The Secrets To Surviving As An Artist. This article started with me being ask consistently at my art show events, “How do I survive as an artist?” . Well first let me share a very fundamental for succeeding in any business. It does not matter if you have a clothing boutique, restaurant or art business there are only two things ANY business needs to survive. They need TRAFFIC and CONVERSIONS (Buyers). PERIOD!
Without both of those ingredients failure is on the near horizon. All the major aspects of what being an artist in this day and age is about, and to combine them into one unified approach is what I want to share with you. Knowing how to market your art is critical. The equation for success is KNOWLEDGE + ACTION + A POSITIVE ATTITUDE = SUCCESS!
Now of course your art comes first, we all know that, but this is not about what to make or how to make it; that’s your business and yours alone. And your creative process– the magic that happens in the studio– that’s all you as well, and no one else. As I’m fond of saying, “What happens in the
studio stays in the studio.” This is about what to do after you make your art, once it’s completed and ready to be presented to the public, in front the vast and fabulous art world and all those who populate it.
As an artist it is all about keeping people in the game, about making sure they understand what you’re up to at every step along the way– from first contact with your art right on through to final purchase. The key is to make yourself accessible, available, and to welcome everyone to your art no matter what the circumstances. You want to make sure that everybody understands what you’re doing, what your purpose is and what you’re trying to communicate through your work. Doing that job well will definitely increase your chances of success.
You can’t simply put your art out there, and then with little or no effort on your part, expect people to somehow get up to speed entirely on their own about its significance, figure out how to contact you, what to ask or what to say or how to say it, how to find out prices, and basically advance all the way to buying something without any assistance on your part.
Here are some big questions that you really have to think about anytime you present your art to the public– online, in person, at galleries, at art events or anywhere else. What’s it going to do for us? What makes it worth owning? Why should we hang it in our homes or offices and look at it everyday? How is it going to make our lives better?
These are not questions that people will come right out and ask you, but they are the kinds of questions that really matter when they like what they see and start thinking seriously about whether your art belongs in their lives. The more your answers resonate with them and the longer a positive interaction ensues, the greater the chances that you’re going to gain a fan, make a sale or accomplish something else good.
A couple of questions you want to answer during the course of any such interaction with your potential buyer, either explicitly or implicitly, are why you have chosen to become an artist and make art such a significant part of your life, but even more importantly why have you chosen to show your art in public, what the purpose of going public with your art is. What you have to say about your art– the story, the narrative, the mystery or romance of it all– this information is often as significant as the art itself, especially with contemporary art and contemporary artists.
Where do you market your art? How do you get the word out? This is your next responsibility. Now seeing as we live in the Internet age, there’s no better way to get that word out to the maximum number of people, like to everyone on the face of the planet, than to do it online, and the best place to do it is on your website.
The content and layout of your website are extremely important. It should be a place where anyone can go to see the best, most organized, most current, easiest to understand, easiest to navigate selection of your artwork anywhere.
In this age of instant gratification, people who visit your website typically have two basic questions: “Where am I and why am I here?” And they want to know now– like within about 30 seconds or a minute of landing on your home page. People have exceptionally short online attention spans these days, and if they can’t figure where they are fast, they’re usually gone in a flash.
Being a successful artist is not only about showing and selling and getting known; it’s about understanding your purpose, your calling, and about presenting yourself and your work with unwavering confidence and conviction about who you are and what your art stands for.
Subject matters and techniques, to continually evolve and advance in your practice, and to reach out to others in ever more creative ways— that is what it means to not only survive, but also to thrive and prosper as an artist. Impact someones life with your art in a meaningful way and not only might you make yourself a sale, but you will also endow the world with just a little tiny bit more good.