Lessons from a[nother] Artist Workshop

Oh, boy. I had a terrific time at the Building Creative Businesses Expo in Denver yesterday. There were about 30 organizations with exhibit tables and about 35 workshops. Everyone was there to help artists, musicians, writers, and dancers with their businesses.Bcbe_1

My short workshop, “9 Self-Promotion Tools Every Artist Must Have,” was a sell-out, with 75 artists attending. Only about 25-30% had ever heard of me before. I’m thrilled to have met so many new people! I’m always energized by working live and in person, which is why I love to promote my workshops.

After my workshop, I sat down at my exhibit table for the rest of the day. It was my first time to have such a table and you don’t see any photos of it here because it was nothing to show off. If I decided to do more of these, I would certainly listen more closely to the tips in Bruce Baker’s Booth Design CD.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Toastmasters training is great to a point, but then you have to put the manual away and really connect with people. I think I accomplished that this time.
  • It doesn’t really matter what was on the table. Okay, maybe I wish I had better handouts and a snappier look, ut what mattered most was that I could talk with each person that walked by. This leads me to . . .
  • I kind of goofed and scheduled some free one-on-one consulting at the same time, which made it difficult to be absolutely present for both the passers-by and the artist sitting next to me. I won’t do this again.
  • If I want to sell more of my art-marketing books, I need to mention them when I have a captive audience of 75 artists! I did end up selling a few from my exhibit table, but that wasn’t a good example of self-promotions.
  • Bring a snack that’s easy to eat. It’s hard to talk to people when I’m shoveling a Chipotle burrito down. Those darned flour tortillas have a way of sticking to the teeth.
  • Figure out how to get better workshop photos. I don’t have any really good "action" shots of me. I think it would pay off to hire someone to do this for me.
  • Now that I think about it, I wish I had some novelty item that said “ArtBizCoach.com” on it–something besides just a postcard. What? A pen? A magnet? How about matches? Does anyone give away matches anymore? Maybe it’s illegal. Pens and magnets just seem so predictable.

I heard there were some excellent presentations and some not-so-excellent presentations. Apparently, not everyone “gets” artists.

See last fall’s Lessons from an Artist Workshop.

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8 comments to Lessons from a[nother] Artist Workshop

  • This reminds me of the adage, “Cobbler’s kids go barefoot.” As picture framers we never frame our own photos, and I never get my own chairs caned either. But yeah, if you’re going to be in the business of “promotion” you really have to learn all the little tricks to promoting yourself more effectively. In fact, I think that will go farther to acquire clients than anything else you do. If your “walk” matches your “talk” then more and more will follow your advice because, “hey, she knows what she’s talking about!” Personally, I’ve really enjoyed your writing, and have gotten some great ideas from it, but when in person, the “customer” will judge you more by what they see, than what they hear. (That’s why we always demo our craft at shows.) Great observation – there’s nothing like “doing” to learn! Betty Newman

  • Oh, speaking of promotional items (I forgot to mention it before) I’ve made bookmarks with quotes (motivational, Biblical, artistic, etc depending on the setting/clientel) with my contact info on the back. I did this for a “generic” business expo, which I didn’t really want to give pens to every Tom, Dick, and Harry who walked by. But for a situation of “qualified” prospects, I think pens or even pencils (I like to get pencils better) would work great. Also, a pocket calendar might be a good idea as we ALL need to be in better control of our time, doncha know! Betty

  • Alyson, Sounds like your expo was pretty successful overall. I was thinking about promotional items myself recently and think pens and pencils are a little less than creative. Since you’re an ARTbiz coach and artists are your main clients maybe a paint brush with logo or an “artists palette” magnet with details-may be more memorable than the over used pens/pencils-or maybe this is too trite? At one artshow I went to they had bars of Hershey chocolate with extra wrappers with their logos on-I’m a chocaholic so that appealed to me. All these other ideas may not be very cost effective however.

  • Building Creative Businesses Expo

    This weekend I participated in the Building Creative Businesses Expo put on by the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs.
    I attended several workshops/lectures:

    9 Self-Promotion Tools Every Artist Must Have by Alyson Stanfield.
    The Marketing Doctor…

  • Magnets have been very successful for me so far, people love them. All my magnets went from my exhibition and the art shop, where my business cards haven’t moved. I personally would love to see action shots of you at work, would be great.

  • Since you’re an Art “Coach” why not a whistle? Or goal stickers that people could put on their calendars, or something else along the same lines.. I did like the paintbrush idea someone else mentioned. Most of us have more than enough pens and magnets with some slogan on them, so unless it’s unusual it won’t stand out. Do a search on promotional items and you should come up with alot of ideas.

  • These are great ideas. I would like to have magnets made (with an image of one of my paintings on them) to give away at Open Studio tours. Does anyone have a good reference for a manufacturer?

  • Pens or mechanical pencils may be predictable, but they do get used. My collectors tend to be over 60 and fat pens are more comfortable to use than skinny ones. I have a light weight fat pen that is my dedicated purse pen. I have no use for Retinol, but LOVE that pen. Definately choose something bright, quirky and of good quality. When you give them out tell people why they will like them.