Twelve tips for artists: How to market your art

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by Debra Hosseini

I’ve found that many artists on the spectrum are exceptional at creating art, but unless they have a manager (sometimes a parent), they don’t know how to market their art. The business aspect of being an artist is necessary to make a living selling your art.

As Temple Grandin said “I learned you have to build up and carry with you a portfolio of work. You never know when you are going to get a job opportunity… Nowadays, you can carry your portfolio on your phone.”

"Create a portfolio"

“Carry a portfolio”

1. Create a website with an easy to navigate gallery, social media, and search engine optimization (SEO). WordPress websites which operate much like a word processing tool are easy to manage. If opting for WordPress, there are gallery plug-ins that will help you manage your art. A good one that The Art of Autism uses is nextgen-gallery.

If you don’t have the means to create a website, create a Facebook art page. Make sure you update it regularly with images of your new art.

2. Photograph or scan your art creating high-resolution images. High resolution is 300 dpi. This means that you need a camera that will take big or high-resolution images. If you don’t have a camera, consider hiring a professional photographer. If you don’t have money to hire a photographer, consider trading a piece of art for professional photography of your art. It’s important to have high-resolution images when submitting to potential galleries and purchasers via email.

3. Send out notices about your art in newsletters via email. The most successful artists keep a database of people who’ve shown interest in their art. They can then easily communicate with future customers. Don’t send email to people who don’t want to get your emails. When exhibiting your art, always have an email sign-up sheet to collect emails. On your website, have a contact us page that collects email lists. Consider email programs such as Aweber or mailchimp if you have extensive email lists.

4. Properly frame your art for exhibiting. I can’t stress how important it is that the art is presented well. That means the frames should flatter the art. Overly elaborate frames or frames that are worn with scratches usually don’t do art justice.

If your art is on paper, mat and frame the piece. Make sure you sign the art where your signature can be seen.

It’s okay not to use a frame if you have a deep canvas and the sides of the canvas are gallery wrapped.

Make sure to wire your art for easy hanging. The wire should be placed 1/3 down from the top and be loose enough to easily hang but not so loose you will see the wire when hanging. Frames that don’t have a wire are a nightmare to hang.

5. Create business cards that you can hand out to possible buyers or gallery owners. The business card should include your email, phone number, and website if you have one.

6. Create posters or greeting cards of your art. Include on the back of the greeting card information about yourself. This is a great way to promote your art. A lot of times people can’t afford originals. They will buy posters. Also, posters are good to give away to clients who may exhibit it in a well-traveled venue.

7. Create a database of press contacts. When being honored or having an exhibit, email the press. It is important to know the proper format for press releases. This can be found through a google search.

8. Exposure, Exposure, Exposure Donate your art to good causes for auction, especially if there are high profile events in your community where your art will be seen by many or to well-intended organizations that support causes you believe in. Many of the artists in the art of autism give their art to autism organizations. A few give their art to individuals who are in need. If you don’t want to give an original, consider making a high quality print or a giclee of your art.

9. Price your art to sell. Most people can’t afford thousands of dollars for a piece of art. Consider making smaller pieces that can sell for reasonable amounts. Be open to negotiation especially if your art will be seen in a public place or to an organization you believe in or a person that can’t really afford fine art yet would love to have a nice piece of art in their home.

10. Network, network, network. This can be through social media, such as facebook, twitter, and pinterest or in person. Consider volunteering at a local art gallery. The more you get out there, the more opportunities to display your art. It’s also a good idea to mention other artists to collectors. Especially, if you know what type of art they like. This creates goodwill and the other artist might mention you as well!

11. Take criticism constructively. Sometimes constructive criticism can help an artist tremendously. Often the juror in exhibits will offer advice to participating artists.

12. Many states have disability organizations that support artists on the spectrum with small grants. This can help you cover some of the expenses of creating a website, framing, photographing, etc.

If you follow these steps, hopefully you’ll see more of these signs.

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Each of these points can be elaborated in much more detail. Stay tuned for future blogs.

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