How Artists Actively Promote Their Work
Laure Carlisle Explains How She Markets Her Art
Learning How Successful Arts Promote their Work
An effective way to learn how to promote your art work is to ask successful artists how they market their work. Since I have met a number of successful artists in the past two years, I decided to ask them to share their methods. I will combine what I have learned from them and my own research to give you some useful art marketing tips.
In the video above, I've asked one of my favorite artists, Laure Carlisle how she has promoted her work. She has been an artist for about 30 years. I met her right after Studios in the Park in Paso Robles opened in 2009. She was one of the few original artists at Studios on the Park, but has finally moved into a studio closer to her home . In the video she explains the costs associated with entering art shows, how she exhibits her paintings in a local restaurant and how that happened, how allowing returns has clinched some sales, how she got licensing work, what to include on a website, and how she successfully uses rack cards she designed on Zazzle to market her work.
Toward the end, I have a video interview with Anne Laddon, founder of Studios on the Park, with tips on choosing a gallery, pricing your work for your market, and being businesslike, as well as other advice for beginning artists.
Meet Anne Laddon, Founder of Studios on the Park
Advice from Other Artists
In the past three weeks, I've spoken to many of the artists at Studios on the Park in Paso Robles about how they market their work. They all agree that you need to learn your skills very well before you start trying to market them. Most suggest that you join a local artists group, such as your area's art association. The input from other artists may help you determine when you are ready to enter juried exhibits where your work can be seen and judged.
Renée Besta, a photographer I talked to at Studios on the Park, cautioned people against exhibiting their work in "vanity" galleries that anyone can exhibit in for a steep price and a steep commission. Because there is no standard of quality, you may not be in good company and the gallery might not attract the sort of art patrons you want to see your work.
Almost everyone I talked to mentioned the importance of being businesslike. If you are a professional artist, you need to be professional in the way you conduct your business. In the video below, Anne Laddon stresses this. If you want to get your work into a real gallery or art exhibit, do your homework, as Anne suggests.
First, find a gallery where your work would fit well. Anne Laddon mentions how to determine this in the video. Once you have targeted a gallery, find out what they require before they will exhibit your work. Have a CD with some of your best work, a professional resume, and anything else the gallery requires. You can usually find out what a gallery requires on its website or by calling them.
The important thing is to make sure your work is seen. If you cannot yet get into a gallery, participate in some of the events in your community where artists and craftsmen can have booths. We have several in our area. One of them is Templeton's annual Day in the Shade where people often shop for Mother's Day gifts. Another is our annual Festival of the Arts in City Park in Paso Robles. We also have a Wine Festival, a Lavender Festival, and an Olive Festival, in addition to the weekly Farmers Markets where many craftsmen display what they have created. Whether you are a jeweler, a silversmith, photographer, work in fabric arts, paint, draw, fuse glass, or create some other art form, there is probably a local event where you can pay for a booth if you meet the event's standards.
John Partridge at Festival of the Arts
Lessons and Workshops
I've noticed that many of the successful artists in my community give workshops or lessons to supplement their incomes and / or to promote their work. There are all kinds of workshops going on at Studios on the Park every week taught by artists in various media and photographers. Many artists also give free demonstrations at the annual Festival of the Arts in Paso Robles.
One artist who gave a workshop on watercolor last year is John Partridge. You can see a photograph I took of him during that demonstration on the right. I might mention that his work is to be seen everywhere in Paso Robles, since its buildings and scenes are some of his favorite subjects. His work hangs in the Paso Robles Inn and in many other businesses in town. His work is on the Paso Robles Area Welcome Map I have on my desk, and his art was all over the pages of a booklet given to me when I took the history walk during the Central Coast Railroad festival in 2010.
What is Your Art Marketing Style?
What is the Most Effective Way You have Marketed Your Art?
How Important a Role Do Social Media Play in Marketing Art?
How important the social media are in art marketing depends upon whom you talk to. Many of the artists told me it was very important. Almost all have a website, and many have a Facebook Fan Page. Many also tweet and have a LinkedIn Profile and use other networking sites. Is all this necessary?
Brian Kliewer, whose blog, "I Wish to Speak to You," I listed below tried the social media route and eventually closed his Facebook account. He thought the whole social networking thing took too much time away from his art and did not really increase his target audience. Instead he tried something different. He found a subject to paint that he really liked -- a certain cove in Maine. He did a series of paintings on this cove from different angles and perpectives, at different times of day, and different seasons of the year. This was a narrow niche. He named the paintings after the place and put them on his website. Then he blogged about the paintings as he did them. Since his paintings had the same subject matter name in the titles, they were easy to find on google, since he also blogged about them. People found his website, and he sold most of those paintings. The search engines brought him the targeted audience he was looking for. So Brian believes his blog has been much more effective than the social media in finding those who want to buy his paintings.
Links to Artist Blogs on Marketing Art
- Marketing Art On The Internet, Part 2 | Diary of a Maine-iac Painter
An artist discusses his experience of marketing his art with social media and why he stopped tweeting and closed his Facebook account in favor of niche marketing and his own blog.
- 11 Art Marketing Questions Answered | FineArtViews Blog by FASO
Answers marketing questions artists ask.
Art Marketing is Hard Work
Every artist I talked to stressed this point. No one will, as Anne Laddon so aptly pointed out, come knocking on your door to see if you have art to sell. So just what kind of work is involved?
1. Develop your skills and keep growing as an artist, whatever your media.
2. Be businesslike. Maintain a database of your customer contacts and include information on what your customers like, what styles they go for, what other artists they have bought work from or admire, what they are looking for, the price range they are looking for, maybe even their children's names. Keep adding to this information as you find out more. Make these notes as soon as possible after a customer contact, so your memory will be fresh.
3. Price your work realistically. See Anne Laddon's video for advice on this.
4. Partner with other artists if you can and cross-promote each other's work.
6. Maintain an email list.
7. When you finish a new piece of art, contact the people from your database who might be interested in it. Notify your email list. If you call people, be yourself, don't be pushy, and just have a real conversation. See Clint Watson's FineArtViews blog, linked to below, for more details. The link goes only to one post, but once there, you will find many marketing hints in his other posts.
8. Know your market. Who will be most interested in your work at your price range?
9. Use social media if that's your style. Or blog if you'd rather. I know one artist at Studios on the Park who doesn't use computers at all, but she sees prospective customers in her studio on a regular basis.
Anne Laddon Gives Marketing Advice to Beginning Artists
Artists in Community at Studios On the Park
The Studios on the Park in itself is a great way for artists to promote their work. It is the brain child of painter Anne Laddon, who had been part of the experience in turning an old torpedo factory in Washington, D.C. into a vibrant collection of working art studios. It opened to the public in 1974 as the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Anne worked there for ten years, experiencing what being part of a nurturing art community could mean to artists at all levels.
When she moved to Paso Robles, Anne remembered this experience and wanted to see something similar built for the artists in Paso Robles. In the summer of 2007, she found an auto parts store which had gone out of business, and was able to lease the building and with the help of many others was able to bring Studios on the Park into being. It took hard work from the founding Board of Directors, friends, and fellow artists to get the doors open. Now the art community of North San Luis Obispo County has a home.
Since Studios on the Park is open four days a week to the public, it is a wonderful place for artists to promote their art. Those who have rented studios get a lot of traffic since people are attracted to a place where they cannot only have a gallery to look at, but also can watch real artists at work and ask them questions. It's a natural place to make contact with potential customers.
Marketing Art in a Recession
Many artists talked about a decline in sales because of a bad economy. Some of them are prominent artists used to getting high prices. They don't want to lower their prices on their large works. So they have started a new strategy.
They keep their large and more important works professionally displayed in suitable frames in galleries. But they create smaller works which they sell unframed less expensively from their websites. These smaller works attract an additional audience who will be able to buy as the economy struggles.