Don’t Expect Your Art to be Discovered. Make it Happen Online.
After over a decade of researching online strategies for gaining exposure and selling art online I have noticed that many artists tend to embrace romantic notions of how the art market works. These fantasies are fueled by literature and films that depict the magic moment at which point an artist becomes “discovered”. The scenario often involves an artist working years in solitude only to be discovered by chance-- with fame and fortune just around the corner. Unfortunately, the art world does not exactly work that way. To put it bluntly, artists need to put the bedtime stories aside and learn to make it happen for themselves.
An artist can’t stay hidden in his or her studio and expect fame and fortune to appear out of nowhere. I can't stress this enough-- the idea of being picked up by an influential art collector or gallerist out of the blue is best left for the movies. It can happen, but the odds are it will not happen to you, anyone you know, or anyone you will meet in the near future. Yes, it is that rare. There are only so many brick & mortar galleries to go around-- and millions of artists worldwide who desire to be represented by them. In that sense the internet serves a need while offering great opportunity to artists who embrace it. It is a new frontier that the art world is only now starting to explore in detail.
I base my observations on the conversations I've had with hundreds of emerging and established artists. This is why I know that reality works very different than what we read in a novel or view on the big screen concerning the art world and ideas of being "discovered". Thus, it is my opinion that an artist can’t wait to be discovered. An artist must take the bull by the horns and utilize every opportunity in order to promote his or her artwork-- again, he or she must make it happen.
Luckily there is great opportunity to be found online. The potential for gaining exposure and marketing online is limitless. In other words, there is a world of opportunity at our fingertips. All it takes is an entrepreneurial spirit, the initiative to get started and maintain a presence online, and raw ambition. These factors are crucial to establishing a successful online promotion / market strategy.
An emerging artist must do everything he or she can-- as far as online promotion is concerned-- in order to help him(her)self be discovered or simply to carve out his or her own destiny. In other words, artists today don’t have to wait to be “discovered” in order to have their work placed before the public. An artist today can display his or her artwork online in order to reach the public at large-- including potential patrons and art collectors in general. The artist must be relentless in establishing a presence online.
In that sense artists are bypassing the traditional route of brick & mortar marketing by representing themselves and using the internet as a vehicle toward a marketing path that can be just as successful. As mentioned, this online art marketing path has the potential to be very successful in the long-run and has the added benefit of potentially opening career doors in ways that emerging artists in the past would not have had access to.
Getting started is simple enough. Buying a decent computer and enduring the monthly expense of internet connection is a good investment for a visual artist when you consider that he or she can reach more people online per month than he or she ever would buying an expensive ad in an art publication or other magazine. Another thought-- technically an internet savvy artist has the potential to reach more viewers per month than he or she ever would in a traditional gallery setting.
True, if you can afford it you can have the best of both worlds-- but you will find that many artists are focusing on online efforts rather than traditional forms of gaining exposure-- just as many who have been successful within the traditional model have stated that the internet is opening new doors. The methods of art marketing are changing and artists are leading the charge.
The simple fact is that artwork is being seen in ways that would not have been possible years ago. For example, some artist blogs have more unique traffic per month than physical exhibit spaces do in a year. True, you can debate the value of viewing art in person compared to viewing art online, but when it comes down to the line traffic is traffic no matter how much you try to philosophically slice it. To put it bluntly, today artists don't have to cling to fantasies of being discovered-- they can make it happen simply by following their ambition and utilizing the internet. A little initiative can go a long way online. Make it happen.
A few suggestions:
* Answer email that you receive about your art promptly. When a buyer or other interested person has a question about your art it is always best to answer it within 24 hours. After all, if you wait a month to answer a potential buyer her or she may have already purchased from another artist who was more prompt. Thus, you will want to set time aside each day to check your email and answer any questions that viewers may have.
* Be smart about how you list your contact info. Make sure that interested individuals can contact you with relative ease. Include an email address on your website, blog, art community profiles, and so on. You may want to list your email as ‘myhandle AT insertname.com’ instead of ‘email@example.com’ in order to ward off bot programs that harvest email addresses. That step will help you to cut back on the amount of spam you receive at the address you have listed. However, keep in mind that some individuals and companies will harvest emails manually. Thus, it is always good to create an email address specifically for your online promotional and marketing efforts instead of listing your personal email address.
* Have a website or online community profile that is devoted to your artwork. Remember that your personal website does not have to be fancy to get the job done. Your main focus should be to provide a site that is easy to navigate and allows images to be viewed quickly. In other words, people are not going to waste time figuring out a puzzle just to view your work nor are they going to wait over a minute for your images to upload.
Remember that in most cases if you have a personal website it will be your responsibility to maintain it. So if something ‘breaks’ you need to know how to fix it or be able to afford the expense of having someone fix it. Hiring someone to design a website can be very expensive and the cost of minor fixes throughout the year can add up quickly. Keep that in mind before your personal website runs you instead of you running your personal website. In other words, learn the skills, find a friend who has the skills, or find alternative ways to display your art online.
If you lack the skills or resources needed to create your own website you can instead use an online art community profile as the hub of you online activity. If you take that path be selective and choose the art community that works best for your needs. To put it bluntly, if you create fine art you might think twice before uploading your artwork to an online art community that appears to focus on anime/manga fan art. Remember that your online associations can reflect on your professionalism in the opinion of some individuals.
*Create free accounts on online art communities. Online art communities can be a valuable resource for artists as far as exposure and marketing is concerned. You should maintain a few regardless if you have a personal website. The simple fact is that an online art community will most likely have more traffic than your personal website will be able to obtain on its own. Which means that you can increase traffic to your personal website by including a link to it on your online art community profile.
Online art communities that offer messaging, comments, forums, blogs and other aspects of social networking can be a valuable resource for keeping in contact with fellow artists and other individuals who are interested in your work. Never forget that having strong connections with fellow artists can lead to exhibit inclusion and provide valuable insight into the market as well. To put it bluntly, you can learn from fellow artists and might even receive a helping hand in the process-- just be sure to spread the knowledge on with open hand.
*Maintain an active blog for your art. A great way to obtain exposure for your art is to create a blog that is focused on your art, the exhibits you have been in, and so on. Choose a blog service that has high traffic-- such as Blogger or Wordpress. Try to post at least two entries per week. If you are selling art online be sure to make a post about it on your blog with a link back to the site where your are selling the art. If you have an upcoming exhibit be sure to post a press release about the exhibit on your blog.
It may seem overwhelming at first, but it is actually easy to find something to talk about as far as your work is concerned. Just remember that each entry helps improve your presence online. Be sure to utilize free services like Pingomatic in order to help spread your blog content on the World Wide Web.
*Establish yourself on social networking sites. Social networking sites-- such as Facebook-- can make it possible for you to connect with professionals with backgrounds in various industries. It is not hard to discover journalists, scientists, politicians, and others who are willing to network with you. These individuals may be willing to give you advice on how to improve your presence online and offline. Just be respectful. Remember that establishing online rapport with influential art bloggers can be very valuable as well. The feedback that you can obtain will be very helpful for your growth.
Take care, Stay true,