Art Marketing - Part 1

Since marketing is such a crucial element in building up any business, we’re going to explore a lot of ideas, so grab a cup of java and prop up your feet…this is a long post!

In order to sell your art, it has to be seen. (It’s all about Exposure!!)

Now is a good time to start thinking about what steps you can take to draw attention to your work. Here are some marketing ideas to help get the word out that you have unique art for sale.

Business Cards – this is the first marketing tool you need to get. You can start out with a simple business card if that is what your budget allows, or you can get more extravagant and incorporate images and fancier cardstock. You can go to Kinko’s, hire a graphic artist, or design your business card yourself. The business card has many uses beyond attracting prospective clientele…it can be used as price tag if you have pieces in an art show/festival OR you can throw it in business card bowls at restaurants around town and win free meals so that you won’t be mistaken as a starving artist. When you start planning a design for your card, think outside the box and create something that will standout. When I got my first business cards, money was a little tight and I opted for a simple and cheap design. Do what you can afford to do for now; and when you’re financially able, upgrade!!

(If you’re unable to buy business cards at this time, you can make half page flyers for yourself that contain all of your contact info, website info, etc., to hand out to people.)

Bookmarks are another creative way to get your name and images seen and into the hands of people. You can do this by getting bookmarks made with 2 or more images of your work on them. Bookmarks are a great way for people to continually see your artwork as they’re reading their books, looking through their planner, etc. You can hand them out to your friends, new people you meet and even leave them around town for people to pick up. (Everyone loves free stuff they can use.)

Make a brochure. This is another way to get examples of your imagery into the hands of prospective patrons. Your brochure should contain 6-8 good quality, full color images, and info about your work, you and your creative process.

Make some postcards. You can have the postcard made with one image, divided for two images or have a quadrant. Please be sure to put all of your contact info on the back of the postcard.

If you don’t know what images to use for bookmarks, brochures, or postcards, you can host a little art dessert party for some of your closest friends and present them with several images to choose from and ask them to pick their top 3-4 choices. This will help you to get some feedback and help make your decision making process a little easier.

Create your artist statement – which is a written statement by you about what your artwork represents and/or why you do it. This should be 1-2 paragraphs long.
Create your artist bio – it should contain the year, date and city of your birth, your education or who you have studied with and your history in art.
Create your artist resume – this is a chronological list of where you have displayed works previously, awards that you’ve won, and who you’ve studied with.

(You can google artist statement, artist bio and artist resume to get some examples. Once you have these docs set up, all you need to do is update them periodically to reflect any changes in your art career. These docs are important for you to have in your portfolio and on your website.)

Write about your art.
Did you know that you can raise the value and interest of your art by simply writing about it? When somebody is viewing a piece of art, they are bringing all of themselves into it….maybe they’ve had a horrible day or maybe they just won the lottery, but as the saying goes: ”wherever you go, there you are.” Viewers can easily misinterpret your intentions so if you have additional info about your work it can build a deeper connection with your viewers as you invite them to experience the art through your eyes and heart. (Any compositions you write about your work need to be posted on your website, myspace, or blog or wherever you happen to have your work.)

Get a website started.
I’ve sold several paintings with the help of my website and every year it pays for itself. It’s an excellent and easy way to show your work AND you can add personal info about yourself, creative inspiration, future plans, etc. (More info about websites coming soon!)

Advertise your upcoming shows and new artwork.
Keeping your family, friends & customers (patrons) informed about your upcoming shows or new artwork should be a vital part of your marketing strategy. You may decide that you want to inform your patrons monthly, quarterly or bi-annually to keep them updated on all the new things you have going on. You could do this by starting a small e-newsletter to send out, or it could be a postcard or a personal letter. This will help you to foster future business relationships and opportunities as your patrons may be inclined to spread the word about your work and invite others to your upcoming shows. Keep your communications with your patrons short and sweet (2-4 paragraphs) and always offer to answer any questions they may have. Please be careful to not to contact your patrons too much…it may cause them ignore your communications if they feel like they're being hounded by you.

Offer Incentives
Another thing you can do to encourage future sales from your patrons is to offer a discount on future purchases. Example: Patron X buys their first piece from you and as a “thank you” to them you offer 10-15% off their next purchase. OR You offer a free small print with their next purchase. Look for creative ways to offer your customers incentives to continue buying from you in the future.

Keep in mind that your marketing costs, which may be from business cards, bookmarks, brochures, postcards, website design fees, yearly domain registration and hosting fees, etc., are all tax deductible, so please keep your receipts.

Marketing Part 2 next week will focus on how to create a successful website on ANY budget!

-Michelle McSpadden


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