And if you’re a broke and struggling artist (or know one) I’ve found something wonderful for you.
But, before I get to that, let me back up . . .
Over the years, I have come to fall deeper and deeper in love with art. And beauty. When I first began in marketing I dismissed aesthetics and beauty as being irrelevant. What you needed was a good offer. But I’ve warmed to beauty.
I love the idea that we can not only offer something to the world but that we can make it beautifully and wrap it beautifully. That the care we take in our craftsmanship and presentation is a part of our offers not just something we do to make more people buy. It’s a part of the way we feed the soul of the world. Commerce doesn’t just want to be transactional but also transformational. Marketing doesn’t have to be flashing neon lights, it can be candlelight. It doesn’t have to be demanding, it can be gracious.
I’ve learned this again and again from many people in my life. First and foremost from my colleague and dear one Carrie Klassen of Pink Elephant Academy (author of ‘How to Write a Lovable Homepage’).
So bringing more art into our marketing is wonderful. It helps us more truly expresses ourselves and see if what we’re offering is truly resonant and a fit with people. Our artistic and expressive aesthetic – our style – is just another way of saying our point of view. And a single image or a few well crafted words can do so much to express that.
It’s a considerable tragedy, given how much art can enhance the clarity of our marketing that artists classically struggle financially. Most artists are terrible marketers. Performers in show business are classical great at the show but terrible at the business.
So, I decided I’d do an interview with her for you (and perhaps your friends).
And to make it extra special, I decided that I’d add some art from one of my favourite artists in the world. Jordanna Rachinky (pictured left). All of the paintings you see below are hers. You can check out more and buy things from her at http://jordannarachinsky.com
The interview with Aletta (pictured below right) is below . . .
What is the name of your project?
Artist Career Training: How visual artists can make a better living from making art, and still have a life
What’s the response been so far?
Artist Career Training has served over 4000 artists in groups and 400 individually. I do my best to inspire my clients to do the work they need to do to be successful, provide the detail to take specific action and support them through the ups and downs of life and art. They seem to like it.
What’s the story of how this came about? What was the need you saw in the community that it emerged from?
A Santa Fe gallery dealer who saw that artists needed help with the business side of art founded Artist Career Training (A.C.T.) in 1996. Since then, A.C.T. has grown from a local coaching practice into a virtual university delivering training to part-time and full-time artists at all career stages (emerging, mid-career and established). A.C.T. programs, services and learning products continue to attract a core community of American artists, qualified virtual faculty across North America and a loyal readership all over the world.
Who do you find it’s working best for?
What are the top three blunders you see artists making in their marketing?
#1. Ready-Fire-Aim: A random approach wastes a lot of your time, energy and money. Just because it is the latest craze, close to home or cheap doesn’t mean it’s right for you. The fix: Use an overall vision of what you want from your career as the unifying factor for your marketing and promotional activities. Select venues, social networks or online galleries that will take you closer to that vision.
#2. “I postcard, therefore I market”: Postcards are a good promotional activity but they will produce limited results if that’s all you do. I define marketing as a series of conversations designed to build a bridge between the artist, the art and the audience. A post card is one part of one conversation. The fix: Be clear about who you are and what your art is about. Then choose the best combination of print and online communications. Link a variety of promotional materials and events to an umbrella theme.
#3. “Been there, done that already, didn’t work”: The first time you send out a message or have a conversation is like putting the key in the ignition. To move, you have to turn the key, get into gear, put your foot on the gas pedal and steer to your destination. The fix: Have 7 – 20 conversations in various media at different times and places. See which messages have results and adapt your messages and frequency. Check the oil often.
What are the top three core marketing strategies you’re most excited about for artists these days?
I get excited about the results that artists can achieve through small, ordinary acts of genuine interest in others.
#1. Be genuine and personal about your brand as an artist. What you create, why you are an artist and who you are in person should come through equally in events, on your web site, in print and social media. There’s a lot of deceit and disappointment in the world of commerce. Your authenticity, honesty and art can be a restorative antidote.
#2. Have high quality conversations with the right people. Take the time to get to know people who truly resonate with your art. With all the hype about SEO, there seems to be confusion that having a lot of people is the goal. Artists with the most followers don’t always win their hearts and minds. Artists who treat every member of their audience with respect, warmth and integrity win the right to play another day.
#3. Give to get. We’ve all been on the receiving end of generosity so pay it forward. The paradox and delight of giving of yourself to others is that you often get back more than you expected. Get involved in a community project that will help someone who is in need of your head, heart and/ or hands. You never know who will notice and goodwill is one of the most viral ways of getting known.
How does an artist go about building a relationship of trust with their clientele?
Start by trusting yourself, setting your own standards and meeting your commitments to yourself. When you can do so consistently, your confidence increases as well as your competence and results. That makes you trustworthy.
In all of your interactions with others, trust that their intentions are good, meet or exceed their standards and keep your commitments to them.
You probably noticed that trusting yourself and trusting others are mirror images of each other. That’s because mutual trust is the foundation of good relationships.
Build trust with viewers and they may become buyers or tell others about you. Build trust with galleries and they will tell their clientele about you. Build trust with other artists and they will share supplies, information and opportunities with you.
One of my mentors, Dan Sullivan, taught me that the way to be referable is to do what you say, finish what you start, be on time and say please and thank you.
How does an artist get exposure? What good exposure and what’s worthless?
All fine artists perform for the public when it comes to marketing. And that goes double for all of you performance artists. Everything you do to market your art is the performance. You do not need a personality transplant as soon as you leave your studio. You do need to draw on different parts of your personality to get the word out.
Good publicity ignites the interests of everyone from browsers, buyers and collectors, to arts professionals and the media. If you are to spark further interest in your work, your art must be good, and the artistry of your promotion must be better. Sweeten your marketing efforts by thinking of them as opportunities for organized creative activity.
Marketing starts by “meeting and greeting” and goes on from there. To make a good living making art, all artists need to master the art of relationship building, which is the bedrock of sales.
If you want enough exposure for your art for a long and happy life, triple-pronged self-promotion is now the minimum standard. You need a consistent presence in person, on the Internet and in print to build your reputation, your audience and your bank account. When I ask artists what steps they have taken so far, most respond that they have had open studios, entered local shows, and put up a web site.
What these artists have in common is that they have not given much thought to the people they are trying to attract so they can end up looking for love in all the wrong places. Selecting venues where you are most comfortable, and where you can easily transport yourself and your work is a good place to start. But it is only the beginning.
What are the top three most effective ways you’ve found to market this?
Word-of-mouth still works well as artist clients tell others about us. Word-of-keyboard through social media has increased traffic to our web site and has led to invitations to do live events, which then draw artists to our online and telephone programs.
What are the three biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?
- Artists still need a solid body of signature work as the core of their business;
- Artists are still in charge of their brand and the audience is still in charge of sales;
- Exposure is still fundamental to success so the work is seen by the right audience;
- Consistent marketing is still the key to a sustainable art business;
- Relationships and trust are still the bedrock of sales.
At its heart, what is this project/business really about for you? (beyond money, status and such).
What’s the next level for your project? What are you most excited about that’s coming up?
If people want to find out more about your project, support it or get involved – what should they do?
Subscribe to the e-zine and weekly art marketing tips and receive a free art marketing guide: “Eleven Tips for Success for Fine Artists” Digital Recording and 15-page PDF Presentation by Artist Advisor Aletta de Wal
Anything else you’d like to add?
Want Help? If you’d like some more direct guidance and hand holding on figuring out your niche then go and check out my Niching for Hippies coaching program https://marketingforhippies.com/niching-for-hippies/