15:10
I think what you have to do is you have to DM Jeff with your email. And if you DM Jeff with your email, Jeff will announce it tomorrow we’ll pick one one winner it. The caveat is if you already have registered, you can’t win. But if we pick you, Jeff will give you a set of something, some watercolors or something.
Jeff Olson 1:15:33
Absolutely. That’s a wonderful price. Thank you. That’s very generous. And I’m folks are excited about that. If they haven’t registered already, this will be a great opportunity. So fantastic. Thank you again, Eric. This has been fantastic. I really enjoy you taking time. I know you’re busy. I know the folks out there enjoyed hearing you talk about your background and the events that streamline publishers is just wonderful organization. And thank you for all that you do.
Eric Rhoads 1:16:00
Well, thank you. I’ll just a little such shameless self promotion, Jeff, if there’s a free ebook, it’s called 97tips.com. And it’s 97 tips on plein air painting. And so just got an ad seven tips.com. If you don’t mind me doing that.
Jeff Olson 1:16:15
No, not at all. Maybe we won’t be able to get that typed into the comment, as well. So people can link to that anything else?
Eric Rhoads 1:16:21
No, no, there’s too many things going on. I’d be giving you a list all day.
Jeff Olson 1:16:25
Awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you. And thank you everybody for joining us. Our next one is going to be Thursday, the 20th. And we have a wonderful artist. His name is David Austin. He’s an acrylic painter. He does these wonderful abstract paintings. But he’s really interesting because he’s transferring those images into fabrics. And there’s a whole line of products now that have his paintings on them. And I think for those of you are looking for ways to capitalize on your work, or just looking at what somebody’s doing as an artist professionally, to make ends meet, it’ll be a really interesting interview and interesting exposure to some of his work. So thank you for joining us. Hope to see you next time. Thank you, Eric, again, for joining the Creator Studio life.
Eric Rhoads 1:17:09
Well, thank you again to Jeff Olson and for having me on his program and we did that he did that interview with me last year. So have a lot of fun doing it. Are you guys ready to improve your art sales for the rest of this year and next year, it’s time for the marketing minute.
This is the Marketing Minute with Eric Rhoads, author of the number one Amazon bestseller “Make More Money Selling Your Art: Proven Techniques to Turn Your Passion Into Profit.”
Eric Rhoads 1:17:36
My goal here is to try and figure out how to make you better at selling your art. And that’s something that I’ve been focusing on for a long time I teach at the plein air convention, I’ve got a book I’ve got a blog at our marketing.com a lot of stuff to help you out. Because I come from a rich, rich heritage of marketing experience, which was all done by accident. Long story. Anyway, Amadine, my producer from France is going to give you the first question.
The first question is from an Instagram user Aviv artista. Do you think opening a pop-up gallery is a good or bad investment somewhere in LA? The thing is, I am not American. I was invited by some friends and decided to go big and brought some of some of my paintings with me. Do you think it’s better to collaborate with with existing galleries? Or take a risk and go solo?
Eric Rhoads 1:18:33
Well, I think that’s a really great question. I you know, there’s a lot of things that you’ve got to do. You got a lot of things you got to think about first off, everything you do. You want to ask yourself, what is the end result that I want? You said he brought a few paintings, I don’t know if they’re big paintings or little paintings, if they’re expensive paintings are not expensive paintings. But you have to ask yourself, the very first question you ask is what is the outcome that I want? What do I want to have happen? Of course you want to sell those paintings, but how many paintings Do you want to sell? How much do you want to sell them for? How much profit will you make on them if you sell all of them, or if you sell only half of them? Or if you sell only a quarter of them? You know, a lot of times shows are super successful a lot of times they bomb and sometimes in between. So I would I would be conservative and say okay, if I sold one quarter of the paintings at the price I’m looking for how much money is that? And how much am I willing to spend in order to make that amount of money? See if you do a pop up gallery, let’s say you say to yourself, Okay, I’m gonna make $10,000 If I sell a quarter that painting and you find out that a pop up gallery for a month or a weekend or whatever is gonna cost you $10,000. Well, it’s not worth it isn’t because you don’t want to take that much risk. You do have to take risks sometimes but do you want to take all the risks? So I think you first off have to ask out what what’s the end in mind? And you know, what’s the realistic possibility? The other thing you have to keep in mind, as you said, you’re not from the States, you’re not an American. And so the question is, is your work known? Do you have a strong enough following on Instagram, for instance, to drive people to your pop up gallery? Will people come? And and you have to kind of think those things through. And if that’s, if you think they will, then it’s probably worth the risk. Now, here’s another way you can go. You said, What about collaborating with galleries? Well, if you can find a gallery that likes your work, and is willing to do something with you, and wants to do a special show, keep in mind that galleries typically plan these things pretty far in advance. And so you’re gonna have to plan it in advance with them once they’ve agreed to come in, and you’re gonna give up 50%, or roughly 50% of the gallery, but you don’t have the risk, they’re going to do all the work and they have a list. They have clients, they have ways to advertise, they have ways to bring people and that you probably don’t have because not, you can’t just assume you’re going to have a pop up gallery, you got to create energy, you got to get people there, you want to have an exciting opening. So how are you going to do that you’re gonna have to have marketing money to do that. And so I, it sounds very risky to me, I’ve seen friends do pop up galleries, I went to one in New York City, some friends did it a completely bombed, I mean, they just sold nothing, because they didn’t have any marketing. They had a small opening, and they sent it out to their friends. But their friends were other artists. They weren’t people who were buying paintings. And so you know, they spent all this money and they got no result. And they went through a lot of trouble. So be thinking about that. I like the idea of going big, go bigger, go home, but make sure that you think about your risk, and what are your odds of success? And what is the outcome you want? Do you have a following you have a list. If somebody else has a following and a list and they can bring him in? That’s great. And so, you know, I would test the water a little bit, test the water, see if you got interest? And then maybe see if you can find somebody else who would do it. That’s what I would do. Okay. All right. What’s our next question?
The next question is from Nicole from Florida. I am struggling to increase my paintings sells, although last year it picked up due to my involvement with online craft fairs. How do I get people to progress from liking my paintings, to buying something or committing to a commission? Often someone is interested in a painting, but backs out and takes their time responding? Or since they want to personalize work and back out? What are your strategies to hook a potential buyer and keep them?
Eric Rhoads 1:22:43
Well, Nicole, there are lots of questions in that, and I’m not sure I can answer them all properly, but I’ll do my best. The The first thing is that when people are backing out, it’s happening for one of two reasons. One is they’re really not interested, they’re just pretending to be interested, because they want to be nice to you. And then when you pin them down, maybe they’re not as interested. The other is maybe you’re not pinning them down. You know, maybe you need a little training and sales and how to you know how to get somebody interested in going to the next level. Oftentimes, it’s just asking questions, you know, you mentioned that you’re interested in this. how interested are you on a scale of one to 10? You know, I’m interested in knowing this are you would you be interested in at what price you know, that kind of thing, so you need to understand that. But it sounds to me, like you’re smoking people, you’re scaring them away. And there’s a reason for that. And you’ve got to figure out what that reason is. And so maybe they’re just being nice. The other thing is, you know, I’m not a very good cook, and I might take some cooking lessons and get better. But if I try to get my kids to eat my cookie, and they don’t like it, there’s nothing I can do to make them like it. If they don’t like your paintings, there’s nothing you can do to make them like him. And as a result, you need to make sure that you’ve got a good enough product there that people are going to want and you know that’s very subjective of course, but you’ve got to be thinking about that. So I would you know, do a little investigating try to figure out what the real problem is. People do back out they get shy but there’s usually an unrevealed problem right so we don’t know what that problem is. Ask ask people you know, I noticed you were interested but now you’re not would you be willing to share with me Tell me the truth I don’t want to hear the good things. I want to hear what’s wrong I need to know why you’re not interested and I won’t hold you to this I just need to learn from it I’m not going to be offended there’s nothing you can say that hurt my feelings but help me understand was it price was it you just didn’t really like it was it you know, some something else? And and just say you know, tell me the truth. Most people will still try to be nice and not tell you too much. You say Add that you were doing online craft fairs and that worked really well for you. Well, that’s a market that you probably should keep doing. You know, if you find something that works, keep doing it, maybe they’re not doing them now, because COVID is mostly over. But I think that that’s an option for you. And it’s worth doing, you cannot force someone to like a painting, or to like your style. There are people out there who will, I guarantee will like your paintings and like your style. But, you know, if you take somebody who’s into a particular style, and you put your stuff in front of them, and they’re not into you, there’s nothing you can do change their mind, you can’t, you cannot, there’s not enough advertising money in the world to change somebody’s mind. All you can do is target people and get a nice, big broad audience of people who liked the type of painting that you do. Like in our magazines, fine art connoisseur plein air magazine, that kind of a thing. And then you know, you know that the people reading those they’re gonna be they’re gonna like that type of art, you know, if you do abstract art and go into magazine has abstract art or website or something, and find, you know, people will find you, but you’re gonna have to stick with it. You know, marketing takes time, takes repetition takes money, one ad never accomplishes anything. It’s like, you know, you go to the doctor, and they say, take this antibiotic, and they say, take it every day for 10 days. And don’t skip it even when you feel better. If you take one pill, and then you feel better. And then you stop taking it you’re not going to get better the same thing is with true true with advertising, right. So anyway, you know, repetition works, repetition and advertising and do some marketing if find out what’s working, and stick with it. Anyway, that’s all I got for you today in the marketing minute.
This has been the marketing minute with Eric Rhoads. You can learn more at artmarketing.com
Eric Rhoads 1:26:48
I want to remind you guys that you can join me at the plein air convention 23 It’s coming up in May just go to pleinairconvention.com Also, you really would love realism live that’s coming up in November just around the corner, we’ve got some great artists great chance to learn you’ve got you know, any level can attend, there’s no right or wrong. And last, visit paint tube.tv and see the finest in absolute finest high quality productions. Hollywood level productions for art instruction videos. It’s not not the Zoom stuff. You know, it’s it’s really so much easier to see and so much easier to learn from. If you’ve not seen my blog where I talk about art and life and other things, mostly life. It’s called Sunday coffee. You can find it at CoffeewithEric.com. I’m on the air daily on YouTube and Facebook and the show’s called Art School live. We have artists doing demonstrations every day. And we don’t do the quality that we do with our pink tube TV because we can’t you know people are at home using their phones and stuff. But I’m on Eastern weekdays every weekday at 12 Noon. You can subscribe to it on YouTube, just search art school live or my name Eric Rhoads and hit the little Subscribe button. Also, if you would follow me on Instagram and Facebook. That would be really helpful for me and subscribe on YouTube. That would be cool too. Anyway, this has been fun doing the plein air con podcast. Thanks again to Jeff Olson for that interview. Remember, it’s a big world out there. Go paint it. We’ll see you. Bye bye.
This has been the plein air podcast with PleinAir Magazine’s Eric Rhoads. You can help spread the word about plein air painting by sharing this podcast with your friends. And you can leave a review or subscribe on iTunes. So it comes to you every week. And you can even reach Eric by email [email protected] Be sure to pick up our free ebook 240 plein air painting tips by some of America’s top painters. It’s free at pleinairtips.com. Tune in next week for more great interviews. Thanks for listening.