Artists take on a lot when they take on the title “Artist.” Whether the title logistically means as an artist that I “day-job” by day and “art-job” by night, when an artist endeavors to sell their work they add an entire set of skills to their existing artistic responsibilities, and one of the most important skills is marketing. The starting point for marketing your art is of course, the art. That said, there is art created just for the sake of saying something, and perhaps you don’t even want to sell that art. But then there is also art created to be seen, enjoyed, and sold. The art that needs marketing is the latter, even if the art that supports the artist is only a small percentage of their work.
I’ve been marketing my art, my clients’ art, and my husband’s art (Wallpusher.com) for several years, so I was honored and pleased to be invited to share my experience and expertise in an online Grove Class. On September 19th Joey O’Connor hosted the online class titled “Marketing your Art with Margot Rogers.” We had a lot of great insights discussing everything from the basics of starting your marketing plan to more specific difficulties that artists face in marketing their work, and current tools that I use to market art for clients and myself.
As an illustrator/muralist I have encountered the challenges of refining a portfolio, following trends, narrowing my work to a niche, and identifying the target audience who will be interested in my work. Our conversation started with a general but very important topic, the mind-shift that all artists must make to market their work: start thinking of your art as a product.
Join the Online Class
I invite you to enter into the conversation by watching the “Marketing Your Art” Teleseminar. You can view the online class at The Grove Center’s website. A little caveat for when you do watch the class: my slides are a little crowded by design. I intended each one to have enough information to look at for a second or third viewing. Don’t you love those movies that hide something in the background so that on first viewing you can hardly see everything in frame, so you are compelled to go back and take a second look? I was kind of going for that with lots of practical tips, illustrative images and quotes by marketing geniuses at the bottom of the slides. I just had so many inspiring people’s voices come into my head when I was preparing for this important topic that I just had to include them.
Here is just a slice of all the great marketing strategies and concepts that Joey and I discussed during the class:
Mapping your Marketing Plan
When you map out your marketing plan, your map should include these things: Product, Placement and Promotion. My favorite story that illustrates these marketing principles in action is the illustration project I did for Tim Ferriss, author of the Four Hour workweek, body and chef. How did I get such a gig? Well I had been following Tim Ferriss for a while and waiting for his new cookbook to come out. I was following him on twitter when he tweeted a call for art, which I responded to, and was hired.
How does my Marketing Plan apply to this? The Product was illustrative drawings; published on my online portfolio. The Promotion: via free social networking tools. The Placement was the most interesting. I was directly commissioned by Tim Ferriss to illustrate certain concepts for the book, but he had hired an intermediary publishing group to help him manage the project, who sent my drawings to the author and then sent them back to me with his edits and comments.
Main point: be sure that you understand the channels that get your art seen and sold. This model of intermediaries is pretty common all over the art world in galleries, museums, publishers, agents, and more. There is definitely a way to play the game, while at the same time recognizing that we are moving into a business space where the artist can connect directly with their collectors, or the illustrators with their authors, so your story will be more important than ever to reach your target audience.
One of the most important things to keep in mind as you wade into the marketing space is to “be yourself” aka: “be creative.” Take the creativity that you have honed with your art experience and apply it to the business of sharing your art. If we (artists) apply our creativity to business and marketing problems, developing a marketing plan will be easier, more successful, and more fun. More on that in a later post. Sharing my experience with other artists who are looking for creative ways to market their work has been very rewarding. Next week I will share more useful tips and practical advice to help you as you start developing your marketing plan.