This Blog Was First about the Art Print Market
Because I’ve expanded the coverage from the art print market to the broader topic of art marketing, finding ideas to write about is easier. Still, there are times when I’m rushed, feeling lazy, or the muse is not holding court. Because I commit myself to publish weekly, I need to be creative when those situations occur. So, some weeks I may reach into the vault to update one of the 600 blog posts I’ve published on Art Marketing News since 2005.
To answer the question of how to write 600 blog posts it’s simple. Set a schedule and stick to it. Before you know it, you will have piled up hundreds of posts. You don’t need anywhere near 600 posts to make a big dent with your marketing. Don’t worry about how many you’ve written. Be consistent. Just as with making art, the more you write the better you get.
Other easy resources available to me are the marketing courses I have for artists on My Marketing Courses or the content from my six bestselling books on art marketing. I may have a topic I want to expand on or a product to promote. If I can’t find anything to publish, it’s because I didn’t try. That doesn’t happen very often. For the past five years, Grammarly has been checking my grammar and tracking how many words I write each week. I’m at 8,709,134 total words reviewed to date, which indicates I’m prolific. Grammarly has helped me to improve my writing skills immensely.
The Muse Kicks in with Excellent Results Sometimes
Sometimes I sit to write with only the sense I have something valuable to say, and I start writing. That is what happened last week. I started with the concept of human interest. It was on my mind because I mentioned it in reply to a question from an artist wondering how to get publicity. I told her to start with a human-interest angle and build the story around it. There was more, but that’s for another day.
So, when I sat to write last week, (I generally write my blog posts on Saturday and publish them on Sunday), the importance of human interest in communication came to me. That human interest is always best told in story form led me to want to write about personal storytelling. It is a topic I’ve explored on this blog, in my books, and I have a course on it as well.
The result was a post titled How Artists Can Use Storytelling and Why It Works
Last week’s post on the power of storytelling makes me proud. I wrote it nonstop in one sitting without making any significant changes. It was an extemporaneous stream-of-consciousness event. One of those glorious times when I’m in the zone. As a creative, you know what I mean, I’m sure. It’s like time stands still, and the energy and creativity taps are open to their fullest. The ideas are flowing, and the only thing holding back the flow is my typing speed.
To illustrate how to use Socratic questioning to get to the unvarnished nugget of an origin story, I came up with this dialog on the fly:
There is no guarantee your story will come easy. Sometimes you must dig deep for it.
Here is a fictional interview showing how to get the heart of the matter:
You chose to follow Georgia O’Keefe and use her life and art as an influence. Why?
– Because she is a strong, independent woman and a free thinker.
Okay, but why are those attributes important to you?
– Because I want to live life on my terms not dictated by other people.
Why is living life on your terms as a free thinker important?
– Because I have seen what happens when a person takes charge of their life.
Tell me more.
– Independence, peace of mind, clarity, and purpose all come into alignment, which allows an artist to live as their higher self and be of service in ways not possible when others rule your life.
– I believe women hold the keys to the safety, security, sanctity, and sanity of our world. I want to inspire women to become leaders. If we are going to avoid war, famine, global warming, and unacceptable inequality, women must take control.
When I reread it for clarity and typos, I thought, “Holy cow! Where did that come from?” It made me proud because I knew it held truths even if it was fiction. Without ever having said it before, I knew what I said about women holding the keys to our future was right to the core of my being. I couldn’t have made it better if I sat on it for weeks to tweak it–Thank you, muse!
Sales at All Costs Is Not My Thing
Although I usually advise artists to take advantage of every selling opportunity, I chose not to do so in this post. I could have placed ads in the copy for my How to Sell More Art with Personal Storytelling course. I felt promoting the course would dilute the message. I knew there were ads for the Art Marketing Mastery course that would appear on the posts, and I decided to let them run, so I was partially taking my advice about selling opportunities.
The Power of Clarity
The more I write about art marketing, the more I find everything comes back to my core beliefs about how artists can take control of their careers—and earn more money in the process. That is to build a list of potential clients and market to them smartly and frequently. Affordable tools are available, the consumer buying sentiment to support local businesses and indie artists is there. Social media makes finding and connecting with top prospects easier than its ever been. If it sounds like a lot of work or pure drudgery, there are other ways like gallery marketing, but it’s no walk in the park either.
I started off writing about the art print market. That was a natural for me as I was deeply immersed in the business for nearly 20 years. Those decades happened to coincide with the rise of the art print market to incredible new heights.
The Art Print Market Was a Comet Ride at the End of Last Century
Money was flowing into the art print business at a record pace. I always like to look at underlying causes to figure out why a phenomenon occurs. What made for this tremendous growth spurt in the business? The glory days of the art print market era ran from the mid-’80s to the early 2000s. Then the twin technology developments of digital printing and the internet steamrolled and changed everything.
At the time, 6-color offset printing was the cutting-edge technology for getting art on paper for the decorative print market. But in this case, tech was not the driving force growing the market dramatically. I concluded it was the macro force of Baby Boomers with disposable income who were also first-time home buyers. I was one of them.
Baby Boomers Were a Leading Cause for Change in the Art Print Market
The print market had grown with Boomers moving from pinning and taping cool posters on our walls to wanting something more elegant to match our new grown-up abodes. Poster shops were in every mall. Retail print franchises sprung up. These shops were making open edition print publishers with massive catalogs gobs of money. In addition to the poster market, you could find free-standing galleries helping to make bank for limited-edition print publishers. Boomers pushed demand for nearly every category of products. Just like they traded Grateful Dead posters for Thomas Kinkade prints, they swapped hippie vans for minivans. They fueled growth in the housing market, which in turn fueled growth in all the categories of businesses that supplied homes.
The Development of the Internet Changed Everything Creating Opportunity, Chaos, and Disaster
The internet came along and flattened business after business, large and small. Tech developments also played a part. Between the inevitable proliferation and refinement of digital printing and the wholesale changes wrought by the internet, the once flourishing print market took a huge hit. Poster shops and galleries primarily selling limited edition prints all shuttered within a few years. It led to Decor magazine shuttering after a 135-year run. And the same fate for the Decor Expo shows that once ruled, the trade show business for the retail art and picture framing industries. Poof and gone.
Famous Baby Photographer, Anne Geddes, Caught in the Wave
On Facebook, I reposted this article from Artnet, Anne Geddes Was Once the Queen of Baby Photography. Now, She’s Hit Hard Times—and Is Asking for Your Help. She, like those mentioned above, is a victim of changing times. It’s a fascinating story with lots of human interest to make a worthy read.
Geddes is an example of the other businesses I mentioned that went from riding high to shuttered and irrelevant. She didn’t do anything to cause this to happen to her. The markets moved away, and she had no response. Her experience is the same as the print magazine business that supported me for thirty years, which is a victim of change.
My response in 2013 was to write Guerrilla Marketing for Artists: How 100 Collectors Can Bulletproof Your Career. I can’t believe it’s seven years since I wrote it. But I will say it holds up well, and nearly all my advice in the book is as pertinent today as then. The basic premise is to grow your own. You don’t need to be a world-beater multi-millionaire print artist to enjoy a grand life as an artist. The tools and opportunities are there to have a rewarding life and career. It takes work, vision, and dedication. The Art Marketing Mastery course is an offshoot of the book. Grab it now for the lowest price it’s ever been.