Barney Davey's Founding Story

Founding Stories Are Meant to Be Parsed to Fit the Situation

This is my founding story in detail. It's rare I would present it entirely. More likely, I repeat the part that is germane to the conversation or question. Other factors include the depth of interest shown by the other person or people in the conversation and how much time there is to present. A brief encounter in the hallway between sessions at a conference is different than a more relaxed lunch meeting or grabbing a beer.

To make the video above, I used Headliner. It is an online app that you can use for free to convert audio files into mp4 video files. It also does transcriptions. They are pretty good for machine transcriptions. You can go into the program and edit each line. I did that but there are still a few errors, which I will correct before using it outside of this training.

Find the full transcript below.

Barney Davey’s Founding Story

These are questions I get that lead to my founding story:

  • How did you get into this business of advising artists?
  • What made you want to get into this business?
  • How did you get started writing books?

There are other variations, but they all come from the same curiosity. People want to know my qualifications, while others want to see if they measure up and could do something similar. Others want to see if I am authentic and can walk the talk. You know, they want to know if I’m counterfeiting someone else’s work or do I have a real tale to tell.

Regardless of the situation, I’m always happy to jump in with my answer. Most of the time, depending on the circumstances, I’ll decide whether to give the short version or the longer answer.

Here is the extended version. I can cut it down to a few sentences if needed, and I modify it according to who I’m talking with and what their and my interests are in providing the information.

The Long Version

Even as a kid, I wanted to be an entrepreneur. In my 20s, I joined a company that did promotions for local businesses, and after a few years, I started a company doing similar work. My partners and I moved the business to California from Illinois. After struggling for a few years in a much different business climate, we closed it to explore new options.

I took a job selling customized newsletters for insurance agents. That eventually led to a sales and marketing job with a company that had multiple trade magazines and trade shows. It had a business publication and a trade show that served art galleries, artists, art wholesalers, and picture framers.

I made it my business to learn what and how the top marketers in the industry did to succeed. I shared the non-proprietary information with my clients to help them shortcut success. It worked. My sales territory grew by an average of double digits for more than a decade.

After the internet crushed trade magazines, including mine, in the early 2000s, and the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks finished off its trade division. I took a few years off to decide what to do next with my life. My wife and I moved to Sedona, AZ. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth. It has a vibrant artistic heritage and is home to many artists, mystics, misfits, and colorful people.

We soon decided to live in Sedona was not the same as visiting Sedona. As Edna Ferber said about Oakland, “There is no there there.” Like most resort towns, you learn fast that you can’t eat the view. There are no good-paying jobs. Investing in a startup is very dicey. And the scenery only hides the lack of big-city amenities for so long.

We decided to relocate to Phoenix. That was a great decision we’ve never looked back on. But, in the months before we left, I started advising some local artists on how to market their work. That led to a speaking engagement at the Sedona Visual Artists Coalition, which got the attention of the Education Director at the Sedona Arts Center. It is a premier destination for artists wishing to hone their skills.

At his request, I presented a six-hour workshop on How to Get Your Work Published in the Print Market. It gave me an appetite to do more. I found helping artists was something I enjoyed. I believe that my mother’s influence steered me in that way. She was an exceptional artist who, due to life’s circumstances, never had a chance to get her work sold.

The six-hour workshop left me with 90-pages of speaker notes. At first, I thought I would go on the road and keep giving the seminar. However, it quickly became evident that a book based on the material would reach many more thousands of artists than I ever could with a workshop.

In 2005, I published How to Profit from the Art Print Market. I launched a website and a blog at the same time. Since then, I’ve published more than 600 blog posts and five more books on art marketing, which have all topped Amazon’s “Business of Art” list. All in all, I’ve written more than one million words on the topic.

I continued to give workshops on various topics. Eventually, I began offering online webinars, and that led me to start the online training site. All along, I have known much of what I teach artists is useful to other businesses as well.

Today, I’m focused on continuing to help artists, but also to reach out to entrepreneurs who see the value in my marketing experience and copywriting skills and can use them in a package with promotional marketing videos and branded custom graphics.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Thanks for reading down here. You’re the best!