Throughout my childhood years, art was always one of the subjects that intrigued me the most. When I was an adolescent, few things made me happier than practicing my drawing skills on brown paper bags, cardboard, or any other material that I could draw and practice on. As I got older, I took art all throughout high school.
In fact, art is what lead me to earning a degree in direct marketing. When I went back to school, to earn my bachelor’s degree, I already had a successful art business, but I am always proactive and wanting to improve on success and become even better. In studying the most successful artists of today and throughout history, marketing always seemed to be the one variable that set the most successful artists apart from other artists. So, I chose to pursue a degree in marketing not art.
Thomas Kinkade’s success as an artist has always intrigued me. From the amount of art he sold, the positioning of his art, the marketing driving the growth of the company, the business model, licensing the art, etc.
Prior to attending Christopher Newport University, I worked 4 hours a week in a Thomas Kinkade gallery in Richmond. I wanted an “insider” perspective on how Kinkade was selling more art than any other artist. While I was in school, in my strategic planning class, for our semester long project, I convinced the professor and then the other students in my group to choose Kinkade’s public company Media Arts Group to analyze. I was fascinated with Kinkade’s success as an entrepreneur and as an artist.
The entire business model fascinated me, from the franchising of galleries, to the licensing of the images, to the price points of the art that was being sold, how Media Arts was teaching people with various backgrounds and careers how to sell art. And they did this with very little support from the “established art world”, but yet few could rival the amount of art that Kinkade’s company sold.
There were many aspects of Kinkade’s business model that were not new to artists. Many artists pursue licensing their art. Many artists sell their art and some artists even open their own galleries. The difference in Kinkade’s model is threefold.
- Kinkade is one of the first and few artists to sell franchises of his galleries on such a grand scale.
- Few artists have taken the different aspects of selling art and organized them into a business system that allowed him to sell more art than almost any other artist in history.
- The speed in which Kinkade implemented the business system.
Whether Thomas Kinkade will be remembered as being influential in history as Walt Disney was during his life, only time will tell. But Kinkade created a model that other artists can use to build their own art empire, if they objectively study what Kinkade accomplished in his lifetime. In this way, Kinkade blazed a new path that few other artists have developed. Kinkade created a model when there was no other model, even similar enough for Kinkade to look towards for guidance. He blazed the path!
Personally, I only had the opportunity to meet Kinkade one time and that is when he did a gallery event in Richmond. But I have enjoyed studying his business model over the years immensely. There are just a few artists that have touched as many lives as Kinkade with their art. This is one of the core foundations that motivates artists to create.