Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Marketing Your Art/Creating a "Brand"

Most artists are unaware that it takes about 50% of your time to market your art properly.  No agent, no gallery is going to market your art with passion and knowledge like yours (remember, they aren't working only for you!), so do it yourself and put that money you'd give an agent into your own advertising! 

As an artist, your name is your "brand name" unless you prefer promoting your studio's name.  Either way, it's a "brand" and that's a good way to think of it as you promote it. 

Building a "brand name" is a multi-pronged task.  You need a business card with an image of your work preferably on both sides (with some clear space left to write notes on if you need to - and all your contact info on one side).  ALWAYS carry a good supply of your cards with you.  I recently gave cards to a couple of people I was introduced to in church, when my friend included "She's a sculptor" in his introduction and then asked me to show his friend some pictures of my work.  Carrying cards is the first, simplest and one of the most important steps in marketing.  And try to always have at least some pictures with you, even if they're on your cell phone, as mine are (gotta love smart phones!).

You need brochures or fliers with pictures of your work - color, if possible (if I can afford it, I'm doing color next year!).  Don't do cheap-looking brochures (those printed on regular computer paper, for instance) or people won't consider your art to be worth much.  Use heavyweight, glossy or matte paper, but GOOD paper to make the best and most memorable impression.

You need a Website - not just a Facebook page.  People looking for artists don't look on Facebook, they search the Web.  Google won't find your art on Facebook, just your posts, but it will find your Website if you build the meta tags right! 

All your promotional materials - cards, brochures, website, etc. - need to be similar in style.  Perhaps you'll use your business logo on everything, or a picture of the same piece on the cover of each thing, so every piece of advertising, each hand-out, tells people this is YOUR work, without them even having to read your name.  If your work is elegant and refined, your Website and other materials should be elegant and refined.  If your work is more eclectic or funky or whatever, then your website and everything else should have the same feel.  You want to create a "presence" that's recognizable. 

Think of Nike and their "swoosh" - all you have to see is that "swoosh" and you know it's a Nike product, which tells you something about its quality, style and price without you even looking for that information because you know the brand.  Find a way to make your work that recognizable.  I can recognize a Kimberly Kelly Santini painting the instant I see it - her style is that unique (to my eye, anyway).  Same with Elin PendletonDebbie Flood , Shary Akers and many other artists.

Create a unified presence with a real similarity in style or palette among your works.  My bronzes are COLORFUL because I want them to look like real horses.  I rarely  use the French brown patina people think of as "bronze" color - it's good for outdoor art because it's durable, but there are many more interesting choices for indoor sculptures.  I have my bronzes finished with translucent patinas so the metal glitters through just as a real horse's clean summer coat glitters metallically in the sun.  I haven't seen anyone else use such patinas on horses the way I do, and that's fine with me!  The few paintings I've done are bold-colored and look more like stained glass than realistic horses, and I like them that way.  If I ever produce paintings I think are worth selling, they will be bold and probably a bit stylized since I can't draw as well as I'd like to.  But they will fit in my "colorful" style.  (That's my "Frolic" show above.)

Stand back and look at your work.  There is a uniformity or a thread of continuity to it somehow - that's your style.  Find ways to emphasize that in all your advertising and in your booth setup.  For instance, I don't use black drapes for my table covers.  Mine are a slate blue and my carpet is light beige - it's a light, bright, elegant but cheerful booth.  Early in my career, I followed someone else's advice on how to make my booth elegant and used to use black drapes, but all the Friesians I do faded into the black when it was behind them, and I found that much black to be kind of overwhelming, so I went for contrast with the art, and lighter, pretty colors to keep me happy.

There are tons of books out on marketing your art.  Go buy at least one of them - preferably two or three so you can compare methods between them - and then do what they say!!  Do your own research and figure out what will work for you.  Nobody but NOBODY can sell your art like you can!  Believe it!