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 – The Artist Website

Simply put, an artist’s website is their most important marketing tool.  It is where your entire portfolio resides on the internet–where anyone globally can access and learn about your work. Therefore, it should be simple, professional, and comprehensive.

I have seen many artist websites, some are absolute nightmares, some incomplete, some neglected, some only have a facebook page (and sometimes only personal ones at that) and some are pretty damn good.  There are crucial elements that every artist needs on their website:

– A custom URL – Use a variation of your name or studio name.  This will make it easier for people who are looking for you to find the site.

– “HOME” – The landing page is the introduction to your site so make it powerful and concise. Welcome visitors to your page with a short introductory paragraph and some images.   Make sure to have a sentence that states your location and that you are a contemporary artist, painter, sculptor, etc. (This is for search purposes, which I will discuss a bit below).  You can also include links to all of your social media on the home page.  Hopefully your site will allow your contact information to display on every page, but at the least put it on the homepage, and possibly create a separate page for all your contact methods.

– “ABOUT” – Here you can create one page that includes your focused artist statement, bio, and CV or you can create “child” pages for each element.  This depends on the length of your materials, so use your best judgment.  Images of you, your studio, and exhibitions are good on these pages.

– The artwork pages or galleries – Of course this is where you want your visitors to land.  I do not suggest having images of every work you have ever created on your website, especially if you have been making for a long time. Break your work up into time periods, separate themes (bodies), or even media.  Some artists only show their newest work on their website. This is a judgment call too but make sure your categories are clearly defined. The newest work should be at the top of your page or list of pages.  Make sure to list the title, date, media, size, and PRICE of each work on your website. If you want people to inquire or purchase from you, tell them how much and if you will do a payment plan.  Very few people will contact you if they do not know how much they might be spending, the social semantics of “if we have to ask we cannot afford it” still holds true to many people.

BLOG – Yes, it is a must.  Use your blog to post news about your art including new works, works in progress, exhibitions, ideas, shows or artists that inspire you–anything that keeps fresh content on your site. Dedicate a few hours a week to posting updates that automatically go on to your social media as well so you extend your reach.

CONTACT – If you choose to have a completely separate contact page make sure to include your email address, phone number (if you want calls), and links to all your social media.

These “rules” are meant for artists that are directly marketing themselves, if an artist is represented by a gallery there may need to be some changes based on the contract.  It is essential you honor your contract and use your website to promote your work in your gallery’s inventory.

A little about search… Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a term used a lot in marketing and pushed by all sorts of sales people that want you to pay them to make your site #1.  This is not important for a solo artist.  Yes, you want people to find you but if they don’t know your name already, you could spend thousands of dollars on SEO, keywords, tags, and link building and still not be found in searches. So, here are a few important things that help with search and boost the importance of the information on your website.

– Use a platform already built for SEO such as wordpress, squarespace, weebly, or wix.

– Use text on as many pages as possible, search engines cannot find images.  Some keywords are great.  The first sentence on your homepage stating your name, location, and that you are a contemporary artist is great for search.

– Share links to your pages on social media and encourage others to share them as well.  The more links to your website the easier search engines have to work to find it.

– Regularly post new content on your blog, search engines like new content.

If you have no idea how to build a website or want to make sure it is simple and easy to navigate let us know.  We cost a lot less than a web designer and can consult with you on building a simple, effective site!

Artist Tip – Finding Opportunities and “Exposure”

There are a myriad of opportunities for artists to show and sell their work.  The main thing to keep in mind is that they rarely come and find you.  An artist must be diligent and professional about finding as many ways possible to get eyes on their work, which will hopefully lead to sales!

Of course with technology today, the best way an artist can promote to an international market is with a comprehensive website and social media.  This is the best way to be “found” or possibly “discovered.”  Check out some of our previous artist tips about the essential materials and information to have on your website.  In summary, make sure you have outstanding images of your artwork and plenty of written information about you and your work.

There are many outlets for artists to display and sell their work online, we have a list of some of the best HERE.

In today’s world, especially the art world, using social media to market yourself and your work is absolutely necessary.  I recommend all artists take an active role in networking and posting often about their work.  At least, artists should be active on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Now, definitely don’t over do it, but research shows each of these platforms are good for up to 6 posts per day before the audience starts to ignore them.  A key point is to continue to grow your network by engaging with other artists and people who show interest in what you do.  Word of mouth goes a long way in the art industry.

For early career artists, especially those just getting started, it is important to look into alternative venues other than art galleries to show your work.  Search your vicinity for restaurants, coffee shops, salons, libraries, any business that might be a good opportunity for you to hang your work and where people will see it. Another great idea I have seen catch on lately is for groups of young artists to join together and find exhibition spaces to show all of their work.  There are many artist run organizations that you can join to get in on potential exhibition opportunities that they set up for the group as well, so it’s a good idea to search those out.

Often I see artists focusing way too much on just their local area.  A great way to get more views on your work and build your resume is to submit to national and online calls for exhibitions and competitions.  I offer a curated list of open calls HERE but a simple google search for “calls for art” or “call to artists” could yield some great opportunities. Remember to always follow the submission  guidelines, an easy way to not get selected is send the wrong materials. If you need help with writing, editing, or creating a portfolio or application, definitely give me a call.

If an artist is ready to plunge into the gallery world, then there is one piece of advice I hope you pay attention to: DO YOUR RESEARCH!  First, look for group shows you can submit to.  The best way to find them is to get to join the gallery mailing list and join local artist groups in social media like Facebook. There are so many types and specializations in the local gallery scene so here are some steps to find the best fit:

  • Get to know which galleries would most likely be interested in your work
    • Do they show early-career, mid-career, or established artists?
    • Find out what style of work they usually show—what is their brand?
    • Learn about the price range they show and sell—do you have work that fits their sales model?
  • Find out how they prefer to receive submissions and what materials they require—hopefully they have this information on their website, if not make a phone call to inquire.
  • If you apply and are not selected, continue to visit the galleries you are interested in. Introduce yourself to the curators and other artists they show.  After a while, name recognition could go a long way.

These pointers could get your work noticed by galleries and maybe even represented.  But, remember to really focus on the gallery requests.  Here is an inside tip from a former gallerist, we only really review and keep the submissions that have everything we request, and whose work fits our aesthetic.  If an artist ever just sent an email with a website link, I rarely even looked at the website, the email went right to the trash box.

Lastly, I want to touch on the idea of doing things for people, groups, organizations, etc for “exposure.”  For example many nonprofits ask artists to donate their work for events, auctions, and such with the claim that they will get a lot of “exposure” and many people with money will see it.  Be very skeptical, do research on the organization and their donors and see if it is beneficial. Do they actually have any real interest in art?  What do the proceeds go towards?  Do they give the artist any part of the money raised by their work?  Donating artwork and the tax implications are tricky, they are changing for the better too, but I cannot stand when artists who are well known enough are doing things for “exposure.”  In any business there are internships for those needing to learn and get some experience.  Is this you? If so it could be beneficial as a resume builder. But, for professional artists, I promote not doing anything for free, your work is your livelihood.  Give if you feel there is a cause you want to support but never let the promise of “exposure” dictate your involvement.

  • Justin Germain

Written materials for artists

I know, I know, the work should sell itself right?  Not realistic… unfortunately.  It is imperative now more than ever that an artist have clear, concise written materials that explain and engage the viewer.  With the massive amount of art on the market you have to convince a potential buyer that your work is important and they need it, this means they have to have an emotional connection to it.  Therefore, the more they can learn about the work, and you, the better your sales will be.

Artist Statement/ Biography/ CV

These are the three staples that I believe every artist must have—and they are not one document they are all completely separate and very different.

Your artist statement is your explanation of your oeuvre, a body of work, or an individual piece.  Some artists will have one umbrella statement, while others have many crafted for specific uses.  I recommend having one explaining your work as a whole, one for each body of work or series you create, maybe one for each piece you make.  The more you have prepared the better off you will be.

You may have multiple versions of each too, directed to specific groups, but the most important is the one directed at potential clients so there are some keys to remember:

  • Use the first person, this is your statement so do not speak about yourself in the third person. It is impersonal and honestly kind of annoying.
  • Keep it short, at the most 2-3 paragraphs totaling a maximum of 250-300 words. Your statements do not need to explain everything, they must engage and start a conversation.
  • Keep it simple—do not use artspeak that only museum curators understand. It needs to be clear to everyone who comes across it, if they don’t understand the words you use they will not buy it, and if they do buy it they will want to be able to explain it to others.
  • Have multiple versions—be flexible with it so you can adapt it to exhibition needs.
  • Discuss what the work is, how you make it, and why.
  • Use your artist statement to develop your “elevator statement,” a pointed explanation of your work in 2 or 3 sentences that you commit to memory used when you are asked, “Oh you are an artist, what do you make?”
  • If you are not comfortable with your writing or want it to be better, work with a professional, the cost will be much more affordable than missing out on sales.

Your biography is where you get to write about yourself and give the reader some insight into who you are and how that is reflected in your art.  This can be written from the outside perspective so I definitely recommend working with a professional art writer to craft your bio and tell your story.  Most importantly, remember this is about you, not necessarily your art, but you can discuss your background with the arts, it’s kind of like a narrative of your resume with more detail about your life.  I once heard a great comment about this, “people buy from people” so let them know who you are.

Your C.V. (Curriculum Vitae) is your art resume, and should look similar to your professional resume.  It should include:

  • Your elevator statement
  • Contact information
  • Education
  • Exhibition History (solo and group shows can be separate)
  • Awards
  • Publications
  • Media
  • Collections
  • Gallery Representation

These are the basic written materials that will make up your portfolio and your website.  If you have all of these materials prepared you will easily be able to build your marketing materials.  Better so, you will be able to engage people with your work and hopefully turn them into clients.

Remember, I have many years of experience writing for artists and since I have offered this service my clients have been very satisfied, but more importantly they are more confident and using the materials more often.  Contact me if you can use some help crafting your written materials.

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 – Marketing is part of your work

I talk to a lot of artists who love their studio time and make a point to schedule it so that the rest of their lives do not get in the way. They are making great work and have a decent amount to show and potentially sell but it just sits. If you can relate I have one comment… you are not doing the job of a working artist.

A working artist practices their craft weekly, daily, all the time, but they also put a good chunk of their time into marketing the work so they can make a living from it. So, what is marketing?  It is promoting the work to the world, making it visible, getting people interested, the things that lead to sales.

One thing about marketing is it has to be consistent, the other is that is cannot be half-hearted. If an artist is dedicated to really being a working artist they have to market, weekly, daily, all the time. As Crista Cloutier recently wrote, ” To play in the big leagues, you’ve got to up your game.”

So my advice today is–dedicate some time to your marketing, plan blocks of time each day or week to devote solely to promoting your work on your website blog, social media, contacting galleries, or reworking your marketing materials. If this is really not your strong point, then maybe you need a coach, consultant, or professional writer to help. Luckily, you know of one…

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

Featured Artist – Denise Fleisch

IMG_6656_2Local painter, gallery owner, and curator Denise Fleisch calls herself an “Arizona girl” since she has lived in Phoenix most of her life, moving to the valley when she was two with a stint in Cleveland after she married. Fleisch started painting over 20 years ago when she viewed masters such as Monet and Van Gogh and wanted artwork in her house. She says bluntly, “I wasn’t very good, but I didn’t care. I just continued to paint.” Over the years, she developed her abstract style which she links directly to the expanse, bright colors, and diverse textures of the Arizona desert. She also found that she had to be an artist, there was nothing else that fulfilled her like painting, whether it sold or not. So, she made it her career.

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When Fleisch moved back to Phoenix from Cleveland in 2002, she found the Phoenix art scene and she fit right in. She showed at the Paper Heart Gallery for five years along with any opportunity she could find in restaurants, salons, offices, libraries, and even the Phoenix Art Museum on one occasion. She also found donating her work to charities for fundraiser events became a great way for people to experience and notice her art.

In 2008, she and another artist opened a gallery Grand Avenue. With a lot of support and encouragement, she kept painting and started selling really well, which kept her gallery in business. About three years ago she moved her gallery to Roosevelt and named it Lotus Contemporary Art. She currently sells her work, shows a few other artists each year, and has some group shows in the space.

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She recalls a lot of rejection as she was establishing her art career, but she always had support too, especially from her fellow artists and gallerists locally. She learned to grow a thick skin and be persistent. In order to support her painting habit, she has to sell her art, so she has continued to build her knowledge by gathering advice from successful people around her to enhance her art business.

Fleisch’s advice to all early career artists is that even though they might not always want to run the business side of it, it is essential. She states, “It’s not just about painting. It’s about marketing, communication, social media, and having great people who love art and believe in the work. Also believing in one’s self-worth.” A key to her success has been to make sacrifices, surround herself with other like-minded, entrepreneurial artists and art professionals, and immerse herself in the local art scene. She makes a daily effort in marketing, whether it be social media posting, reading about the art business, applying for art exhibitions around the country, or sending information to other galleries.

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She shared a great recent experience that shows follow up can lead to success. She booked artist James Hernandez to show at Lotus in April 2015 and decided she wanted to do some outreach to her contacts around the states. So she had some cards printed of her work along with information about the upcoming show and sent them out. Shortly after, she received a call from a gallerist in San Francisco who is interested in showing (and selling) her work at their gallery! She also was invited to a meeting that led to an opportunity to show in a showroom at the Arizona Biltmore soon.

Fleisch is a model of persistence, which will take her career to the next level for sure.