Ascend, oil on canvas. Are you ready to take flight?
Today I received the latest issue of Robert Genn’s Twice Weekly Letter, a wonderful resource for artists who want the advice of a wise, infinitely experienced artist. In this latest letter Robert posed questions about marketing art and the current rotten economy. I left my response on his website, but I am sharing my thoughts on the subject here as well.
You can read the original letter and subscribe here:
Is it better to feel good or get good? My contention would be that feeling good follows getting good. And getting good has a great deal to do with acknowledging your muse. Of course you’ll still have to do the hard work involved in making art. Long hours and the willingness to get up every day and do it again till you get it right and even occasionally destroying a failed piece (which can be very satisfying and cleansing), are the backbone to any art career.
But…if you are making art and trying to keep marketing in mind while doing it, you are denying yourself the feel good part of the equation. It’s impossible to follow the muse when you are constantly drowning her out with concerns about selling; how to sell, where to sell, at what price, whom to sell to, what to say, etc.
Developing a ”signature style” and branding (seriously?) are buzz words used in art marketing, but we are not selling a better loaf of bread and the packaging won’t help if the bread doesn’t taste good. Your signature style comes from doing the work and listening to what your heart has to say. Making art not an intellectual exercise, it’s an intuitive process and all the decisions you make while creating should be informed by the muse (who lives in your heart) who will work with what skills you have gathered so far. Keeping your inspiration in sight will develop your signature style. Let’s call it auto-branding. No need to think about it, because it’s you and what you have to say through your art.
The gallery system has been much maligned of late in favor of this huge movement towards self-marketing, online sales and finding innovative ways to get you art shown and sold. And while some of these ideas can net you new collectors, in my experience they will still search you out through the gallery system. Very few collectors are willing to take the risk involved in buying art they have not seen first hand. They do exist and I am oh-so-grateful for the people who buy directly from me, but they are the special few.
It seems pretty simple to me…galleries sell art. That’s where people who want to buy art shop. If they want bread they’ll go to the bakery. So finding your market, cultivating collectors and all that can still be achieved through this system. As in any retail system there is a mark up. 50% of the price is going to go into the gallery’s pocket, but they will have earned it. Why? Because art collectors go to their establishment to purchase art. They already have the trust of the buyers. All of their time and energy goes into selling art.
However, all those online marketing efforts can still pay off by sending people to your website where they can find out who is selling your art. There is another major bonus to having an online presence. Collectors can contact you directly before or after a purchase. And that brings me back to feeling good. The best feeling of all, better than money, is the satisfaction and downright honor of having someone tell you why they want to live with your art.
The feedback I get from art collectors makes me truly happy. It is the biggest thrill of all. After all, the money is going to disappear, getting doled out to pay for life’s mundane needs, but the stories will stay with me forever and serve to remind me that the muse knows what she’s doing.
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