...one might say because Brian is relatively new to the fine art scene, he was an overnight success. But, Brian is anything but.
When I think of an artist’s artist, I think of Brian Goodman. I discovered his work three years ago when he submitted his work to Blink Art Resource, a publication we produce each year featuring artists’ work and distribute to galleries and interior designers. I was mesmerized by what he captured, and then after meeting him and getting to know him, I knew it’s no accident that he’s become such a success in the art world. At first glance, one might say because he’s relatively new to the fine art scene, he was an overnight success. But, Brian is anything but.
The Beginning of A Career
After college, Brian moved away from fine art and photojournalism and began to take on commercial assignments. He opened his first commercial studio in 1987 in the converted garage in his backyard before moving into a larger space in a local industrial park. In 1992, he was recruited by Mamiya America and Leaf Systems to demonstrate the premier of the Leaf Digital Camera Back at the acclaimed international photographic trade show, Photokina, in Cologne, Germany, subsequently becoming a regular beta tester and demonstrator for Leaf, Mamiya America, and Sinar-Bron at future Photokina and other trade shows, as well as in studio.
Within the next few years, Brian became one of the first professional adapters of digital technology for commercial photography, with his studio, Public Works Productions, being the first fully-integrated digital commercial studio on the west coast. Brian and his wife, Shira, purchased their own 6,000 square foot studio building in 1999, never thinking they could ever fill the vast space. But over the next thirty years, Brian’s business easily grew into the studio space, as he served major clients from Westwood One Companies, Apple Computers, Disney Records, Nissan USA, Toyota USA, Neutrogena, Pacific Asia Museum, and others to name a few. He worked seven days a week, managing his business and his employees, as he continued learning his craft and building his reputation in the industry. Eventually, his company would become the leader in the field of digital commercial photography.
8:06 PM by Brian Goodman
But during this time, Brian never abandoned his first love—fine art photography. He applied all that he had learned from his commercial photography experience and began to experiment with his personal photographs. Always fascinated with the visual interplay between light color and texture, Brian captured evocative photos that expressed the raw emotion of the scene, the subtlety and complexity of movement, and the dance and playfulness of light. In a word: MAGIC.
But, how did Brian make the leap? How could he give up a profitable business (in other words, steady income) and become a full-time fine art photographer? He said the decision was made for him—in more ways than one. He had done it all, seen it all, and accomplished all he wanted to professionally. On the one hand, he was ready to make the change. On the other, he knew it was a risk. But, he followed the signs. When one of his clients who provided his company with the majority of his business decided to “go in a different direction,” Brian knew this was the time to seize his moment. It was now or never. Without a major client to answer to, Brian could start planning his exit from the commercial photography world and concentrate on being the fine art photographer he had always wanted to be.
Doing What He Loved Full Time: Fine Art Photography
Now, one would think that the transition from commercial photographer to fine art photographer would have been easy, but, nothing is ever as easy as it seems. While the commercial gig helped hone Brian’s skills as a photographer and businessman, there were aspects of the fine art world he wasn’t prepared for. “In the commercial world, people have a definite need to market their goods, whatever they may be. The company needs to market and sell the product. So they come to me to photograph something for that market,” Brian said. “But, fine art is different. It’s not something that everyone thinks they need. Most buyers have some sort of disposable income. If they see something they like, they’ll purchase it.”
Visceral Dreamscape by Brian Goodman
“There are a lot of artists doing wonderful work. But, it’s not getting noticed. A colleague of mine recommended Blink Art as an easy way to get something out there in front of people, and it definitely opens doors for me. You have to be out where people can see you. They don’t know what they want until they see it. So you have to be in as many places as possible.”
Making Connections with Art Buyers
In other words, your market is not predetermined or defined. Buying art is also unquantifiable and somewhat spontaneous in its very nature. As Brian points out, “I find that buying art is an ‘in the moment’ sort of thing. Say you’re on vacation and you see something that catches your eye, and you want a memory or it matches your house—you’ll buy it then.” Being at the whim of the buyer or the collector is a new experience for Brian, but the learning curve has been swift and has leaned toward success. He’s learned that getting his work out there and giving it as much exposure as possible only helps. He adds, “My experience at art shows has been that people don’t buy as much as I first expected. They come to look and to appreciate. But, I also realize that’s just the first step in making the contact.” Brian advises getting your work in galleries, being online, using social media, using resources like Blink Art Resource, and giving collectors and buyers more opportunities to view or have “contact” with the work.
Brian’s transition from the commercial world to the Fine Art world is now complete. In 2016, he and his wife moved from their home in California to Port Townsend, Washington, with a full view of the majestic Olympic Mountains. Surrounded by local artists and annual festivals, Brian hopes the environment will encourage and inspire him as well as avail himself to more exposure. His studio is once again in his backyard, but this time in a 1,500 square foot barn, converted into a fully-equipped professional studio. He also has plans to build a gallery on his property in the near future where he will showcase his own work, as well as the work of local artists.
When I asked him what his advice was to other artists seeking to replicate his success story, he simply said, “Love what you’re doing. That desire and that love will get you up every morning. And if you’re good at what you do, you’re going to produce beautiful work, and people are going to want it.”
And if you're an artist and want to do what YOU LOVE BETTER, you may want to consider joining other artists and art industry leaders at our upcoming Success Summit taking place June 9th-10th.