I know I’m going to offend a few people by writing this article. I’ve been buying art for quite awhile now and I have amassed quite a collection. Some of it is actually worth something. Some of it we bought because we just like it and want it up on our walls.
The thing is, artists are a weird lot. Most artists are just like musicians. They think they can write some songs and everyone will magically discover them.
Hate to break it to you. That’s exactly not the case. Your audience doesn’t have to look for you. Rather, you have to look for your audience. You have to do the work, not them.
Whereas Walt Disney gets all the credit since he had the big vision, he’s lucky he had his brother Roy to handle the sales, marketing, and finances. Unless you got a promoter, you’re simply going to have to do your own promotion.
I’ve seen so many artists with gobs and gobs of talent fail and quit, then go back to doing a job they hate. Meanwhile, their art collects dust and ends up in a landfill.
The hands down most naturally talented artist I’ve ever known hung himself. You’ll never know his name because he killed himself and his parents keep his art for obvious personal reasons.
Most artists who fail fear…
Most artists who fail fear the sales and marketing side of art. Or, they’re in denial that it’s important.
Once again, your audience doesn’t have to discover you. You have to discover them. It’s your job to find them, not the other way around.
Of course, get really good at what you do. Don’t produce complete shit and expect it to sell like hotcakes, even if you have the best promoter in the world. It still has to ring a bell with someone. It still has to touch someone. In other words, put your best foot forward and hide your mediocre stuff.
Don’t worry, we all produce mediocre stuff. Pick your top five bands of all-time. How many of them produced excellence in every single album? Two? One? Zero?
The thing is, until you build your audience, you can’t show your mediocre stuff. More on that later though. Let’s get back to the topic at hand.
Talent and self-promotion
Talent refers to innate ability. Some artists have it. Some artists don’t.
That said, some artists have so much passion that they end up passing up artists who have natural talent. I’ve seen this happen in real life. There is something to be said about work ethic. If I were running a company, I’d rather hire someone with a solid work ethic. There’s a reason for that.
How does that apply to art? Well, for the artist, you have to have a bit of both. Whereas talent is innate, laziness will get you nowhere.
And that ties into self-promotion. Artists have to get over themselves. You need to realize that your artwork may be downright awesome, but if nobody knows you exist, you’re simply not going to sell your art.
That’s where self-promotion comes in. You have to figure out a way to self-promote without sounding desperate. There’s a line in there. You learn it by interacting with people. Read their faces. Are they interested or are you turning them off?
These are all things you learn with experience. Artists should know the sales and marketing side.
What are you doing for sales?
Are you selling at an art fair? Do you have a pretty nice webpage? Are you in an art gallery? Or an art auction? Do you have a distributor?
I sincerely hope you have at least one of these and whichever one or ones you pick, you’re good at. The good news is you only have to be good at one. I got a chance to attend a selling lecture from a successful artist who makes a lot of money. She has a shitty website, but her sales skills are top notch. It doesn’t matter that her website is garbage. She sells in person and shows you her value immediately.
There’s more than one way to sell your art, my friends. This is good news. Find the route you’re best at and go that route.
What are you doing for promotion?
File this one under marketing. How do people know you exist?
I’ve done sales before so I do talk to people about my art. People who matter. People with money who buy art.
Don’t waste your time with people who don’t buy art. It’s like if you write Country and Western music, don’t go to a Goth show and expect to sell your CDs. You need to go to a Country and Western club.
Today, you can promote online. You have social media. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be on all of them. Find the one or two that you find actually getting results and get really good at them. There are no wrong answers. We have different personalities so what works for me might not necessarily work for you and vice versa.
I have an online store. It’s been open since January. It’s already getting some traffic because I’m currently working with two traffic coaches. Yes, not everyone can afford to do that. I get it. But you can still learn how to generate traffic through other means. You can buy books or courses. Or you can figure out how to do it yourself.
Regardless, take the marketing side seriously. Unless you have someone else handling for you.
Artists who fail don’t take sales and marketing seriously. Artists who succeed do. Be the latter.