The complexities of art & money

Sell Your Art Online

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The definition of a real artist

This one might piss a few people off.

Not that it’s my intention to do so, but so often do I see artists – incredibly motivated, driven, talented – shirk the issue of money and selling, that I think it’s time to share one of my more radical opinions.

Don’t just take it from me, you know.

There are tons of people out there, smarter and more experienced than me.

Cory Huff, Ann Rea, Alyson Stanfield, and many more: they all tell us to get over ourselves and exchange our art for money.

Helen – an accomplished artist in her own right – says the same thing.

And personally, I don’t see any shame in selling art. Quite the opposite.

So here’s where I hold my breath:

A real artist is someone who sells their work – or at least actively tries to.

I can already hear people go: “You’re crazy! I AM an artist, even if I don’t sell my art!”

That’s valid, I agree.

But are you working on sales?

Are you building an online presence?

Are you using the proven marketing strategies that get you in front of people?

Are you, in fact, acting like a professional?

Let’s take this back a few centuries, to prove my point.

Georg Friedrich Händel wrote his magnificent Water Music suites because King George I commissioned him to do so.

Schubert had a job – composing music so as to feed his large family.

Rembrandt was commissioned to paint the Nightwatch.

Michelangelo’s David was bought and paid for.

So how come we ended up with the notion that free artistic expression is the only thing that justifies art?

That taking money for it somehow defiles what true art is meant to be?

I don’t buy that.

Look at the Rolling Stones, or Leonard Cohen – or indeed, Andy Warhol.

They all know that in order to keep creating, money has to come from somewhere.

I listened to an interview with Jay Jay French, of Twisted Sister fame (who vehemently rejects the glam rock tag, btw).

Like ‘em or not – they are a business, and it’s that attitude that has enabled them – just like the Stones – to survive to this day.

Neil Young? I doubt he rejects money.

Jack Nicholson? Al Pacino?

All of them, artists in their own right, still going strong, living from what they consider their art.

So why would you want to distance yourself from that, what’s the sense in being a closet-painter and never try to sell your work?

Maybe completely free artistic expression is indeed what you do it for, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.

But I do regret that the consequence of it is that something you create, that could change somebody’s life, won’t get seen.

So maybe it’s marketing that people are against – that’s something I can understand. There’s a lot of crap being sold, just because there’s a marketing genius behind the strategy.

And that’s wrong in many ways and on many levels.

Sad too, because if there’s one thing the world needs, it’s more real art and less gunk.

Which is yet another reason to come to terms with promoting and marketing your work.

Or maybe it’s because of ethics – there sure is a lot of that missing in a lot of marketing.

But that’s just a matter of how you go about things.

Ethics are in your hand – if you’re an ethical person, your marketing will be ethical too, automatically.

So ask yourself: why not? Why wouldn’t you create a simple, effective, ethical strategy to be seen by more people?

Goodness, they’ll even thank you for it, once they find you.

Or, maybe it’s confidence, fear, doubt, insecurity – is that what’s holding you back?

Not sure you’re good enough, that you can pull it off, that your work deserves to be seen?

Cheers,

Martin

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Selling Your Art Is Your Duty! – A Passionate Plea From The Heart…

A few weeks back I received an intriguing email from Martin Stellar. He had a particular {and traumatic} life experience to draw on which had taught him a very important lesson about art marketing. I will leave him to share this vitally important lesson with you in this guest post. Thanks Martin…

If you signed up to Helen’s ebook series (which you totally should), you’ll have read about the elephant in the room: That strange aversion to selling that so many artisans and creatives live with.

I agree with Helen’s teaching: She says that we needn’t feel anything negative when it comes to selling or marketing our art, but I want to make an even stronger point:

As an artist, it’s not enough to just accept sales, selling and marketing as a necessary part of the artist’s life.

You need to understand that selling your art is your moral and ethical duty.

Yep, I really said that.

And I have a good reason for it too:

As an artist, you owe it to the world to get mighty comfortable with marketing and selling, and to get at least moderately good at it.

Because you make a difference. You make the world a more beautiful place.

Your work, your daily toil and your innermost creativity: all of that conspires to bring more beauty to the world, one print; one canvass or one photo at a time.

If you’re an artist, you believe in the art you create (no matter how deep down that may be, hidden by a public mask of insecurity).

If you didn’t believe in your art, you wouldn’t live how you live and make what you make.

And if you believe in your art, you owe it to the world to sell as much of it as you possibly can.

Sidenote: My editor tells me I should talk about sharing your art, instead of selling – she makes a good point, but I believe selling is the single best way to share your art.

Anyway: If your art can improve a house, a room, a face or a street… bring something beautiful or meaningful into the world… Then OF COURSE you should sell it. Tons of it, if you can.

All this is of course a generously grandiloquent way to look at things.

After all, we don’t all create deeply inspired one-off pieces

I can understand that if your business is, say, selling printed t-shirts of your own design, you might not feel that you contribute as much as someone who creates unique life-size sculptures.

But think again.

Your t-shirts also add to the total.

People buy them because it gives them pleasure, they enjoy owning and wearing them, they like to be seen wearing them and so on.

I’d say that with each t-shirt sold, you just added a bit of happiness or enjoyment to someone’s life. Right? Right.

It really makes no difference what you make, how many, how big they are, how much they cost.

If you consider yourself an artist that inherently means that you make things that are meant to enhance the world

Now tell me, don’t you think this not only justifies and necessitates, but even obliges you as an artist to find as many people as you can who will buy what you make?

Should it not be your mission to make people’s lives a bit better with your art, as often as you can?

I’d say so.

It’s your duty to sell (read: share) your art.

You make the world better, more meaningful and more beautiful. Each time you create, you do the world a favour.

Each time you sell, doubly so.

What do I know?

Now, you might wonder where I get the nerve to come at you with all this high-faluting pomp and circumstance.

After all, I’m not even an artist myself. I couldn’t draw a stick-figure to save my life.

No, my genetic makeup is similar, but not quite the same: I’m what’s known as an artisan.

Specifically, I’m a bespoke tailor. Or used to be, before I became a marketing writer.

It’s a long story, but the short of it is that I used to have my own tailoring company, in which I myself created high end bespoke suits, fully handmade.

For a while I ran a blog and I ranked nicely on Google, just below Savile Row tailors, and I was getting a decent reputation on several forums.

Prices were also up there with Savile Row, and I was getting some sales.

At some point my father passed away, and I ended up with a sizeable inheritance that I decided to invest in my business.

Things looked like I was set for success.

But all that money, (all 120,000 pounds of it. Ouch.), I lost over the course of five years.

Here’s why my tailoring business tanked, forcing me to change careers:

I refused to really come to terms with the (very high) intrinsic value of what I created with my own two hands

Until the end, when I ran that company into the ground, I always approached the marketing and sales of it all as if it were a necessary evil.

And the only reason for that, I realise now, is that I didn’t value my stuff the way I should have.

The way you should value your stuff. Which I’m guessing you might not really do, just like me, back then.

And you may take all this as literally as you like (hint: the more literally you take it, the more your sales will soar).

You see, aside from the fact that creating a suit is in itself creating a piece of art (provided you do it by hand like bespoke tailors ought to), there is the value to the customer, and in that sense art and artisanry are very similar.

In both situations, the value to the customer sort of has no limits

You would be amazed by what people are willing to pay. Trust me, I’m a marketer (these days), and I know exactly how much the right people are willing to pay for art.

Or for my suits for that matter. Because that was the amazing thing I discovered: You can charge literally anything you want, and you’ll have people buying it.

It gets even better: the higher your prices, the more eager people will be to buy

That’s something I hope Helen will allow me to explain at a later point. Provided of course that she’d like to have me tell more of the story of how a young tailor had a chance and blew it.

For now, I just really want to hope that you see my point, because you so much deserve to live with the confident (and slighty bold) attitude I’ve been describing.

What you do makes a difference. Make it happen more, make a bigger difference.

Even if it’s one printed mug at a time.

You’re an artist
It’s your nature to create beauty
You’re an artist
It’s your duty to sell the beauty you create

Martin Stellar is technically a copywriter and marketing consultant, but really he’s one of those people who can’t help trying to motivate and inspire people, given half a chance. He blogs at www.martinstellar.com, where much motivating and inspiring takes place, and he’s usually good fun on twitter.

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How NOT To Be A Starving Artist { The 3 crucial tips that will help you sell your Art}

Being a starving artist sounds delightfully romantic, I know, but if you’ve ever actually been there you know that cold clenching feeling that makes you wonder if you shouldn’t have listened to your parents and studied engineering. Fortunately that doesn’t have to be the solution. If you aren’t making any money as an artist then you can usually solve it by addressing the following common problems.

You Aren’t Selling Yourself

Artists are often artists because they don’t want to talk to other people. Unfortunately, that’s simply not how it works. A freelance artist is a small business, and that means marketing. Putting your art on ebay or Etsy isn’t going to generate a lot of interest compared to real, hands on marketing. Go to local events to display your work, talk to small business owners (bar and restaurant owners specifically) and get them to post your work on their walls. If there are no events in your area, you can start your own (gasp!). It’s actually not as crazy as it sounds, simply round up a few other artists in your area, research cheap (or free) possible venues. Any place with a dance floor has enough room to work with, and business owners will be happy to accommodate you if you can convince them that you can bring in business.

Your Art Isn’t Original Enough

If you find you’re already doing all of the marketing that you could be it’s time to turn around and look at your work. Are you being original? Can a potential customer go elsewhere and find something in the same style, with similar content? What’s your own response to it? Does it make you sad, amused, or terrified? If you don’t have much of a response to your own work, then the odds are good that no one else does either. You have a chance to say something in a way that no one has ever said it before, it’s a shame to waste that chance.

If you used to do fairly well, but just can’t get past a creative block that has you doing essentially the same thing over and over again, resulting in a boring, one sided portfolio, you can check out another post that I wrote on dealing with that issue

Your Prices Are Wrong

What if you’re working all the time, and your art is selling, but you’re barely making ends meet? Clients are constantly hounding you and reminding you that they can find someone else to do the same work more cheaply, or try to get you to rework or modify work repeatedly. This one is as simple as it sounds. Raise your prices, perhaps even double them. Your work costs whatever you charge, period. If you don’t think it’s worth more, go back and read the earlier paragraph. You don’t want people buying your work just because it’s the cheapest around; you want them to buy it because they love your work. People being bullied and cowed into working for criminally low prices are the biggest reason that new artists so often find themselves in huge financial trouble, and the answer is simply to unapologetically charge what you’re worth.

ed-stuartEdward 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.

 

This post was written by a guest writer. if you would like to write a guest post for us please get in contact with your topic ideas.

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Crowd Funding for Artists – How To Crowd Fund Your Next Art Project

Crowd Funding is something we are getting asked about a lot here at Artonomy. It’s a new way of funding that can work brilliantly for the right project. In this post Janelle Pierce shares some tips on how to go about it…

As a writer you probably know how daunting and difficult it is to get published. As a photographer you probably know how tedious and time consuming it is to sell prints. As a musician you’ve probably had more than a dozen rejection letters from record labels who just didn’t hear the same potential for your music that you did. Well rest easy because the financial times are changing!

If you haven’t heard about crowd source funding it’s the new, hip way artists are getting the funds they need to produce the work they love, and the best part? They’re being funded by backers who love their work too! If you’ve ever wanted to professionally record and release an album, publish your first novel, or release a coffee table book of your favorite photographs then crowd funding might just be the way to go.

Taking the First Step

If you’re new to crowd funding then have no fear, there’s a first time for everything, and truth be told it’s not that difficult, but it will take some time so be prepared for that. Before you do anything you need to decide which crowd funding website you’re going to utilize. With more than 400+ sites available the decision to pick just one, may not be that easy. Instead of going with the big dog (kickstarter.com) just because it’s the big dog, do your research. Pick a crowd funding site that caters specifically to your niche. If you’re an artist who specializes in a certain pottery technique or who makes a specific kind of music, find a site that values that and has an audience who values it as well.

Impacting Your Backers

In order for your crowd funding campaign to be successful you need to make an impact. Since your ultimate goal is to entice and secure funding from other people it’s important to make a human connection. Tell your story and make it personal. People can easily discern whether or not you’re genuine and authentic so don’t fake it. Using a video is one of the best methods because it allows you to communicate not just information, but also emotion.

Duplicating Success

If this is your first crowd funding campaign then you’ll probably want to do a little investigating. Knowing what worked (and didn’t work) for others is a valuable piece of information you cannot afford to neglect. Spend some time searching for other projects that were (and weren’t) successful. Try duplicating the strong points of the successful campaigns while avoiding the weaknesses of the failed campaigns. This will improve your chance for success across the board!

Benefits to the Crowd Funding Model

There are a lot of benefits to the crowd funding model but two of the greatest are its ability to raise money while contributing to the marketing of your art. When a backer decides to support you with their money they make a connection with you that is personal. Their monetary investment is just the start, after that they’ll support you with their vocal support to family and friends. With a few high profile Twitter or Facebook users in your ranks you’ll be well on your way to success due to the word of mouth advertising they’ll provide.

In addition to the financial support and free advertising you’ll also receive constructive criticisms. You may have a good idea, but it can probably get better. If that’s the case the crowd will help you do it. Offering constructive criticism is one way crowd funding makes everything better not just for the backer, but also the artist. Many minds are better than just one and it’s true that there is strength in numbers.

No APR

The old method for funding projects, books, or inventions was a reliance on large corporate banks or wealthy relatives. While a wealthy relative may not charge interest they can add additional stress. Likewise a bank will charge interest and as a result you’ll end up paying more for your loan than the loan was worth.

Conclusion

Crowd source funding is a great alternative to the funding methods of the past. No longer do you have to borrow money only to repay it later. With crowd funding you’re able to sell your creations directly to your customers. Through the process you’ll learn more about your audience, the project you’re working on, and it will hopefully make you a more accomplished artist.

Janelle Pierce enjoys writing about crowd funding and answering various small business questions. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.

For inspiration why not check out the kickstarter project of Joshua Harker Joshua’s beautiful sculpture Crania Anatomica Filigre was the 3rd most funded arts project ever raising over $77,000. You can also visit Joshua’s Etsy shop to buy this fabulous sculpture here.

 

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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

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