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:
Guest blogger: Kim Bruce
After researching, comparing and gathering information on what you need to know to make a choice between WordPress, Squarespace, Wix or Weebly, I have come to the conclusion that there is no conclusion.
Each of these services has something to offer depending on your needs.
For example, if you’re a hobby artist, a free Weebly site, which includes their paid ads, may suffice.
An artist with little or no computer skills may want a simple drag-and-drop interface, which is available with all services (drag-and-drop themes are available for WordPress).
A professional artist may, and probably should, prefer the power that the WordPress platform offers.
In all honesty, I find it very difficult to compare Squarespace, Wix or Weebly with WordPress the self-hosted version (WordPress.org).
WordPress is different. It’s a robust, scalable, open source (free) application that can be whatever you need it to be.
If you want to teach, you need a pool of potential students.
You need a following. And a following suggests there is a leader. If you expect people to sign up for your classes or buy your how-to book, you must step up and be the leader.
You’ve got to position yourself as an expert.
Becoming known for your skills is not an overnight process. It’s a process that you must be dedicated to and in it for the long haul.
I built Art Biz Coach using all of the tactics I share below. I think it would be harder to start my business today because the market is much noisier than when I opened back in 2002.
Your market is also robust. There are more people seeking instruction, and there are a lot more artists who are teaching in their own studios, in art centers and supply stores, and online.
In business terms, this presents both a threat and an opportunity. The threat is that more people are competing for students. The opportunity is that you can differentiate yourself.
The distinguishing characteristics of a successful, independent art teacher are:
No more repetitive emails, please.
Your art exhibition, class, workshop, or event has so many facets that there is no reason to send the same emails and social media posts for your promotions. They get a little stale after awhile.
Years ago, Marcia Yudkin wrote a guest post for me on this topic. It was an article she originally wrote for her readers that got me interested.
I still think about that article and keep that list as a reference. It’s time to revisit its premise for you, my artist readers.
Here are plenty of ways to promote your exhibition, event, or teaching.
Many of these suggestions lend themselves to emails. Others could easily be used on social media. Use your noggin to decide.
Exhibition or Event Enticements
Rotate images of your art with short 2- or 3-sentence stories for each.
Do this for two reasons: 1) people are more likely to get excited about a show when they know what they’ll see and
A checklist can keep you on task for your exhibition.
The tasks on your checklist, and the deadlines you give them, will depend on the following:
– The type of exhibition (juried, self-curated, open studio)
– If the venue is in charge of sales and refreshments or if that’s up to you
– Whether you’re showing with other artists
– How much time you have to plan
Do It Now
Set a goal. What would you like to have happen at this exhibition or as a result of it?
Plan your budget. How much can you afford to spend on materials and framing? How much can you allocate to promotions, printing, and a reception?
Identify a theme and
At last week’s Social Sharing Savvy training sessions, I received numerous questions along these lines:
“How can I get more subscribers/followers/fans?”
Watch the language you use and the energy around it. In particular, I’m worried about using the g-word: get.
“Get” could mean anything. It could mean that you buy a list or sleazily grab email addresses from people who didn’t ask to hear from you.
To my ears, getting sounds greedy and aggressive. With get, the emphasis seems to be on quantity rather than quality.
It sounds like you’re only interested in the marketing numbers when you should be far more interested in connecting with people who, in turn, want to connect with your art. You don’t just want numbers. You want the right individuals to add up to those numbers.
Stop looking for shortcuts. Start doing the hard (and much more interesting) work of caring about people and connecting with them authentically.
Instead of getting, focus on attracting.
3 Steps to Attracting People to Your List of Followers