Getting Work into the Art Print Market
By starting with online user-generated galleries, you will learn the ropes and quite possibly a publisher will see your work. I have been approached by publishers who have scanned these sites looking for artists. But no one will find you if you don’t get yourself out there.
Editor’s note: This is a guest blog by Jan Weiss. She is both a talented artist and a successful art entrepreneur. The following are some observations and tips she has put together for artists who contemplating a move into the art print market.
As a veteran of the art business, Jan has created and self-published limited edition giclee prints, open edition prints, worked for publishers and for Internet retailer, Art.com. Jan offers her personal experience and art marketing advice here.
With more than fifteen years in the art industry, I am often asked about my experience. Invariably, questioners want to know how I got in the print market and what do I have to share with them?
Since the mid-90s, my experience has encompassed art publishing and licensing at retail and wholesale levels. I also have developed Websites, blogged, written articles about art publishing, given workshops and created and managed my own Internet retail site for fine art prints.
The most common questions I get asked are:
- How do you get into licensing?
- Is there much money?
- Lucky you! How fun! What is it like to get to stay home and make art and get paid for it? (this one always makes me laugh)
- What are the latest trends?
- My mother’s best friend’s cousin twice removed thinks I should be published. What do you think?
- I shot these photos during my Hawaiian vacation and everyone said they would make great posters.
OK – while I am having my own fun paraphrasing, these are all questions I am frequently asked. Here is my best straightforward advice. Please don’t submit your vacation photos to an art publisher, you will just be wasting your time and theirs. And, if your mother’s best friend’s cousin twice removed says you should be published, get a second opinion. This advice may sound cynical, but I think what is often missing in our industry is honesty. The reality is not everyone is made to be an artist.
We all have our talents and need to assess them objectively. If you have the talent, then go for it! However, consider what you want. That is, do you want to be a published artist or a gallery artist? Sometimes you can do both, but pursuing one or the other is a tough enough challenge for most. Choose one and pursue it passionately.
Learn to honestly evaluate whether you truly have a unique and polished style. If you do, that is wonderful because we need more art like this in the industry. Many artists merely try to copy the hottest trends, which I suppose is understandable, but it is not a ticket to success. First and foremost, you need to ask yourself if your style is copied from another artist, or is it a reflection of your own creativity. It is one thing to show influence by the work of a successful artist and another to do work that gets labeled as a copycat.
A very important factor to consider when seeking a publisher is whether you have had instruction. It may not be fair to talented self-taught artists, but it is a significant factor because most art publishers are rarely interested in artists without art education. Publishers are seeking artists with a firm grasp of their medium, whether it is oils, acrylics, mixed media or pastels.
Listen, learn, attend tradeshows and read. A great suggestion for art inspiration and techniques is The Artist Magazine. It is one of my favorite sources as it showcases some of the most talented artists who generously give their time to share detailed instructions on techniques they have mastered. While it is not the only such source, you will find it consistently one of the best.
As a shameless plug, you can find many tips for becoming successful in the art print market through my newly published eBook – The Coexistence of Art and Money. In the book, I tell you about art licensing and publishing. It covers all aspects from tradeshows to social networking to print-on-demand and art submissions to publishers. The tone of the book is conversational with helpful tips, colorful images and a sense of humor. You can purchase in my Etsy shop.
These days, one of the most important elements in success in the art print market, either with a publisher or self publishing, is to use the advantages of social networking. I have a Facebook Fan Page, two Twitter accounts, a Website and an Etsy site. At last count, my art is found on eight different Websites.
I don’t sell on all of these sites. In fact, I only sell on three. However, if you drop my name into a search engine, you will find it comes up all over the place. By using the advantages of online print sources provided by a gallery that will sell your art and send you royalties, you will be able to market your art and sell it all over the world from the comfort of your own home.
So make your art digital ready then decide on which online gallery you wish to use. Here are a few suggestions: Image Kind, Artist Rising and Red Bubble. There are others as well, and I’m not choosing favorites, but these are a start. One thing you will learn from the experience of using sites like these is if you have what it takes to become a published artist. By starting with online user-generated galleries, you will learn the ropes and quite possibly a publisher will see your work. I have been approached by publishers who have scanned these sites looking for artists. But no one will find you if you don’t get yourself out there.