Your vision and the way you make your art is part of what makes your visual arts career unique on a microscopic level. Conversely, you are part of a macroscopic group of artists who create an impressive abundance of fine art such as paintings, sculpture and fine art crafts.
According to 2009 National Arts Materials Association (NAMTA) study results, as reported by Wiki.Answers.com, there are 4.4 million active Canadian and U.S. artists. Of these, 3.2 million are recreational artists.
Roughly half the recreational artists have sold some of their work. This leaves 600,000 professional artists and 600,000 students interested in art. Any way you slice this macroscopic number, it adds up to lots of competition for your visual arts career.
The good news is now that you know you have lots of competition you can forget about it. They don’t matter to your visual arts career. Yes, it is true that a crowded marketplace can make the competition to find new buyers more demanding. The thing is you are not competing for the same buyers. Your goal is to develop your own circle of loyal buyers and devoted fans. They are a tiny fraction of the potential art buying population.
Besides if anything, tough competition stirs greater interest in products and services, including art, than any single entity ever could. When you think of competition this way, you should embrace it because after all you are going to beat them anyway. Right? Right!
As a visual artist, you have an advantage over almost all other art forms. What is that you ask? Low numbers – comparatively speaking visual artists need far fewer buyers of their work to become successful. Unless you are in the mass print market, or the licensing market, you need only accumulate a fraction of the buyers that musicians, actors and authors need to fuel their career success.
This means in today’s wired world you get much greater leverage from digital marketing, and traditional marketing for that matter. In other words, where an author may require tens or hundreds of thousands of book buyers, you only need enough to buy your work. Your production capabilities will determine how many buyers you need, but you can quantify the number. This means your marketing efforts using the same tools can give you better returns than other types of artists.
To be fair, a book or a CD will only cost a few dollars, which makes finding and convincing buyers easier. Hunting and targeting a smaller group of potential buyers is always going to be easier than try to sway a large percentage of the consumer population. I believe for your visual arts career it will boil down to your cost of acquiring customers is going to be better than for the other arts.
As an artist, you have the ability to work your warm market where you can potentially gain your most loyal fans, and at a remarkably low cost of marketing and customer acquisition.
Having success in your local, regional or state markets has as much to do with effective networking as it does with smart marketing. When you put the two together, you create a powerful means to get your art sold and to build your best sources for repeat buyers and enthusiastic referrals for your work. You also immunize your visual arts career from disruptions in your distribution systems. These would be things such as your galleries closing, or your favorite social media falling from favor.