October 24

Art Marketing: The Ultimate Guide for Artists

Art Marketing: The Ultimate Guide for Artists

The perfect resource for beginner to advanced art marketers looking to learn new skills or hone existing ones. Presented by 30-year art industry veteran, Barney Davey.

What Is Art Marketing? 

At its basic level, marketing, including art marketing, is a systematized process of creating awareness and interest for a company, product, or service that leads to a desire to engage buyers to own its goods, use its services, or all of the above. Businesses use marketing to communicate their offerings, promote their brands, identify new prospects, and strengthen bonds with their target audience and existing customers.


Table of Contents


How to Use Art Marketing and Why It is Important.

In the art world, art marketing creates a continuum of reactions from potential buyers. Visual art marketing practices, primarily through advertising, promotion, social media, backstories, and word-of-mouth, and builds awareness for artists' work. Awareness is the first step by potential buyers toward cultivating a genuine interest in artists and their work. Ultimately, some prospects develop an attraction that creates a desire to own the artwork. Through the effective use of various marketing methods, successful art marketers keep awareness, interest, and desire high until the opportunity for a sale ensues.

Art Marketing Is a Process.

While there are times when a buyer passes through the awareness, interest, desire, and buying action continuum spontaneously, such as at an art fair, it is more typical for most sales to take time and repeat exposure to the artwork under consideration. Because original art and luxury priced limited edition prints carry higher prices in the thousands up to millions, buyers consider them expensive discretionary purchases that require more time for buying decisions. The steady drip of marketing messages delivered through multiple channels is how top marketers maintain contact and build influence that results in sales to prospective buyers.

Marketing can be complicated and sophisticated, requiring knowledge and education. Most large companies require advanced degrees for entry-level marketing positions. Fortunately, for artists, an MBA in marketing is not necessary. They can learn how to use practical art marketing techniques on their own. More than an MBA, what artists need is the desire to be successful, the willingness to work out of their comfort zone, and the commitment to deploy their resources to select art marketing methods steadily.

Art marketing success starts with identifying goals, strengths, and resources. The next step is to create a plan that uses testing and refining to improve their methods continuously. There are always more ways to market art than most artists can use at once. Artists must have both a familiarity with their marketing options and clarity on which they will use. Understanding what works for each artist is different and unique will help them develop a marketing plan that incorporates the tools and techniques most likely to return the desired results.

Awareness Is the Primary First Driver When Asking How to Market Art?

Thriving artists succeed by developing a systematic process of getting their art seen and sold. The truth about art, or any product for that matter, is that no one will buy it unless people know about it. Imagine if Apple created the iPad but failed to let anyone know it was available. They would have a near-revolutionary product with no sales. To prosper, you must sell art, and to do that, you must get your work seen.

Whose Job Is It to Get Eyeballs on the Work of Artists?

A common frustration visual artists deal with is knowing that their art will sell well if only enough people could see it. While probably not intentional, the problem is nevertheless self-induced. The good news is when applied correctly, art marketing makes it fixable.

One way or another, it is the artist's responsibility to gain awareness for their work. Some – few to be realistic – artists work with publishers, galleries, licensors, or agents to do their marketing for them exclusively.

At the outset, it must be understood that everything comes back to art business goals and desires. What does the artist want and need from their career? Can they achieve their objective by handing over full control of distribution, including building awareness and sales from a following of interested potential buyers? Is the tradeoff worth handing off the responsibility for marketing to a third party?

While each artist must answer these questions themselves, I will offer my perspective. From more than 30 years in the art business, I've found relatively few artists who fulfill their goals when they are not involved in marketing their work. The exception is when the artist works with a trusted family member or close friend who has marketing skills, is willing to do the job, and has the time to perform it. Such situations nearly always occur through good fortune. That's because the marketing person usually does not require an income and will work for the good of the business and shares in the results.

It's my experience that those artists who take responsibility for marketing find the time to do the work. They may not enjoy it and even resent the time away from the studio. Still, they don't let personal feelings interfere with their larger goals of benefiting from having their artwork seen and sold regularly.

Balancing Marketing, Creative Time, and Goals.

If the artist's goals are attainable and genuinely what the artist wants, then success on their terms is possible. It requires a plan and steady actions on executing it. Breaking big goals into smaller tasks based on timelines to complete the task gives structure to the project. Three things working together are necessary. They are discipline, desire, and details. When the discipline to do the work is consistent, the desire to achieve the outcome is high, and the details of how to reach and surpass goals are documented and understood, then nearly anything is possible.

The Importance of Acting Now.

Family members of deceased artists seeking help to sell the artist's work posthumously are a perfect but sad example of how not being seen and having no recognition is disastrous to artists and their heirs. Unfortunately, after an artist is deceased is the wrong time to try to promote their work. The artist is gone, and there is no indication of future pieces. Galleries, dealers, and collectors are highly unlikely to want to take a chance on an unknown deceased artist. If an artist's work is vital and relevant, the time to give it the respect of adequately marketing it as part of having a fulfilling art career and legacy is now.


5 Steps to Sell and Market Art the Way You Work.

  1. Setting reasonable, achievable goals.
  2. Understanding what must be done to reach the goals.
  3. Breaking the goals into small chunks ensuring none are overwhelming.
  4. Organizing and calendaring the tasks into daily actions.
  5. Applying the discipline to complete tasks on time.

Research the business and marketing operations of any successful company or individual and you will find these universal principles in use. The infographic is designed to help you plan your steps and to use it as a reminder and guideline for those things you must do to achieve the success you want and deserve to have.

Where Can Artists Market Their Work?

There are many distribution channels artists can use to get their work to market, including these options:

  • Create direct patronage where a network of patrons purchases artworks from the artist directly and repeatedly.
  • Galleries where gallerists sell the artists' work for them. An artist may experience direct patronage through a gallery. However, rarely do they gain access to buyers of their work from galleries.
  • Contract to license original art to be reproduced and sold by art print publishers. Reproductions are sold as open edition posters or limited-edition prints, which may be digital reproductions (aka giclees), serigraphs, four-or-six-color offset lithography, and other formats.
  • Contract with licensors or licensing agents to reproduce an artist's work for various uses, from stationery to linens, housewares, and more.
  • Studio visits and studio events are an excellent method of competing with commercial art galleries on many levels.

Why Art Marketing Matters.

Some artists hold the mistaken belief that marketing their work somehow devalues it. The attitude that creativity and quality cannot exist simultaneously with economic success is a myth that persists within the art community. It hinders the progress of many artists operating as small business owners. Even when there is a benevolent attitude toward marketing, the fear of or ambivalence toward performing necessary tasks such as marketing often holds business owners back.

Marketing is Not Selling.

Sales only occur after art marketing has done its job to create attention, interest, and desire to own the work. You instinctively know you cannot build a career on spontaneous art sales. Nearly all art, particularly originals, requires repeated exposure to prospective buyers before attention, interest, and desire can lead to a purchase. Social media continues to grow in importance to develop awareness and interest for fine artists. As such, it is not to be dismissed lightly or at all.

Desire alone is often not enough to persuade a customer to buy art. Uncovering and responding to objections, presenting alternatives, providing reassurance, merely asking for the order, and other factors are instrumental in creating art sales. Your art marketing may lead them to the gallery or studio, but the interaction that takes place after that is where selling skills come front and center.

An Art Career without Marketing Is a Pleasant Hobby.

Innumerable living artists create compelling artwork but find their work is not selling for the simple reason it is not being seen. Without art marketing to create awareness, there is no interest, and consequently, no sales. If your art career goal is to make a living from selling your work, whether full or part-time, you need to use effective marketing methods and efficient selling skills.

To be transparent and fair, there is no shame in deciding to be a serious hobbyist. It is not a slam against your talent, creativity, skill, or ambition. In every endeavor of the creative arts, you can find artists who choose not to pursue the life of a professional artist. It's common for incredibly talented artists to work in an ancillary field. For example, a virtuoso guitar player may work in a musical instrument store or give private lessons and pick up occasional gigs. There are countless reasons why this is a better choice for them. It might be they don't want to deal with the business side, and the marketing hustle professional artists face daily.

It Is Never Too Late to Get Started.

It does not matter where art marketing operations are at present. The path to success begins by putting significant, enlightened effort into making plans to market one's art. Goals and objectives put artists on their way to a more fulfilling art career. Successful art marketers commit to continuing and improving their long-term efforts to raise awareness for their work and themselves.


Websites for Artists.

An artist’s website is a valuable marketing tool for artists of all experience levels. In our always-on, connected world a website is not optional. Without a site to promote your work, you are unknown and out of luck before you start.

Visual artists must have an online presence that starts with a website designed for artists to showcase their work. A website is a 24/7 sales and marketing tool that is quite often the first point of contact by fans, buyers, and influencers. Think simple and elegant when designing a website for artist. In much the same way a beautiful frame should never compete with the artwork it helps to display. Its only function is to support and enhance the artwork.  

Why Artists Need a Website.

Only established artists who have a network of dealers, galleries, and patrons have the luxury of not having a website and using social media to promote themselves and their work. The "out of sight, out of mind" adage applies here. Ask any gallery owner. These days, it is common practice for prospective buyers to use their smartphones while in the gallery to learn more about an artist. If nothing is found, the odds of selling artwork to them reduces significantly.

Learning how to market art is an essential part of building a flourishing art business. A vital component for all artists is developing a website that presents their art professionally in the best possible way. In nearly all cases, the website should be ecommerce enabled to sell art from the site directly.

Search engine algorithms consider the longevity of existing domain names, in addition to the content of websites. Collectors, buyers, gallerists, art schools, curators, and others look for clues about artists who intrigue them. Whether you have a fine art degree, are a student, or a self-taught artist, your website is central to all you do with your art. It's your salesperson, promoter, and presenter. Authority, credibility, and validation emanate from it.

Your online reputation begins to grow and blossom as soon as your custom artist website goes live. - Barney Davey

Must Include Items for Artist's Websites.

Here is a list of what all artists should include on their websites. 

  • Organization
  • Site Design
  • Site Maintenance & Optimization To-Dos & Tips
  • What Not to Do on Your Artist Website

Organization

__Homepage

Your homepage is like the front door to your studio. It's where potential buyers, gallery owners, and influencers first encounter your art. Include these critical elements:

  • Title – Help visitors understand what to expect. Your title "Art by Your Name" or "Your Name, Sculptor/Painter/Photographer." It says who you are and what you do. The simpler, the better.
    Navigation – Include a top menu to show essential pages on your website. Try for fewer main links.
  • It's your call to determine how to display your artwork. Usually, on the homepage, a single image is ideal. Your goal is to give visitors a quick insight into you and your art on your website's homepage. If you create several styles, include an example of each. Just remember our advice is less is more.

__Portfolio/Galleries
These are pages or collections of pages, which you might title portfolio or gallery. Think of your user's encounter. How will they experience your art? Arranging artworks into groups presents a pleasant way to browse without confusion. One example is to sort into galleries arranged by woodblock prints, watercolors by theme, reproductions, and smalls.

__About (Artist Biography & CV)
Use as much copy as needed to tell your story. For a long copy version of your curriculum vitae, start with a synopsis at the top. Providing a summary respects your visitor's time while still presenting your message. Regardless of the length, it is very important to write your online page copy to be engaging. Be conversational—it makes you and your work more enjoyable and engaging.

Put your Artist Bio on your About page. People buy the artist as much as the art, in most cases. When they know exciting tidbits about the artist, it pulls them closer. The information is something they will use to talk up the artist to people who notice artwork on display. In other words, the artist’s bio and backstory serve as word-of-mouth advertising for artists when they aren't there.

A high-quality, professional photo is strongly recommended. Casual snapshots don't convey the proper attitude or demand the same respect as a professional-grade portrait. You only have one chance to make an impression.

Artist Statement –
Include your artist statement on sub-navigation under the About page or a link of its own. An artist's statement explains how the artist works and tells the art's meaning to the artist. A superb book that offers practical advice and examples is Art-Write: The Writing Guide for Visual Artists by Vicki Krohn Amorose. Having a well-crafted artist statement and bio is often required to submit grants, competitions, art fairs, and galleries.

Galleries, curators, jurists, and some collectors will read your artist statement more often than casual buyers. If those contacts are valuable to you, create a page for your artist statement.

__Contact
Include a link to your contact page on every page of your site. The more ease to reach you, the better. Make it easy to reach the artist. The more ease to make contact, the more likely a person of interest will reach out to the artist. A contact page displaying only a form without a phone number or email address sends a message that being in touch is not important to the artist. If the artist does not have a business address, then at the least include the city, state, and country. Little points are subtle ways to send a message to buyers and influencers.

__Exhibitions
If you have a history of participating in exhibitions, create a page to list your experiences with details.

__Press/Reviews/Testimonials
Depending on your situation, you can combine press coverage, reviews, and testimonials on a single page. You may wish to use sub-navigation from your About link, or a standalone section on the artist website for Testimonials and Publicity is advisable when applicable. Altogether, these components work to build an artist's reputation and establish a noticeable brand for the artist.


Site Design

__Domain name
Domains should be 17 characters or less and effortless to remember. A domain name is crucial for both visitors and Google. Include your name in your domain name (e.g., YourName.com or YourNameArt.com or YourNameStudio.com). You aren't stuck using a ".com" extension.

There are 500 extensions you can use if your preferred .com name is not available. You can register domains many of the most popular domains and manage your name servers (DNS) through Artspan. You will continue to own them even if you stop using our ecommerce website builder for artists' service.

__Use heading tags
Heading tags help visitors and search engines navigate your site. Headings help to make it easier to know what a post or page is about. They point out the parts of your message that are important. Use at least H1 and H2 tag for optimal SEO purposes. Some argue about placement and multiple uses of H1 tags. Although it's not proven using one per page is a good idea. This page uses one H1 tag and multiple H2 with H3 tags nested below them. That is how the hierarchy for the Chapters are arranged.  Google's algorithm gets smarter by day. Present information in a way that is useful to readers is the best advice.

__Use high-quality images
In the visual medium of fine art, you need quality imagery. When showcasing your art online, always use quality photography for your artwork. Your pictures tell your story. They help visitors and buyers connect with your painting—upload and use image size relevant to the page. Too small images will pixelate when enlarged. Images that are too big take extra time to load on pages.

__SEO all images with ALT tags and descriptions.

Write and include alt text descriptions and image title tags for every image. Here are three rules to remember:

  1. Write descriptive ALT tags. Strive to write ALT tags that are both descriptive and brief. Stay within a limit of 125 characters for your ALT tag. Offer details so users and search engines relate to your image.
  2. Keep ALT tags short. Provide enough information to present accessible information for those who can't see your picture to know what the image represents. For instance, while "boy on a bicycle" is okay, "tall red-headed boy on a blue bicycle" is better. The simple test is, "Would you understand what the image represents by reading the ALT tag if you can't see the image?"
  3. Include keywords in ALT tags. At least one image on your page should have its ALT tag contain your keyword. Your ALT tags, combined with the keywords in the page copy, improve your search engine optimization.

The following description is from the Penn State University site:

The ALT text adds a text description to an image on a Web page. Use one for all images, bullets, and horizontal rules.

Screen reader users need ALT text to provide them with a text equivalent of images. In visual browsers such as Firefox, the ALT text displays when images break or when site designers block images.

__Use uniform design & navigation
Avoid visitor confusion by using the same or compatible design elements. These include fonts, graphic elements, and color schemes.

__Use a plain background for your web pages
Keep your visitor's attention on your art without competing with design elements, including your website's background.

__Arrange artworks in manageable-sized collections
Group your images into galleries or collections. Examples of art categories are Landscapes, Portraits, Animals, Large Oils, Small Works, and Prints.

__Place images on all pages of your site
Web pages with all text are boring. It is a good practice to include a picture or pictures on every page.

__Write short paragraphs
Writing online copy is different. Keep your paragraphs to four sentences or fewer. Visitors, especially those on mobile devices, will not read big blocks of type.

__Use subheads
Subheads guide skim readers through your copy. They help to generate interest in your text and encourage skimmers to stop and read.

__Display prices on all art for sale
Yours is an ecommerce shopping site. Don't fool yourself. Visitors resent hidden prices and will move on. They always have choices and won't bother to call or email you. It's too much hassle. You lose money and sales without showing prices. Use consistent pricing across all distribution channels. That way, you both simplify and never lie.

Don't worry that galleries or agents disapprove of prices on your site. Ask them if they guarantee to produce enough sales of your artwork to support you without online sales. They are in the business of art, and so are you. Either get mutual respect and support or move on.

__Make your artworks easy to buy
Provide secure, fast checkout. Include appropriate and easy-to-understand "how to buy" instructions.

__Publish your approval, return and refund policies
Insert links to appropriate pages or sections so potential buyers can review the details of your policies.

__Clearly state your shipping procedures and policies
Give guidance on your shipping methods. Photos or a video showing how you prepare your art for shipping will favorably encourage buying decisions.

__Be thorough and transparent on commissions
If you work on commission, you know they create challenges with clients. State your policies succinctly and clearly. Set the limits and draw boundaries upfront to avoid problems later on.


Site Maintenance & Optimization To-Dos & Tips

__ Add unique SEO title for each page
A title tag is what search engines display on result pages that are clickable headline links for each result. Your title tag describes the content on your page. Here's how artist Carl Ramsey's homepage title tag shows up in Google. As the brand, he uses his name in the title tag.

__ Add unique SEO meta description for your home page
Your meta description provides an appropriate summation of your home page. Search engines often show the meta description under the title. You can see an example in the Carl Ramsey image above. Keep your description to 160 characters long or less. A well-written meta description can boost the click-through rate of site visitors.

Google's Artificial Intelligence (AI) now handles most ranking details. Rather than relying on user-generated meta descriptions, Google's AI determines such information automatically. Due to this and to avoid extra work on behalf of its artists, Artspan users don't need to worry about writing backend meta descriptions for each page. That's because it is an obsolete SEO factor. We strongly urge you to include the title of your work and an adequate description. Together they serve the same purpose as creating meta tags.

__ Your name is your brand—display it on each page
People indeed buy the artist as much as the art.

__ Update your pages frequently
Stores that never change layouts and displays lose shoppers. The same is true of ecommerce websites. Freshness makes buyers eager to return to see new things, or things displayed differently, or both.

__ Test your website to be sure it displays correctly on all browsers and devices
You must know how your site displays everywhere so you can fix issues that visitors encounter.

__ Keep all site information current and updated
Outdated information indicates the owner may have lost interest in presenting and selling art. It's like walking into a retail shop with the same dusty items as the last time you visited.

__ Secure your site with an SSL Certificate
All website builders for artists can provide SSL Certificates, but many cost extra. Artspan includes this important option at no additional charge, which is a valuable saving to its members.

__ Test your site to check for broken links frequently
If you have many pages and links, search for "free broken link checker." You'll find several online tools to help you locate broken links. When you see them, fix them, so you don't forget.

__ Make sure each artwork displayed has full information to describe it
Include title, size, price, medium, and other information, helping viewers know what they are seeing. As soon as a viewer needs to search for information, you start to lose them.

What Not to Do on Artist Websites

Never demand that your website visitors to give any information so that they can view your artwork
Unless you use a private gallery for select clients, make viewing your art pleasurable and accessible. Asking for information before viewing your art shoos them away.

Don't publish a blank page. For example, if you don't have Exhibitions to list, don't create a page or a link with a "Coming Soon" sign. It isn't enjoyable to use a link and find nothing to view. If you waste my time, you lose my respect. Keep that in mind.

Avoid auto-playing music or other audio. No one wants or needs to hear music playing on your site. There is a valid reason Facebook mutes audio on videos in its news feed. Web visitors don't like it at all. The same is true for videos set to auto-play. It is a poor user experience. Respect your visitors by giving them the option to play your video or not.

Avoid using distracting motion backgrounds. Anything that takes attention from your artwork is a bad user experience. No one buys art because of a creative or ultracool background. Keep the main thing the main thing, which is selling your art online.

Don't mix sold with for sale pieces. Showing sold work is validation. But it's not convenient for buyers. If you must show sold artworks, create a separate page or folder for them.

If you are prolific or have a long career, do not display every artwork you've created. For historical and reference value, you might want to show sold pieces, but they usually add little to the goal of selling your art online. The primary purpose of your website is to be your 24/7 art ecommerce-enabled art gallery. Secondarily, it is a tool to help you market your work and establish and validate your reputation. Don't think of it as a tool to archive your work. Keep your visitor in mind. While it's nice to have someone whiling away their time viewing your artwork, but don't make that your website's goal. It's there to inform, delight, educate, and inspire buyers to take buying actions first and foremost.

Don't complicate the visitor experience with too much to view and think about. Think about your website like an Apple store or an elegant gallery. Clean, simple, and to the point. Too much anything is confusing. It is how to kill interest in those who might otherwise be open to buy right now.

Don't put third-party ads on your website. It's cheesy, and unless you get tremendous traffic to the site, the payoff is not worth it. You must work hard to get traffic to your site to encourage your visitors to leave it to view someone else's offer. View links to other artist sites and resources the same way. When you walk into a retail space, you don't expect to see suggestions to leave and shop elsewhere. Keep it all about you and your art always.


Online Portfolio for Artists.

Creating a comprehensive online art portfolio is essential for artists. It often is the first thing your targeted prospect will see. No matter if an artist wishes to get into a gallery, school, museum, art fair, seeks a grant, wants in an art competition, or sells to a collector directly, their portfolio sets the stage to help make the crucial first impression a good one.

Portfolio Content Curation is Critical.

There are limits to anyone's attention span. Whether in a spontaneous moment or a planned meeting, valuing time for the person viewing the portfolio is smart and respectful.

An Offline Artist Portfolio Is a Valuable Marketing Tool 

While using your online art portfolio is useful to show your work in situations where you are not present, it's a good practice to have a downloaded version on your iPad or tablet. Keep it with you whenever you can; you never know who you will encounter someone who is a potential buyer or referrer of your work. Artists must be selective in deciding which pieces to include in a portfolio. It is counterproductive to overwhelm viewers with too many choices. Focus on those pieces that are most representative of the artist's newest and most excellent work.


Social Media for Artists.

Creating a social media presence, learning to talk about one's art, and finding comfortable ways to meet and communicate with collectors and influencers are also essential skills that fall under the marketing art umbrella.

Today, the most well-known and successful artists maintain a presence on at a minimum on Facebook and Instagram. Many try Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, and newer platforms such as Snapchat and TikTok. Few, if any, have robust activity on all those platforms. It is neither realistic nor pragmatic for artist-entrepreneurs to attempt to have an active presence on each of them. Establishing a spot on each is an excellent suggestion. When claiming a place on a social media platform, always take the minimum steps of fully completing all fields that request information about the user.

Which Social Media Platform Is the Best for Artists?

The glib but accurate answer is the one that gets results. While Facebook and Instagram are the largest and favorites, it's easy to find examples of artists who are using Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest to build awareness, interest, and desire to own their work.

There are too many courses on how to use each of these platforms. Try starting with Udemy as their courses are often on sale prices. They may not be as robust as some other offerings, but they will give you enough and more to learn if you wish to pursue putting your focus on a social media platform that has your interest.

The choice becomes personal, as the artist has an affinity for the platform, and the audience responds to the artist's marketing messages. Taking a less popular has the benefit of reduced competition. You can't go wrong, taking the sage advice of Yogi Berra, who famously said, "No one goes there anymore, it's too crowded." 


Networking for Artists

What is networking?

Networking for artists

Networking is about building relationships. It is about growing your business by developing personal and professional connections to create a continuous, steady supply of new business. Ask yourself how many people you know.

Among those people, how many of them know what you do, that you are an artist? How many of these folks have directed prospects to you? And, of those opportunities, how many added to your bottom line by purchasing your art? If your numbers are low on your responses, this is a beneficial thing in that you have many new prospects for buying your work.

Networking is more than just showing up at the Chamber of Commerce or other local business-networking meetings, shaking hands, and collecting many business cards. That doesn't work. Frankly, it never worked. Networking is about showing up with a particular goal in mind. It may be that you want to meet one or two people you do not know, but you think it might be helpful to you. It could be that you are attempting to reach a specific person, as in the "six degrees of you" exercise discussed in the previous chapter. Start with good intentions and use your continually improving networking skills to achieve your desired results. Finally, follow up efficiently, so your effort pays off.

 Here are five benefits of networking for artists:

  1. Rock-solid collector base
  2. Long-term relationships
  3. Referrals
  4. Easy sales
  5. Affordable

Reviewing the five benefits of networking for artists:

  1. Rock-solid collector base – when you have buyers who know you personally, they are likely to buy multiple pieces of your work directly from you over time. Sales such as these immunize you against bad things beyond your control like galleries closing, Facebook fading, and so forth.
  2. Long-term relationships – although not every connection you make through networking may last forever, your odds of enjoying enduring friendships and professional acquaintances vastly increase through it.
  3. Referrals – networking is not a one-to-one dynamic. It is not about who you know. It is all about who knows you. Word of mouth is the most potent marketing on the planet. It can make or break a new movie, change the course of a political race, and inform and persuade public opinion. If ten people you know each tell ten other people about you, you have exponentially grown your awareness, brand, and, ultimately, your sales.
  4. Easy Sales – the most natural people to sell something to are the people you know because you don't have to establish credibility with them. The next easiest to sell are those known to your circle of family, friends, fans, and associates. Whenever affinity exists, sales get more effortless. Networking assists your sales efforts in myriad untold ways.
  5. Affordable – art marketing today is inexpensive due to digital tools such as websites, blogs, email, and social media. While these recommended assets are valuable, none can touch the power of personal relationships developed through networking. Other than your time in attending, planning, and following up, there virtually is no cost.

The opportunities you develop through networking go beyond these five points. It will increase your confidence and poise, further your reputation, and positively influence your art career in unforeseen ways. Besides being low cost and low tech, networking is both practical and efficient in helping you reach precisely the right people.

Networking will put you in touch with people who can do more than to buy your art or make introductions to influential connections for you. It allows you to share your knowledge and gain the advice and wisdom of those who are both capable and ready to help you advance your career.

Career Influencers and Networking

As in life in general, success takes the assistance of others. Whatever you wish to call them, kingmakers, influencers, or mentors, some people step in to make enormous differences in the lives and careers of others who have grabbed their attention. 

Whether you wish to get into a school, art fair, gallery, need a grant, or an introduction, someone other than the artist, must be in the equation. Networking is not glad-handing at Chamber of Commerce meetings. It is an artist being open and available to meet and interact with influencers.

The suggestion that success requires getting out of the comfort zone applies to networking for artists. 

Just as with goals, knowing what you want, knowing who can help you reach your goals is hugely beneficial. The first step toward making contact with someone who can help an artist's career is to determine who they are. From there, it is a matter of degree of difficulty in reaching them.

Target those who can help you and plan to get on the radar of that person through incremental steps of reaching out through all means available. 


Blogging for Artists

Artists have many ways to generate interest in their work. Arguably, nothing works better to help build ongoing intrigue from top art buying prospects than a blog. Besides keeping the connection open and engaging, blogging helps to build an email list that will include those most likely to buy from the artist. 

The E.D.I.E. acronym is a perfect way to describe how to construct and vary the content for blogs by artists. When artists use a mix of posts that intend to entertain, delight, inform, and educate they give their communications multiple ways to keep readers engaged with them, their art, and their message.

It is a known fact that art buying is not spontaneous. A blog is the ideal tool to help artists retain a top position in the minds of buyers when they are open to buy and have a need or desire to own art from their favorite artist. 

Art Blogs Improve Communications.

A blog makes it easy to introduce a lead magnet, which is an enticement to exchange an email address for something of value. Lead magnets with your blog provide one of the most efficient means of asking prospects to provide their email address. An artist's blog has the permission to send frequent communication. Using E.D.I.E. content is how to keep awareness, interest high, until desire and need kick in to create opportunities to sell art.

Repurposing Blog Content Makes Marketing Easier and More Effective

There are many ways to repurpose posts. Excerpt them to create posts for Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and more. Make an ebook or a physical book from a compilation. Published post are excellent examples of your work when pitching for guest blog spots. They can be reposted in full on Medium.com and other online publishing sites. A well-written blog post can also be an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tool helping to rank for valuable keyword phrases. 

Your website is your virtual real estate on the Internet. You have exclusive rights to that virtual space. No one can take it away, change the rules, or stop traffic from coming or buyers from buying. Your blog is your dynamic marketing arm for your website, which is static by comparison.

Blogging Content Is Never an Issue

There are countless topics artists can use to write copy that is of interest to readers. Here is a blog post with a year's worth of topics to stimulate your creative brain.


Branding for Artists

Artists are the brand. It is your name on your art, and it is your brand that drives recognition, prices, and sales. The one thing you need to know is anyone can do branding.

Deciding to start branding is your first step toward getting help on what to do and how to do it. The increased exposure and awareness for your art is a tangible benefit. And it all leads up to easier, faster, and more sales of your art.

The truth of the matter is artists with a better brand do better in the business of art. If making the most of your art career is essential to you, then taking steps to power up your personal brand needs is crucial to your efforts.

Why Artists Must Work at Building a Brand.

Branding is more than iconic names and symbols like Coke and the Nike swoosh. It extends to the smallest units of retail sales, including solo artrepreneurs. A brand is what people say about artists when they aren't there. By working on the brand, the artist retains the most control of the perceptions about them. In a void, where there is no branding effort, others will determine the artist's brand, good and bad.

There are many benefits to artists who build a personal brand:

  • Increased sales.
  • Easier sales because both the know and like parts of the Know, Like, and Trust hurdles are not an issue.
  • Higher prices for the artwork of a known, established artist.
  • Greater awareness for the artwork and the artist
  • Improved chances of gaining access to juried shows, grants, and schools, etc.
  • More opportunities for free publicity.
  • Rising demand for the art and popularity of the artist.

Your Personal Brand Powers Decisions.

In the real world, the merit of your art for art's sake is not enough. People, patrons, critics, gallerists, jurists, and curators don't judge on skill alone. With art, there is a subjective aspect to gaining awareness, acceptance, and sales. Your brand influences choices influencers and buyers make about your art and are integral to a thriving art career.

Branding for Artists.

Yes, logo, color schemes, and font choices are part of an artist's visual branding, but it goes deeper. Having a "Why Statement," which can be part of an Artist's Statement, is quite helpful. It not only gives consumers a fuller understanding of what the artist's outward goals are; it also is a touchstone that guides artists to make the best decisions for themselves in building their business.

Personal Branding for Artists.

Personal branding helps build your reputation as an artist and as a human. It also adds to your authority and authenticity as both. The more different ways artists can establish themselves beyond the impressions their art makes on the world, the greater their odds of achieving their goals as an artist become.

You can see it and sense that all the components of art marketing work together. They each chip away at helping the artist establish themselves in the minds of people who matter to their career. As docents, gallerists, journalists, curators, collectors, patrons, benefactors, and casual fans notice strong similarities in those components that relate to the artist, the brand builds in ways that positively affect their opinions and decisions about the artist.

Artists don't create success in a vacuum. It takes those in positions of power to make decisions about their career. Powerful people must be motivated to do something with their power when it comes to getting into a school or a gallery, gaining access to grants or juried shows, or getting traffic to an artist's websites; other people's opinions matter. Your brand influences how they perceive both your art and you as the artist and person. For these reasons, it's impossible to ignore the importance of working on branding as a critical part of establishing an effective art marketing plan.


Personal Storytelling for Artists.

The following is an excerpt from another post on Art Marketing News:

How Artists Can Use Storytelling and Why It Works

These two words sum up the power of storytelling and explain why it works—human interest.

There are two more words in the form of a question that the best communicators use. So what?

As soon as you veer off the path into dry facts, you’re done, finished, over and out. Plain facts, especially those taken out of context, are boring. You instinctively know you can’t bore people into giving you their attention, much less buy some art from you. Do yourself a solid and resolve to do your best to quit bad habits that include finding reasons to avoid telling your Story.

Your stories create conversations about you and your art when you aren't there. They are the best source of interesting tidbits your fans, patrons, journalists, and others use to describe your work in the most effective form of advertising ever created, which is marketing art by word-of-mouth. Storytelling for artists is so useful and important I created an entire course on it, Personal Storytelling for Artists and Creatives.

Stories Create Affinity.

In an ideal world, buyers magically encounter your art, fall in love with it immediately, and whip out a credit card to buy it on the spot without knowing a single thing about the work or the artist who made it. 

In the real world, buyers form opinions about things they buy, especially subjective and discretionary purchase items they buy infrequently. If all else is equal, buyers will choose the artwork with stories attached in nearly every case. When they know details about the work and the artist whose hand created it, they have a natural greater affinity toward the work they know better. 

Stories Create Word-of-Mouth Marketing Moments.

Word of mouth is the most potent form of advertising. A low budget film with lots of buzz coming from fans talking about it, The buzz will power the film to the top of the box office records. In contrast, a big-budget movie that fails to capture its intended audience's attention will fail despite an outsize marketing and promotional blitz.

When your fans and collectors know your stories, they relish relating them to their friends and associates. It gives artists an enormous edge and a huge push to get over the Know, Like, and Trust hurdles that all products face in the buying process. Stories fit into the Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action continuum we covered at the beginning of this guide. 


Self-awareness. The Most Valuable Gift to Give Yourself.

Self-awareness is a great reward even when the reality it presents is painful to accept. In the case of visual artists attempting to figure out the best course of action to get their work to market to meet their desired outcome, having self-awareness is crucial. It will assist you in knowing how to gauge situations with a fair degree of accuracy. When you research the work and careers of artists you admire, your self-awareness will feedback realistic perceptions to tell you if your artwork, work ethic, and ambition are sufficient to allow you to compete with them.

That's not to say you may have doubts about your talent, suffer from the impostor syndrome, or have other real or imagined drawbacks that will keep you from reaching your goals. Life is uncertain nearly always. Weird things happen. Artists with average talent and underperformer attitudes overachieve, while super talented overachievers repeatedly shoot past easy targets of opportunity. Such situations are outliers, which is to say they are meaningless to you.

Unfortunately, because they are outliers, they are more likely to have their stories known more widely, making them harder to avoid. Top marketers learn to ignore the news around outliers. They focus on what they need to do and how to accomplish their priority items. The more singular their approach to managing their main concerns, the greater their odds of reaching their goals fast.

Now Is Not the Time to Let Overwhelm Set In.

Understandably, reading a lengthy overview of art marketing such as this one might be at once enlightening, inspiring, and intimidating. If, by reading this, you feel overwhelmed by all the aspects of how to market art mentioned in this article, don't feel alone. Your reaction is normal. It is human nature to feel disheartened when the enormity of the tasks at hand seem impossible to get into one's grasp and under control.

You may take some small solace in knowing others recognize and relate to your feelings both about marketing art in general and the worry about how to establish, organize and execute a plan to fulfill one's goals. Nevertheless, you instinctively comprehend that a big part of your anxiety is knowing that getting things done falls to you.


Art Marketing Done Your Way.

Putting uncommon situations aside, a self-aware, realistic evaluation of your goals and available resources, skills, and ambition is the key to success in your quest to art marketing success based on your needs and done your way. Essentially, when you know what you want and believe you can achieve it by overcoming your doubts, continually improving your skills, and faithfully executing a well-devised plan, you put yourself on the path to success as you define it.

 Only You Are the Boss of You.

You became an artist because you are independent and don't like others telling you what to do. With that in mind, you should not let others identify what success means to you. The answer is too personal to allow anyone other than you to decide.

Art Marketing Success Comes About From Reduction.

The process of reduction is a means to capture the essence of a thing, create a delicate intensity, and enhance what it is designed to complement. Such is the case when marketing art is done well as a solo entrepreneur.

Frequently, the best things come from reduction. A delicate sauce, a charming piece of visual art, an elegant musical interlude each gain their allure, relevance, and desirability because of what is left out. The exquisite essence from each example creates a compelling allusion of how the result derives from the slightest hint of its origins. It's not what you see, taste, or hear, but the sublime remnants of what you don't that create such magic.

Think of reduction as an analogy for art marketing done on your terms. You are only one person. You can't go in a kitchen – no matter how well it is equipped and supplied – and prepare a five-star meal by yourself on time. But you can create the most delectable sauce reduced from a perfect blend of high-quality original ingredients.

The advisable and straightforward course of action is to know yourself, know what you genuinely want from your creativity and skills at making art, and learn what tools and knowledge you need to help you cook up a career you like. From there, you need to know what pan and burner at what temperature, what prepared ingredients to add in what order, and how much time to create a fabulous, mouth-watering sauce that will delight the most demanding palate.

Art Marketing Success Done Step-by-Step.

In the case of art marketing, think of goals, resources, tools, and techniques. While it's always true, there is too much to do, and too little time to do it, you can cast such worry aside. There is a better way. That is to take one step at a time using common sense based on a realistic plan that will lead to one small gain and then another.

No artists are the same. Some will want to learn about email marketing. Although it is highly advisable for all to learn the basics of email marketing quickly, others will jump to use social media platforms, get into galleries, or something else first. Doing something is more important than waiting to figure out what to do.

When the goals and tasks are reduced to doable daily actions, artists give themselves the best chance to succeed and achieve their greatest ambitions.  The Art Marketing Toolkit is built to help you, no matter if you are brand new, well-established, young or old, the principles, ideas, and skills you learn will help you reach your goals and sell your work for as long as you wish to get your art to market. You do it a step at a time.

Goals Drive Decisions that Lead to Actions and Determine Art Business Performance

The way to enjoy the greatest, long-term success starts with having realistic goals and reducing the things to be done to their essence. The next step is to work on completing the most valuable tasks first. The art marketing strategy for success is incremental.

You learn one bit of useful knowledge and master one practical marketing skill in a repetitive pattern acquiring new knowledge and skills on a manageable timeline. Then you combine your knowledge and skills to take consistent small steps that lead to little victories. Piling up those victories is how you create milestone accomplishments that lead to reaching your desired outcome.

You choose the adventure and the outcome you want. We’re here to inform and encourage you all along the way. Join today. Making sure you are happy you are satisfied with the artist masterclass, selling art online, and marketing art your way is our goal.


The Rise of the Contemporary Art Market & Art Fairs

This excerpt from Artmarket.com is a useful, brief description of the contemporary art market.

A marginal segment until the end of the 1990s, Contemporary Art now accounts for 15% of global Fine Art auction turnover, and is now its primary growth driver, having increased +2,100% over 20 years. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the Art Market switched almost entirely to the Internet. 2021 will no doubt see an extension of this trend”.

Auction Houses Selling Fine Art.

Another type of art marketing is carried out on the major auction blocks at Sotheby's, Christie's, and other fine art auction houses in New York, London, Hong Kong, East Asia, and other major art regions. They sell art worth millions of dollars to wealthy individuals, often through brokers. The contemporary art market dominates this scene, primarily selling works by living artists like Jeff Koons and relatively recently deceased artists, such as Andy Warhol.

Contemporary Art Embraces Graffiti Art and Branding.

Some of the artists who enjoyed the most remarkable growth in auction house interest and sales since 2005 include KAWS, Mr. Brainwash, and Banksy. Many of the top 50 artists, as ranked by Artnet in this period, were born in the last half of the 20th Century. It is difficult to imagine that the dealers and collectors of the 1980s who were engaged in acquiring Van Goghs could have foreseen how street art would become a market mover powered by the rise in appeal of younger artists in the 21st Century.

Changes in the American art market and the global art market mirrored those in culture and society. The most monied collectors who bought the top of the market sought artworks representing diverse genres that held substantial price premiums. That left the next level of affluent buyers to pursue the next best pieces available.

Since the paintings and sculptures of living artists, such as Damien Hirst, and recently deceased, as with Robert Indiana, were in greater abundance than Van Gogh and Picasso's classic works, they grew in desirability. From the late 1990s well into the next century, there was a steady global growth in wealthy individuals. Their longing to show their sophistication and refined tastes drove demand to own artworks. To this class of buyers, contemporary art was more obtainable and offered other advantages over older art.

Take a Lesson from the Contemporary Art Market.

Artists who worry over selling out via art marketing can take lessons from the contemporary art market. Global brands are eager to align with visual artists. Their interests are further inspired by mass culture events and the increasing influence and fascination with celebrities. Contemporary fine artists found themselves working branding and licensing deals with Louis Vuitton, Absolut Vodka, Nike apparel, and footwear. One can see fine artists in Vogue magazine, music videos from Jay Z, and deals with liquor distillers, and countless other opportunities. All this visibility increased the value of contemporary art, which helped museums take advantage of the evolution of interest in newer artworks.

Booming Growth of Fine Art Fairs.

Of course, the growing interest in the contemporary art market helped high-end galleries and fueled fine art fairs' rise and importance. While in the 1990s, art biennials and triennials were the hot trends, fine art fairs have replaced them as the most significant art trend in the 21st Century. Art fairs became a phenomenon, with the most important of them scattered around the globe. These are widely and arguably considered the top tier art fairs in the global market:

  • Art Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  • Frieze Art Fair, London
  • Art Basel, Miami Beach, Florida
  • TEFAF Maastricht, the Netherlands
  • ARCO, Madrid
  • India Art Fair, New Delhi
  • The Armory Show, New York
  • Art Dubai
  • Scope Art Show, New York, Basel, Hamptons, London, Miami

Since high-end international galleries are the primary exhibitors at fine art fairs such as Art Basel, they benefited and rose in prominence along with them. This excerpt from Artnet sheds valuable insight:

"The attention contemporary art gets today is what we were always hoping for," says Thaddaeus Ropac, whose five international galleries grew from a single location in Salzburg opened in 1983. "It was once a small group of followers we were happy with whatever number of visitors we got; we were happy about any small sale. But expectations today are on a totally different level." This trend toward the new is unmistakable in the data. For instance, of the 150 artists with the greatest increase in interested users since 2005, only one does not qualify as either postwar (which covers artists born between 1911 and 1944) or contemporary (artists born after 1945): the abstract color theorist Josef Albers (1888–1976). And he ranks seventy-third.

From gallery dinners and studio visits to art-fair parties and biennials, the social incentives also heavily favored the contemporary, particularly as the amount of money flooding into the art business made these events more lavish and exclusive. This revenue boost translated into bigger budgets, greater ambition, and more robust marketing for successful galleries and artists.

Unpacking how and why sales gravitated toward the new lays bare some of the most fundamental changes in the art world since the late '80s. One of the biggest is the breakdown of the traditional border between auction houses and galleries. This development, which is arguably still in its early stages, has done much to transform the art business into a mature industry able to exploit the growing opportunities that lie before it."


Summarizing the Importance & Value of Art Marketing

Congratulations! You are one of the souls who have wisely taken the time to read to the bottom of this lengthy guide on marketing art. Your interest is impressive and much appreciated. As mentioned at the outset, it takes awareness to build interest that leads to desire. 

Marketing is the funnel that attracts a broad audience and selectively narrows it to fewer people with increasingly higher degrees of potential to buy art. All the tools, tips, and techniques presented in this guide serve to make the funnel as efficient as possible. Success comes to artists who dedicate the time and resources to use the resources outlined here in the most effective way possible.

Choose wisely. Don't be afraid to try new things, and don't worry that you will fail because you will. It's part of the process. While you don't want to give up on something new you try, don't hang on when it is obvious you cannot get the result you want.

The Art Marketing Toolkit Program 

Many times, it takes the help and guidance of an outside source to assist you in such decisions. That is the role we intend to play in the Art Marketing Toolkit program. At only $4.99 per month, it's the smartest career move artists can make to further their careers. 

While the toolkit program is all about art marketing, it's much more. We use it to explore the process to design, build, and create a joyful life as an artist. There is no contract, which means you have virtually nothing to lose and everything to gain by joining and participating. 

About the Author - Barney Davey

Barney Davey

If I'm new to you, let me say it's a pleasure to make your digital acquaintance.

Helping artists has played a significant role in my life for more than 30 years. I started the Art Marketing News blog in 2005, and have published six books on the art business since then. Here's a link to my full bio.


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About the Author

I help artists and photographers find buyers, sell more art and operate profitably.

Barney Davey

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  1. All so informative and true. Unfortunately artists are mostly geared to create… not market. And it’s definitely stepping out of the box to do it. But it’s definitely necessary as you have written. I have also found that people love a story. So I use that when marketing my art as well. Great information, thank you!

  2. I loved the way you congratulated everyone who read to the end. I didn’t feel it was an onerous task, I found it all fascinating!

    I’ve read a few of your blogs now but this one is just so full of information, I need to congratulate you in turn for writing it!

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