Posted by: Marty Fahncke | June 2, 2008

6 ways to mix art and business: Lessons from Thomas Kinkade

I spent a good part of last week working with The Thomas Kinkade Company (TKC) on a new TV project.

Thomas Kinkade and Marty M. Fahncke

(Thomas Kinkade and Marty M. Fahncke together in Kinkade's studio)

After working with their great staff and wandering around their offices for a couple of days, I realized there are a lot of lessons one can take from the masterful way Kinkade has combined the business world with the art world.

#1   Design is critical.  If what you are selling isn’t appealing, people won’t buy it no matter how well you market, what price you put on it, or how valuable it might be.  Whether you sell tangible products, information products, or services such as consulting or accounting, every product or service you bring to market should be a work of art.

Is yours?

#2  Different prices for different markets.  Maximize your customer base by offering different product lines and price points to capture multiple market segments.  From a $10 calendar to a $3,000 signed canvas…and everything in between, Thomas Kinkade offers something for every audience and channel of distribution.

Are you covering all of your potential markets?

#3  Repurpose existing product.  All those calendars and canvases I just mentioned?  Those and hundreds of other products might be based on a single painting.

Do you have the same opportunity for repurposing in your business?  Do you have an information product which can be made into a book, a teleseminar, a CD series, an ebook, or more?  Can the design for your core manufactured item be reused in a different market, or for a different purpose?  Believe me, making money 50 different ways from work you’ve only done once is a great business strategy!

#4  License for leverage.  Much of the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of Kinkade products is done by third parties through licensing agreements.  This allows greater market reach with less overhead.

Can you use licensing to leverage your business?

#5  Be positive and have fun.  From the CEO on down, everyone I’ve worked with at TKC has had a positive attitude.

Think that affects the success of the overall business?  You bet it does!

#6  Don’t be afraid to get a little paint on you.  For the past 15-20 years, The Thomas Kinkade Company has revolutionized their business sector by trying things not considered “respectable” by the art world in which they started out.  The company occasionally takes some bad press for their willingness to try new marketing and business strategies.  Some things work, and some things don’t.  The point is, they keep innovating and pushing the envelope…even if it means “splattering a little paint”.

Is your fear of failure keeping you from becoming a world-wide brand?

UPDATE: July 4, 2008 – The project I did with Kinkade “NASCAR Thunder” is one of top selling painings Kinkade has ever created!  Gotta love the power of DRTV! And an awesome producer/marketer like me making it happen 🙂

UPDATE: April 7, 2012 – Thomas Kinkade was found dead in his home yesterday at age 54  I woke up this morning to the news of his death, and wrote a long blog post about my thoughts.  But I probably won’t publish it. 


  1. I have been in the Thomas Kinkade art business for over ten years. I have found it a joy to help Thom spread his message of a simpler time. The joy of family and being able to provide our customers with art that has a message, has been very rewarding.

    I know there are those who denigrate Thomas Kinkade for “being too commercial”. To me, what they are really being critical of is his popularity. An artist can’t be “too commercial” without having a large base of collectors who enjoy his art.

    I would be very interested in learning more about the TV project on which you are working with TK.

  2. @Jim – Thank you so much for stopping by my blog, and for your insightful comments.

    The project I’ve been working on is a direct response television (DRTV) campaign for the NASCAR Thunder print:

    I believe the campaign was mentioned on the June 26th issue of “Bright Ideas”, the official newsletter of Thomas Kinkade Company.

    Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions.

    Thanks again, and have a great day!

  3. Thanks for the great post about my favorite artist. Kinkade is not respected by the art world because his art is beautiful and therefore is cherished by millions of regular people. Having studied art in college I can tell you that in the art world, the goal is more to disturb people than to please them. For me and millions like me, we are happy to feel good about our works of art.

  4. I would like some of your ideas on marketing my work. I am a professional nature/landscape photographer. I have been In business since 1982. Thank you for your time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: