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I'm not exactly a very successful artist. I've had 3 of my drawings in a gallery but never really went beyond that. Not because my work isn't good. I just haven't really tried. However, one of the other artists at the gallery gave me a lot of advice. That coupled with stuff I've learned on and off...well I thought someone here might be able to use it.
This isn't about how to make your artwork "better". That's something that can only come with time and practice. Rather it's about ways to get your art out there and sold, if that's your goal.
1. Start a website
This may sound like it's common sense. But it should be mentioned. Having an online portfolio under your own name is really important these days. Your portfolio should include a cover page, a bio page, and a gallery of your work. Also you might want to include some links to other areas of the net your work is shown on. But don't go overboard. Too many links is usually a turn off.
2. Be all over the net
I've been told that when a potential buyer first learns of a new artist they will do a google search to see what comes up. The more places your name is on the net the better it looks. The potential buyer might not look at all those places. But seeing your name pop up on many sites is a good sign to them. Just don't go overboard. If you're going to be a part of a site then be sure to contribute.
3. Write a blog/newsletter
Having a blog or newsletter seems to help many artists. Entries should be varied and not all about the same thing. ie. you don't want to only post your latest artwork. To get an idea of what your blog and newsletter should look like take a look at those of other artists. Especially ones that are doing really well. Don't copy what they do.. Just use it for inspiration.
4. Contact galleries
A great way to sell your work is through galleries. These days it's not as important as it used to be, thanks to the net. But galleries are still a great place to show what you can do and maybe sell something. Most galleries take a percentage of what you make. The best way to contact a gallery is either through e-mail (include a link to your website) or by visiting them. Many galleries will do shows with more than one artist. They'll have a show with work that compliments each other. An example is one show I was in where the theme was "The Art of Being Human"
NOTE: Don't try and get a gallery to look at your work while a show is going on. Going to a show to promote yourself is tacky and will give you a bad rep.
Many cafes and some restaurants will show work from local artists. They hang the art on their walls and patrons sometimes buy them. Many Cafes will do a show of sorts. They'll hang art under a certain subject for an amount of time (usually a month or two). Then they give what didn't sell back to the artist and do it all over again. A good way to contact them would be to bring in a portfolio of your work (ie. binder with photos of your best stuff) and show it to the manager.
Facebook has become a mecca for promoting just about everything. It's free to start a business page or fan page. Having a facebook page for your art is a great idea. You should post an update at least once a day. Some of it should be about your process, or about any events you're in. It can also be about things in your life that affect you as an artist. Again, look at the fan pages of other artist (or writers or whatever) to get an idea of what works and what doesn't.
7. Art contests
Art contests are a great way to promote yourself and even earn some extra cash. Be careful though. There are a lot of bogus contests out there. Consider what the fee is, the prizes, and do some research to make sure they're legit. Contests are hard to win because it's not just about talent. The judges each base their decisions on many things. Composition, lighting, etc. Also, just like art shows many contests have a theme. Make sure if you submit to one that your art is within that theme. A good idea is to look at the winners from previous contests to see what the judges look for.
8. Art faires
My grandmother, who painted landscapes, used to do these. You pay for a booth and show your stuff. A good idea is to have prints of your work too. All sorts of artists sell their work at fairs. Some require that you send them photos of your work to make sure it's a. good enough and b. appropriate for their audience. Most faires run all weekend long.
9. Business cards
At the gallery most of the artists had business cards. I learned a lot by looking at them. One thing I learned is that for an artist having a pretty card isn't all that's needed. What most of them did, and it seemed to work really well for them, was to have their pieces on the backs of the cards. They usually had about 3-5 different cards. Vistaprint (I think that's the name) is an inexpensive way to make really good cards.
Some of the artists I've met also had post card sized cards too. It's good to have on a table at a show (faire or gallery or whatever) and easier to spot than a smaller card. But personally I find the smaller cards more convenient. Though there's no law against having both! lol
10. Art groups
Some areas have art groups where artists get together. The one I used to be in was held at the gallery I was in. It's really great to meet other artists face to face and get some good and honest critique from them. The one I went to had everyone bring in at least one piece with them. We would critique eachother and help each other out if they were stuck on a WIP. It was a lot of fun.
A good place to look for such groups is on meetup.com There are other sites, but personally I like meetup.
There are a lot of other things you could do but honestly I don't know much about them. It deals with other areas of marketing such as SEO (search engine optimization) which for some reason really elludes me. I did get an e-book on it that I haven't read yet. It's free and called "PhotoShelter SEO Cookbook". It's written for photographers but the info I'm told is good for artists too.
I can't think of anything else. I keep on feeling like there was more I wanted to post. If anyone has something to add then please do. The more we all know the better it is.
*hugs to all*
"No man is free who is not master of himself"
Shaun Kennedy wrote:some very good tips, thank you.
Well thought out and informative. Thankyou.
"No man is free who is not master of himself"
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