If you’re an artist who is reflecting on the past year and making goals for the new one, you might be adding a resolution to better market your artwork in 2020. And if you’re like many other artists, just the notion is enough to make you, well, retreat into your work until you’re in a state of perfect flow and forget you had the thought to begin with.
Like all good resolutions, marketing your artwork is something that you don’t feel like doing…but is good for you? That can’t be right. There must be a better way to interpret the prioritization of marketing as a necessary part of an art career.
Not incidentally, Amy Cuddy reminds us that resolutions are often framed in a way that creates feelings of anxiety and damages positive perceptions of self. The social psychologist and Harvard professor would rather your promotional goals be formulated in an encouraging and non-essentialist fashion.
Below are 10 creative ways to market your artwork in the new year, written with particular attention toward Cuddy’s advice. As you read along, don’t denigrate yourself. And try to be mindful of the fact that you don’t have to do all of these things, or even one of them, all of the time. Set consistent, reachable goals and focus on the process.
Some of you might have read the word “regular” and immediately felt resentful and anxious. Stay with me. Set a goal that makes regular attainable for you. It could be one social post a month, one post a week, or one a day. The important thing about your social content is that it should be something that your followers can expect, or better yet, look forward to. You want your viewers to be able to remember you through habit. You want to provide them the opportunity to say to a colleague or their social following, “check out Kate Lewis’s awesome Monday posts of Chicago architecture.”
Similarly, your posts should link to one another, building a coherent message. Think of your social content as telling a story about you, your art, or your process. In an interview with Debbie Millman on Design Matters, writer, artist, and feminist Elle Luna talked about how posting her artwork on Instagram opened up an opportunity to have a show in a San Francisco gallery. Luna says, “that moment taught me so much about how important it is to get our work out of our studios, up off our desks, off the floor, off the wall, and to create an entire experience, an entire mounted body of work, and see it off of the dirty floor, and to see what larger story is being told.” Follow Luna’s advice, and decide to tell your story.
Along with other changes in 2019, Instagram added a Checkout function, allowing users to purchase your artwork without leaving the app, a powerful new tool for marking your artwork. Instagram’s visual nature, along with these new features, has made targeted ads an even more powerful tool for artists.
The major benefit of using targeted ads is exactly what it sounds like–you can choose from a number of categories, such as location, age, demographics, and interest, to target a specific group of its 1 billion active users. If you’re new to advertising on Instagram, Buffer provides a complete guide to Instagram ads in its library, and Facebook also provides a lot of help.
Of course, launching an Instagram ad campaign is a project in its own right. Don’t let that overwhelm you. As Cuddy recommends, focus on the process. If your goal is to use targeted ads, then concentrate on each step of that project as it arises. In effect, your goal has no timeline, and it’s difficult to feel like a failure for not yet having an ad when you are busy working to complete the next step.
Here are some tips to help you along the way:
There’s that frightening word again– “regular.” But you already know how to handle it. There might be another fear here, though–submitting your work can be the Scary Terry of your artistic dreams.
As Cuddy suggests, frame your goal in a positive way. Instead of a resolution to have a submission accepted at a specific place, which will set you up for what seems like certain failure when you inevitably experience soul-crushing rejection, make a resolution to complete twenty-five–or 50, 75, 100–submissions. Your goal is now detached from the negative emotions that could prevent you from being motivated and optimistic.
The key to submitting work–besides just going for it–is finding the outlets that best fit your projects. Most places will tell you what type of artwork they are looking for. For example, Colossal, a Chicago-based platform with 10 million monthly readers spanning 6 continents, explains that it looks for project-based submissions “involving a strong visual aspect.” Additionally, if you are shocked by the number of readers Colossal has, then you might also be surprised by how much exposure you would gain from similar submissions. What would Wayne Gretzky say about that? Find somewhere that your project might fit, and take a shot.
Cuddy tells us that we cannot be dependent on outside forces when it comes to goal setting. If you want to market your artwork, there is nothing that gives you more control than physically connecting to the creative scene.
In an episode of The Moment, Brian Koppelman, screenwriter and co-creator of the hit television show Billions, talks with guest Marc Andreessen about this physical proximity of creativity and innovation. Together, they bask in the shared acknowledgment of how important it is for creative professionals to immerse themselves in a scene. This is about connection, sharing a space, sharing your person, and being in what they term “collision space.” Think Patti Smith in New York, Ernest Hemingway in Paris, and Tina Fey at Second City.
Buying art from other artists is just good karma, right? It is also refreshing when people put their money where their mouth is.
Another way to think about the good karma that comes from buying others’ work is that you have done something to inject yourself into a community. It is, in fact, a part of being in a scene. And being in a scene is kind of a gateway to a new sort of exposure, and new ways to market your artwork.
In a city like Chicago, there are many restaurants, cafes, and local businesses looking for locally produced art to liven their walls. A local business teaming up with a local artist makes sense for both parties. Try to find a place to show your work, like Pick Me Up Cafe, that is part of your community and your scene.
At this point, you probably understand the benefit of reframing your resolutions through Cuddy’s advice. But you might be thinking you would like to begin with options that are less social, feel more like you, and that feel more attainable.
Nearly everyone has an online portfolio and making your site personal will better highlight your work. Luna’s site provides a great example. She makes her work personal through the written word. You might not be a writer, but there is a generous amount of evidence that suggests great artists write.
Writing is thinking, and what could be more personal than your thoughts? It can be done by simply adding some sentences to your visual work to describe your method or motivation for the project; it could be creative writing that blends with the theme of your projects; it could even be words that are a part of the art itself.
Another option is a blog. Blogging might give you the time and space to think more clearly about your project. You might not have many readers, but that is not the point. You will have the practice of putting your projects and your journey into language, which also will help you discuss your work with clients and artists. As a bonus, when someone visits your page, they will have a sense of your work.
Sending out a newsletter is a fantastic way to spread the word about what you are doing and successfully market your artwork. This might be a cinch after you’ve spent some time working on the suggestions above. Additionally, no matter how small, most people already have a network of email addresses that they can begin with.
It is a very personal thing to reflect on your own processes and work habits. Recording your artistic practice can help you become more aware of the way you navigate a project or why you do what you do. It also adds a layer of intrigue to your creations. Art admirers love to see time-lapses of work processes and transformations. Think about documenting your process. Once you’ve done that, you can get creative about how you want to share it.
There’s not a more positive way to share your work than by helping a charity. Currently, many artists are producing volunteer art to help raise funds and awareness for the Australian wildfires. Joining the fight is a great start for 2020.
You can also collaborate with IPaintMyMind. We promote your work, collect your pieces, and help you sell more, all while bringing it to communities that otherwise would go without exhibitions or programs. Charity is a great way to market your artwork, and we promise, marketing has never felt this good. Join the cause, and sell us your art.
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