I feel like I’m living a scene from a James Dean movie … it’s so hot that everyone has stripped down to the bare minimum, they are fanning themselves, and sweat is rolling down their hot red sunburned faces. Texas heat isn’t for the faint of heart. Our springs are short here, jumping right into the heat of an early summer. The ice in my cup has melted and the outside of the glass is sweating and my sticky fingers keep slipping off the keyboard. 

Have you tried to buy a bag of ice lately? A bag of ice has doubled in price. And it seems like the cost of everything is rushing out of control due to scarcity, supply chain issues, and just plain inflation.

Child Labor

I remember the stories my dad would tell me about the Great Depression. He was just a child, but he had to work to help support the family, and they had to rent out the home they owned in order to survive. They moved to my Great-Grandfather Rhoads’s farm out on Illinois Road, which was 88 acres. Even though they grew much of their food, they barely survived.

Inflation is not necessarily an indicator of a coming depression, but it is having a serious impact on the cost of goods, making living more difficult for all of us.

I hear a lot of chatter about these things lately, and part of that chatter is people giving themselves excuses to fail. 

Not-So-Great Expectations

I’ve already heard people telling me they expect the current situation to have a negative impact on their business or on their lives. I’ve encountered artists and galleries who tell me they are expecting this to be a bad year. Meanwhile, I’m hearing from others who tell me that business has never been better.

There are facts we cannot change, but there are attitudes we can change. The attitude needs to be: “I’ll succeed and thrive no matter what outside circumstances exist.”

The Worst in My Lifetime

2008 was a pretty dire situation. The economy had crashed, big companies like AIG and Lehman Brothers had failed, and spending had slowed. During that time in the art world, I watched businesses react negatively, leading to their demise. Simultaneously, I watched others double down on spending, building their businesses bigger, especially when their competitors were not spending on advertising. I even saw a new gallery launch and quickly grow, taking away the customers the others would have had if they had not operated with a shrinking mindset.

The New King

During the Great Depression, there was a giant shift in a lot of categories. Post was the dominant cereal brand, with something like an 80 percent market share. When business got bad, the board decided to stop all advertising. Suddenly a new startup called the Kellogg Company came on the scene. They went after Post, promoted heavily, and spent big ad dollars. To Post, this was a gnat they thought they could swipe away. Kellogg would never touch them, because they were too big to fail … they thought. So they did not react and didn’t keep their ads going, because they wanted to save money. 

By the end of the Depression, Kellogg had taken the lion’s share of the market and become the leading cereal company. Post became number two, and to this day has never regained its dominance.

Mindset made the difference.

The Kellogg Company could have said, “Bad time to start up. Let’s hold back.” Or they could have said, “Let’s start out small and see what happens. if we grow a little, we can spend a little more money.” Instead they went full speed ahead. It took courage and confidence and a “never say die” attitude. It worked.

How is the current economy impacting your mindset?

Are you planning to succeed no matter what, or will you shrink yourself to failure?

Mindset is the starting point. Courage is important, as are creativity and willingness to find a way, and willingness to work harder than ever. Often others stop working as hard because they think working harder won’t make a difference. 

Time for Change

A little-known fact is that there were many businesses that thrived during the Depression. Many of those companies chased new opportunities when they saw dominant players lay low and stop promoting. They had to be creative and find new and different ways to promote their businesses, and they had to step up and do some things that were frightening (like spending on advertising). But many survived, and many thrived.The key is to have a Churchill mindset … “Never, ever, ever give up.”

And it starts by making up your mind, by telling yourself, “No matter what is happening in the world around me, I will find a way to survive and thrive.”

What will you do? 

How will you respond?

Eric Rhoads

PS: Feeling like a caged animal, unable to leave home for two years, I am thrilled to be free and able to hold my Plein Air Convention this May. In fact, we just got BREAKING NEWS that the State of New Mexico has lifted all restrictions, so we are no longer being told to limit attendance. And there is no longer social distancing or masking required (you can still wear a mask if you wish). This is great news, and may result in a massive number of people signing up. I’ve even decided to NOT raise the price on April 17 as planned and will wait to raise it on May 12, allowing everyone a chance to get the low price. You can sign up at www.pleinairconvention.com.

One person who is coming told me, “I am not going to let gas prices or travel costs or anything get in my way of getting out. I’ve missed this, and I don’t know if they will lock us down again.”

Here’s what’s happening at my company Streamline at the moment…

Our 9th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo is quickly approaching and we’ve just learned that ALL restrictions have been lifted and more seats have opened up! So sign up now to gather with your fellow artists in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico for our first in-person event in two years! Study with the plein air masters, get discounts on art supplies in the Expo Hall and paint with over 500 of your fellow plein air enthusiasts. Sign up now at PleinAirConvention.com.

We’ve just launched our 12th Annual PleinAir Salon Art Competition. Head over to PleinAirSalon.com to see how you can win $15,000 for your art.

We are going to New Zealand again! Our last trip in 2017 was a huge success so we’re doing it again. Join me and 45 other artists in painting some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. PaintingNewZealand.com

Our next virtual event, 
Pastel Live, is happening in August. About 40% of the people who attended PleinAir Live have already signed up. It’s going to be fun, fun, fun! Check it out at PastelLive.com.