Tag: art marketing

Why are artists afraid of marketing themselves?

art marketing for artists

I talk to a lot of artists on a regular basis. Some online and some in person. With only a few exceptions, they almost always put up their guard when I start talking to them about marketing their art and themselves.

I simply don’t get it.

I realize that it doesn’t come naturally to some. I also understand that learning the technologies for art marketing can be intimidating. But artists are supposed to be intrepid souls who will go where others will not dare, right?


My experience has shown that artists tend to shed their intrepid adventurer skins when you start talking social media, blogging, websites, etc. to them. Why is that?

I suspect that there are a lot of reasons. Whatever the reason, it is to the artist’s detriment. Artists who succeed in their own lifetimes tend to be the ones who develop a knack for marketing. They sync their creative souls with their desire to share their work with others, and they find ways to get there work “out there”. When their work is “out there” and seen by a wider audience, it sells.

I am not anywhere close to where I want to be in selling my work, but I am SELLING. I sell more work than most artists that I know. I am not living in luxury, but I am living from the proceeds of my art. I am building a foundation upon which greater things can develop.

I want to help others learn what I have learned, and what I continue to learn about marketing. It is a creative and energizing endeavor, and it does not have to take away from one’s artwork production.

So I ask you, if you are an artist, are you afraid of marketing? What scares you the most? What hold you back?

BZTAT's Big News: Look out. Change is expected.

Gray Maine Coon Cat
Digital Art by BZTAT

“You have an incredible window… The world is in flux. Judgment is suspended. Change is expected.”  Jonathan Fields

I heard these words from Jonathan Fields, self described “Serial lifestyle-entrepreneur” as I listened to his keynote presentation for the Career Summit last week. Mr. Fields’ presentation encouraged people to seek careers in doing what  “brings them alive”.

Unlike many presenters who give us lofty encouragement to to follow our dreams, though, Fields was pragmatic. He recognized that we have to survive. We have to pay bills. We have to find realistic ways to make dreams happen. We have to be unconventional if we want unconventional results.

He used the example of artist Ann Rea, whose career path I follow avidly. Both Fields and Rea have shared that the world of selling artwork is brutal. Competition is high and traditional opportunities are limited. Art is considered a luxury item, therefore, buyers are not clamoring in lines to purchase your “product”. And the traditional system built for selling artwork is not very favorable to the artist.

Some artists angrily take to the streets and vandalize properties with graffiti to protest that condition. Fields and Rea, however, suggest a more lucrative and less criminal path. They suggest that artists should create their own value in markets that are not yet existent.

Rea, using the so-called Blue Ocean Strategy (creating a market that was not really there before), created her own market by creating  custom artworks for wineries in California. She avoided the traditional gallery/show system of artwork and made her own system by working directly with wineries and their patrons. Her strategy has been hugely successful.

So that brings me to my own situation.

I have chosen to make a career of what brings me alive – creating art. And I have bumped up against the brutal realities of the business of selling artwork. I have also bumped up against the brutal realities of my own deficiencies in skill and/or discipline in operating a business. I need change, and I need help.

I have been developing my own “Blue Ocean Strategy” for the past couple of years  by establishing myself in the pet products and services industry. As primarily an artist who paints companion animals, I have found people with similar interests to my own, and people who value my artwork, in the pet market industries.

My artistic peers look askance, as that is not the way it is usually done. But, at this juncture, I am recognizing that connecting myself to that industry enables me to create my own value and create my own market in an unconventional way.

So what does that mean?

I am taking advantage of the “incredible window” before me and making some big changes.

My first move? Close my studio in the Canton Arts District. After this week’s First Friday, I will no longer operate a public studio. I will keep my working studio in my home (yup–with the cats, all 5 at current count), and I will still show artwork in various places in the arts district. But I will no longer operate a storefront.

My second move? This is the big and exciting part…I will be opening up a gallery in the offices of Embrace Pet Insurance in Beachwood, OH. Laura Bennett, CEO and co-founder of Embrace, has graciously offered me the opportunity to create a gallery of pet themed artwork in the office space, which is truly a perfect place to show artwork. Not only that, she has agreed to mentor me and help me develop myself as an entrepreneur.

This is a good move for both of us. Embrace will have their space decorated with dynamic and colorful artwork, and being a supporter of the arts will bring new value to their organization. I will have the opportunity to engage with new clients and potential buyers for my artwork, and become more established as a creative entrepreneur in the pet services industry.

Although I am saddened about closing the studio, and challenged with a lot of hard work moving my stuff out, I am very excited about the possibilities that I have waiting ahead of me.

And I am excited that I will now be able to participate in all the fun beyond my studio on First Fridays for a change!

I will continue to create artwork as before, and you can contact me through email, social media and the contact page here on this blog for all the same services as before.

I look forward to change. I recognize that the time is right, as everything is changing in our world. I now ask you, are you along for the ride with me on this adventure?

One last note–Okey the Studio Cat is along for the ride for now. His/her (still not sure)  rescue/rehab is coming along, but Okey is still very timid and fearful. I don’t think Okey is ready to be considered for adoption yet, so I will make a space in my home separate from the other guys until the time is right. He/she will see a vet this week. Thanks so much to all who have donated resources for Okey’s care.

Paradoxes, Purposes and Ponderances: Self Taught Social Media Artist

Paradoxes, Purposes and Ponderances

I have met many artists who describe themselves as “self-taught” artists. It is a moniker that has developed some marketing appeal, thanks to the popularity of so-called “Visionary” or “Outsider Art”.

Many artists use the term “self-taught” in a way to assert their claim to importance or even superiority over artists who have received training or academic education in the arts.

Me? I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree and Master of Arts Degree in the visual arts, yet in many ways, I feel as though I have taught myself most of what I do as an artist. That story is for another post, though.

This post is about social media. And when it comes to social media, practically all artists are self taught.  There is no “Social Media Arts” degree.

I use social media extensively as a way to connect with people interested in my artwork. In so doing, I have developed a wide reach in marketing my work to people interested in buying it.

I started using social media sometime in 2008. I am not exactly sure when.

It started with developing a MySpace page and connecting with other artists in the Canton Arts District. Soon, I started a blog on Blogger, and I tiptoed into Facebook. Then I read this article about artists using Twitter.

A lot has changed in my life since then.

I no longer use MySpace. I now have this blog, which has my website wrapped around it. I now wade in the deep waters of Facebook with great regularity. And I am a Twitter-aholic.

And I am selling A LOT of artwork.

I am far from being a huge success, mind you. My artwork still does not sell for prices that make me wealthy. But my popularity is growing, and I am well on my way to becoming a self supporting artist at a time when everyone says, “No one is buying art right now because the economy is so bad.”

I often have artists asking me, “How did you do it?” and “What is your secret?”

My secret is that there is no secret. Social media is free and wide open for the taking. It just takes some willingness to research the web, openness towards engaging with others in a curious and friendly manner, and a fearlessness about overcoming the things that you do not yet know.

It is intriguing to me how most artists are willing to do these very things in the pursuit of creating their art, but not in the pursuit of marketing it to a global audience.

When I try to share what I have learned about using social media with other artists, they often shy away, or say, “I am no good at that.” It is as if they fear the success that they dream of, and they sabotage any success that they could have.  Inches away from the door that opens them to the world, their intrepid souls run and hide under a blanket.

Twenty three years ago, I chose to avoid being a full time professional artist and I went back to school for a degree in counseling. I did that because, at that time, artists were limited in opportunities for selling their artwork. Back then, you had to find galleries to sell your work, and even if you found one, you had to wait for them to sell it, after which you received a small portion of the sale. The whole business seemed geared towards someone else making money on the value of the artwork, not the artist.

With the advent of social media, however, it is the other way around. The artist holds all the cards to his or her success.

No one taught you how to paint? You taught yourself? Fantastic!

Are you going to teach yourself how to share it with the world? Or will your innate talent be silenced by fear?

Social media has as many opportunities for creativity as the canvas does, folks. It is an adventure waiting for you to conquer. Will you take the challenge?

Or will you lament that someone else succeeded where you did not?

Personally, I find life, and art, far too interesting to waste on laments.

Life is an Adventure!