There are so many talented artists in this world and yet we may never get to see their work. Many artists are private people, are shy, or simply aren’t aware of how they can get their art out there to be seen.
Here are some tips on how to market yourself from scratch as an artist:
- To begin with, attend art shows of other artists. It is fun and a great way to find out what other artists do at their shows, see how they represent themselves and to meet art enthusiasts. It is inspiring to be around art and its a good way to make connections.
- Craft fairs, summer markets and Christmas shows are excellent forums for marketing your work and also an inexpensive way to do market research. Up close to your customers you get to know first hand what they like and don’t like and what your most popular designs are. These events can expose you to a large number of people in a short amount of time and help you become better known. It’s a great place to start off, and I have made some important contacts through simple markets.
- Internet marketing will help you develop a following. Make sure your email address is a professional sounding email address rather than too personal and work on developing a web presence. If you don’t have a website yet, post your work on a blog or a photo sharing site. You can also join art conversations on Twitter. A website doesn’t have to cost a lot of money upfront; you can start with just a few simple pages and your designer can add new work to it as you send it to them. Even if you build it piece by piece, your website will open a personal link to art buyers around the world. Your website is your digital business card and portfolio. Gift stores, gallery owners, and collectors alike will have your catalogue at the tips of their fingers
- Put your email address or website on the back of everything you sell. Many of my new retailers and corporate clients are obtained from this kind of networking.
- Whenever you have the chance, browse through galleries and gift stores to get a feel for the gallery culture and to compare prices and styles. Ask questions to store owners and learn about the business side of art.
- You don’t have to be ready for a gallery to be ready for an art show. Enlist a local artsy cafe or fancy restaurant to host an art show for you. It could last for two hours or for a month. Sometimes one night shows are great because they produce a sense of urgency. Also, people love meeting the artist in person and you are more likely to have sales at a show during the times when you are present.
- When you have an artshow, no matter how small, send out invitations to everyone you know. Put posters up everywhere. Make business cards and professional price tags, labels with your email address and biography, and even brochures. Bring a guest book and have people sign their name and email addresses. Add these names to an ongoing email list for that area and then whenever you have another art show or event in that town, email that list of people and let them know about it. People will appreciate that you keep in touch with them and it is a great way of growing your list of contacts.
- If you can’t afford to get brochures and posters made, ask a local company if they will sponsor your marketing and in return put their logo on your printed materials.
- Make appointments with appropriate galleries or gift stores and ask if you can show them your work. Tell them you would love to have a critique and find out what gallery owners are looking for in terms of a portfolio. Work up the courage to ask a local gift store if they will sell cards of your work.
- Once you have your work in some stores, send out letters to your retailers to show them what you have that is new. You can recruit new clients with phone calls, catalogues in the mail and with personal visits. Networking is important since most of your business might come from word of mouth.
Best of all, have fun. If you really enjoy what you do, it will shine through and draw people to your art.