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Friday, July 3, 2015
NAME NAME NAME - How Artists Get Recognized
A talented emerging artist and friend of mine recently held a studio open house. He said that he was finding it valuable because it gave him something to talk about with people around his town and they were very encouraging.
It used to be that artists gained name recognition through the galleries. They promoted the artist, got their name out there and generally made a big deal about you. Now even if you get into a gallery, name recognition is a lot less of an affair. You do a lot of the footwork yourself unless your attached to a large gallery with a great budget for promotions. For most of us (if we get into a gallery) it will be a smaller affair with a limited budget often in a small to medium sized town.
Today's art marketing is about name name name. You can't rely on anyone else to do it for you. Your gonna have to do it yourself!
The problem is that most artists just flail around really unsure of the best way to do it.
Lets talk about mistakes first. In today's online social network environment, the absolutely worst thing an artist can do make a nuisance of themselves. This goes for online and off. If you are an artist who has an app built in to continuously cycle your art on to your Twitter or Facebook accounts. Stop it! Your only doing yourself harm. Name recognition isn't about sticking your art in someones face constantly non-stop. You know, the artist who when you look at their social network feed they've managed to post a piece of their art every ten minutes for the last 40 days. First, its obvious that they could never be doing it themselves. They have to have an automated system doing it for them. Secondly you lose your effectiveness if all you are doing is self promoting incessantly. People eventually just stop bothering to look at you.
The same goes offline. I've written before about how disastrous it can often prove to go door to door over and over again to local galleries and art dealers. Gallery owners hate it. Its one of the reasons many galleries have a set week or month where they will review artists portfolios and refuse to even be bothered with them the rest of the year.
The bottom line is: "making a nuisance of yourself only serves to piss people off".
So what is there besides that? Nothing, go home and take up needlepoint. No I'm joking. Honestly, put the yarn down.
The key to effective name recognition is "content". You want to find ways to put your name out there while giving something back to others. Lets take the example of my artist friend. He's holding an open house. So how many ways can he take advantage of it?
First he can announce it several times. Second he can send out invites both online and in paper form. Third he can talk about his preparation. He can tell followers online what he is doing to get ready. Not as a single announcement but step by step following his progress. Fourth he can show photos of the art he has prepared for the open house or the art he might be creating for it. Fifth he can give away a piece of art, thereby giving him one more unique reason to talk about the event. Sixth he can invite the press in the form of a press release or better yet by finding out if they have online accounts and informing them through their social network name or via email. Seventh he can invite local gallery owners to attend. So that's seven basic ideas and we aren't even to the night of the event yet.
The event itself may be a flop regarding sales. That's because people rarely buy art at a party. They want to see the art, they want to talk to the artist, but they rarely buy. But that's OK, your event is already a success even if absolutely no one shows because you just put your name out there dozens of times. If anything it was good preparation for learning how to exhibit your work and you got to give your studio a thorough cleaning. The point is name name name.
So say you don't want to hold a studio event. Your space is puny, your mother is in the next room asking if you fed the cat. Its just not a good scene. So what else can you do?
Lets go back online. Your about to start a new painting. Logic would say to most that when you get it finished then you post it online and let people see it. WRONG! The process starts before you even begin with a simple photo taken of your prepared supplies. Your canvas, your paints, anything you are using for the piece including perhaps a basic explanation of what this painting will represent.
Now if your like most painters, your going to create your masterpiece in stages. You may gesso the canvas first. You may lay down a background color. You may use a texturing agent. All of these are opportunities to post about the piece, in turn your again putting your name out there with every post. Your not irritating the crowd because your posting information that others enjoy seeing. Potential buyers love to hear about the process of creating work. It involves them at a personal level and evokes emotions that make a person want that piece of art. If its a larger piece of art, it may take you a month or more to create. If you do it right and you take a little extra time between steps of your painting to snap a photo and post it, you can create an amazing amount of name recognition with a single piece of art.
Now say you start monitoring art events going on in your home city and you start posting about those events. You don't only post an article about the event, but you may post commentary about it. You may post artist recognition posts about who is attending various events. If your intelligent you check and see if the person is online and you tag them in your post. That gives another artist recognition, which is always a good thing, but it also is one more reason to put own name out there.
You've irritated no one. Your provided a service to those organizations sponsoring events (which includes galleries) and you've stuck your name out there yet again. NAME NAME NAME!
Now if your thinking you will be an overnight success with this, think again. You won't. But what you will do is lay a framework of name recognition that after a year or two might just start to pay off in a major way. You've kindly ( and diplomatically) promoted the same gallery 3 times in a year. They know your name now. They may see a piece of your work online and start paying more attention to you. Eventually you may end up in that gallery simply because you kept your name out there consistently and without being a nuisance. You look professional and that ALWAYS is a benefit to a gallery. They don't want to deal with problem artists. They want stability in their own operations and that extends to who they may promote.
Yes, its the long way towards your end goal of being a successful artist. But it is also the wisest path.
Some ideas will work for you, others won't. Its not in the merits of any one way to get your name out there, but in the total accumulation of doing so over and over again.
There is one other factor in this that is crucial. Its "Time Consumption". An artists primary task must be in making new art. If your totally consumed in the task of marketing yourself, you aren't creating any product to market. Juggling time is precious.
A good example is the graphic at the top of this page. I decided I wanted to promote arts in various cities. I would research a specific city and then post on 3 or 4 different types of art events taking place in that city. The concept was good, but what I found after doing it several times was that it was vastly time consuming. To do it right, it took sometimes an hour of research for a single post. Not a good plan. If it takes me any more than ten minutes to put information out there, its not worth my time. (But I love the graphic so this gives me an excuse to use it in this post).
Keep in mind I use no apps to post for me. Every single post whether its on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or several others is written by me at the time of posting. I can put out 50 posts a day on Twitter alone without it impacting my art schedule but that's because I've refined it to the point where I can analyze quickly and efficiently. I'm not bragging. I am merely stating the point that time is precious and you have to make it work for you.
I can come up with literally hundreds of ways to keep your name out there. Yes they take time, but part of being an artist is also to learn to promote yourself. The point is to think as creatively about marketing as you do in creating art. The more creative you are, the more unique your marketing and the more it will get noticed. Stop relying on what you see other artists doing and do something new. And never forget name name name.
One final word. Remember its about the art not the art marketing. If you put the greatest amount of effort into creating kick ass art, that in the end is what people will remember the most about you.