How to Market Art As a Nonconformist and Live Happily Ever After

Here’s a bet I would take with odds on virtually every artist I know. It’s a sure thing you didn’t work on becoming proficient at making art to be like anyone else.

I would wager you became an artist to satisfy a deep need to uniquely use your imagination and creativity. Of course, you take influence from everywhere to inform and inspire your work. But you don’t slavishly copy the work and expect to get great results.

Making art is much too personal for conventionality. – Barney Davey

You Can Enjoy Art Business Success without Email and Social Media Marketing.

If you choose not to use email and social media marketing, it does not need to lead to failing at marketing your art. It means you are a nonconformist who does not follow the herd no matter how loud the stampede. Your choice shows you are in touch with your desires, limits, and capabilities. You rightly and realistically know what you will and won’t do, which gives you the freedom to market your art as you wish.

Live Your Best Artist's LIfe
Live Your Best Artist’s LIfe

You might be wondering…

What do you mean about marketing without social media? I promise I’ll cover it.

Aren’t Most Artists Nonconformists by Nature?

No self-respecting nonconformist would ever entertain the concept of mimicking their way to success. We all take influences, and we realize most lucrative creative endeavors foster similar work or are themselves offshoots of similar work. It’s baked into how humans process evolving.

Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal. – T.S. Eliot

The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.

But for nonconformists, just like the pure pursuit of financial gain, sheer copycatting cuts against the grain of living a joyful artist’s life. The nonconformists I know gladly take the money and sales as they come, but revenue is a byproduct of and not why they create art.

Email and Social Media Marketing Are Not for All Artists.

Finding consistent methods to sell artwork is never easy. Some artists give up because conforming to formulas, and well-established marketing methods is a significant block to living their best artist’s lives.

They prefer to figure out other creative ways to sell their art. For them, it’s easy to choose fewer sales, less stress, and more studio time over dealing with the frustrations of selling art online through email and social media marketing.

Selling art is difficult for the following reasons and more. It’s an expensive luxury item that requires finding clients with discretionary income and an appreciation for fine art. Typical buyers only purchase fine art a few times in their lives, usually because they have an interior design scheme need or want to adorn a new home. And it must always fit the budget. And there is more to it than that. , selling art is a complicated process, including managing the fleeting elements of luck and timing.

When the Gurus Get It Wrong.

Everyone who advises art marketing, including me, preaches that email marketing is the key ingredient to successfully selling art. It’s one of those things that sounds good on paper, but then it doesn’t work as presented. That’s because maintaining a list is hard and takes too long to pay off and almost everything about it is a buzzkill for many artists. Truthfully, they don’t like or won’t do the things it takes to make email marketing work for them.

The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.

I’m betting many readers of this post have valid reasons why they don’t use email marketing. And if that’s you, please don’t feel bad. It’s not easy trying to mesh all that stuff into your already busy schedule. My hat’s off to those who embrace email and social media marketing successfully because I know its progress does not come easily.

Time Is Not the Issue.

It’s not just time either. Much of the reluctance is it’s the kind of work you least like to do, which is entirely understandable. It’s a left-brain activity that works great when you are wired that way and sucks rocks when you aren’t.

Plus, you may have the ongoing internal debate whether marketing your work is worth it at any price. If that’s you, it’s okay to feel that way. The frustration you experience is due to trying to fit your polygon-shaped business into the proverbial square hole.

Your exasperation happens when you try to follow advice, take a course, or read a book telling you how to market art online. As the author of the bestselling book, Straight Advice; How to Market Your Art Online, I’m an expert who sees it from both sides.

Moreover, I’m a realist who has come to know that formulas like mine, which is some version (Everything’s a Remix) of every other guru’s advice out there, don’t work as planned for most artists. Often, it’s because they are nonconformists who don’t like cookie-cutter anything, including marketing art; they pick and choose instead of adhering to plans suggested in training.

I Believe…  

I started the Art Marketing Toolkit Project (AMTP) to teach artists what I know about marketing art with these guiding principles:   

  • I believe gaining access to world-class art marketing training should not be expensive.
  • I believe I can do the most good by applying the philosophy of no artists left behind.

I Had an Awakening.

As I got into creating the AMTP content and recruiting the group to use it, I had awakenings. The first was that artists want to know about art marketing tools and techniques, but most are nonconformists who will never use all of what I have to teach them. The second is I am more like them than I realized. Like many of them, I sometimes avoid profitable marketing tasks because I can’t make myself do them. Attaining more money, glory, and sales are not the motivating factors many artists and I once thought.

I Still Like Money

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a monk sworn to poverty, and I like making money. I’m sure you agree that it feels good when sales happen. Money is not the only or top thing, but it’s on the list of things that matter for me.

Observing artists and their approach to business make it apparent that artists can’t have marketing in one silo and creating art and living their lives as artists in other silos. That’s not how life works. It must fit together, or you have continual disconnects and frustrations that make life unnecessarily unpleasant. No one wants that. You can escape that. Take another path; get on a different journey.

Living Your Best Artist’s Life.

For artists to live their best artist’s lives, I believe they have to turn off the noise and be still for a spell where they can listen to their hearts and come to know what they want to happen with their art after they complete it. Take time to figure out what will work for them realistically.

There are no wrong answers. It’s okay to want tremendous success and sales if artists are willing to pay the price to get it. It’s equally acceptable to want to make art on a personal schedule without worrying about turning an art-making passion into a booming business.

Along the continuum from those extremes, email marketing and other such methods may or may not be helpful. But without question, such tools are not universally required. What you know what you want, it becomes easy to determine what tools you need. Decisions become simple when you approach them that way. It’s a less noisy method that is the opposite of being frantic with 50 things on your art marketing to-do list and feeling helpless about which are essential.

The Nonconformists’s Buffet.

And so, I’ve figured the best way forward for artists I teach in the Art Marketing Toolkit Project (AMTP) is to encourage them to pick and choose from the dozens of workbooks and accompanying videos on virtually every art marketing subject provided in the project. Learn enough about all options to make intelligent choices and use the ones that are best suited to help them achieve their unique goals.

They don’t need and will never use all the methods and tools in the growing and extensive AMTP marketing library. I routinely present them with insights and training on nonconformist ways to market art. An example is our topic for a recent weekly training. “How to Email to Influential People – Part Three.” It explains how nonconformist artists can use ordinary tools in uncommon ways to suit their needs.

You don’t need an email marketing service to use this advice. A Gmail account will work fine. Imagine building a select list of influential and essential contacts you develop using manageable methods to find them and reach out to them. It’s a gradual process – but so is building an engaged and effective email list.

Nevertheless, establishing relationships with influential people can produce substantial results when done right and repetitively. And such actions will almost always grow exponentially and organically.

Your Art Business Is Not Doomed without Email Marketing.

Suppose you know a growing group of donors, docents, curators, collectors, gallerists, jurists, journalists, civic figures, and other valuable contacts. Some will inevitably use their influence to elevate your status and business in ways you could never do on your own. A determined humble introvert can use simple techniques to create links with influencers. It happens all the time.

Learning to connect with influential people via email is just one tactic I teach that is a nonconformist’s dream. Another is how to leverage your local and warm market to sell one’s art without an email list, social media following, or spending money on advertising. Countless creative careers don’t rely on email marketing or social media followings and interactions to achieve goals.

Find What Works for Your Nonconforming Art Business.

Most artists take in advice and ideas from many sources but only use a few methods and theories from what they learn. They don’t have time or inclination for doing more and are pretty much okay as a result. Some are restless for more success but struggle with the balance of art and commerce. I get it because so do I. It’s all good because there is no single solution to enjoying your best artist’s life.

We do things differently over at the Art Marketing Toolkit Project. If what I’m saying here resonates with you, then please accept my cordial invitation to join. It’s only $4.99 per month with no contract. A deal like that gives you everything to gain and virtually nothing to lose. Would you please let me know if you have questions or how I can help you? Thanks for reading to the end.

Best Wishes!

The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.


art business, art marketing, nonconformist, Selling art

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  1. Before reading this I was ready to walk away . I have wasted a lot of time and money on courses on how to market art. I finally came to the conclusion that I had to find a way to market art that suited my goals and personality. I want to sell my art but I do not want to be a slave to a complicated and expensive marketing machine that requires so much time that I have no time for art. I am in the process of reevaluating my website and have decided to rework it as a beginning step on finding my marketing style.

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