Print-on-Demand in the hands of Andy Warhol. What would he have done?
The idea is not to live forever; it is to create something that will. – Andy Warhol
It’s hard to believe he’s been gone since 1987. And it seems equally weird to note if he was still alive that he’d be 93-years old. Since he is no longer here among us to ask, one can only speculate on what Andy Warhol would say about art print technology. My guess is he would have found ingenious uses as being on the bleeding edge was his way.
Would Andy have embraced POD, 3D printing, and digital technology?
It seems inevitable he would have been all-in on finding ways to stretch the boundaries when using them to make art and promote it. Sadly, he didn’t live long enough for us to watch him experiment with the internet and technology, including print-on-demand (POD) technology. I’m sure he would have found amazing and controversial ways to use them to make art.
Warhol believed in business as much as art, as epitomized by this famous quote from him.
Being good in business is the fascinating kind of art. Making money is art, and working is art, and good business is the best art. – Andy Warhol
The internet is a tool that continues to open the world of art to more people. Museums from around the globe now make most of their collections freely available for all to enjoy. Digital printing technology makes beautifully and faithfully reproduced art accessible to all. These are exciting developments with far-reaching consequential effects.
Even better for consumers and artist is POD isn’t just for art on paper or art on canvas. The number of options to reproduce art on products increases frequently. It’s a trend that will continue to expand our ideas on how to display art.
Speculation on Warhol and NFTs
It’s my belief the pull of non-fungible tokens, aka NFTs, would have been too strong for Warhol to ignore. How that would play out is the topic for another post. The speculation, buzz, confusion, anger, and disbelief that have come from the introduction of NFTs would have put Andy right in the middle of things is my guess.
What is the best way to build a sustainable art business?
I believe the best way for artists to thrive is to establish a clientele who buy from them directly. The point is to control the distribution. Not only does this method provide the most margin, but it is also built on relationships between the artist and art buyer. When you own the relationship, it can’t be taken from you.
The internet, through ecommerce-enabled websites, social media, and email marketing, makes it possible for artists to own and control the process of conceiving art, finding buyers, and selling art to them directly. Such power is not a fantasy. It’s a reality being played out by the minute on the internet.
Digital marketing sounds good on paper but doing it is something altogether different.
The problem is getting all this marketing done seems very techie and complicated and involves selling and marketing, all of which are not favorite activities of many artists. To further complicate things, there is an unending stream of well-meaning, often overwhelming, and confusing advice on how artists can use tech to build a profitable career.
The result is it creates a confounding situation that causes artists to give up before they get close to enjoying success – and unfortunately, some require little encouragement to drop out.
Can artists thrive with minimum tech skills?
Even minimum tech skills require knowledge of how tech works, which makes keeping up one’s skills a good idea. It’s a price to play but well worth it. The good news is artists can thrive using a minimum of tools and tech. Simple is usually best and always with digital marketing when it’s not your thing and you only know a little.
Market online the same as you do in person.
My straight advice is to use social media to mimic real life. You never expect to make 1,000 friends in a few days or even years in real life. Using social media becomes much less stressful when you stop trying to leverage it to build a mass audience. That’s close to a full-time job.
Despite the challenge, some artists do manage to build massive followings on social media. They are outliers and do not represent everyday artists. Don’t be pulled into the vast black hole of their influence to think you must replicate what they do to have success. It’s a snare and a trap that will only suck your time, money, and patience.
Here’s how POD comes into play.
You make art because you want to share it with others to enjoy and to purchase from you. POD allows you to expand who can afford to buy and appreciate your art. It’s a radical development in making art and distributing it. I think POD uses are evolving as wildly 21st Century tech and merch marketing, and that POD is as revolutionary as Rembrandt’s etchings were centuries ago.
You might make art on paper of a specific size for reasons you choose. For example, it fits your vision, it was the only blank canvas in the studio, or you bought a crate wholesale. And before POD, reproductions were limited chiefly to posters, limited edition prints, and note cards. Now the number of ways you can make it available expands regularly. Each variation makes for a satisfied buyer and a new way to promote your art to the world.
Be there for your buyers if they need a small metal print or a giant canvas print. Give them what they want and make them happy. Some will become your ambassadors and drive hot traffic to you. Others will evolve into patrons who purchase multiple originals. POD takes the limits off how to get your art to market.
It’s always a good time to build relationships.
When you meet new people, it takes some time for them and you to evolve the relationship. It’s the same with buyers. They want to get to know you first and go from there. Having affordable POD products that you can offer that fit into the “spontaneous sales” and “no partner approval necessary” categories is the key.
Instead of attempting to sell expensive originals as the first sale, POD gives you the option to make enticing products readily available. A small print is the equivalent of a coffee date. There is a minor commitment to advance the relationship that doesn’t require analyzing if it’s worth it. One coffee or beer encounter can lead to more significant ways to spend time together. You grow into it naturally and without strain.
The Instagram Connection.
Since it is a dominant visual medium, it seems Instagram has become the main engine for creating relationships between artists and consumers. I wrote about it in this post titled, How Instagram’s Touch Makes Warm Marketing Work for Artists. It’s a worthy read that reiterates my point here. POD is a gateway to your prosperity.
It’s not just Instagram; any social media platform will allow you to connect with potential buyers. You can build an online acquaintanceship with people on any forum. I contend the one you use the most now is the one that will give you your best results.
How the Art Marketing Toolkit Project Is Helping Artists with POD
As the name implies, artists members get access to helpful art marketing advice and training. It’s not a course because I believe artists will study then pick and choose the tools and methods they learn about in training. My philosophy is to expose artists to the ideas and possibilities to decide what will work best for them.
Here is a list of the growing topics available for artists to learn from and discuss with fellow members in the Art Marketing Toolkit Project private Facebook group:
- Chapter One: What Is Art Marketing?
- Chapter Two: Goals, Dreams & Vision
- Chapter Three: Assessing Your Resources
- Chapter Four: Making Art That Sells
- Chapter Five: Truth about When Most People Buy Art and Marketing Tools
- How Art Marketing Tools Help to Sell Art
- 7 Essential Art Marketing Tools
- How to Use a Lead Magnet to Grow Your Email List
- Chapter Six: Why You Need a Customer Avatar and How to Create One
- Chapter Seven: The Power of Local Marketing
- Chapter Eight: Networking Through Your Warm Market
- Chapter Nine: How to Develop an Ongoing Referral Program
- Chapter Ten: Marketing You – Personal Branding and Self-Promotion
- Chapter Eleven: Self-Confidence & Self-Promotion
- Email Marketing Tips, Tricks, and Techniques
- Artists.Life Manifesto. What Is Art? Who Is an Artist?
- Chapter Twelve: Traditional Art Marketing Tools and Techniques
- Chapter Thirteen: Websites for Artists – Part One
- Chapter Fourteen: Marketing Art Online – Warm Instagram Marketing.
- Websites & POD for Artists
Websites for Artists & POD for Artists.
Note the last item is Websites & POD for Artists. That was an overview and came with the announcement of the initiative on behalf of the members. I’m compiling lists of options for artists on websites and POD offerings available for them.
When complete, artists within the group will make comments and offer evaluations for services, they use. I’ll use their feedback and my research to organize and prioritize the lists based on the criteria we develop in the group. It’s a serious project that will take considerable time and energy to complete, but the benefits to artists will make it worth the effort.
Live Your Best Artist’s Life and Sell Your Art Your Way
The header for this section perfectly describes what the Art Marketing Toolkit Project is all about. I created it to help as many artists as I can. And I’ve kept the price low because I want artists from around the globe to access the information.
After 30 years of working in the art business with many rewards, this is my way to give back and add lasting value to the community of artists who come to know me. I hope you will soon become one. Go to ArtMarketingToolkit.com to learn more and join today.