Marketing isn’t something you do when you are done with the work.
You can’t afford to wait until everything else is in its place to promote your art. You must be marketing consistently.
Marketing is more than taking out an ad or sending an email. Marketing is a combination of everything you do to sell or to gain recognition for your art. Everything.
There will be times when you must focus on the work in the studio, which means there is no room in your life for marketing tasks. But something is amiss if this drags on for weeks without attention to your business.
Don’t wait until you’re finished with a body of work before you start marketing it. Think about marketing daily. Actually, do more than think. DO your marketing daily – as you go.
You don’t want to wake up one day with the realization, Not again! I forgot to market my art! By this point, it’s probably too late to get the results you want.
Don’t think of marketing as separate from your art. Marketing is the final step of making: sharing your art with others.
But it’s more than that.
Meeting new people is essential to growing your art business.
The more people you know, the more people there are to appreciate, buy, and tell people about your art.
The best tip I can give is just to get out! Online relationships are valuable, but in-person meetings can make an artist’s career.
Everyone you run into is a:
- Potential buyer. You never know where people are coming from.
- Potential connector. If everyone you meet knows 150 people (the average), imagine the possibilities. When you meet someone who is great at making connections between people, WOW!
- Potential friend or fan. Who can’t use more of these?
Become involved with an artist organization if it’s the right speed for you. If you are serious about selling your art, don’t waste your time in a group of hobbyists. You’ll quickly get frustrated in groups where you’re always a step ahead of everyone else.
We are often too quick to ask for feedback.
We’re equally guilty of giving feedback when it’s not requested (or wanted).
I’ve been guilty of both – especially the latter – and I’ve learned a lot about giving and receiving feedback. I owe much of what I know about feedback to Cynthia Morris, an artist and coach.
Here’s what I’ve learned from her and from others.
When Not to Ask for Feedback
Feedback is serious stuff. You should only ask for it if you’re prepared to hear the answers.
At certain points in the creative process, your project is in a delicate state. You might have a direction and be excited about it or, alternatively, not know what you’re doing.
Proceed with caution when you’re at this point. Asking for feedback too early doesn’t give you time to nurture your baby. The wrong words could put a quick halt to any enthusiasm you had and before you know it, your bubble has burst. Ouch!
How to Ask for Feedback
I probably don’t have to tell you that selling only original works of art doesn’t always pay the bills. Sales can be seasonal, galleries can shut their doors, or the economy might tank.
This is why I am all for artists having multiple streams of income – when it makes sense.
Multiple Income Streams for Artists
An income stream is a source of money.
Your income streams might include employment outside of your art business, but I’m going to focus on diversifying how you make money from your art.
Selling original works of art is probably the most appealing way for you to make money from your art. Other avenues include, but aren’t limited to, teaching, licensing, and selling reproductions.
Sometimes multiple income streams go together.
For example, if you teach art, there might be money from both online and in-person classes. Additional funds might come from how-to books and information products.
They’re all information based and marketed to the same audience.
Likewise, you could probably market products with your art on them
Are you like a lot of my clients? You want to do/try it all. You’d like to be everywhere but time runs out.
Lack of time is the number one anxiety for most of my clients. It’s not fear of rejection or failure or even potential criticism. It’s there’s not enough time in the day to do it all.
Like you, I’ve been overwhelmed with possibilities for business development and strategy.
Just three years ago, I remember sitting down and crying to my husband that I couldn’t work any harder. If I wanted to increase my impact in the world, I would have to work smarter. That’s when I hired a serious business coach and got back on track.
Here’s what I’ve learned about dealing with overwhelm and a seeming lack of time.
1. The important stuff always gets done.
I don’t know how, but I know why the important stuff always gets done. It gets done because it’s important! I recognize its value and somehow manage to make it happen.
Knowing this truth is a relief.
2. There is no such thing as time management.
You can’t manage time. The clocks keep ticking and the sun continues to rise and set. There’s not much we can do about that.
But we can manage ourselves. Here are a few ideas for doing this:
I feel like there is this big secret in the art world. It’s about how things work and how to be successful. Everyone but me seems to know what it is.
Ever feel this way?
If I only knew this one thing … this one elusive thing that I have no idea what it is … my art business would be a success. But I don’t even know what questions to ask to find it.
You’re not alone. Many artists are on a quest to find the magic bullet and hoping to uncover it in a new class, blog post, or book.
And, still, the cogs and sprockets (Jetsons, anyone?) that run the art world machine are a mystery to most.
Let’s consider all of the personalities that are part of the drama. You’ve got your artists, gallerists, and collectors. You have critics, curators, and consultants.
Not part of the gallery scene? You’re looking at festival organizers, licensing companies and agents, portrait brokers, and art consultants. Not to mention the people in organizations that oversee public art projects and residencies.
These days you have tech startups that create apps, software, and websites for artists to show their work. So let’s add RedBubble, Etsy, Fine Art America, and Society 6 to the list.
Finally, you have people like me who try to help you navigate the possibilities. Each of us comes from a different background with a unique set of strengths. Who to trust?
No wonder you’re confused!
It would be lovely if someone would hand you a road map to success, right?
[Art] isn’t about being in the studio, it’s about being in the world. – Robert Irwin
I count myself lucky that I ended up at an art talk with Robert Irwin last April.
Irwin didn’t just get off the art school bus. He’s been in the ‘hood for a while now. He’s 86 and was the first artist to receive the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur “Genius” Award in 1984.
He’s well known for his garden designs, though he says he never gardened or even planted a plant before tackling them.
He didn’t know how the gardens were going to happen. He just knew it was something he wanted to do, so he educated himself through a lot of research.
Irwin is also an educator, though he doesn’t believe that you can teach art. Instead, the art educator’s
Guest blogger: Kathryn Goldman
The short answer is “No.”
The longer answer is that most artists are not going to have their art taken by someone like Richard Prince who has commercial stature and deep pockets. The threat to most artists is from every day Internet “sneak thieves” – lazy non-creatives who right click, copy and paste. Prince did more than that, but not much more.
Copyright is still useful for artists despite the actions of Richard Prince and the expansion of the defense of fair use.
Richard Prince — Pushing the Envelope, or Taking Advantage?
When it came to light that Richard Prince appropriated wholesale the work of Instagram users, added a few phrases of his own to the comment thread, enlarged the images and charged $90,000 for a print, many in the art world (and the legal world) were troubled by his actions. Others, not so much.
Some of the original creators of the Instagram images have sought revenge of sorts by selling the image they created for $90 in an attempt to undermine Prince’s market. The effectiveness of that strategy is questionable. Without Richard Prince’s actions, those Instagram artists would have continued operating in relative obscurity.
Many agree that obscurity is a bigger problem for artists than infringement.
Yeah, I know you’d rather be in the studio.
Yeah, I know it’s super cheap and easy to show your art online.
Yeah, I know it’s a slog to find a good exhibition space.
And, yeah, I know that if you’re physically and geographically able to show your art in public and you’re not doing so, you’re just making excuses. Not only that, you’re also:
- Missing out on sales and networking opportunities.
- Taking the easy way out.
- Working your way to a less-than-stellar art career.
Exhibiting your art in live venues should be one of your primary goals. Book a show now!
Let’s Define “Exhibition”
For our purposes, an exhibition is simply your art on public view. It could be any of the following: