Saturday, March 15, 2008

Marketing? But I’m an Artist!

Marketing has been described as the methodology used to attract customers, communicate to them your product or service and develop a relationship based on value perceived by both parties. (My own paraphrase of many definitions)

What does this mean for an artist and why does marketing seem like such a difficult task?

  1. One of the reasons that I have been able to determine is that artists are often never satisfied with their own work. As such, they find it difficult to “market” something they themselves see as not as perfect as it could be.
  2. Another reason is that they feel they lack the skills to market. They associate marketing with big advertising campaigns, aggressive sales people, loud and in-your-face displays that intimidate.
  3. Yet a third reason is that the concept is not understood. Many people confuse the term “marketing” with “sales” and often that conjures up some of the same images as listed above – although sales are simply the result of good marketing.

I liken marketing to simply telling people about something that has value. For example, if you were fortunate to find a restaurant that served the finest and healthiest food, but each dish only cost a few pennies – how would you go about telling your friends? Would you post a huge billboard, spend thousands on television – or simply give them a call or email and say – Hey – I found a great place to eat that hardly costs anything? Want to join me for dinner?

So let’s take this further and create an art marketing scenario. You have painted a selection of work, framed it and hung it around your studio. You are relatively pleased with the selection and would like to sell some pieces. What marketing can you do? Here are some five simple ideas;

Take digital photos and post them on your blog or website with prices and an invitation to buy.

  1. Email those same digital photos to your current customer list, friends, family and acquaintances with a short note that introduces you and lets them know that you have just completed some recent pieces that you are please with and have put them up for sale. Note your prices and ask them to contact you if interested. One tip! Suggest that even if they are not interested, that if they like the work to forward it to their friends! This can create an outstanding group of potential viewers and buyers.
  2. Contact a local business, restaurant, gallery, office etc and advise them that you have this current body of work that you would be willing to hang if they will allow you to display prices and your name and contact information.
  3. Print out a few images on a sheet of paper – try to do a good quality job of reproduction and if necessary contact your local print shop for help. It is not costly and can enhance the presentation. Ensure you have your name and contact information prominent. Post those on public bulletin boards in your local art shop, bookstore, coffee shop or other location where people browse and look at quality postings – there are quite a few when you take notice of them.
  4. Send the same sheet – with a brief bio and press release to your local community newspapers and magazines. You may attract a free article, interview or the attention of the local art columnist.

2 comments: said...

How funny that you are blogging of a topic that my husband and I just spoke of!

My husband, both an aero engineer and an MBA student sees the business side as the easy part... I see it as the most dreaded part! Art is so personal, and so much of myself is put into my work, that it is difficult to separate the business side as "just business." Ugh.

I also had to stifle a laugh at the comment on the perfectionist side of artists! One of my teachers, years ago, had joked that I would one night sneak into a gallery to "finish up" a finished piece! Those words come back to haunt me as I could easily continue a piece indefinitely!

Thanks Myron!

Myron D. Arndt said...

Kelly, Thanks for the comment - you are not alone - I think it is the essence of what makes you an artist! We all need the opposite view sometimes to help in the areas where we are often so focused we can't see the forest for the trees. Believe me, it happens on the business side just as frequently when we should be working to completely finish something be we are quick to move on to the "next big thing".