3 Great Local Networking Ideas for Artists {Plus A Common Mistake You MUST Avoid}

Guest writer Edward Stuart has some useful ideas to help artists market their work locally. 

Let’s talk about how to sell your work.

While we definitely want to encourage people to market themselves over the web and build networks that take advantage of its global nature, the advent of long-distance internet marketing has left many of the newer, non-established entrants into the art world behind. That is not, of course, because younger artists don’t know how to work on the internet, quite the contrary, rather it’s because they’ve left behind and forgotten traditional, yet very effective, marketing methods that secure a more steady (though generally drearier) income locally. Local, in-person communication is vital for building a steady flow of commissions.

Let’s take a look at a few important strategies…

For Graphic Designers: The Phone Book

No, you’re not going to try your hand at telemarketing. Go into the Yellow Pages and find your local screen printing and embroidery shops. Call them up and ask them if they’d be willing to refer clients in need of an artist to you in exchange for a referral fee. These people talk to small business owners, school clubs, and private people in need of graphic design work every single day.

Ideally you’ll get the shops to display some of your best portfolio pieces to inspire their customers to make use of you. Once you’re working with someone on a t-shirt design you have a foot in the door and can work with them to redesign their logo, website, or other tasks in your realm of expertise like designing fliers for their marketing efforts.

For Fine Artists: Cafes and Bars

If your expertise lies more in the fine-art realm you’ll need to get your art out in front of an audience, and preferably in a setting in which they’re inclined to spend money. Conveniently supporting local businesses and artists is a surging trend all over the country, meaning that bars and cafes in your area are most likely looking for good local artwork to put on their walls as cheaply as possible.

Simply call them up and offer to hang your work on their walls (with price tags!). If a patron wants to buy a piece they can pay the business and the business pays you. To generate more interest you can also visit the various establishments regularly, make friends with the regulars, and sketch out concepts in full view of the other patrons. The crowd you’ll automatically draw (heh, get it?) will help to generate interest, and any friends you make will enthusiastically point out that they know the artist who drew that thing on the wall over there to everyone else that comes in.

For Illustrators: The Local Writing Community

What if you’re an illustrator? Your art isn’t fancy enough to hang on the wall, and you don’t go around designing logos or webpages. Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Think about all the people who’ve ever told you that they’re “writing a novel”, “writing a children’s book”, or “writing a screen play”. There are many more people who are going to attempt to get their written work published (or will self-publish!) than there are good artists to make quality illustrations for their work. Obviously not everyone needs, wants, or can afford illustrations, but if you can find where writers hang out you’ll inevitably find work.

Get on the internet, and instead of just checking how your own social media marketing is going, go and spend some time googling for writing clubs in your area. Contact their members, attend their meetings, make friends with them, and show them why you looked them up.

IMPORTANT  – Don’t make this common mistake ~ When working with individuals rather than businesses remember not to work for free. It’s easy to slip into idealism when an aspiring writer promises you a cut of future profits, but at the end of the day their work is not guaranteed to succeed, and you’ll have put the work in for pure idealism’s sake, which won’t put food on your table.

Edward Stuart is an art and decoration enthusiast as well as an online publisher for Canvas Art. He frequently blogs on the topics of art, art history, design, and home decor.

 

 

Image courtesy of Tack-O-Rama

You may also like

Toxic Friends – Self Confidence & The Artist

Artonomy reader Paul Stratton shares his artistic journey and some of the hard life lessons he has learned along the way…

Or – How the wrong friends can be so bad for you!

I’d always liked art and enjoyed creating it. When I was at school I was confident enough to think that I would get a good grade and was told that I would. I figured I’d move on to Art College and hopefully a career. Even though we’d had four different teachers in four years, when the last one ran through the list of things we should have done (and hadn’t) I was still expecting good things. At that point I was young and surrounded by people giving me words of encouragement and support. I thought I could pretty much do what I wanted and that meant making a career from art. I was very positive and looking forward to the future.

The horrible surprise…

So it came as a great and horrible surprise that I didn’t pass. I went into a kind of shock and just stopped doing art. My confidence was gone. Someone, somewhere, who carried a great deal of weight, had decided they didn’t agree with everyone else. I never knew why or where I’d gone wrong. I may have had the support but I didn’t have the experience and because other areas of my life weren’t so good I felt that my one chance had gone. I stopped listening to the sage advice from people telling me it was just a hic-up, that I could get back on my feet and try again and all the other supportive stuff they were saying. It seemed very black and white to my inexperienced eyes.

The re-awakening…

Roll on twenty years or so and I happened upon an architects shop in France. It showed some of his stuff and it was amazing. And I realised the interest was still there and so was the desire. But my situation was different and those supportive people I’d been surrounded with had moved on or moved away. The people I was with at the time were not the same and there was one friend in particular who taught me just how bad it can be if you are surrounded by the wrong kind of people. In fact he taught me so many lessons at once I wonder sometimes if things really do happen for a reason.

The Toxic Friend…

It turned out that this chap had tried to sell his art before. When I first saw his work (he’d hung some of his originals on the walls of his flat) I thought he was good but after he told me just how good he really was I thought he was fantastic. I wasn’t sure about some things but, because he was so good, I figured it must be that I wasn’t as good as him. I hadn’t learned enough or got it right. He told me that he had made some prints (a massive amount – 500 I think, A1 or A2 size) and had sold around 3. He went on to say that there was no point even trying because if he hadn’t sold any of his there was no way I was going to sell any of mine. At various points he would tell me how things should be drawn or what everyone expected when they looked at other people’s work. I can’t remember how long I lived under this guy’s shadow thinking there was no hope for someone as inferior as me and I never realised until now how much damage was being done. Not just by him but by me for allowing him to do it. (Then again, I was suffering from Depression very badly by this point)

The Valuable Lesson…

I learned many things from this. Firstly, that if you have absolute confidence that what you do is good, you can convince other people of that too. You can almost sweep them along in your enthusiasm. Even if you have doubts like I did about some his work, you can end up thinking that if someone is so good, those doubts must be misplaced. If this chap’s confidence hadn’t gone further into arrogance who knows where he and his art would be today? I’m not saying that you should convince people that you are good (that’s up to them to decide) but what it shows me is that if you have confidence in yourself you can achieve so much. Art’s subjective. Some will like it and some won’t but if you have confidence in yourself you won’t care about those who don’t. And you won’t give up either.

It also shows me that you have to have patience. You can’t give up at the first obstacle like my friend did or I did and you can’t expect things to always go right for you first time. I don’t think that’s the same as not believing in yourself but more in trusting that things will work out. That you may need to pick yourself up off the floor as few times as you go. That it’s ok to fail and then succeed.

Thirdly, it’s not for other people to tell you if you are going to succeed or not. Not only do they not know the future but they are not you. They failed. It doesn’t mean you will. It does mean they didn’t have the patience or work ethic but not that you don’t.

Lastly, it showed me that when your heads not in a good place or if you are very trusting of people (as artists often are) then their words and thoughts can have a massive effect on you. I believed this guy because he was very confident in himself and his work, I was very unconfident in myself and mine and because he was a friend I trusted his opinion. But he (and the majority of people who I thought were ‘real’ friends at the time) never offered any real encouragement or support. Just told me it wouldn’t work or wasn’t good enough and that became my perception regarding art until about 2 years ago. The thing was I never even realised that until I was shown. So not only is having the wrong people around you going to keep you down and view your future negatively but these thoughts become a pattern that you can end up taking with you without even realising it.

The support and encouragement given to me when I failed to pass my O-level must have sunk in. Without it I would have totally given up as a kid and definitely when my friend tried to tell me I wasn’t good enough. If you are unlucky enough to have been surrounded by people who put you down because it didn’t work for them or who never offer you any kind of support then it can only be bad for you. If you can offer support and encouragement to someone else then it might make a world of difference to them. It is difficult accepting that people you may have known for a long time and regard as friends are actually bad for you. It may take a lot of soul searching and effort to admit that it’s true and if you are like me, there’s a lot of resistance before the penny drops. It is also very difficult to ‘un-believe’ something you’ve been believing in for a long time.

In the end, I let go of the people who were bad for me. While it was very tough at the time it’s actually one of the best things I’ve done. The effects of those templates are still there, such as the perfectionism, but they are so much smaller than they were and getting smaller all the time. I know one day soon they’ll be gone. It takes time to re-program your head and to believe that things that have been so negative can be so positive. And it’s hard to make some decisions even if you know they are the right ones but it’s worth it. Things also come easier to some people than others but if any of the above sounds like stuff you are going through then take heart that things can change and it doesn’t matter if it takes a while because it’s the result that counts. Best of luck!

 

Paul Stratton is an artist who specialises in Art, Illustration, Scenery and Model Design. You can view his online portfolio here:

If you would like to share your experience of your artistic journey with our readers please get in contact with an outline of your guest post…

Image courtesy of Tack-O-Rama

 

You may also like