- by Barney Davey
You needn’t be wildly famous to sell art.
For most artists, a little bit of fame goes a long way. Your job is to figure out how to get and use slight celebrity while staying comfortable in your own skin.
Be yourself, everyone else is already taken. – Oscar Wilde
Does it seem preposterous to you that you could be famous? It shouldn’t. Because fame sells art, even slight celebrity can make your life as an artist more fun and more profitable. And, no you don’t have to sell your soul to make it happen, happily.
Life is short, be happy!
I’m not saying you have to be happy to sell art or be famous. I have known more than a few sourpusses who succeeded. It just always seemed to me they were missing the joy from people loving their art.
It’s not about the Kardashians for heaven’s sake!
Most people hear the word fame and they immediately think of movie stars, musicians, professional athletes, politicians or even attention-addicted reality TV stars.
The fame we are talking about here has zero to do with those kinds of celebrities. You need not aspire to join their company with your face in celeb rag mags or featured on entertainment news TV shows.
Andy Warhol made fame more famous. – Fran Lebowitz
To enjoy success as an artist, you need slight fame. Compared to other creative pursuits artists require the least number of friends, fans, followers and buyers to have a wildly successful career. The subtitle to my Guerrilla Marketing for Artists book is: How 100 Collectors Can Bulletproof Your Career. I believe visual artists who develop 100 or more direct buying collectors have more control of their careers and finances than any other marketing activity they can do.
Of course, that number is dependent on a wide range of factors, including your age, how far along you are in your career, how prolific you are as an artist, and more. No matter what your number is it is small compared to what authors, actors, musicians and performers need to make bank with their careers.
The cool part is you have exactly the same tools as they do to help you gain fame and success in your career. This means your leverage over things like social media is far greater than nearly all other creative professions.
Let’s Talk about Selling Art.
When it comes to getting anything sold, there are processes that always happen. For instance, every purchase involves AIDA, which is an acronym for:
This continuum happens in virtually every sales transaction. It can happen in a moment of instant gratification, or as is the case with most art sales, it can take repeated exposure to move your buyer from attention in your art to taking action to buy it.
How to go about exposing your potential buyers and repeat buyers to those frequent contact is a discussion about marketing for another post.
Let’s Talk about Fame
What Tips a Buyer’s Desire into Action?
You have learned about how AIDA is part of every sale. There also is another three-step process that is at the root of why buyers choose your art. They are:
Take it easy, but take it. – Pete Seeger advising Bob Dylan about fame.
People Like to Buy from People They Like.
We don’t need to debate or prove this fact because you know in your personal experience it is the absolute truth. In the case of your art career it follows the more people who know you and like you, the more art you will sell to them.
Your effective marketing is all about getting your prospects to know you. Sometimes that is enough to get you sales. Fame is a positive aspect in the buying process that improves sales. Just a bit of it will tip your prospect’s buying decision in your favor.
Imagine a buyer who is deciding on buying art from two different artists. The one they know and like is nearly always going to get the sale. Add just a dash of fame and the sale is a lock. It is just human nature and a perfect example of how fame sells art.
Buyers don’t have to know you personally to feel as if they know you. Fame is when someone knows something about you when you don’t know they exist.
This can happen through the power of word-of-mouth marketing. You know, people have come to like you so much that they can’t wait to tell their family and friends about you. It is a by-product of your fame.
Fame is reputation wrapped in a fancy context. – Barney Davey
It’s the Truth, Fame Will Help You Sell Your Art.
It does more than sell art, it will open doors and give you access to people and places you won’t have without it. Some of those people will have the power to influence your career in crazy, good ways.
Fame and reputation are nearly, but not quite, the same thing. I believe you can have a reputation without fame, but you can’t have fame without a reputation. When you have both, you are well on your way to selling more art.
There is not enough space here to tell you all the ways you can gain fame. Search the Internet and you will find many ingenious and useful suggestions. I found a few things for you to consider.
Use the Rub Off Effect for Fame.
Derek Halpern, publisher of the well respected and very popular Social Triggers blog, has this short video describing how to use what he calls the “Rub Off Effect” to gain fame. He explains it as part of his “How to Become Famous” post.
Don’t Take Your Fame Too Seriously
Singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen has received countless awards and inductions to multiple Hall of Fame organizations. Despite such acclaim, he makes it clear to everyone how he perceives himself in his lyrics for the Tower of Song:
Oh in the Tower of Song
I said to Hank Williams: how lonely does it get?
Hank Williams hasn’t answered yet
But I hear him coughing all night long
A hundred floors above me
In the Tower of Song
Cohen’s humble homage to Hank Williams makes his perspective on his fame, and perhaps talent, quite evident. In the pantheon of songwriters, he wryly places himself well below the incomparable Hank Williams.
Lifehacker published this tongue-in-cheek titled post, Eight Cheap Ways to Become Famous without Killing Anyone. It offers some useful suggestions you can use to grow your fame.
I suggest these methods in my Guerrilla Marketing for Artists book.
- Public Speaking – Put together a speech you can give on a topic about which you are passionate, or willing to do deep research on.
- Become a recognized authority on some aspect of the art business. It could be local history of art in your town, or on the life of a famous artist, or the ins and outs of getting the most from the museums throughout your region. Pick a topic, love it, research it, and publish and promote your knowledge about it.
- Be spectacular – manifest being spectacular through your art, through your lifestyle, through your personality. Learning to get outside your comfort zone to make this happen can cause all manner of new, happy things to come your way.
The different ways you can gain fame and use it to your advantage are as endless as the ways art gets created. What it takes is using your creativity in a new way to think deeply about how you can corner the market on fame in your career.
Be Yourself. Believe Fame Sells Art!
The last thing you want is to be a phony. Nevertheless, you should not let worrying about what other people think hold your back. As the saying goes, “Haters are gonna hate.” You could not change their mind not matter what you do, so you just have to learn to ignore those critics with nothing meaningful to say.
No one expects you to start doing outrageous things or changing yourself just to get attention. That is not what getting fame that is worth having is about. It is about using a positively built reputation to make that know-like-trust trio do a dance in your favor.
- Benefits of Slight Celebrity
- Successful Art Careers | The Art of Slight Celebrity | Part Eleven
- Local Marketing | How to Make a Thriving Art Career!
- How to Take Heart and Make Selling Art Awesome