Artist Tip – Marketing

As we discussed previously, an artist’s website is their number one marketing tool. What else is there that can potentially reach the entire world? That being said the website needs to be simple, comprehensive, and updated to reflect what is happening every day.

Content marketing is all the rage these days and artists have a great opportunity to provide consistent content to their followers. The website blog is where it should all start and posts should be made weekly to reflect any news, events, works in progress, thoughts, or ideas that will influence how people see you as a professional artist. The types of posts are endless and can really get people to follow you because you can let them see inside your daily life as you think and create.

You can connect your web blog to all social media outlets you use as well (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) so that the content spreads through your network. Research shows these platforms are good for up to 6 posts per day before followers start to ignore the content. The posts should also be shared in as many groups as possible (where appropriate) to increase the footprint and visibility of each post in a feed. Encouraging your followers to share also increases the visibility so make the content valuable!

Many businesses have gone away from email marketing but it is still a proven marketing tool, with research showing that people who are engaged with a business prefer weekly or bi-weekly email marketing over daily or monthly. Make sure to capture email addresses for anyone interested in your art and have a working email list. Services such as Mailchimp allow you to upload an entire list, put sign up forms on your website and social media, maintain subscriptions, and connect to social media for sharing purposes.

Direct mail marketing has also seemed to go the way of the buffalo, but is still very effective if used correctly. Keep an address list of loyal clients and send out postcards for special events or extraordinary exhibitions on your schedule. A minimum of 2-3 mailings a year will give your clients a tangible reminder of you.

Online event pages/sites are all over the internet, from the local news station website to Craigslist, there are a plethora of places to post your events. We suggest finding as many as possible to post events, exhibition openings—this gets the word out to a broader base and also helps in search (SEO) if you post a link to your website.

Press releases can yield some free advertising. A local reporter stated that the reason he doesn’t write about a lot of the galleries is because he doesn’t get any pitches from them. Now PR is a very different monster than simply emailing your media contact list, it takes some media savvy… Press releases should be written clearly and include the “When, What, Where, Why” along with something unique that catches attention. We do not recommend building a list of reporters from every media outlet and mass emailing them press releases, there may be some initial interest but it will fade due to repetition. Search for local reporters who write about the arts, culture, nightlife, events, things-to-do, and business. Create individual lists for each and start by emailing or calling them directly to introduce yourself and ask if they would like to receive press releases from you.

When you write a press release send it individually to a few reporters as a pitch, ask them if they would like to interview you for a story about the event or news, then allow time for follow up. If a day or so goes by try the next group. Make sure the releases are about things that each group specializes in, don’t send a release about an exhibition to a business writer. A major factor in getting coverage is finding out a timeline on when reporters need the information—magazine writers usually have longer publication times so need information a lot sooner than newspaper or TV, which focus on short term news.

The most critical part of marketing is your strategy, know what you want to do ahead of time and plan ahead. Creating a monthly and yearly marketing plan is the key to effectiveness. The most effective strategy is to have a weekly marketing schedule that you do one outreach task each day or so, then it becomes consistent!

Artist Tip – Marketing Materials

I have talked a lot about creating a professional portfolio, website, and having your own noticeable brand.  These are all essential for applying to exhibitions and galleries, even they don’t require all of the materials, they will see the effort you put into your online presence and portfolio. That professionalism makes people take notice!

Once you are accepted into a show or gallery, then they have to market your work too, it takes a lot of work and time so if you provide them the materials that make it easier for them, you will be a rockstar in their minds.

Provide your written artist statement/bio/CV in a format they can easily add their branding. Make sure you’ve had them edited and looked over so there are not any typos and grammar issues. Also, have images of all of your artwork inventory ready for them, not only that they can use for web, print, and marketing but they may have clients who would like to see more of your work, so have it readily available to them.

My last post was about images but here are a few quick pointers:

Have digital files of high res (8 inches at 300 dpi), medium res (6 inches at 200 dpi), and low res (6 inches at 120 dpi) saved.  The high and medium res can be saved as TIFF files, and I recommend using PNG files for the lower res, they don’t degrade over time like JPGs.

 

If the gallery has these written and visual materials available on demand they provide them to media and clients easily, either via email or print. A practice I encourage galleries to do is to provide a comprehensive curatorial packet including all the written materials and a high quality image with artwork specs to every client with their purchase.  This is great for insurance purposes as well as provenance records.  The gallery brand should be on all materials since there is no telling where they might end up and who might see them.

Like I said, if you make it easier for them to compile the info and brand it, they will love you for it. As always if you need any assistance with developing your portfolio, website, or documenting your artwork please don  not hesitate to contact me.

  • Justin Germain

Developing a brand for your art

Developing a unique, recognizable brand is one of the most important factors to running a successful business.  One of the first things I tell artists who desire to make it their sole profession is to think of it as a business, so branding is of utmost importance!  Branding will make your art, and you, stand out from the rest and help you develop a consistent, loyal clientele.

The first rule of branding is consistency.  Your name, logo, colors, font, etc. must be consistent across all of your digital and physical marketing materials.  It is how people will identify that what they see comes from you.

The story behind the artwork is a major part of your brand.  If you can describe the important influences, inspirations, and reasons why you create, along with a little bit about yourself in an engaging way that your customers can understand and relate to, they will remember you, and visit regularly.  A good point that I heard recently is, people buy from people, so let those potential clients in; let them get to know you and your work!

In any business the product is of primary concern, it is what you sell to make income, so it is how your client can come to own the brand themselves.  Your artwork defines your brand.  In turn, your clients who purchase from you define their taste in line with that brand.

I encourage you to put some real time and thought into this.  Brainstorm the definition of what you create, whether it be a certain style, medium, theme, or concept.  What other services or products do you offer?  How do these varying things fit together, or do they at all?  Narrow down the aesthetic of what you present to your clients and define it.  Make this part of your story.

One reason I feel this is an important first tip is this… The artwork each gallery or dealer exclusively sells is a huge part of its brand. If your work fits into that brand you will be more successful trying to get an exhibition or representation.  This may be your goal, to have an arts business represent you and sell for you, but that does not happen overnight.  Build your brand now and make it successful so you can choose what path your business takes in the future.

Just Announced – Artistserv Partners with Xico, Inc for a Series of Professional Artist Development Workshops

XicoFlyerWorking in the Phoenix art community for more than a decade, Justin Germain saw first-hand the many obstacles local artists faced trying to develop their careers and build their businesses. He set out to change that.

Armed with a Master’s degrees in Art History and Public Administration from ASU and University of Phoenix, respectively, the longtime valley resident had held a series of art gallery positions, both formal and informal, before finding a new calling. “It’s not uncommon at smaller galleries for staff to work as curator, marketing director, and operations manager, all rolled into one job position,” chuckles Germain.

Wearing many hats, however challenging, proved to be invaluable training. While he was adept at addressing many of the issues that came up in his day-to-day gallery work, Germain saw something he didn’t have time to address. “So many artists would simply send me a link to their work, or sometimes to a poorly designed website or Facebook page, and somehow expect me or someone else to ‘discover’ them; meaning that an artist would somehow soar to success overnight,” says Germain. “This can happen, but more often, it takes years to be ‘discovered,’ if it happens at all.” Some of the major challenges for artists are their lack of professional skills and materials to meet the standards of high-level gallery programs and their inability to directly market their work themselves,” says Germain.

Finally doing something about a gnawing feeling that he could do more to help artists, Justin became founder and chief consultant of his own freelance company, Art(ist)serv, dedicated to helping artists think of themselves and their art as a business.

“Today, with a little know how, an artist can market to the world while building an impressive resume and sales record that will attract gallerists and collectors. We can help artists at any stage of their career market themselves to increase their growth, recognition and success.  In this way, artists have a greater opportunity to expose their art to a bigger audience,” says Germain. “By developing their business professionally, artists can increase their opportunity for gallery showings, potential representation, and create a greater market to sell their work,” he explains.

Those past years of multiple art gallery positions now provide invaluable industry insight that Germain uses and shares with artists as they establish and build the commercial side of their craft.  While a handful of museums and other organizations offer some ‘ways to succeed’ for artists, Germain’s company is one of few locally offering specific marketing support for art and artists in the Phoenix area, according to Germain.

Now, in partnership with Xico, Arte y Cultura, a non-profit arts organization and gallery in Phoenix, Germain will lead a series of three Professional Artist Development (PAD) workshops on marketing strategies and must-haves, just for artists.

Donna Valdes, executive director of Xico, selected Germain for the series because she feels he offers an in-depth, hands-on review of marketing for a group of professionals most focused on the process of creating something, often without the tools, resources, or training to sell it. “The intent of our professional development workshops is to help our artists be successful,” says Valdes. “The PAD series, offered at an affordable price point, holds the promise of real net returns for the participants,” she adds.

The workshops will be from 6 to 8 p.m. July 24, 31 and August 7 at the Xico Galería, 1008 E. Buckeye Road, Suite 220, Phoenix 85034. Cost is $50 for all three workshops, or $20 each. Artists should attend all three as each builds on the other.

For more information, or to pay for workshops, please contact Xico by emailing info@xicoinc.org or by calling Xico at 480-833-5875.

Artist Tip – How To Approach Galleries

We recently discussed looking for as many opportunities as you can to earn a living using your creativity and to directly market you art. But of course most artists hope to get gallery shows and even representation, as they should. Here are some pointers when you are ready to approach galleries, and by ready I mean that you have all the basic marketing  materials for yourself–a simple website with all of your written materials and images with detailed information.

– Get to know the galleries. Visit as many as you can and get a sense of what kind of art they show and if your work would fit with the aesthetic and focus of the gallery.  If not you would be wasting your time submitting your work to them.

– Introduce yourself to the employees at galleries you would be interested in showing at.  Find other artists that have exhibited with them and learn more about how they work.  Attend as many events at the space as you can; staying active makes you more memorable.

– Do your research and find out how they prefer submissions to be sent in and what materials they require.  Pay attention to the details so that you can edit anything you need to before sending it. Professional galleries that have an open submission policy should have detailed information on their website. Also make a note if there is a time of year that they accept submissions or if it is year round.

– If the galleries you are interested in have group shows submit work for them. If you can get one work in the gallery it could lead to more in the future.

– When you send your submission, personalize it to the curator and explain why you feel your work fits in the gallery, and what you bring to the table.

DON’TS

Do not send a mass email to all the galleries in your area with vanilla information.

Do not send emails to curators without ALL of the requested materials

Do not send a link to your website without anything else asking them to “check it out,” they won’t.

Do not take your portfolio into the gallery during an opening or without an appointment. Gallerists are very busy people and they don’t usually have time to review your work out of nowhere. Submission reviews can often take weeks, especially if they have a pile of them with you at the bottom.

Do not make threats or claims that express your ego–be humble in your approach.  If you are approaching serious, successful galleries this type of behavior will get you blackballed from the community quickly.

As always, let us know if you need help developing your materials, formatting images, or organizing your submissions.

Artist Tip – When Do I Start?

Over the years I have run into a reoccurring challenge with artists; they think they aren’t ready to promote themselves. Realistically, if you consider yourself an artist and want to make a living creating art you must start now. If you have a decent amount of completed work, 5-10 pieces, it is time to promote yourself.  Of course, your ducks must be in order but the most important part of getting started, is starting. If you struggle with “launching” pay attention to the following steps:

  • Make the decision to get started and create a plan
  • Create your written materials – Artist statement, Bio, CV immediately
  • Capture high quality images of your work
  • Build a simple website with the above
  • Use a blog to start building content
  • Engage with social media to promote your website/blog – you can even link them so they are efficient
  • Build your network on social media
  • Visit local galleries and other venues that show art and see if your work fits in
  • Attend art events and introduce yourself
  • Join local art groups
  • Find group exhibitions to submit to

If you don’t start sometime you never will, and no time is better than now.  If you don’t have all the answers you will learn as you grow. We are here to help.  If you need help to build any of the above materials or get to know more about the art market follow our blog or contact us for a consult!

If you have art business questions you would like to see written about in this blog email them to us at artistserv@gmail.com

Local Representation in Art Institutions – Why Not?

Many local artists and galleries have voiced concerns about a lack of support for the Phoenix art community by the local arts institutions.  There is a sense of a proverbial “they” when it comes to Phoenix Art Museum, SMOCA, ASU Art Museum, etc. as a conglomerate entity ignorant of the local scene and preferential to blockbuster international exhibitions and artists championed by Board members and the elite decision makers at these institutions.  Some concerns are metaphorical conspiracies suggesting a plot to dissolve the contemporary artists of the valley and implant a new regime, as if they wish to introduce an intrusive species into the desert to gorge on resources hidden from locals.  We propose that what exists is a lack of critical thinking and understanding of the position that institutions populate within the community, along with a total disregard for the purpose of a museum.

A museum is an institution that collects and/or displays objects of historical value and makes them available for public viewing on a permanent or temporary basis. Most museums are also places for academic research and education. Today, the museum has evolved into a place for social interaction, social justice, and community engagement.  A priority is also placed on spreading creative innovation, as Holland Cotter states, “Their job as public institutions is to change our habits of thinking and seeing.”  Therefore, they are spaces meant to expand creative and critical thinking about the ideas and objects in our world.

Most importantly, museums typically serve the general public by bringing ideas and objects to them not seen on a regular basis where they live.  Let’s look deeper at this through the mission statements of the three largest institutions in the Phoenix area:

Phoenix Art Museum: Our Mission is simple – Phoenix Art Museum is a vibrant destination connecting people to great art from around the world to enrich their lives and communities.

SMoCA: The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art champions creativity, innovation and the vitality of the visual arts. We seek to build and to educate audiences for modern and contemporary art, as well as to provide opportunities for the artistic community— locally, nationally and internationally. SMoCA provides a memorable experience of art, architecture and design by exploring new curatorial approaches and by highlighting cultural context. We interpret, exhibit, collect and preserve works in these media.

ASU Art Museum: The ASU Art Museum’s mission is to be a meeting point for the exchange of new ideas, perspectives and experiences among artists, students and the public through our exhibitions, residencies, collections and programs. The Museum forges meaningful connections across all areas of research in order to create a better, more sustainable future.

We could continue to explore the mission’s of other local institutions and there are a few common themes—engaging the public, educating visitors, and advocating for the arts.  Further, museums collect, conserve, and store objects for academic research in order to continue to expand discourse on society, politics, culture, and much more.  Only SMoCA even mentions opportunities for the local artistic community, but when we look in depth at the activities of the local institutions we find a great deal of support.

Contemporary Forum (CF) is a support organization for contemporary art at the Phoenix Art Museum. CF awards up to seven grants to Arizona artists each year, totaling over $224,000 to 168 artists since 1986.  The recipients are selected through a jury process of an annual open call.  The selected artists are also exhibited the following year in the Lyon Gallery at the museum. Additionally, the Arlene and Morton Scult Contemporary Forum Artist Award is presented annually to a mid-career artist to be used for the further development in the field of art—so far granting $30,000 to six artists, who have also been featured in solo exhibitions in the museum.

The annual CF art auction is often a source of heavy debate in the local art community.  The main concern is that CF asks local artists to donate their work to the auction and the funds raised are used to procure a work of art from an internationally recognized artist from elsewhere in the world. In light of our exploration of museum missions, this now appears logical, as well as beneficial to local artists.  CF offers each artist a percentage of the funds for their work and gives them an opportunity for exposure to a wide array of art collectors and museum supporters.  The funds are used to bring a new work to the museum for the benefit of the artists—to engage with new contemporary work by an established artist—and the public.

As for exhibition opportunities, there are plenty for local artists if they know where to look and qualify for the institution guidelines, although there have been relatively few major exhibitions featuring locals.  In 2009, Phoenix Art Museum organized “Locals Only,” curated by Sara Cochran (former contemporary art curator at the museum, now Associate Director, Curator, and Educator at SMoCA).  The exhibition presented the work of 12 Chicano and Latino artists based in the Phoenix metro area and focused on issues of identity, cultural tension, and shifts in art practices.  The limited scope of the exhibition definitely excluded many local artists but was a great step in the right direction with the inclusion of local contemporary artists at the museum.

There are many opportunities for local artists to submit their work or exhibition proposals to the other major art institutions in the valley. SMoCA, Mesa Art Center, Chandler Center for the Arts, Shemer Art Center, and the West Valley Art Museum all actively call for and review submissions from any artists and have a history of showing locals.

There have also been complaints in the art community that the museum curators do not pay attention to local artists, which in our experience is not the case.  Cochran and PAM curators Vanessa Davidson and Becky Senf are regulars on the local gallery circuit.  Heather Sealy Lineberry from ASU Art Museum can also be found making the rounds on many First or Third Fridays.  There has also been more collaboration between museums and galleries recently.  Last December Phoenix Art Museum curator worked with the monOrchid to continue the exhibition “Focus Latin America: Art is our last hope” (which included many local artists) at the gallery after its run at the museum.

Bottom line—the local institutions are here to inspire, not only artists but the entire community.  They are places to explore history, engage in ideas, and use as launching pads for artistic experimentation.  They bring important work from history around the world to Phoenix so that we, as a city, can experience something not of our own place and expand our horizons.  An artist who has not done anything to build their resume, explore the limits of their work, or develop as a professional artist has no room to complain about the lack of support from the institutions.  Especially when that perspective is ignorant of fact. One suggestion to artists, stop thinking so narrowly.  Institutions around the country provide opportunities and there are so many calls for art to be found online.  Look outward to build your resume, then maybe more institutions would take notice.

That said… there are some improvements that would definitely foster connections and increase appreciation for the museums.  It would be outstanding to see more involvement in the local art community from PAM and CF, especially with a new director and hopefully soon a new contemporary curator.  New PAM Director Amada Cruz has stated that she would like the museum to organize more travelling exhibitions that originate here.  A suggestion—maybe an exhibition featuring the cream of the crop from the local talent pool. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have an assistant curator at PAM also be someone who has been immersed in the local art scene?  An idea down the line may be to inaugurate the first Museum of Local Art… It would also be amazing to see a group step up to form a Phoenix biennial that would engage the entire valley and bring art collectors in from around the world. Tucson has one, why not Phoenix! The month of March comes to mind… Use Art Detour as a launching point and get all the cities, institutions, and galleries involved.