How to Tell Your Story as an Artist

One of the key first steps to marketing yourself as an artist is being able to tell your story. I don’t mean your entire life story. Your potential clients don’t really care about that. What they are really interested in is your ambition, motivation, and the purpose behind your work.

This leads me to the idea of how to mange your image. Managing an artist’s image is something galleries pride themselves on being able to do and do well. But what managing an image is really about is being able to tell a good story.

The more you can manage your own image by telling these kind of stories, the more pull you have over galleries and other outside marketing bodies that try to leverage this over you as the creative.

Everyone ultimately manages their own image. Any time someone asks you a question about your work is a perfect time to tell one of those stories.

  • What made you realize art was your true calling?
  • What message are you trying to communicate through your work?
  • What inspires you?

Stop reading this for a second and think about these questions right now. If you’re not prepared, these questions can be overwhelming.The good part is no matter which one of these questions you are asked you can have the same answer.

What people are looking for is for you to answer the question “Why?”. As long as your story loosely relates to what they asked you’re in the clear.

So talk about an experience. Be sure to:

  • Make it personal
  • Use specific details
  • Make it memorable or funny
  • Make it short (practice telling it in less than 1 minute)

People ask me these same kind of “why” questions when they hear I quit my job to work on Mumora. No matter what variation of the question they ask, I can always tell the same story.

Since I was 5 I’ve always been interested in technology. Messing around with computers, playing Super Mario… stuff life that. In middle school I started reading nerdy books like Lord of the Rings, and slowly got lost in all other kinds of literature, listened to my first Strokes CD, and took my first trip to the MOMA.

Soon I graduated college and felt the pressure to immediately have my shit together, so I worked a few boring internships before landing a job on a technology team in Asia doing education. I really loved this job. It took me back to what I loved in my childhood.

But that love of art was still inside of me too. So I quit my job, and took these two passions – art and technology – and merged them to create Mumora.

People want to buy art that they feel a connection with, and people’s connection with artwork is largely emotional. As important as the appearance of your art is, the factor that will push people over the edge to buy is the story behind it.

If you don’t like how your story sounds right now, follow these steps to refine it.

  1. List down the moments in your life that stick out. Do this without hesitation. The point is to get as many things as possible written down
  2. Underline the ones that have similarities.
  3. Re-tell yourself a group of moments you’ve underlined (it’s okay to slip over any inconvenient details. You’re the story teller)
  4. Refine

Remember your story can be whatever you want it to be, as long as it’s true to yourself. It’s your life.

How will you respond the next time someone asks you a “why” question about your work? Let talk about it in the comments section below.

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