Monday, October 24, 2011

Marketing Your Artwork

(Written by Jani on May 2011)

Let's face it, most artists want to focus on doing their art not marketing it. We have big dreams of where it might go and how we can bring that to fruition. In an ideal world, we would have someone do it for us so we can focus on painting and entertaining our collectors with our personalities, but not all of us are independently wealthy. This very thing brings me to the topic of my discussion.
I just came back from an incredible weekend in Anacortes, Washington were I attended a seminar on marketing. The seminar was titled, The Art of Moving Forward. It was the first one they put on and it only cost $99. One of the speakers was an artistically dressed and dynamic speaker named Jeanette Smith. She is an art licensing agent/coach/consultant. She calls herself the "Dilbert Lady". That's right! She's the agent responsible for marketing the corporate cartoon, Dilbert, around the world. The story behind how she got that job was more than intriguing and certainly set the stage for the rest of her talk. She handed out a two-sided, eight page copy of her Power Point presentation and when she started talking about what she does, I noticed my mouth was open in awe after I audibly said, "Wow." I don't know how she managed to give us so much information in a one-hour presentation, which was clearly only the tip of the iceberg. Images on calendars, cups, t-shirts, manufacturers producing mass quantities of product to retailers and you still owning rights to the image(s). She even made comments on how those paintings and photographs you see in Target and Fred Meyer's home decor section got there and how the artist probably still owns the rights to the image. She was a real down-to-earth type of woman, but very professional at the same time. When she was on her way out the door it was all I could do to not grab the corner of her jacket and plead with her to be my BFF. I'm not kidding. I really did want her to be my best friend, at least one of them, forever, and so did everyone else. I know this because I raised my hand in the question and answer section and said, "Will you be my best friend?" and everyone else chimed in after me. She was amazing.

One of her comments was: Retailers are the gatekeepers to the consumer.

One of the artists she helped only had one image to market. You don't have to have lots of images or lots of product. I found that encouraging.

She has free information on her website:

The first speaker was almost as amazing as she was. His main point was, 'challenging how you think about finding an audience'. His name is Brooks Jensen. A photographer for 40 years and owner of his own magazine called Lensworks. He lives and works in Anacortes, Washington. What I got from him was just as valuable as what I got from Jeanette. He drew a pyramid on a large piece of paper with original art written at the top and webpage/facebook/blog at the bottom. Using his own photography as an example, he shared how he does the pyramid.
The following is a list from bottom up simply because after having an original piece it starts with getting it seen.
1. Your web information. Webpage/facebook/blog etc. No money required of the viewer to see your work and very little of your time after initial set-up.
2. Downloadable PDF - an online brochure. Can have attachments to your store, webpage, etc. No money required of the viewer and very little of your time after initial set-up.
3. Free annual keepsake you give away to your friends and collectors. Handmade to keep cost down and add a personal touch. This is better than a post card and can become quite collectable.
4. Inexpensive prints for the 'entry level buyer' and/or an unprintable disc of limited number of images. $10-20 value. Brooks said he has sold 50,000 prints at this level.
5. Book of your work. $40+ value. I added this one in on my pyramid. I intend to research inexpensive ways to do this. and Kodak are two print on demand sources.
6. Folio with 5 small images. Perfect for photographers and cheaper to make than a book. Packaged nicely and embossed/signed with text included. Use good quality paper. $75 value.
7. Folio with 12 original prints or limited edition/signed/unprintable DVD/include text. $145 value.
8. Limited edition signed prints.
9. And lastly, or should I say firstly, originals. Be reasonable with your prices, but don't under sell yourself. After all, it is an original and you have options that fit every budget.

Even though there are many beautiful and creative artworks out there, the saying goes, "90% marketing and 10% talent." Unfortunately, it is more true than not.  Look at the great artists throughout history that were great while they were alive.  They were all good at marketing.

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