Sunday, November 1, 2009

On Selling Yourself

You really do have to sell yourself as an artist in many ways. There are a lot of artists out there, and whether or not we like it we are in competition for visibility. We need to get our work out there where it will be seen and better yet purchased (if that is a goal). We need to seek name recognition, find our niche and develop a rapport with our audience. We need to stay active at the forefront of what is going on so as to not fall off anyone's radar and risk losing fans, potential sales and other opportunities.

As I am quick to point out to people who question how active I am, my work isn't going to spawn many conversations or sell while sitting in storage in my attic studio where it is not going to be seen. Perhaps getting your work out there isn't as important to you as making it, which is fine, but do remember that the more you produce the more you will need to store unless you can find something else to do with it (and the trash heap is a far cry from a solution to this). Personally I feel that getting my work out there is probably one of the main reasons I do it. Not because I'm that egocentric, but as a means of spawning conversation, getting people thinking about things and challenging preconceptions. My work that doesn't fit into this, like my jewelry, is generally geared towards being sold and so still needs to get out there where it can be seen.

I personally prefer to focus more on camaraderie than competition because new audiences, connections, opportunities and publicity can be found and fostered when we work together. But with limited engagements for people to view art it becomes all the more important for individual artists to take advantage of every opportunity available to them to get their work seen. We all need to remember as artists that this is really up to us individually - no one else is going to do it until long after we've already done the legwork and achieved some pretty hefty fame and name recognition by account of our own efforts.

And many galleries and institutions are solely interested in current work and are not showing much of anything over three years old, which offers a very limited window of visibility. It's almost as if artworks have an expiration or sell-by date depending on when they were made, after which no one is near so interested in showing them anymore except in special circumstances, like retrospective exhibits. So it is necessary to work to promote yourself and your art as much as possible so that you can get it seen while you still can do so.

In the next few posts, I am going to offer some tips on promoting yourself and your artwork. I just attended a workshop at the Regional Arts Commission on Marketing and Professional Presentation which raised some key points that I'd like to reiterate here for all that I know I've mentioned some of this in the past. And lately I've found that I've been much more forthright in my own promotion and will explore some of what I've learned from that as well.

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