It started as a creative way to use scraps that I accumulated from a crafting phase where I stole the selvage (the ends at fabric bolts that often have numbers or other registration marks on them for printing) from quilter friends to incorporate into my collages. I glued the selvage strips to muslin and then played with paints and mark making. I ended up with these amazing fabric paste papers that I would sometimes hand stitch to my shirt sleeves and jeans pockets.
I noticed that whenever I wore my art patches, they would elicit comments from total strangers. This was before I found my tribe at art retreats and realized there were lots of other artsy people like myself. At the time, I was a walking billboard of creativity just because it was a fun.
My patches are long gone, replaced by the mixed-media jewelry and metalworking I mainly concentrate on now. What hasn’t changed is that I’m still a walking billboard for my art because it’s proven to me time and again to be a sound marketing concept.
One of the most inexpensive ways of bringing attention to your work is to simply wear it. Admittedly, it’s easier if you make jewelry or sew and can alter your own clothes, but here are a couple of creative suggestions to get you going if this is something you haven’t tried before.
If you make collages or art journals, you can always scan your work at 300 dpi to create a digital copy of your art. Upload these high-resolution scans to a business that specializes in on-demand printing. Places like CafePress allow you to set up an online shop where you can sell T- shirts, baseball caps, purses or other wearables so not only can you wear your art, but you can make some spending money too.
Another personalized option is to wear your art on your technology as skins for your smart phones, laptops, iPods and tablets. Again, scan or take high-res photos of your work and upload them to a printer like Zazzle and buy a plastic customized skin. Next time you take a call or check your email at your local coffee cafe, all eyes will be on your amazing mixed-media art.
From a marketing perspective, it’s not enough to just wear your art. You also need to be willing to strike up conversations with complete strangers when they ask questions or make comments about your work. It’s called networking 101; you never know if that stranger might be your next collector or the owner of the most exciting new art gallery in your city. These interactions tell others that you are a friendly person who’s passionate about your art and wants to share this passion with others.
Obviously advertising your art on your body is not practical every time you run errands or as office attire if you have a non art-related day job, but it’s something to be conscious of next time you’re going somewhere other artsy folks tend to gather, like First Friday events or art retreats or book signings, etc.
Wearing my art has initiated conversations with store owners who have asked me to teach workshops, with editors who’ve hired me to write articles and to women buying my jewelry right off my body. It’s one marketing strategy that seems to always work like a charm.
Jen Cushman is a natural storyteller who found mixed media art a decade ago and never looked back. She is drawn to the imperfect, the funky, the quirky, the artsy and the authentic: be it people or objects or art. She’s also the Director of Education and Marketing for Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin®. To learn more, visit her website www.jencushman.com.
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