Behind every gallery is a collection of beautiful artwork and behind each piece of artwork is an aspiring artist.
But what is it that makes some artists sell more than others?
In my experience working in galleries in both Europe and North America, there are three main things I find more often than not in successful up and coming artists.
1. Decide how to tell your story
This might seem obvious, but a lot of artists don’t know how to effectively communicate with the outside world about their artwork. After all, creating a work of art is a very inward experience. Taking that experience and breaking it down into a bite size story that people can understand is challenging. In fact, this is the reason the role of the art critic was created to begin with, so that the critic could replace the artist as the one who explains the art.
As people started looking for meaning in art, the art critic became the mediator between the art, the artist, and the viewer.
Sure, there is a place for the critique of art, but as the artist it is important that you have a voice on the subject. Being able to tell your personal story is one of the biggest marketing assets you have. Your interpretation of your own art is infinitely better than an art critic’s perception because it allows people to feel connected to you.
Here are some questions you should be ready for:
1. What inspires you?
2. How did you decide you wanted to be an artist?
3. What is it that you love most about creating art?
4. What are you expressing through your art?
Remember: your story should be descriptive and state more than just facts. It’s okay if you don’t have an answer for one or all of these questions right away. That’s why you’re thinking about it now. The key though is to keep it short and simple – communicate what rings true to yourself in a way anyone can understand.
Try this. Imagine you are in an elevator and a stranger asks you to describe what kind of artist you are. What would tell her/him in the 30 seconds you have?
2. Find a channel to get published
Now that you have your story, it’s time to get it out there. Keep in mind all the different channels: art magazines, blogs, published books, interviews, Twitter etc.
One of the best ways to get published is like this – every time you get invited to be part of an exhibit or show your work in a gallery or art function, ask your contact person to publish a short write up on your artwork. Or better yet, make a quick write-up yourself and email it to your contact. The key is making it as easy as possible for them to publish something about you.
By featuring your story the gallery can build their brand as the go-to spot for the latest news on your art, and you get publicity. It’s a win-win.
The galleries that publish articles on their artists are the ones that other art critics and art enthusiasts look to for their daily dose of art news. Galleries leverage their contact with artists to be content providers while also building an archive of knowledge on a particular artist.
Use this opportunity to build your name! It’s a great opportunity for any artist, no matter how small.
If you have your own following already, let your representative know that you’ll also share the write-up on their site with your community. The gallery will like this since they’re getting new eyeballs on their website. You will benefit because you’re keeping your following up to date with all the places you’ve been featured, building your credibility.
Combine your audiences to get the word out.
3. Know your client avatar
In short, know who buys your art.
Once you’ve put yourself out there and start making sales, be sure to keep track of your clients’ names and email addresses. Begin to understand them. Which part of the world are they primarily from? What’s their age range? Are they male or female?
Try to connect with everyone you can who purchases your artwork. Send them a personal message thanking them. Also consider asking your clients to fill out a brief online survey (you can use Google Forms for this)
Gather data. Once you have a good chunk of organized data you can start connecting the dots and get a better understanding of the demographic who your art speaks to.
Now you can start making more educated decisions about where to show your art. Is showing your artwork in San Francisco at an established gallery when your client avatar is mostly younger people from Austin purchasing from funky small galleries a good idea?