When gathering information, journalists and detectives rely on 6 Key Questions. They refer to them as the “5 Ws and 1 H”: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. We can use the same questions to make sure we record the information about our work that’s essential to our success as working artists.
Let’s face it; keeping your records and your digital presence up to date is mind numbing and certainly not what we hoped to be doing when we decided to become an artists. Still, we absolutely have to have be able to quickly access crucial data that will support marketing, make a sale or solve a problem
If you manage it well, it’s a relatively small time investment to update your archives as you complete work. It can pay increasing dividends every year. Here are 5+1 Key Questions to help you organize your information followed by just a few reasons for taking the time to do it.
As working (or aspiring) artists we need to understand the power of our art information and how to leverage it to make a sale, solve a problem, or save some money. Start now, work smart and it will pay off nicely each and every year to come.
Have a fulfilling, profitable and happy 2013
The Centerpoint team,
Jim, Lainy, Kevin, Trevor and Phaedra
As painters and sculptors and visual artists, Christmas is a great time to celebrate art as a centerpiece in our lives and as a most human endeavor for everyone, even the most art challenged among us.
It’s said that 2.1 billion of us celebrate Christmas. That’s a lot people decorating Christmas trees or arranging their mangers, all that attention to a goal we are most familiar with; getting it “just right.” Isn’t that what we do when we make the last adjustment to a piece and send it forth from the studio into the world?
Most of us can hear and can be more or less moved by a song. Not everyone can sing but everyone so inclined can pick the perfect soundtrack for their perfect occasion.
Not everyone has a photographer’s skill and vision but everyone can take a picture. What’s the essential difference between the experience of painting a painting and decorating a cake? One hangs on the wall and one graces our table. We celebrate the visual delight of both and the added bonus of devouring the latter. Flavor aside, vision is the undisputed champion of our sensorium and as artists we are fortunate enough to be the humble (hopefully) beneficiaries of its celebrity.
As artists we’re licensed to dig deeper and explore further the sense for sense sake of raw vision. We go to new limits with every piece and turn to our fellow humans and invite them to join us. Often they turn away but when they don’t, we are all the richer for it. If they don’t follow, we are incomplete.
So at this time of year we should be charged with sharing the art, sharing not just our art but also sharing our capacity to see the art in everything.
A Beautiful Christmas to All,
The Centerpoint Team
James, Elaine, Kevin, and Phaedra
PS – Here’s 3 great New Year’s Resolutions
Painting; The Art of Christmas by J.E and Trevor J Knauf 2012
So you sold that piece and its back to the easel?
Not so fast, you can sell it over and over again by licensing the image to companies who produce prints, greeting cards, t-shirts, gift bags, coasters, wine, virtually any product that carries an image.
Art licensing is one alternative available to every artist seeking to generate extra income from their art. Licensing is basically renting out the rights to use your artwork, and it could be a great way to maximize your exposure
Licensing art is a full time competitive business for lots of companies. It’s possible you can seek out or stumble upon a few licensing opportunities on your own, but it’s unlikely that you can do an effective job licensing your work and still have time to make good art.
Here are 5 reasons to farm out your licensing efforts to a pro:
When you sign on with a licensing agent or agents, you’ll only have one contract to worry about; your own. Though that’s a subject for another time, your long term success in the licensing game can be affected by the terms of your agreement.
Stay in touch with your reps and they’ll share with you their special needs. They attend large licensing shows and have a good feel for the market. If you are inclined, take a shot at producing some “off brand” work to meet special opportunities. It can be a creative break from working your established style.
Put a reputable firm to work and see what happens. There are artists that make their living completely from licensing royalties but, even if it’s only “walking around “ money, you’re compounding your potential income for every piece you create.
Photo Courtesy of Ed_45
Carolyn Edlund spent twenty years running her own ceramic and jewelry studio, is currently the Executive Director of the Arts Business Institute, the author of the E-course titled “Marketing for Artists & Craftspeople,” and the owner and author of Artsy Shark, a site devoted to the support of artists and creative entrepreneurs. She offers workshops and one on one consulting services as well. To find out more about Carolyn and to take your career to another level, just click HERE.
One of the most effective ways that you as an artist can connect with your audience is to tell your story. Not just a recital of your resume, but the story of your inspiration, your struggles, your vision and your message.
Talking about yourself and your artwork builds a layer of emotional connection between you as the artist and your potential collectors. Yes, your work must be good, and must stand on its own, but you as an artist are intrinsically part of the end product of your studio work. When your client makes a purchase of your art, they are buying a part of your talent and your personality.
Many art collectors are highly creative people themselves. They may not have ability as painters, photographers or sculptors, but they express themselves through buying the work of artists they appreciate. It’s no wonder that curation is a huge trend for the public, as each person can distinguish themselves and their tastes. They may have a boring job or an ordinary life, but they can stand out by showing their appreciation for the arts by becoming collectors. They crave a connection with artists and the perceived mystique and fantasy of being a full-time sought-after talent.
Your story helps make this connection, and can become an essential part of your presentation. Start by writing down everything that has affected or influenced you, and has led to your expressing your heart and soul in your artwork. Do you have an unusual technique? A story of overcoming hardship? Are your materials innovative?
When collectors buy your work, they will re-tell your story to others when showing your art. This can help you cultivate repeat buyers as well as earning referral business from your fans.
Work on your story to distill down the parts that make those emotional connections with others. Practice telling your story. Record and listen to it, then make changes and hone it further. Your story should be compelling, full of important messages that you want to convey to your audience – and it should flow well. You may want to have a longer and shorter version of your story which you can use as needed.
Where can you share your story?
Your story will evolve over time as your art career grows. Don’t forget to stay in touch with your audience and continue to share about yourself and your art. It will be appreciated!
If, like most artists, you need to show in more than one gallery, you’ll find that a thoughtful strategy for choosing venues, a little research and some due diligence can dramatically affect your career trajectory.
1. If you make art, you aren’t a factory and you can produce a very limited amount of work.
Put it in the wrong places and your career may stall. Put it in strategic locations and your sales and prices may just soar.
2. Get your work into the best gallery possible.
The keyword is possible. Top tier galleries are probably not options for every emerging artist.
Look for a balance between sales and prestige. Although one should lead the other, it’s not always the case. A small un-assuming gallery whose staff loves your work may produce substantially more sales than a large flashy gallery that carries all the heavy hitters.
As always, being a big fish in a small bowl has a strong appeal to the ego but displaying alongside a few industry rock stars can help your street creds and your prices but sometimes supporting a mix of smaller galleries who are truly excited about selling your art, may be the recipe for keeping your bank account healthy.
3. Be honest, where do you fit in?
You can be the most expensive or the cheapest work in a gallery (and there are valid arguments for which is best) but there will be a limit to your impact if your prices are light-years above or below the gallery’s average price range.
The same holds true for size, style, and medium. Don’t be afraid of being the noisiest voice in the choir but be careful about being the only quiet work in a noisy room. Your art has to be noticed to be appreciated.
4. Where are your best possible markets?
You only have so much original work. You can’t have two good galleries in the same town. It’s easy to have a gallery in your home town but how does the traffic there compare there with galleries in an art destination city or districts? Explore galleries in regional or national art centers. If visiting is difficult, start with magazines, online listings and gallery guides.
5. It’s personal
In many ways you and your galleries, agents and dealers are business partners. Your success contributes to their success and vice versa. If you aren’t comfortable with the galleries ownership, staff or reputation you may be in for a rocky ride, a situation which may be fine with all concerned until the claws come out during the inevitable inventory dispute or sales slump.
6. Introductions can be good and introductions can be bad.
If you get an introduction to a gallery that doesn’t fit with your strategy, pass on it- politely (you may change your mind). The same holds true for direct solicitations to join a gallery’s, dealers or publisher’s stable of artist. Like artists, industry players have egos too and rejection can ruffle feathers in a small community so handle with care.
7. Who’s the best?
Location, facility and advertising are all indicators of a gallery’s productiveness. The best clue may be the standing of the artists they represent. A conversation with artists showing at the gallery can help but their recommendation will be based only on their personal experience and an inclination toward drama is not unusual in the business. That said, well known artists rarely stay long in unproductive galleries.
8. It’s important but probably not forever.
Getting into the right gallery can be a career maker but is rarely a career breaker. Just do your best and go make some more good art.
Choosing galleries is one of the biggest career investments you’ll make, financially and emotionally! A thoughtful strategy for acquiring new galleries can keep your career on the rise and serve you well .
Image adapted Courtesy of william.neuheisel
Perfect pitch in Music is the ability to name or sing a note without the help of an external reference like a piano or tuning fork. The term Perfect Pitch is also sometimes applied to actors, politicians and public speakers who have mastered the perfect content and delivery needed to garner the desired response from an audience.
Some artists possess an extraordinary talent to recognize a specific color out of hundreds of swatches, intuitively organize lines and visual elements into pleasing arrangements, or instantly see the shape of a finished sculpture hiding within a chunk of marble or a pile of clay. We call that kind of talent a gift and whether it’s in fact natural or learned we can’t help but marvel at it.
Just like in the music business, if you needed Perfect Pitch to create popular art, the world would have a lot less art and our lives would be all the poorer for it. The perfect pitch we really need as visual artists is more attainable and holistic than simply picking a C Major out of thin air or mixing the exact color on the fly.
Instead of only picking colors or balancing shapes, your palette realy extends to your performance. In the art business, every choice you make presents the possibility of either adding or subtracting value from your art. Perfect Pitch in art means finding such a perfect balance between your art and your art business that essential tasks become an integral part of your creative effort.
The next time you need to deal with any of the following, remember their intimate connection to your art and try a little conscious fine tuning.
WHAT’S IT WORTH?
Perfect pitch is not at all a predictor of musical success and, sometimes, the mathematical rigidity of the gift interferes with a musician’s ability to perform or collaborate at the cutting edge of their craft.
The same holds true for us as visual artists. If we always stayed within the expected ranges of color, content, composition and concept, the visual art arena would be a pretty dull place. In art as in music, surprise and dissonance are tools of the trade.
Isn’t that a good case against perfect pitch? Not when you see your art as more than physical objects like pigment on canvas or scratches in the mud. Your art ecosystem, with your work at the center becomes an amazing human activity, a performance worthy of all the effort required to find your perfect pitch.
Photo Courtesy of openDemocracy
If you’re serious about your art, here are 6 essential ideas that need to be incorporated into your art website design.
Flash animation and tricky graphic devices are fun but they are the work products of web designers, not fine artists. You have to feature your art and anything that detracts from that mission subverts your purpose. The best bet is to channel your creative skills into making good art, using your website to effectively present your work and to craft a dynamite narrative.
Photo Courtesy of infocux Technologies
Considering an art agent? It can be a little confusing! Art consultants, art managers, art coaches and art agents offer quite different, but sometime overlapping services. Art consultants help individuals and corporations build a collection. Art managers tend to be business managers working for individual artists. Art coaches provide career or project related assistance. Let’s just take a closer look at art agents.
Art agents are generally people who provide artists one or more of the following services.
Sometimes an artist’s friend or spouse will act as an agent/manager handling all business and marketing related issues, but art agents tend to represent several artists and normally don’t manage business details like bookkeeping, crating, shipping, insurance, copyright etc. Commercial art has more agents than the fine arts but you’ll find individuals and companies in both fields.
Though not very common, I’m aware of a number of successful and profitable artist/agent relationships. In every case, the agents were extremely professional and both parties fully understood the economics of their arrangement.
What’s the basic math look like?
Agents need to make money and it’s often difficult for artists to see a way to handle upfront fees and or carve out an ongoing sales commission on work sold.
An agent will usually receive a standard commission of say 50% if they not only sell the work to a collector but also incur some risk or expense on behalf of the artist. This could be print advertising, space rental, PR, travel, invitations, wine, hors d’oeuvres not unusual etc. If an agent is just selling to their collector base by email or phone, then 30% might be more appropriate.
Qualified agents also will want a commission on work sold by galleries brought on line by that agent. If the typical Art Gallery takes 50% there’s not much left for an agency commission. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering. A successful agent can make a huge difference in an artist’s career and income.
One possibility I’ve seen is an across the board price hike. If the agents fee is 15%, (this can vary widely), then a one-time 15% immediate price increase would build in an agent’s commission with very little pain, assuming the market will bear it and the agents productivity will at least offset any reduced sales caused by the price increase. In theory, all future price increases will benefit both parties equally, your trains are hooked together and if you picked a good agent, you’re on your way.
OK, what’s the Catch?
There are a few considerations before signing on with an agent.
There are agents that bring to the table incredible enthusiasm, marketing ideas, energy and contacts. With a little care and caution, an artist can slow walk their way into a very satisfying and profitable arrangement.\
Or maybe your work is being shown in galleries and doing fine, but you’re interested in a more personal and informative relationship with people who view your art. Get creative and explore some nontraditional venues which can be both stimulating and profitable. You don’t have to sit idly by while waiting to hear back from a show or gallery. Be proactive! Create your own space and your own opportunities to get your work out in the public eye. Networking and mind mapping are the name of the game if you’re looking to reinvigorate your consumer base.
When you think of networking, I bet your mind goes directly to mingling at openings and cultivating relationships with gallery owners and private art collectors and other desirable connections. That has always been the traditional approach and over time it can produce the best results. But there are untapped networking opportunities all around you! Check out the sales breakdown that one artist shares here. You’ll see that the bulk of her sales came from sources you may not have even thought of pursuing.
Remember always that people always like to buy work from a person with a story so share your story as often as you can. Meet people. Get involved in your community. Join a museum or get a season subscription to the symphony or a theatre near you. Create or join a local artists group. Serve on committees or volunteer with groups that aren’t related to the visual arts at all. Find causes, clubs and activities that will help you meet and develop relationships with people who can become collectors and introduce your work to their friends.
We’d add co-op galleries, studio tours and turning you’re your home or office or other space into a temporary gallery.
There are lots of options for getting your work in the public eye besides traditional art galleries. Here are some ideas to help you come up with a list of possibilities to fit your situation:
Building a network and a career is a long process. If you just sit and wait for it to happen, chances are it won’t. Make a tally of people you have some connection with and would want on your invitation list for an upcoming show. Make a goal of adding at least one solid, high quality contact to the list every week and ten more that you think would just be a good idea. Then begin using your list to share your art and your story to strengthen your credibility as an artist. When you settle on unique ways to show your work and it will in turn expand your list.
Remember each step of the way, you have the opportunity to make something you care about and share it with the world. It’s a pretty fun way to pass the time.
Photo Courtesy of Martin Beek
Some say the most important art marketing tool is your social media presence. Some say it’s the images you provide of your art, and still others point to artist’s websites. Or to take the conversation in a more abstract direction, we could point to “tools,” such as self-confidence or determination.
Every tool is important, but the single most important art marketing tool is Strategy. Without a well-designed marketing strategy, all the essential elements, twitter updates, snappy images and sleek artist websites are just so many scattered toys. A thoughtful marketing strategy is what brings them all together and focuses your investment on the metrics that matter to you.
So, what’s your strategy? The boring definition of a marketing strategy is a plan of action that integrates your marketing milestones, tools and budget into a cohesive set of goals. A more esoteric picture might just be how to get from here to there and enjoy it along the way.
Here’s a mind map to help you envision a flexible and productive marketing Strategy. Use it generously and you’ll find your path a little easier. As you begin to see results, the strategy will continue to evolve but exploring each of these elements will help you find or reinvent your way.
See your art for what it is. Discover it’s historical and aesthetic roots. Explore art currently being shown in the markets you intend to enter. Be honest but be gentle with yourself. To paraphrase Frank Lloyd Wright; an artist’s best friends are his limitations.
Find the language and message of your vision and purpose; what motivates you to create? How your art is different from other art in the field. What’s it’s associated narrative and how would you like it to be experienced.
Who will “get it?” Who’s in the audience? Be literal or abstract but be honest. If your market is primarily other artists and you hope to make a living, you have a problem. Even if you haven’t found a collector base, use your imagination to conjure up the ideal collector and picture him standing in a room surrounded by a group of likeminded collectors. If the room is small, your work needs to be expensive and your target more defined. Too large of a room and you may find yourself adrift.
Marketing Magic is Metrics
If what you are doing doesn’t work, don’t keep doing it. With much of today’s marketing being web-centric, you will know very quickly if you are getting your work in front of your audience.
Don’t let the number of tools rattle you. Just like you may have tons of brushes, each one has a purpose and you may need all of them to get where you want to go, (a subject for another conversation) but also remember you only use them one at a time. Here’s our take on the essential power tools of today’s art market.
And the winner is: Strategy.
In art, strategy is the act of setting a specific goal and the alchemy of combining the elements above to reach that goal.
Art marketing is a journey not a destination and as your career progresses so to do your choices increase in complexity and Strategy becomes your compass and your companion.
Photo Courtesy Of Chris Heiler