Written by Artist, John Hall
I have been building a successful career as a professional artist for the past two years. As an artist, there is a great deal of competition out there. In the beginning, I took notes from successful artists, keeping the tips I liked and trying some things that came to me during the process. I am not earning thousands of dollars for each of my pieces yet, but I don’t have a problem selling my works, getting shows booked, or utilizing my connections to further my career goals. Briefly, I want to share a few tips that can help you jump-start your career and really get your name out there.
1) Tell the world you are in business
Many artists practice their craft and during the process they fail to realize that they are marketing a product. Many artists may not consider themselves salespeople, but when it comes down to it, we have to be. It doesn’t have to be pushy or uncomfortable, but people need to know we have a product for sale and we have to be secure in knowing that we deserve to be compensated for our time and effort.
If you are just getting started, I suggest you get some kind of website immediately. Some people are all about a portfolio, but let’s face it, this is the age of the smart phone, the iPad, and everyone is online with some type of mobile device. I started my career marketing myself and advertising my work by doing everything that was free. Some methods are more work than others, but free is always good when you are not yet earning a full time living from your art.
Facebook is a great option and I will go into further detail in a future article explaining what has worked for me. Social Networking is powerful and word of mouth travels very quickly. When I started, I put all of my paintings on Facebook and Flickr. Within 2 months, I was receiving about 1000 visits per month and sales were consistent. There are many sites to help you sell your art and also bring you traffic. Not everyone is a master at driving traffic, nor do they have the time, or money, it can take to achieve desirable results with certain marketing methods. Sites such as: Etsy.com and ArtFire.com. can help you sell your art and they already have some traffic to help you get the word out. If you take it seriously, I know they can work for you.
2) Networking is essential
The thing that will hold it all together is consistency. Everything that I am sharing with you is guaranteed to work, but you must be consistent with all your actions in building a successful art career. The thing that will take you the furthest in life, not only your art career, is cultivating and maintaining relationships with people. The first thing I would suggest is telling all the people that you know who will support you because they love you. Have them on your side. These people are always going to be working for you, finding you opportunities, telling their friends and co-workers. But the key is consistency. If you are not producing work and telling them about it and showing it to them, then they don’t have anyone to tell about what a great artist you are. Adopt the phrase: “Who do you know?” Ask the people you meet who do they know. Who do they know that likes your type of art? Who do they know that is connected to galleries that feature your type of art? Who do they know that is an artist that you can interview or consult? Who do they know that may be looking for a piece of art for their business? I made a goal to establish a minimum of two new contacts per day. Everyone has time for that. Two people a day. Do the math. If you talk to two people per day, you have met 64 people this month. Do you think that maybe 2 of those people might even become a friend, on some level? Probably so. How many do you think will potentially buy because they like your work and they like you! It is imperative to maintain those relationships. Some people you will be closer to than others, but you will meet some phenomenal people. Your contact list will be massive in two short years. Continue to create your work and continue to find as many people to support you in whatever way they can.
3) Be professional
Sure, you are an artist, but you have to distinguish yourself as a person that people will want to do business with. We are no longer starving artists; we are thriving artists. I can’t suggest how to dress, and I don’t want to change your personality, but I am saying that you know the difference between professional and unprofessional just from being a consumer. We need to uphold and protect our image, because as an artist, all we have is our good name. I have been very successful using a business card. It simply says:
My Phone Number
My email address
It is very important to have a way for the people that you are meeting to reach you and view your work. A bar napkin or a post-it covered with the lint from your back pocket just doesn’t have the same effect as a professional looking business card that represents you and your work. As I track my sales trends, I find that my sales are always highest when I am giving out more business cards.
I have sold my art to various business, made deals with big name hotels, and last year one of my paintings appeared in an upcoming feature film. I would not have been able to make any of those things happen without professionalism, networking and by telling the world that I am in business. From one artist to another, I believe in you. There is more opportunity out there than you even know right now. It is up to you to go out and create the future you always dreamed.
To your success,
About John Hall
John Hall is an artist, author, actor, and entrepreneur. John studied art at Illinois State University and the Illinois Institute of Art. He is most well known for his novel, “Pandora’s Box,” and for his iconic painting, titled: “Fugue.” Read Pandora’s Box for free at: www.johnhallsbook.com