Marketing for Artists: There’s No Better Time Than Now
So you want to be an artist? My goal in this series of blog entries is to get you started with the process of marketing your artwork. And I swear it isn’t as complicated as it sounds. For example picture this, you’re at a party and somebody asks “what do you do for a living” and you reply, “I am an artist and I make _____ (fill in the blank)” As basic as it sounds, that’s marketing.
According to the Oxford Dictionary marketing is “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.” In this internet connected world, it’s never been easier to market your work. Social media has created outlets we could never have dreamed of 20 years ago. Today there are even colleges that require their students have an online presence solely dedicated to promoting their work.
Becoming a marketing success usually doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and dedication to see your efforts pay off. Marketing could be compared to compounding interest; each effort builds on the next. There are budget friendly digital marketing plans and traditional print outlets to explore. Before we get started let’s start with a loose business plan.
Questions to ask yourself:
1. What is my company name? Are you going to use your name for promotion or create a company name? I recommend promoting yourself as an artist using your name unless you have a name that is strongly similar to another person or company. For example if your name is Angelina Jolie, it might be really hard to find the visual artist named Angelina over the actress Angelina. In that instance you might want to consider using an alias. That could be your last name or a nickname. This can be fun because you get to decide how the world knows you. It’s almost as if you are reinventing yourself.
2. Who is your audience? If you paint modern abstract paintings your audience is probably going to be different from another artist who paints wildlife. Try to be specific and then look at the websites of galleries and artists who make work similar to yours. Not knowing who you’re trying to reach and being too general can put your marketing into the spam box or trash bin of the wrong people.
3. Join local art organizations. If you live in a large city you’re probably going to find more options than a person living in a rural community. Do a search for artist’s organizations in your city or town. Next try the county where you live. Look for flyers at art shops and begin networking.
4. Submit your work to artist’s competitions. That means art shows. A few of my favorites are: Juried Art Services, Call for Entry, and Art Show. Be sure to only apply to the shows that fit your style. I often visit the web sites of the galleries or organizations that are hosting the exhibition to see if my work is suitable. A lot of shows charge entry fees and before I send my hard earned money, I check that I fit in with they type of work they’re anticipating.
5. Be your own best critic. Look for flaws, sloppiness and things that could be fixed in your work. Ask trusted close friends or fellow members of your artist’s community for a critique of your work. Try to listen to their feedback objectively. We all hear things time to time that aren’t flattering. Just the other day a man commissioned me to make life-sized figure and he said to me, “I love your work, but my wife hates it. She thinks it’s the ugliest stuff she’s ever seen”. I laughed, and quite honestly my own mother didn’t get my work. After a long pause she’d say, “oh… that’s different. What is it?” She might not have gotten my work, nor the wife of the man who commissioned me, but a lot of people do and that’s what you have to remember. Constructive criticism from yourself and others can help you become a stronger artist. So, I listen to what people say and if there are valid points, I will try to revise and improve.
In my next entry I will discuss the next phase, building your brand and an online presence.
Victoria Rose Martin is an artist and designer currently living in South Florida. She is the Department Chair for Fine Art and Graphic Design at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Florida. You can visit her website at: VictoriaRoseMartin.com.
You might also enjoy The Artist Unique: Discovering Your Creative Signature by Carmen Torbus.
MORE RESOURCES FOR MIXED MEDIA ARTISTS