Who else finds it difficult to find the time to get to the studio and create because of all the other things that must be done like social media, etc.? If you’ve read my book Secrets of the Art World, you know how much I emphasize that as an artist you are also an entrepreneur. A word artists usually hate to hear is “marketing,” and right alongside that is “promotion.” They say, “But I’m an artist. I’m supposed to be creating. I shouldn’t be concerned with that business stuff.”
But to keep creating you first need to sell paintings. Am I right? Unless you have a massive studio and an unlimited cash flow to buy materials, you need to do a little out with the old and in with the new through sales. So, to save you some time, we’ve asked some of our Blink Art Artists for their best advice when it comes to effective ways to promote and market their work. (Don't miss out on last week's Artist Insider: The truth about gallery partnerships).
Best Marketing Practices for Artists
It’s critical for artists to be aware of best art-marketing practices. From the mouth of Andy Warhol himself, " . . . Making money is art and working is art, and good business is the best art." That said, what works for one artist might not work for another, but trial and error is okay for you to find the right marketing mix that works best for your artwork. We’ve interviewed a range of artists working in different mediums and subject matter, so you can gain insights on best marketing practices and implement them yourself. Be sure not to miss our key takeaways at the bottom of the blog!
"An effective way I promote my artwork is through word of mouth and donating my artwork to charities. I know many artists prefer not to donate a work because they feel there is no value in the exchange. I look at the situation as a great marketing opportunity to get my name and artwork in front of hundreds of people. And I’ve had success with people following up who didn’t win my art but still wanted a piece and with referrals. I haven’t quite cracked the social media nut, but I know it’s important to stay active on Instagram and Facebook. I have separate accounts for my personal life and artist life, which helps me build a targeted audience on my artist channels. (Which is our No. 1 tip in our blog 10 Ways to Use Instagram to Attract Buyers and Collectors) I also boost posts and create ads, which gets my work in front of new buyers."
"I am in the process of creating a mailing list for a newsletter. I have a website that enables visitors to subscribe. If people are willing to sign up to your newsletter, that means they want to engage with your artwork and stay updated. I’m excited to explore this more. I’m active on Instagram business and Facebook, and I flirt with Twitter. I know many artists feel like they don’t have the time for social media, but for me, it’s a great way to stay connected with my followers so they can see what I’m up to. Finally, Blink Art Resource is another critical component of my marketing strategy. I like that it is a curated publication and I trust the quality and reputation of the other artists who also publish in Blink Art Resource. It is a targeted way to get my work in front of hundreds of potential buyers. I have been a part of Blink Art since its inception, and since that time I have sold two large paintings through two different design firms, sold a third to a mid-size company, and received a commission from an international tax and advisory firm!"
"I get my art out there by entering open calls and submitting to galleries for review. Because of this, I will be in two invitational shows coming up next month and in the spring of 2019. My work is in the art file at The Painting Center in New York City. Next year I plan to enter the Other Art Fair in Brooklyn and to try my hand at curating a show sometime in the future.
Something that other artists don’t think to do is network with each other. It’s a great free resource to see what’s working for them and what’s not. You learn of new opportunities to apply for and get insights on social media strategies. It's not hard. All you have to do is ask!"
"The art market and how to get your artwork out there is ever-changing. So, we adjust by using a diverse armory of marketing tools. Our relationships with galleries have always been our number one route to success. Galleries work very hard promoting our work via social media and pitching our art to clients. We couldn't maintain what we do without them.
But that’s only half the equation. To generate awareness and promote sales via our own studio we also participate in social media, art fairs, and email marketing campaigns to get our work out there. We also take out selective paid advertising. This year we tried out Blink Art Resource, and the month that the art sourcebook came out, we got a steady stream of emails from new designers and consultants we had never heard from before and are now working on a large commission!"
"I have a newsletter that I put out almost every week with updates about new artworks and awards that my artwork has won. But you can only do so much on your own. Purchasing a page in Blink Art Resource provided me with a professional marketing tool that I use daily to grow my business. When meeting with new clientele, or following up with industry designers, the print publication and online service is very valuable. I keep a copy of Blink Art Resource in my studio where clients can view my page. People who see it say, "Wow, your art looks great in this publication!" It helps clients visualize what the art might look like in their environment, which is helpful when closing a sale. I have also created a link to my Blink Art Resource page on my website. It provides great cache when it comes to marketing because it places my work in inspirational spaces and even helped me secure a commission in Miami! I know this for a fact because the client looked at my page in the Blink Art Resource and said, "I want you to make me that piece. I love how it looks in that house."
"Getting my work seen and finding target markets outside of the seasonal market of Florida (where I live) is an obstacle. I rely on numerous marketing strategies to accomplish my goal of getting national exposure. Juried exhibitions are a great way to reach a new audience, but there is so much more artists can do to get out there!
Other self-promotion strategies consist of a website that’s e-commerce compatible. Nowadays, more and more art buyers are looking to connect and purchase from the artist directly, and I want to be ready. I also produce brochures and portfolio books, which communicates a certain level of professionalism and helps increase the perceived value of my artwork.
Knowing your audience is key! Artists have limited time, so why waste it? I do underwater abstract photography so I have to be smart with my time and who I'm talking to. I do my research and contact my target markets, where I know my work will be received well. Like networking with the yachting industry and scheduling in-person presentations when possible. Another result of networking led to a review being published in the prestigious South Florida Magazine!"
"One of the best ways I promote myself is through my email list. It’s a great resource that many artists aren’t utilizing. It allows me to have a direct channel to people who have purchased my work in the past or future buyers. I also partake in paid advertising in magazines and Blink Art Resource, the art sourcebook helps round out my arsenal of media that I use to get my work in front of art consultants, interior designers, and art collectors. It’s a great way to expand my marketing reach in a way that I never would be able to on my own."
Key Takeaways for how to promote and market your artwork
I know we packed a lot of information into such a short blog so here’s some boiled-down bullet points to help you. The most effective ways to promote and market your artwork are:
- Create an email sign up on your website. E-newsletters are a great way to let past and future buyers know what you’re up to.
- Post regularly on social media channels like Instagram and Facebook.
- Network with other artists to see what’s working for them and what’s not.
- Enter calls to artists and submit to exhibitions. People don’t know your work is out there unless you show them.
- Plan for a mix of paid advertising in your annual marketing budget. Social media advertising is great for boosting awareness, but notable publications like Blink Art Resource place your artwork in front of a niche audience of people who buy artwork for a living.
2019 Talent Search for Blink Art Resource
Blink Art Resource was created as a promotional platform for artists in 2015 to have their work seen and sourced by designers for a variety of corporate, healthcare, residential, and hospitality projects. Even though there is an online component, we’re not just another online art marketplace. Each year we publish a print catalog and distribute it to 10,000+ top-grossing interior designers, art consultants and art dealers in North America. Not only does this put your artwork at their fingertips, the best thing about Blink Art Resource is that you work with the designer directly and get to keep 100% of the commission!
If you are interested in being a Blink Artist, contact our director Amy Whisenhunt at email@example.com to discuss details and review your portfolio.