Emerging artists with a small stable of followers can’t afford to make mistakes with marketing goals. A razor-sharp focus is required to warrant serious attention from a captive audience. These five common sense marketing tips will help develop good habits that get art lovers interested in you and your work.
Aim High, Shoot Low
Artists who’ve shown some work at group exhibitions around town often dream of connecting with a major gallery for a solo show. Are you really ready for the big leagues? Before you answer, consider whether your artwork and reputation is solid enough to compete with more accomplished artists, before you swing for the fences.
Having an adequate number of pieces to show potential business partners is as important as the quality of the work itself. Gallery owners may have different opinions about what works best for them and their visitors, so one piece may inspire their interest more than another. You’re also competing with a steady stream of talented artists who vie for their attention.
Keep your eyes on the horizon, but mind your current potential to attract widespread acclaim on the art market you seek to infiltrate. If necessary, target local and regional shows until you’ve generated enough buzz to clear higher hurdles at larger institutions with increasingly selective appetites for art.
Don’t confuse your ambition and ability to create something beautiful or artistic with the notion that you’re already world-famous.”
Be Persuasive, Not Pervasive
Consider the following two ways to market yourself and attract fans as an artist. One way is to try to be everywhere, to hound every person you know with phone calls, emails, and conversations designed to flood your potential art market with overzealous “pick me” messages. Don’t be that guy.
Instead, be a specialist. Excel in one or two forms of art that put you in places where conversations happen organically, on their own momentum. Ideally, this happens at local events attended by influential artists and patrons impressed by your willingness to get involved in and excited about their success.
This is the environment where you’ll discover mentors, peers, and like-minded people eager to share mutual respect and “brotherly love” in droves. You’ll feel better about yourself, and you’ll come off to others as more saint than sinner.
Remember, even the most dedicated artists have interests outside of their work, and good work speaks for itself. The trick is be persuasive enough to generate the open-ended question, “So, what do you do?”
Keep Your Best Foot Forward
Art lovers continually scout for new things to look at, and many have short attention spans. Their interest in you is a luxury you can’t afford to take for granted. An artist’s best work is well-organized and conveys a sense of artistic development and maturity, the connective tissue that defines the style and integrity of your body of work.
Consequently, showing first sketches, incomplete drawings, or multiple renditions of the same idea will make the “stop and stare” period much shorter than you’d like. When it comes to promotion, art is visual, and clients and customers want to see your best work. A good art portfolio should highlight what you do best, not just the things you think are cool to look at.
Don’t Be Clueless
About your art, what it’s worth, what it means, and why you do it. These are things people are going to want to know about your work, and you’re the only person qualified to tell them. As an artist, you should know who you are and what you do, and be able to explain it repeatedly to those who care. Use your personality to color in a blank canvas for your audience, using your own style and temperament as part of your expression.
That said, be prepared when someone inquires about your inspirations, choice of subject matter and materials, and the underlying themes behind everything you do. Be true to your art by explaining and defining its purpose, in a way that’s easy for others to understand. The better you get at showing true emotion, confidence, and excitement about your art, the higher the probability that other people will do the same when talking about your work.
As soon as possible, think about who your ideal clients are and, based on the type of art you create, where those clients go to find awesome artists like you.
Lose the Ego, Share the Love
Alexander the Great set out to conquer the world with a sense of megalomania and lack of humility that few modern artists dare emulate. Don’t confuse your ambition and ability to create something beautiful or artistic with the notion that you’re already world-famous, and don’t expect a flock of groupies to follow you implicitly, just because you’re an “artist.”
Leave misconceptions about your sanctity at the door when you “show up” for your art. The key to widespread acceptance for creatives involves adopting the impression that your talent is something to be thankful for, not exploited.
This also means being gracious enough to encourage and recognize other artists, especially those who do similar type of work. Use digital marketing, social media, and networking opportunities to build profitable relationships with an important peer group – other artists. Collaborating with a one-time competitor could be the key to establishing group momentum that breaks down art-world barriers, in a way that’s mutually beneficial.