Promoting Yourself As An Artist


Image: Woman with body paint on her face.

The Problem From An Artist’s Perspective: How To Get Noticed

Whether we like it or not, our work is a product, something we are trying to sell. Since this is true, if we want to succeed, it must be a superior product. If you look closely and pay attention, you will discover that it is not just “what” the product is that people are attracted to, but who created it that makes it attractive. So, how do you begin promoting yourself as an artist?

As the quote in the image states, all things have to work together in conjunction to create a Brand. You have to reach and connect with your audience, your collectors, buyers, and followers. If you speak with an art collector or buyer to determine what it was that made them purchase a particular piece or follow a particular artist’s work, you will see that it is much more than the piece itself.

I always like to look closely at those that are accomplishing what I want to accomplish. What is their business model? What are they doing right? Or wrong? I can learn from others and then create a plan for myself.

Image: Planter celebrating PicassoFirst and foremost, you have to know yourself intimately. What’s your story? Can you convey it in a genuine and authentic manner? Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? You have to start with a beguiling and genuine narrative. You have to have a clear sense of yourself and what you want to stand for. If you can’t write your story yourself, find a competent copywriter. It’s worth it.

Let’s take a closer look at Picasso as a modern day Brand example. He was one of the first prominent artists that understood and desired his work to be known globally. He saw the “big picture.” He realized that he had great talent but also knew that this was not enough by itself to help him reach his goals. Like many creatives, he was multi-talented. He was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet, and playwright. He was also a brilliant businessman. He knew he was synonymous with his art, his work.

He planned and designed a Brand with an aura of mystery, fascination and intrigue so that the entire art world would take notice of him. He was also aware that he had to create an aura, some way to define himself beyond his art to prompt fascination and intrigue if he wanted those in the art world to take note. If you are waiting to be “discovered” or for a knock on the door, then you are gambling with your career and success. I’m not a gambler myself, but to each his or her own.

Remember that your product isn’t just something to be purchased at a particular price, more so it is about its perceived “value” (a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged; this value can vary depending on the perspective of the person trying to obtain the artwork). Picasso wanted to raise that value on a world level and sell more art for a higher price if he created a captivating Brand persona.

Did you know his full name is Pablo, Diego, José, Francisco de Paula, Juan Nepomuceno, Maria de los Remedios, Cipriano de la Santisima Trinidad, Ruiz Picasso? Think of what a challenge he faced when trying to decide whether to use his name as his Brand or not. Way before Madonna, Cher, Sting, and Adele, he made the single moniker a way to stand out from his fellow artists.

He understood the power of the media and public relations as a tool to promote his Brand. He also understood that successful public relations is the art of getting the media to tell your story as well as, if not better than, you’d tell it yourself.

Success From Inspiration Not Desperation: Promoting Yourself As An Artist

Once you have your Brand and message, you have to think about where and to whom your product should be promoted. Who is your target audience? Where will your Brand have the most value? Where do your buyers, fans, and followers hang out?

You have to know these things if you want to sell whatever it is you have to offer. You have to know the rules of the game, who the players are, and where you can play and win.

Picasso had this figured out as well. During his time, he knew the savviest collectors were in Paris. He understood that if his art was hanging on the walls of collectors in Paris, it would reinforce and raise the value of his Brand. Execution and distribution were under his control, not the media or the public. You have to understand sales – it’s about supply and demand. Create the demand and limit the availability. Leave your buyers wanting more.

Increase Value And Demand

With the Internet and the availability to view, purchase, and secure pieces from around the world 24/7, we find ourselves in a much more competitive, complex, and visible global art market than Picasso did. As I researched this challenge for artists today, I discovered that your work has to be different and distinctive, yet high quality. As an artist, we create for ourselves, I’m not saying to change that. But, keep in mind that whatever you create, you want to make it timeless. It should be relevant decades from now.

So, how can we learn from Picasso and his Brand? What can you do today to achieve even a measure of his success as a Brand?

  1. Plan #1: The number one way is to be represented by a top dealer who can place your art with top collectors, one who can arrange exhibitions at the best institutions, sell your pieces to the top institutional permanent collections, a dealer who will ensure that your work is displayed at the highest quality art fairs.  (You can see that at this level, you have to have the very best product to sell in order to get the attention of such a dealer). Then, maybe even a slightly more important function a top dealer performs is to control the production and the “release” of the work. Leveraging the media is another important component of crafting your image, or Brand – offering an authentic, interesting personal narrative told in the best national and international publications and written by the most well-respected journalists. All of these factors have to come together for the Brand to be built on a global level.

Most of us will not fit into this category. Should we lose faith? Give up? Quit before we even get started? Some may decide that this is the right choice for them, but not for me. I have too much passion to not share it. I am currently focusing on my fine art photography, but I know in my heart I will return to painting as well. I have a desire to create and share. I’m sure you do too. So what do you do?

If you follow art forums and creative thinkers today, you will see there is a tendency to believe that the Branding of an artist is a contemporary issue and that it can only hurt an artist’s reputation. Nothing could be further from the truth! Those that believe this way are naive or, not meant to be critical, ignorant.

Art on any level is probably at a higher regard than ever before because we can see it on a global scale. We are also living in a world that gets news almost instantaneously. People are much more aware of art than ever before.  Actually there is a huge spotlight on the topic of Branding yourself as an artist.

Whether people want to face the fact or not, art is a business, no less so than the music industry.

When you are fascinated by so called “celebrity” lifestyles, can you not see that they have a “designed” lifestyle? Their clothes, their hair, their signature style is all designed. Even their homes (and yes, the artwork displayed in their homes). This is “Branding.” We may not have called it that before, but that’s what it is.

I used to do the very same thing when selling real estate. It’s called “staging” a home. I gave a home a certain look and feel to make it more interesting, more appealing to a certain buyer demographic. I drew attention to it as a product. Sales quickly followed.

I think what needs to happen is for those that are resistant to Branding, there has to be a shift in your mindset. You have to run your art business as a business, otherwise it’s just a hobby and will cost you like a hobby.

2. Plan #2: A plan for the rest of us. I’ve created a video to help you catch my vision on how you can take control of your Brand and your lifestyle, watch this video and then you will be directed on how to get started today.

If you are ready to take control of your Brand and your financial stability, click here.