We’ve gathered the topics we’re asked most questions about which we’re going to explore one by one – starting with marketing and promotion. Our Marketing Manager Gabrielle offers insights into the (sometimes daunting) topic of why it’s important to promote your artistic practice in the first of our Genesis Examines blog series…
You’ve created your work – it looks great, now what? Marketing can be a daunting prospect. You care about your work enough to create it – but now you have to make other people care about it too.
Successful artists of all genres have one thing in common – they are good at promoting themselves… Or if they aren’t, someone else is on their behalf. The good news is that marketing tools are all learnable – sure, for some people it comes more easily (we all have different skills) but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn and then apply the basics to help you achieve your goals.
Your art as a business
Your art is a business – if you want it to be. Some people don’t like to see art as a commodity, and that’s fine, but it’s important to face the fact that at some stage art often acquires a value. This value can be applied at the art fair or in secondary sales at an auction, or perhaps this value can come posthumously. The point we’re trying to make is that, whether rightly or wrongly, art has a value. A lot of successful artists make a living from their work during their lifetime – and you can too, if that’s what you want to do.
Assess, assess, assess – then assess again.
The first step in successful gauging how to market your work is to assess the current climate surrounding your work. Ask yourself honest questions like ‘Is there already market for my work?’ – it’s important to fully understand how your work fits in to existing markets (or indeed, whether it does!). Think carefully about whether there is anyone else creating work in the art world that is similar in his or her practice to you? Pay attention to artists who are producing similar work, or who have a similar creative approach – it’s not about copying, but you can learn from them. If there is nobody creating work that bears similarity to your own (aesthetically or otherwise) then you need to look again – it’s not that your work isn’t unique, but you need to be realistic that there’s a lot of work in the world which you could link to your own for the benefit of market research. Think about the four key marketing principles, and the associated questions, which marketers typically apply to businesses.
Key Marketing Principles – and how they relate to you
You must specialise in a particular customer or market area. You can’t be everything to everyone. What is it that you specialise in – what type of photographer are you?
What makes you a better artist than other people? To be successful, you’ve got to do something in a unique, or ‘better’ way. How can you be the best?
Who are your ideal clients, collectors or customers? Whatever you want to call the people who buy your work, this is what we call the process of finding them.
– or, the concentration of your efforts (your sales, marketing, or business efforts) and how you can put your work in front of the right people, in the right places, at the right times. Basically, how your faith in your practice can convert to sales.
Stay true to yourself
The key thing is not to adapt your artistic style just to sell work (stay faithful to your creativity and the reasons why you are creating the work in the first place), but do learn from those around you. Pay attention to what works for other artists and what doesn’t, there’s a wealth of information available if you want to find it.
Marketing is also about paying close attention to where you want to be. Who do you admire? (we’re back with those marketing principles again!). Be honest in your aims of where you want your work to sit in the art world and the level that you’re currently working at – it’s important to be aware of the industry. Aim high, but also be aware of where your work might be best suited to be exhibited and sold. Key questions in marketing include ‘what exactly is to be sold, whom it is to be sold to, and how it is to be sold’ – the first you should be able to cover, but we’ll take on the second and third in our upcoming blog on promotion.
The role of marketing overall is ultimately very much to make selling unnecessary – let your clients, customers or collectors come to you. Be the very best artist you can, but also learn the skills to make others as impassioned about your work as you are. Learn marketing principles and how they can apply to you, as an artist, and – most importantly of all – keep creating work that you enjoy!
Next up, we’re covering how to promote your work – a guide for emerging artists..