red farm tractor Even though there is some good news on the horizon, the recent years have been challenging for the art and print media markets. However, there are artists, photographers and other creative people who are flourishing.

I am always on the lookout for great art and business inspiration to share with my readers. Recently, I asked my nature photographer friend, Todd Ridge, to share his inspiring story of how he overcame discouragement and self-doubt, pulled himself up by the bootstraps and found a highly regarded art print publisher during this economic slump.
How long have you been a fine art photographer?
I have been a nature photographer for 20 years. That number may be a little misleading, since I started when I received my first camera as a Christmas present from my Mom when I was 16. But, I didn’t start taking my art serious until a few years ago.
Even with a background in marketing, I didn’t have much faith that my art would amount to anything. We are living in the digital age, after all, and pro cameras are within the reach of even the most budget conscious individuals.I compared myself to so many photographers out there, and couldn’t live up to what they had accomplished. It was just a hobby, I kept telling myself. I couldn’t compete on that level. Why would I want to?
See, all of the negative crap I was feeding myself? STOP! As an artist you owe it to yourself to develop a strong style, market your strengths, and be kind to yourself and others.

What made you decide to publish your art prints?

I think every artist at one time or other daydreams about seeing their work published. It was about stepping up and showing myself that I wasn’t afraid of success, or failure. It wasn’t about becoming rich and famous; it was about growing as a human. We all have fears that we have to tackle and it’s that very fear that you need to hit head on as an artist, and push through the negative self-talk.
I sat down and emailed 6 art print publishers. I kept it short and sweet….Here’s the exact email since you’re wondering what short and sweet means:

Hi! My Name is Todd Ridge and I am a nature artist, web designer, Internet marketer and graphic designer.
I would like to present to you what I think is my best work. You can view my online portfolio at:
I appreciate any feedback you might have to offer.
Todd Ridge

Within 24 hours I got an email from one of the art publishers expressing interest in my work. I followed up with a quick phone call and had a contract in hand the next day. I was so afraid of success or failure for all of those years and within 48 hours I had put an end to that challenge!

Don’t let fear stop you! Keep that negative self talk out of your head and put yourself out there for the world to see. You might just be surprised at what happens.

old country road

What advice can you give an artist or photographer interested in finding an art print publisher for their art?

The strongest advice I can give anyone wanting to get published is to believe in you. I had a distinctive style and was passionate about the act of creating art, but what I lacked was the courage to pursue that passion.

  • When I decided to contact an art publisher, I looked for the best of the best.
  • How did I find them? I took a look at to see what kinds of photographers were getting published.
  • I looked for art that was close to my genre and then reached out to those publishers. Two must-have books for artists are “I’d rather be in the studio” by Alyson B. Stanfield, and “How to profit from the Art Print Market” by Barney Davey.
  • I can’t tell you how much their words of wisdom helped me along the way.
  • I would also pick up a copy of Artist’s and Graphic Designer’s Market and look at some of the stories and companies mentioned in there.

The next thing you can do is read great blogs, Facebook fan pages and tweets by other successful artists.

Once you set your mind to accomplish something, it’s funny how things just fall into place. If things aren’t falling into place, maybe it wasn’t your time or maybe you’re not living the life you were meant to live. Either way I would listen to that inner voice and strive to be the best person you can be. Don’t take yourself too seriously, but don’t beat yourself up either.

Did you sign a contract? If so, how long is your contract with the publisher?

I signed a 3 year deal with Winn Devon and have been very happy with the communication and support they have given to me. I signed back in the spring of this year and my art just came out in their fall catalog this October.

We started out with two prints and I have fed them close to 200 other images for consideration. I couldn’t be happier with the experience so far, and I truly believe that working with a great publisher makes the process so much easier.
Do you use social media in your art business plan? If so, how and why?
I use Facebook and Twitter, but not as much as I should. Social Media can come in handy when you’re looking for opportunities to help people and spread the word about your art.
I came across a community related to the Great Smoky Mountains and found a post of someone asking for photographs of that area. I sent a quick email to let them know I had photographs and that they were welcome to use in exchange for a credit line. You’re thinking to yourself “well how does that help you make money?”. Here’s what the email I sent said:

Hey! I would love for you to show my photos to your visitors! You can view the images here:
Let me know which ones you like and what size you need and I’ll email them over.
Thanks and have a great weekend!
Todd Ridge

That one little email back, in May of this year, resulted in this > Nature Art by Todd Ridge to be featured in the Tennessee Resorts near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in December!

Does Social Media work? Absolutely! Can it be an incredible waste of time if not used properly? Absolutely!

I plan to really embrace and grow my social presence in the coming year. I believe it is a crucial part of any artist’s business plan. There has never been a time in art history where you could so easily put your art out to the world. Have a strategic plan for where you want to take your art career and use the tools, many of them free, to help you get there.

What happens next for you?
I’ll keep plugging away at the keyboard and traveling the back roads every chance I get. I am constantly looking for “postcard” landscapes of rural America. You may hate that crappy old dirt road you drive down every day, but in my book it is a nature art masterpiece. Hit me up if you know of such a location and we’ll sit around sipping coffee, hang out with family and create memories.
Any parting words of wisdom?
Dream big and then find the courage to live it. At the end of the day it’s about the relationships and memories you created with family and friends. Art is a vehicle to spread your love to the world. Surround yourself with great people and great things are bound to happen. Enjoy the ride!


I want to send out a special, warm ‘thank-you’ to Todd for sharing his very personal and inspiring story with us here. It was not so long ago when I was encouraging Todd during his doubtful times…now look at him! I hope his story inspires you as much as it has me. Todd, I am so proud of you and happy to be a small part of your story.

Congratulations Todd! ~Lori 🙂

Todd McPhetridge is a nature artist, web/graphic designer and Internet marketing jedi/ninja currently residing in North Georgia.


Be sure and check out these other related articles:

14 Art Business Tips from the Pros on Twitter
6 Ways to Keep Your Goals to Yourself to Achieve Them
7 Creative Ways to Approach an Art Gallery for Representation
How to ‘Jump-Start’ Your Art Career
How to Find Your Own Artistic Voice
The Art of Abstracting the Landscape with a Lens


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