I often hear artists remark, "My brand is my art and it speaks for itself." While this is true, your artwork is a significant part of your signature style, you need to go above and beyond and know what your art is communicating to your audience. In today's highly competitive art market you can't just create, sit back, and expect people to find you.
Artists are entrepreneurs and you need to keep up with the best practices to help you stand out. That's why we've created this three-part branding series for artists. Last week we covered the difference between branding and marketing and this week we're diving into how to understand your brand as an artist.
The foundation of any business’s marketing efforts is known as branding, which, simply put, is the consistent story, the thread, running throughout your business, the meaning behind it. The more you understand this, the better your marketing efforts will be because you’ll be able to communicate better with your audience.
Turning with the Sun by Brian Huber
Step-by-step actions to help you understand your brand as an artist
First, let’s discover some of the steps needed to better understand who you are as an artist. Don't rush through each point, but take some time to sit down and reflect on you and your art. Remember, there's really no wrong answer because it's all about what you want your art and brand to communicate to your target audience (learn what a target audience is in last week's blog).
1. Describe your artistic style.
Try to find three words that describe your work. To help get you started, take a look at some of the following style words: traditional, modern, whimsical, quirky, bold, honest, immersive, daring, joyful, unrestrained, luminous, rich, unguarded, etc. If you’re still unsure, take three or four of your best works and see if there is a theme, a style, a word that comes to mind when you see each of them.
Tip: Get a stack of Post-its and write down a word that describes your work on each Post-it. Do it as fast as you can for one minute. See how many words you come up with. Then one-by-one, take Post-its away that don’t seem to fit your work perfectly until you’re left with three distinct words that define your style.
2. Pinpoint the elements that make your work stand out.
Get those Post-it notes out again and get ready to write.
What are the features of your art? Do you use expensive materials? Organic materials? Bright hues? A special, one-of-a-kind medium? What sets your work apart?
3. Identify the qualities you want your audience to associate with your works.
Is your work on the cutting edge? Is it edgy? Serene? Beautiful? Thought-provoking? Engaging? Eye-catching? Deeply felt?
Tangled Twelve by Mary Johnston
4. Identify your Mission Statement.
Now you are ready to identify and create your mission statement. A good mission statement is a useful tool for a well-run business. It’s the “why” of business strategy. So your statement should distill in one crisp, unified thought what you’re trying to achieve with your work. If your mission statement is not clear to you, then ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you do? Define your signature style and what makes you stand out.
- How do you do it? Define your process.
- For whom do you do it? Define what your art does for your customers.
- What value are you bringing? Define why your art is special.
Our mission for ADC and Blink Art is "To connect artists and art lovers by providing creative resources in order to design impactful, beautiful environments." Every decision I make, every thought, every interaction I have, whether with an artist, a client, or a vendor, keeps this mission statement in mind. It’s more than a “tagline”—it’s a way we do business at ADC. It sums up my goals, my achievements, and my style. All of my employees are behind my mission, too. Everyone knows it and participates in this vision.
Angel Dive by Eileen Corse
Testing Your Brand as an Artist
Now that you have a more thorough understanding of your brand and the message you’d like to convey, it’s time to research to test your message and get some feedback. Consumer testing is crucial because the way you perceive something isn’t necessarily the way someone else perceives it. You can test by using the following methods:
1. Show your work to friends and colleagues, and then listen to what they have to say.
How do they describe your work? Do their words sound like your words when they describe it? What feelings do they have upon viewing it? Are the feelings you are trying to provoke in your audience having the desired effect you were hoping for?
2. Determine if your brand is meeting the expectations of your consumer.
Send out a visual survey. Post a photo or two of your artwork and ask your friends to describe the work or how it makes them feel. See if it matches your self-perception.
If their thoughts and feelings mirror your own, then that’s fantastic! You’re ready to move on. If not, however, this is telling you to go back to square one so you can tweak your art’s characteristics and mission statement.
Next week we'll dive into marketing and getting the word out about your art!
ART COMES ALIVE – NOW OPEN FOR ENTRIES
Known as the “Academy Awards for Art,” Art Comes Alive (ACA), ADC's annual art competition and exhibit, is embarking on its 10th year of helping artists get their work in front of art-industry professionals such as interior designers, art galleries, private art collectors, and corporate collections. Each year the art competition gets bigger and better, and this year over $300,000 in awards will be given to artists through gallery contracts, purchase awards, publishing contracts, and more!
DEADLINE TO APPLY EXTENDED TO: 8/12/19