Monday, March 28, 2011

Self-Marketing for Artists: 4 Time-Tested Tips from the Business World

(Brought to you by our friend, Mary Ann Cleary, at Art Business Advice)

Recently, I read an article by Kerris Harris about self-marketing from a corporate perspective. I began to realize that many mainstream business marketing strategies can easily apply to artists as well. In her article, The Art of Self-Marketing, Harris explained four effective marketing strategies: Branding, SWOT Analysis, The Elevator Speech, and Coaching.

Here’s how artists can make use of each of these marketing techniques.

Branding & Image Building

It’s always important to set yourself apart from the competition. What makes your art better than other artists? Why should customers want to do business with you rather than them? Here is a story that illustrates how to brand yourself distinctively:

“Recently I purchased canvas from Signature Canvas because they had been recommended to me by someone at a recent workshop that I attended. I placed my order online for a roll of primed cotton canvas, received my order safely, and about a week after my shipment arrived, a handwritten card arrived in the mail thanking me for my order. A couple days later I received a phone call from Signature Canvas, during which they thanked me again and asked if the canvas had arrived safely. Finally, a week ago, I received another courtesy call asking me how the canvas was working out and making sure that I had no issues with the quality of their product. I have never received such service or follow-up from any other art supplier that I have ordered from in the past. Will I order from them again? Yes. Why? Because they distinguished their brand from other art suppliers.”

So as an artist, how can you distinguish yourself? When someone purchases a painting from you, include a thank you note along with a business cards. You could also add a coupon for a discount on their next purchase or a “freebie” such as small print of your work. This is merely one idea, but it’s something that many artists do not do. Having a product that fulfills the customer’s needs is just a part of the puzzle. You also want them to think of you first. The business world would call that successful branding.

SWOT Analysis

What does SWOT stand for? Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Businesses regularly make lists of each of these to try to improve earnings and sales. Artists can do the same. Try making a list of your own based on the following ideas:

1) Strengths

As an artist, in what areas do your skills shine? How can you capitalize on your strengths? Find someone you trust to give you honest feedback about what you do well. Then come up with a marketing plan that highlights your best abilities.

2) Weaknesses

Where do you need to improve? Identify your shortcomings and come up with a plan to fix them. For artists, this could mean taking a workshop, reading books, or watching DVDs available for art techniques. Your weakness might not be art-based, however. Perhaps it’s the business side of the profession that you’re weakest in. Either way, knowing your weaknesses is half the battle. Fixing it is the other half.

3) Opportunities

Always be on the lookout for new opportunities to display your art, connect with your target clients, expand your offerings or network with other artists.

4) Threats

What roadblocks are in your way as an artist? What can you do about them? Threats are something that you may have no control over (unlike weaknesses, which you can improve upon). By making changes in how you market yourself, however, some threats may disappear.

The 30-Second Elevator Speech

Every time a person meets someone new, they usually have a few seconds to sell themselves and make an impression. If someone says to you, “I am an artist” with little enthusiasm or passion, would you be interested in them or their art? If they’re not, why should you be?

Learn to sell yourself as an artist. Prepare a 30-Second commercial on you and your art. Say it with passion. Practice it. Tell people what you are working on and why you are interested in it. When giving your “commercial,” have a business card ready to hand out. The most important thing is to make a positive impression so that people will remember you.

Coaching & Mentoring

A true professional is always teaching others what they know. By teaching others, you gain insight into yourself and your own process and you stay current with the issues that matter in your field. Mentoring can be accomplished by giving classes or volunteering at the local grade school or high school. Teaching art at your local continuing education group is another way. This is an excellent way of sharing your knowledge with others as well as developing a market for your art in the surrounding community.

Reposted By:

Adam Brown

Osio-Brown Editions Website

Giclee Printing FAQs

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Edition Sizes for Giclee Prints

Producing a limited edition giclee print is a great way for artists to make their art more widely available by offering affordable alternatives to more expensively priced originals. At Osio-Brown Editions, we are often asked by our clients what number they should limit their edition sizes to. Edition sizes are completely subjective. One number is no more “right” than another. The most important thing in determining your edition size, is that you—the artist—need to feel comfortable and confident with whatever number you choose.

There are, however, several guidelines you should follow with every limited edition you release.

1) Set the edition size in advance. Once you have determined the edition size make it public and NEVER change it. There is no need to print the entire edition at once. One of the greatest advantages of giclee printing is the ability to print on demand. As clients purchase prints, you can have your prints produced, signed and delivered—often times in less than one week.

One thing to keep in mind with your edition size is that people who buy limited edition prints often buy based—at least in part—on the size of the edition. Always be true to your client base. Never say one thing and then do something else. As the great sage Ron Popiel once said, "Set it, and forget it."

2) With signed limited edition prints, document every print you sell. This is a great way to make your clients feel confident about what they are buying. Include a detailed original invoice and Certificate of Authenticity (COA) with each image. Then sign and date it. Not only do buyers appreciate the documentation, but good documentation tends to increase value as well.

Adam Brown

Osio-Brown Editions Website

Giclee Printing FAQs

Monday, March 14, 2011

Overcoming the Fear of the Unknown

(Brought to you by our friends at Art Business Advice)

If your goal is to be a professional artist, you will probably need to accept the fact that many parts of your life are going to be filled with the unknown. In the beginning you will not know how much to charge for your work or when your next paycheck will arrive. You might have no idea how to file quarterly taxes, where to get health insurance or how to save for retirement on your own.

If thoughts like this make you mildly uncomfortable, moderately nervous or flat-out scared you are not alone. But…DO NOT let those fears keep you from doing what you really want to do.

Here are some techniques that may help:

1) Try New Things Even When You Don’t Have To

I don’t try new things as much as I should, but it’s very easy to see the positive impact when I do. Getting out of my comfort zone always reminds me of my core strengths—the skills I fall back on when I’m not in my element. For me, this builds more confidence in my ability to handle the unknown than in sticking to my schedules and lists.

If you are like me, your tendency will be to stay in certain environments or surround yourself with people or things that you are comfortable with. In the long run, though, that kind of coddling will just create more uncertainty and fear. Instead of sheltering yourself, start expanding your horizons. Over time this will build up your tolerance for the unknown.

2) Research the Edges of the Unknown

Many fears can be vanquished by educating yourself on the particular "unknowns" that you are facing. If you don’t know what to expect from a career in art, talk to other artists, research online and/or find a mentor. Keep in mind that this technique can be both a blessing and a curse. It is very easy to research and make plans. It is never quite as easy to follow through and act upon them.

3. Line Up Several Fallback Options

Instead of diving immediately into the unknown—such as, quitting your job tomorrow and switching to a full-time career as an artist—it makes sense to come up with a list of secondary fallback options. Having a backup plan makes it easier for you to devote more of your attention to your art instead of worrying about what you will do if it does not work out.

4) Fake It Until You Make It

Once you have committed to heading into the unknown, commit to being confident, as well. This means acting like a professional even if you do not feel like one yet!!! Buyers will feel more comfortable purchasing art from you and you will start to believe in yourself more and more. It may be something of a mind trick, but it does work, so give it a try.

Ultimately, having a fear of the unknown will only hold you back. The more you explore any unfamiliar situation, the less fear there will be.

Reposted By:

Adam Brown

Osio-Brown Editions Website

Giclee Printing FAQs

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Overcoming the Fear of Rejection

(Brought to you by our friends at Art Business Advice)

Rejection hurts. And it tends to stick with us for a long time afterward. This is why many artists are fearful when it comes to showing their art. They have been rejected before by being told they were not good enough. They have been told they would never make it in the arts. At the other end of the spectrum, however, are artists who are very confident and appear to have no fear at all. These artists will jump at the chance to show their art anywhere, anytime and to anyone.

The Fear of Rejection: An Artist’s Viewpoint

The main reason many artists get nervous and fearful of showing their art is because they are so wrapped up in it personally. They ARE their work. It is often times impossible for artists to separate themselves from their art. So when their art is on display, they are too. And when their work is critiqued, so are they. This is the root of the problem.

How Fear Can Hold You Back

Compared with other fears (i.e. Sharks, Spiders, Etc.) this one seems pretty tame. It is almost like stage fright or the fear of public speaking. But imagine being an actor with stage fright or a politician who is scared of making speeches. As artists, this fear will always affect how we promote ourselves and our work. If we lack confidence about our art, why would anyone else be confident enough to buy it from us? For us to be truly successful, we need to be able to show our work to anyone and be able to share why we are proud of it. We also need to be able to accept criticism (and even outright dislike) of our work and move on.

How to Overcome the Fear of Rejection

If you find yourself too nervous to show your art to gallery managers, potential buyers or anyone else who could further your career, here are three things that might help:

1) Separate yourself—emotionally—from your art

This is more easily said than done, but the idea is to put some emotional distance between yourself and your work. If it takes holding a mental ceremony when you finish a piece, do it. Convince yourself that you no longer are tied to this particular work. It’s done. Finished. In the past. Believe that when you completed it, you did the best that you could. Now, it stands alone, a work of art like any other—the comments that people make about it DO NOT reflect on you personally.

2) Know the Artwork’s "Flaws"

Once you have separated yourself from your art, try to pick out the flaws in it yourself. In doing so, you are preparing yourself for the worst. Sure, it could be that no one will see the flaws that you see—but perhaps someone will, and if they do, you will be ready for it.

3) Go to As Many Critiques As Possible

If you get nervous just thinking about a group critique, start small. Ask an artist friend to critique your art one-on-one before you enter a full group critique. If you pick the right person, he or she will point out where you can improve while still being supportive. Then see if the group mentions the same things. It may not be as easy hearing the critiques from them as it was one-on-one, but odds are you will not by surprised. Keep going to as many critique groups as you can. In time, you WILL get used to constructive criticism, and that will help prepare you for the less-constructive criticism that you may come across everywhere else.

Reposted By:

Adam Brown

Osio-Brown Editions Website

Giclee Printing FAQs