- by Barney Davey
I don’t believe you can wish your way to success, but I know for certain you can’t create success unless you believe you can.
By virtue of reading this blog, you are likely part of or interested in the Indie Art movement. Indie Art primarily encompasses visual arts, music, films, fashion, design and crafts. It is an exciting time to be an independent artist.
Your Choices Drive Your Results
If you choose to, you could let all the economic troubles and related bad news we are faced with daily and the ongoing deconstruction of traditional art marketing venues get you down. Or, you could rejoice in being living in what perhaps is the most exciting time ever for independent artists. Your outlook and opinion are sure to shape your results. I don’t believe you can wish your way to success, but I know for certain you can’t create success unless you believe you can.
You have more options than artists from previous eras
You may not be able to change macro conditions rocking our world with climate, political and economic turmoil, but you can choose how you react to them and decide to use what is available to you to help you fashion your own success. The reality is you may have to adjust your thinking about what you are creating, or how it is produced or consumed to achieve success. But, that same reality gives you more options to get your work to market than artists in any previous era.
What is interesting now is as an artist, you have more opportunities to make your career happen. In the past, if you weren’t working for “The Man”, you weren’t working. While that statement is not completely accurate, it is not totally off the mark either. What it means is that whether you were independent or with a publisher, you had to pass through a limited number of portals to get your work to market. Today those portals have erupted into an abundance of opportunities. The combined effect of the rise of the Internet, the development of print-on-demand technology coupled with a growing interest from consumers for authenticity and uniqueness in their purchases, gives you a means to market yourself in ways previous generations could not even conceive of, much less act upon.
On-line sites and social networking communities create new opportunities
Web sites such as EBSQ Art, Etsy, (which landed $27 million in funding in January 2008), ImageKind and Indie Public are just a few examples of how visual artists are using online venues to get their work to eager customers. Lightning Source International, my POD book printer, has made it possible for authors to get their books online everywhere. The independent music distributor CD Baby has to date sold more than 4.4 million CDs for nearly 250,000 independent recording artists paying them more than $79 million dollars. The SXSW Music, Film and Interactive Media Festival has become one the most important outlets for musicians, film makers and artists to get exposure for their new work. Something like 700 bands played there this year. The interactive media portion continues to grow in importance and stature.
Resources to help you figure out what will work best for you are out there
The sites listed above are not intended to be exhaustive. You will need to do more research to find others suitable for your work and marketing. And just as the Internet makes looking for unique art possible for consumers, it gives you plenty of sources to find places to suit your marketing.
Granted, it can be challenging to figure out which outlets are right for you to invest time and money. However, there has never been a time when it wasn’t challenging to learn how to best allocate limited funds for marketing. At least now there are viable alternatives to exclusively working the traditional artist-gallery connection. A valuable source of independent research and advice on which sites are potentially best for you is Empty Easel. Its regularly updated features about online marketing sites are full of vauable information. Retail galleries remain an important distribution channel for artists. But, for most artists in today’s evolving climate, galleries cannot be relied upon as the sole source of revenue as in the past.
Artists must be involved in making distribution channel choices
At one point not long ago, it would have been career suicide for artists to compete with galleries. In today’s market, it may be career suicide not to. That is not to say artists should attempt to distribute the same prints they have in the gallery market through their own distribution channels. That would be ill-advised bad form. You have to use common sense and decency in making decisions about how your work will be distributed and where. If you act with integrity and ethically, no one can accuse you of doing them wrong. The litmus test of whether you would be happy if on the other side of the question can help steer your choices.
Make your choices and set your sights
- What do you want your career to look like?
- What kind of art do you want to make?
- What art can you happily make that will make you the most money?
- What are the best ways to get your art to market?
Once you are able to satisfactorily answer questions like these, you can begin to use them to formulate a marketing plan based on your available resources. I’ll see you at the top!