Last week, I attended a marketing seminar offered by my local arts council. The seminar was taught by a successful, large scale, abstract painter and artist. It gave me a lot to think about and, after some mulling over, I came away with a sort of battle plan.
Self-promotion is hard. We are raised to be modest and self-effacing about our accomplishments, but success demands that we put ourselves forward. Just sitting on the sidelines and waiting to be noticed could make for a very long wait.
I know that my work sells. My work has done well enough to win awards. Intellectually, I know that there is every reason to think that a market for my work exists and that I can be successful. (even if I fear in the pit of my stomach that I am a pretentious fraud, but I'm going to carry on as if that nagging voice of self doubt doesn't exist.)
The artist who led the seminar deals with large scale abstracts which she sells by the inch. A lot of what works for her clearly isn't going to work for me. A lot of her advice left me uncertain, but I think a lot of it has a lot of value.
The most important thing is to appear professional. Even if you are just starting out and have little success, be professional.
Have a website.
The website isn't about driving traffic or making money by itself. It's about having that professional space available to anyone that wants to check you out.
(I actually did this! I spent years not doing it because I was intimidated by my lack of knowledge, but in about 48 hours, I managed to set up my own website!)
I used Wix, but I know that there are a lot of simple, easy to use sites designed to help you set up your own website.
One of her basic bits of advice was to Narrow, Narrow, Narrow your focus. I admit that I can't see that being useful to me at this time. I make my living primarily from my jewelry work. I can't just toss everything aside to focus just on my digital art. It's a thought to let float around perhaps, but I don't think I can realistically apply it to me at this time.
That said, I've always had a problem trying to organize my different areas into one whole. I make jewelry. I play with fabric and make primitive dolls and animals. I work with digital art.
Last year, I set up the three areas into separate websites and blogs. Each has its own facebook page. Every time I applied for an art market, I wavered in how to define myself. In struggling to set up my website, I realized I was going to have to create an umbrella and be all those things. They are all valid forms of art and self expression.
I came up with a new name and set the site up around Fairy Surreal. I designed new business cards and ordered a new banner for my craft booth set up. I'm going to keep the divisions going: Voodoo Goblin for my dolls; Calliope's Work for my jewelry; and ProjectBunnyArt for my digital art pieces, but I need to re-frame them all as divisions of Fairy Surreal.
So, now I am branded. I am professional. What do I do next?
Find venues, right?
I already sell at a local art market. I have my work on display at two local galleries. I am going to focus some energy this year on organizing my on line selling with an emphasis on my new "brand".
Tell your story.
That was another primary point of our speaker. It makes a lot of sense, but where and how to tell your story?
I set up a tentative story on my website, but know I need to flesh it out, give it more interest and life.
I am tinkering with the idea of making up rack cards to include with all my prints that I have on display at the local galleries and in my prints. I haven't decided if it's a good idea yet or not.
Still, I have a lot of plans and ideas in motion. I love moving into a new year with new energy. I wonder where 2014 will bring us?