Think Social Media

Artists cannot survive today without the use of social media. Think Twitter, Facebook, linkedin, and myspace. You need to have a presence on these sites. In PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences Deirdre Breakenridge shows you how to use social media to get eXposed. Below is a review of Deirdre’s book PR 2.0.

Enjoy.

Using the internet wisely

The internet may appear to hold limitless opportunities for artists to promote themselves to the world, but you should always treat it with caution. This month we take a look at how the internet can help you and what precautions you should take when using it.

The rules

If you want to maintain your reputation and further your career there are two rules to remember when using the internet? The first is that anything that goes onto the internet stays there. Private emails are also subject to this, since they remain on people’s computers and you never can tell where they might turn up. Avoid conflict on the internet exactly the same as you would in real life, and avoid using the real names of people and companies on internet forums.

The second rule is that you should never consider yourself anonymous, even if you hide behind a pseudonym. This warning may sound excessive, but if you believe you can get away with vituperative abuse because the internet is anonymous you will be in for a harsh surprise down the line.

Social Networks

Over the last few years the growth of social networks has been immense. There is an astonishing range of networks to choose from, including MySpace, Twitter and Facebook. These social networks are an excellent place to engage in conversations and to offer information about yourself and your work. You can also display your artwork to potential patrons once you establish a relationship.  It’s important to use social networks the right way, by listening to the web community and engaging in dialogue with people who share your interests.  Social networking allows you to be transparent; show your personality and artistic views.

Social networks are about connecting with people and not marketing or selling your products or services outright. They are also a great way to find people who are interested in your type of art, and if they find value will then share your work with their friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter.  Your approach to social networking should always be one-on-one, so that the dialogue and information can spread from one-to-many.

Internet forums

There is an overlap here since many social networks also have forums, but the advantage of forums dedicated to art is that the people on them tend to be real working artists rather than just people interested in art. Forums are therefore an excellent way of getting advice, inspiration and support from other artists.

Forums offer few promotional opportunities, but there is always the chance that you might get into discussion with people who can help your career. However, going onto discussion boards and promoting your own work is frowned upon, so your safest bet is to use them to discuss art.

Online galleries

There are many online galleries that offer you gallery space and promotion for a fixed fee. Free art galleries usually offer free gallery space but take a commission for processing the transaction. These are tempting and many artists claim success from them, but you should do a bit of research first. Find other artists exhibiting on the site, search for them via Google, and then email them to ask their advice.

The best use of online galleries is to see what sort of prices similar artists to you are selling for, but if you do decide to exhibit make sure to read the terms and conditions carefully. There are opportunities here that should not be ignored, particularly if your work is of the type and price that it could be an impulse buy, but for the most part people will not pay serious money for art without seeing it first or knowing the artist’s reputation.

Ebay

Many artists offer work in auctions on ebay, though they rarely sell for high prices. However, if you have lots of old work lying around the studio that you have no intention of using, you should consider auctioning it off as a way to clear space and make a little money. Make sure, though, that you take into consideration how the art will be sent to the buyer.

Copyright on the internet

Copyright is almost non-existent on the internet, but this shouldn’t worry you. All publicity is good publicity, so if your work is displayed somewhere you did not give permission, accept it as a sign that people like your work. If you make sure to superimpose your name and website address on all your digital images then it can even be a good way of gaining interest.

Finally

The opportunities of the internet for artists are far greater than we can deal with here, but it should not be considered a substitute for real world promotion. Use it as a tool for meeting people, researching and gaining interest in your work, but don’t expect miracles.

Also See: Using “Twitter” to Promote Yourself

Your Website

Artists have been utilizing the internet in new and creative ways since its inception, but in recent years the advent of broadband, the low cost of computers and increasingly user-friendly software has meant that the professional artist has no excuse not to have a presence on the web.

Why you need a website

For the most part your website will serve as an online portfolio, but it can also have other uses. It can be a backup of your catalog and an updateable blog that lets people know of your artistic activity.

Your Art eXposed site

The first place to start is with your Art eXposed profile. This is the easiest first step to creating a professional presence on the web. It includes a gallery, information about your art, pricing and your own personal blog that are all easily updateable without the need of any technical skill.

Getting a personal site

If you wish to go further and have your own personal website and domain name, your first step is to find a capable and trustworthy web designer. The best solution is going with the recommendation of a fellow artist, but whoever you choose make sure they have already produced at least one artist’s website that you like.

Next, you should search the internet for online portfolios and find a few simple, tasteful designs that your web designer can use as a guide. Ignore anything that uses flash or other fancy visual effects. Visitors need to have quick, easy access to your art, so make this clear to the designer. Talk to him about simple solutions that enable you to easily update both the gallery page and the blog. The rest of the site can stay static, but it’s essential that you can update these two sections on your own.

What the website should contain

Home page

The front page design can utilise a few pieces of your artwork, but don’t let it get cluttered. Keep the information to a minimum. It should have your name, location and discipline as the title, with your brief artistic statement underneath. If you have a blog, there should be three or four titles (no body text) with links to read more. You can also include discreet contact details on the front page if you wish.

Biography page

At the top there should be a short biography written in the first person (we all know you wrote it). Avoid jokes, but keep it friendly. Explain any great influences and key themes in your work. Beneath the writing should be a list of the key milestones in your life that are related to your art, including qualifications, awards, events and shows etc. You can also include a photo of yourself if you wish.

Gallery page

This should be a simple HTML (not Flash) slide show with both thumbnails and high resolution images of your work. Make sure relevant information is included such as the size of each piece and the price. It is essential that you can easily update your gallery yourself with new work or price changes.

A mission statement

All those notes you made while writing your artistic statement come into play here. You should aim for around six hundred words detailing what your art means, where it has come from and where it is going to

Contact details

Self explanatory, but make sure it includes telephone numbers and an address. Do not use a form for emails; a simple email address link is fine.

Blog

The blog is optional, but highly recommended if you are able to keep it updated. It should not be filled with your personal life or general musings, it should be a diary of your activities as an artist. Ideally, it will be as active as possible including any new work you’ve created, where people can see your work, events you’re attending, etc. Remember though, the activity of the blog reflects your real world activity, so if you don’t think you will be able to update it at least once a week then you shouldn’t have one.

What you should pay

Assuming you keep the design to a minimum and steer away from flash and other trickery the website should cost between $400 and $600. If the designer is asking for more than this, try to find out what the additional costs are and decide if you need them.

Hosting

Unless you are technically minded, it is best to let the web designer arrange the hosting of the site. Make sure you have an easy to remember domain name, preferably yourname.com. Finally and most importantly, when you find a good web designer make sure to remain on good terms with them, they will be invaluable in the future.

Networking

The solitary artist isolated by his eccentricity and social ineptitude is a myth. Artists have always gathered in groups, and you will gain immeasurably from constant contact with as many other people in the art world as possible.

Making friends with artists

Networking is more than fawning at the feet of dealers and gallery owners, local artists should be first on your list of people to know. From them you will gain invaluable advice, support, inspiration and hopefully lifelong friends.

The best place to start is not by trawling the internet for artist’s discussion groups. Certainly the internet has its place, but it can in no way substitute for real human contact. The more you interact with successful artists in your area, the more you will learn about your local arts scene and the people within it.

Industry people

Every aspiring artist dreams of a chance meeting with an industry bigwig, and you shouldn’t be afraid of approaching them if the opportunity arises. However, there are some important rules of conduct that you should keep in mind:

Never push yourself onto them, however tempting

This is not because these people are unapproachable, but because for the most part if they are interested in you they will find you. If you are able to be introduced to them, do not immediately start talking about yourself and your art.

Be natural

Nervousness of any sort is a sign of the amateur. You should be as natural as possible, even if it’s your own show or gallery opening that they are attending.

Do not lie

A seemingly simple rule, but so many artists make the mistake of trying to enhance their appearance when under pressure. Be assured, you will be found out. It is always better to be honest about your achievements and about what you know. Never get out of your depth by talking about something you have no knowledge of. You will gain far more respect if you simply say you don’t know but you are interested to learn more.

Do not put down their views

Of course you can disagree with them, but don’t do it aggressively. If they like an artist you don’t, ask what they like about them and show a genuine curiosity. The best way to give the appearance of being interested is by actually being interested. Find out why they like certain types of art and always be open to their opinions.

Don’t get drunk or misbehave

We have already stressed many times the importance of appearing professional in order to further your career. Your reputation is everything, so don’t jeopardise it by acting foolishly.

Places to network

The best places to begin networking are local arts events, and ArteXposed members get several services that help you to do this. You should also check out local newspaper listings and ask in libraries and local government offices for upcoming arts events. You should aim to be a regular face at every event you can make it to. Many events have competitions which are also an excellent way of meeting new artists and getting yourself known.

Begin local, then spread wider. Once you have established yourself on the local arts scene, reach out to more distant towns and cities. Visit as many galleries as possible and talk casually with the people there about art. If you have the courage, you can even try creating your own arts event with a few fellow artists you’ve met, and ArteXposed will often sponsor such events if you are a member. If your reputation spreads to the right people, you may even find yourself being invited to join a member’s only arts club, which is another excellent opportunity for meeting new people.

Finally

There are no great secrets to networking. Simply try to meet as many people interested in art as possible, whether they are in the industry or not. Don’t forget there’s always the chance of making a sale or two from anyone, and you never know where it might lead.

Art eXposed: Marketing Yourself

This month we take a look at a subject that many artists find the most difficult:  Marketing Yourself. What we’re talking about here is not selling your work; it’s learning to sell yourself. As an artist you are not an anonymous manufacturer; you have put a little of yourself into everything you produce, and it is this that people buy.

Why should you market yourself?

For the most part artists do not have agents unless they are highly successful or they work mostly on commission, so promotion is down to you. But don’t worry about compromising your integrity; marketing yourself is not about tricks and stunts, it is about defining yourself and forming a brand that people can latch onto. It is choosing to label yourself, rather than letting others choose their own less desirable labels. The first and most important task in this process is creating an artistic statement.

The artistic statement

If you still believe that all art should speak for itself then you are probably not doing too well as a professional artist. A terse statement about yourself and your art is an essential marketing tool. It is a slogan for your product. It will be the first thing people read about you on your website or portfolio. It will roll off your tongue when asked about your art and it will be regurgitated in newspaper articles and the mouths of those discussing you.

It should be evident then just how important it is that you get it right. To start with, you should spend time thinking over and writing as much as possible about the following questions: What it is that you do? Why do you do it? What unifies your work? What are you trying to convey? Where do you fit in the art world? What are your core beliefs about art in general?

Write as much as you like, but try to keep it written in plain English. Imagine explaining your art to someone you respect, but who knows nothing about art. Once you have all your thoughts written out, you must then distil them down to a few short sentences. Do not merely cut things out, but think of what principles underlie all the different facets. You should aim for a short, memorable and profound statement that will explain the essence of what you do. If you need inspiration, look at the artist profiles on the ArteXposed website for good examples.

Putting it into action

So, you’ve written your artistic statement and come up with a great individual brand. How do you put it into action? What are the secret marketing tricks to spread your reputation? Sorry, but there are none. Self-promotion gimmicks are tawdry and counterproductive. You shouldn’t be waving banners and blowing trumpets to announce yourself to the world. We will be discussing how to get interest in your art later on, but in terms of promoting your name there are only three things to rely on: word of mouth, the newspapers and time.

Word of mouth

We will be discussing networking in depth next month, but for now you should know that it is through simple conversation that most opportunities will arise. Being able to talk about your art with confidence, fluidity, passion and sincerity to anyone who takes an interest is essential. All the work you put into writing your artistic statement will help you to verbalize your ideas. As for confidence, you must practice talking about yourself without either shame or arrogance.

Newspapers

A photo of you and your art in a newspaper is an excellent promotional tool, so always keep an eye out for opportunities. Think of what might interest the general public about your work. Perhaps you have created something with a local interest, or maybe your work involves novel techniques to create it. If you are holding an exhibition, submit details and a brief profile of yourself to local newspapers. The templates in the Art eXposed PR toolkit enable you do this in the correct form that journalists expect.

Give it time

Your reputation will spread if you put the work in, but it will take time. Understand that gaining notoriety locally must be done before you try to spread yourself further. Be patient, but always be on the lookout for new opportunities to spread your name.

Cataloguing your art

John Marshall, Philadelphia Museum of ArtThis month we take a look at how to keep a catalog of your art work. If you’re wondering why you need to catalog your work, the simple answer is “because every successful artist does,” but if that’s not enough then here are 5 reasons why it is imperative that you keep a catalog.

1. It allows you to price your art accurately

We’ll deal with the specifics of pricing your art next month, so for now you only need to know that the most accurate price can only be obtained by seeing what similar works have sold for.

2. You can spot trends in sales

Many artists starting out in their careers find they have certain works which are easy money makers, and the easiest way to discover this is by keeping a catalog

3. It can be presented to dealers and gallery owners

Anyone serious about buying or selling your art needs to know that it can be expected to sell at the prices you’re asking for. A categorised history of past sales is by far the best way of proving this.

4. Allows you to select your best work

It is always a difficult task deciding which work you wish to put in a portfolio, gallery or competition. The problem becomes a lot easier when you can browse an organized catalog of your work rather than having to sift through endless canvasses.

5. It acts as a positive reminder of your progress

Looking back over a year of work you will feel far more positive about your future if you can clearly see just how far you’ve come.

What the catalog should contain

Exactly how you create and organize your catalog is up to you, but whatever format you choose, it must contain the following:

Title and date

Both of these are essential. If you do not wish to title your work, create a reference number system instead.

Photograph

This is a lot easier to accomplish if your catalog is digital, but if you choose to have a physical catalog then a Polaroid camera will be invaluable.

Cost of production

Take into account all expenses required to create the work. It is always better to over-estimate.

Time taken to produce work

Keep close track of how long it takes you to produce each work. Be honest about it, include breaks from work. Again, it is better to overestimate.

What the work sold for

You should be able to easily reference this alongside the title and date.

Extras

Has the work been on display anywhere? Is it now hanging on someone’s wall? Did it win a prize? Any extra information about the artwork itself should always be kept.

Digital catalogs

Having your catalog on your computer has many advantages. It is easier to maintain, easier to back up, and allows you to transfer work to your website much more easily. It can be as simple as a set of organized directories and text files or as complex as a database that automatically updates to a website, but whichever way you choose make sure it is easy to update and back up.

Photographing your art

Unless you happen to be friends with a professional photographer, the best way to photograph your work is with a good digital camera. You will find excellent resources on the internet with advice on how to photograph art, but just experimenting with the settings on your digital camera will usually suffice. Make sure that you always photograph in good light without a flash and be sure to take multiple shots from different angles if your work is three dimensional

Creating a selection from your catalog

Catalog/gallery/showcase/portfolio? The lines are blurring more and more thanks to digital cameras and the internet. Whatever you call it, you will at some point wish to have a presentable selection of your best work that you can show to others. Many artists are choosing to use their website as their only portfolio, but if possible it is worth investing in getting a selection of your work printed.

Finally

The most important aspect of a catalogue is keeping it up to date, so keep this in mind when designing the system. It should not be too complex, or else you will avoid updating it. Try to have a mental habit that no work is complete until it is photographed and documented in your catalogue.

Understanding the Art World

Art WorldA few months ago  we began our investigation into life as a professional artist by debunking some basic stereotypes. This time around we’re going to lay out the basics of how the world of art works and how to deal with people within it.

Don’t expect miracles
The first thing to understand is that whether you are just out of art school or you have been producing art for decades, there are no shortcuts to success. It will take time and experience. There is no foolproof route that we can advise you to take, but one general rule does hold true: work outwards. Despite the internet, success almost always begins locally.

It is imperative that you establish yourself on the local arts scene first, which is precisely why we at Art eXposed have created a range of services that build connections between you and your local arts community. We link you up with local businesses, represent you at local arts shows, sponsor events and even organize entire shows to increase your visibility and boost your reputation in the community.

Dealing with people in the art industry
If you are an Art eXposed subscriber then a lot of the hard work in building a reputation in the local community is already done for you, but there is one thing that we can only provide advice on: dealing with people. The art world is all about people, and the more you talk to, the more success will come your way.

If you make an effort to attend local arts shows and events, you will no doubt meet gallery owners, dealers, buyers, critics and others who can help you in your career, but you must be prudent. These people are bombarded each day with new artists seeking the limelight, so you’ll do well to follow a few simple rules that will help you to gain their favour.

Do not annoy them
To begin with, accept that for the most part these people are far busier than you. If you are not of a genuine interest to them then you are a nuisance. Therefore, always hesitate before approaching anyone in the industry. Do not just walk up to them and introduce yourself as an artist looking to further your career.

Instead, you should talk to them about art. They got into this industry because they love art. Talk to them passionately and sincerely about art. Don’t be afraid to disagree with them, but do so without vitriol. Say that you just never understood a particular artist they admire, or that you don’t have much experience of them. Turn it around by asking what it is they like about them. If you are someone who doesn’t like any modern art, then consider that you might be in the wrong profession.

Understand their position
These people make money from art, and they need to know how you can make them money. This doesn’t mean you should boast about your latest sale, but that you must make it clear that you are not a mere dilettante. More than anything, they must see potential in you.

They make money by taking risks
Understand that if they take a chance on you it is a real risk for them. Even if no money is involved, their reputation is at stake. No-one wants to have a loose cannon on their hands that causes them embarrassment, so you must show that you are capable of having a long term professional relationship with them.

Finally
Remember, it will take time. Do not dream of overnight success because it simply will not happen. Learn about your local arts scene, utilise the Art eXposed services, and talk to other artists about what route they have taken to get where they are. Keep a constant lookout for new opportunities and when you see them, grab them. Finally, have no fear of rejection: you will not find a successful artist who has not experienced rejection.