Monday, December 28, 2009

Reputation+Sales+Collectors = Success for the Artist

copyright 2009, Jan Blencowe, Rosie, sketched w/ the Fountain Pen application for iPhone
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Success for the artists isn't as easy as pulling a rabbit out of a hat. It takes a plan and dedication. Actually, there are quite a few components to success, and frankly it's impossible to address them all at once when you're starting out, but today I'll offer up three which you can begin with.

1. Reputation

A good reputation doesn't just happen. You can take concrete steps to build your reputation as an artist.

Good Press

  • Learn how to write a media friendly press release, make contacts at local papers, and send press releases when you win an award, are accepted into a very prestigious show, when you have a show or open studio, or any other time you have an accomplishment or event to share. Always include a print quality image of your artwork and all your contact info. including your website.

  • This can be multiplied and sent out across the globe if you get involved in social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, where you can share your achievements with thousands of people worldwide. Plus, you are now in a position for other art related blogs and websites to pick up your news and either share it with their audience or possibly contact you for an interview or feature on their site.


  • Find or create opportunities where you can do a painting demonstration, or speak about your artwork. Sharing freely is a very good thing. Always have postcards, brochures etc. with you to give out at these events. Give people 2 cards and ask them to pass one on, and always have a sign up sheet for your mailing list at these events. You may not be getting paid but you are connecting with an audience that is already interested enough in your work to come and see you work and listen to you speak.  

  • If you really want to gain an audience learn how to make videos of your painting demos and get them up on YouTube and then share them via Twitter and Facebook, again these things can take off very quickly if you are plugged in and well positioned in the world of social media. 


  • Writing allows you to become known as an expert in your field. Write a column for your local paper about art, or review local art shows. Start a blog, or use one of the many sites on the internet that allow you to submit articles. This a huge area and would take a post or two to go into indepth. If you have a knack for writing look into this, because again, social media on the internet offers so  many opportunities for exposure across a huge audience.

2. Sales

Sold Works Gallery

Nothing validates an artist's worth more than a solid track record of sales.

Take a good hard look at your work and decide on the best methods and venues for sales. Whatever else you decide to do, make absolutely sure you have a clean, well designed, easy to navigate website, it is an absolute must. Personally, I like to see a section on an artists website of sold work.

  • If you have a presentation book with prints of your best work, include sold work in this. When you are sharing this with people let them know which paintings are sold, especially if they have a story, like they are now in another country, or in a corporate collection.

  • Use a sold work on your postcards and marketing materials, that way when you hand a card to someone and they comment on how beautiful your painitng is, you can respond by saying "Thank you so much! That one recently sold to a collector in California."

Share the News

Share the news of recent sales in your newsletter, or on Facebook and Twitter, etc.

Learn to Sell Your Own Work

This is often the most difficult thing for atists to do. However, in today's turbulent economy with many galleries barely able to keep their doors open you'll have to learn how if you want to survive.

  • Spend time developing a vocabulary of words that really communicate what your work is all about. Build on that to write an excellent artist's statement. Having command of language that describes your work when you talk or write about it makes it easier for a potential collector to enter into your work and feel a connection with it. That connection is often the tipping point for a sale.

  • Explore the many avenues available to sell your work directly. On-line sites, open studio shows, art fairs, alternative spaces, auctions and so much more are available to you. Do your homework and find out what's right for you.

3. Collectors

This is a BIG one. Every artists wants collectors who are moved by their paintings, love them, connect with you, buy a painting, tell friends about your work and most importantly come back for more.

  • First, you need to figure out who your ideal collector is. What are they like, why would your work resonate with them.

  • Second, you need to be able to find ways and places to connect and communicate with them.

  • Third, once they've purchased a painting you need to cultivate a long term relationship with them, using your newsletter, mailing list and any other means at your disposal like holiday cards and handwritten notes from time to time.

This aspect is so important to your long term success I'm going to refer you to Alyson Stanfield, The ArtBiz Coach, author of I'd Rather Be in the Studio! She has a wonderful program, Cultivating Collectors, which I think you will find very helpful for this part of your plan.

You can check out this resource by using my affiliate link HERE

The old year is quickly slipping away and it's time to face the New Year with a plan in hand for success! You can do it, make this year your best yet by pushing some of your creative flow into your business and marketing efforts!


AutumnLeaves said...

What a great and informative post! I hope that one day these things become things for me to worry about. Right now, I'm just trying to indulge in my love for art and learn new things en route.

Diane Hoeptner (hep-ner) said...

AWESOME post, Jan. Great big THANKS!!!!