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.

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Keeping it all going

If you have been implementing the advice and tips given here over the last year you have hopefully seen some positive changes. Even if it is no more than a change in your attitude towards your work, that is a big start. The way to become a professional and successful artist is to act like one first. For the last in this series we’re going to look at how to keep the momentum up.

Don’t get ahead of yourself

Just because you’ve had a little success and gained some experience does not mean you should be paying less attention to developing your business skills. You should always be pushing for more. If you’ve been accepted into one gallery, use it as encouragement to try out for others, not as an excuse to kick back and relax. Keep entering new competitions, attending new events, talking to new people and seeking out new ways to get your work out there.

Staying professional

We have stressed many times the importance of acting professionally as an artist, and hopefully you have put some of our advice to practical use. However, for many artists the novelty of acting in a business-like fashion soon wears off and they slip back into their student routines. Don’t get caught in this trap.

Being professional actually becomes more important as you grow as an artist. When you are starting out it is easy to remember meetings and deadlines because you have so few and they are so important to you. With a growth in your profile and success, however, you will see an exponential growth in your contacts and communications. It can be scary, but never bury your head in the sand.

Keep a diary of your appointments and a database of your contacts. In your contacts database you should keep as much information about that person as possible: where you met, what you talked about, what agreements you made etc. They too have chaotic lives so will often need a gentle reminder as to who you are.

Never upset current relationships

Even if you’re sure that something big is coming along, some better gallery has accepted your work or you have an upcoming exhibition, never upset your current relationships – you never know when you’ll need them again.

Behaving professionally

If you do have a show or an exhibition of your work, congratulations! It is indescribably satisfying to have people gathered together to see and discuss your art, but you must maintain your professionalism. It is a huge opportunity to further your career, and how you behave will have a direct effect upon it.

Don’t get drunk

It is tempting to treat the show as a party, especially if everyone else is. However, you are the host and the star simultaneously, so all attention will be on you. Nothing ends a show quicker than an inebriated artist, and you can be sure it will stay in the minds of everyone for all the wrong reasons.

Be amiable with everyone

Don’t sit in the corner with your friends and family just because they’re the only people you know there. Everyone knows who you are and will be interested to meet you. Yes, you will have to repeat the same things over and over again all night, but each time it should sound fresh, as if they are the first people to ask that question.

Don’t snub anyone just because you don’t think they can help your career. If nothing else, a buyer could be anyone in the room; but more significantly, darting from one important looking person to another makes you appear to be an ingratiating fraud. Engage people in sincere conversation about art and you will find yourself attracting people rather than repelling them.

Don’t argue

A heated argument creates as bad an atmosphere as drunkenness. If you find yourself disagreeing with someone on the end of a barbed comment about your work, contain yourself and walk away. Even if you win the argument it will be counter productive. Also, if someone thinks something positive about your art that you don’t agree with, don’t tell them they are wrong. Simply say you had never seen it that way and be happy that they did.

Finally

As you go forth in your career as a professional artist, always continue to refine your business skills. Make as many friends as possible, don’t burn your bridges, stay positive, and keep utilizing the opportunities that ArteXposed offers to their fullest. Good luck!

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

Getting into a gallery

Dean's DisplayWhen most artists think of selling their work, they think of galleries. Despite the fact that they will take up to fifty percent of your profit, it feels far more prestigious and professional than selling on the street or over the internet. However, for many artists too used to rejection it can seem an illusory task. If you feel like you’re always on the outside looking in, the chances are that it is your approach that is wrong, not your work.

The process

Research galleries first

The first step is research to find galleries most likely to accept your work. Art fairs are excellent for this. Each gallery has a different stand where you can admire a selection of the work they sell. You can talk with the owners about your own work and make valuable contacts

Another option is to research galleries on the internet. Most galleries will have websites, and the reach of the internet means that you may find opportunities in foreign galleries that specialize in art from other cultures. Be cautious of anyone willing to accept your work without seeing it first though.

Make a shortlist of ten galleries

Out of the thousands of galleries worldwide, why only ten? Surely it is better to buy a large mailing list and apply to as many as possible to increase your chances? If you’re considering that route, just ask yourself how many unsolicited spam emails you reply to. If an email is not targeted at you and your needs, you won’t take any interest; the same is true in applying to galleries.

Your best chance of being accepted is to focus yourself on the ten galleries you are most likely to get into. Visit the galleries. Get to know who makes the decisions there and their personal tastes. What kind of people are buying there? You need to find as much out as much as possible about each gallery in order to carefully tailor your application for the maximum chance of acceptance.

Create a professionally designed and printed mailer

Your next step is to create your mailer: a small brochure of your work. It is well worth paying a professional designer if you do not have the skills to do it yourself. It should be clean and elegant and include: a small selection of your work; your artistic statement; a brief biography; and of course contact details. Visit your local printers and get them to do a fairly small print run of less than a hundred

Send the mailer off to the galleries with a personalized introductory letter

If you’ve researched the gallery well enough you should be able to write an introductory letter that addresses someone by name (no “dear sir/madam”) and mentions any previous contact with them. Send the letter with your printed mailer and include a business card too if you have one.

Wait….

The final step is to sit back and wait. Do not expect an immediate reply, but if no-one has got back to you within two weeks it is fine to give them a call to check they received it. If you are asked to visit them to discuss things further, be prepared for a shock. The gallery will usually take around fifty percent of the sale price, and you will normally be asked to frame your own work. This can be expensive, but is well worth getting done professionally.

And repeat…

Rejected by all ten galleries? Simply go through the process with another ten, making sure to take as much care as the first time. Hopefully you will have gained some experience that will serve you better the second time around. Persevere. If you wish to apply to the same gallery you should wait at least six months before doing so.

How to keep the ball rolling

You should always be prudent when dealing with galleries, since a good relationship with one can last a lifetime. The best advice is to get on friendly terms with all the people who work there. Do not resent the fact that they are making money out of your work, you should be happy about it. Do not argue with them about price or tell them they are doing their job wrong. Remember that they are professionals, and that any hassle you cause them costs them time and money. Finally, drop by occasionally to see how everything is going. Be casual and friendly, take their advice with grace, and you should be fine.

Selling your art

This month we look at the basics of how to sell your art, but before getting into details it’s worth thinking about why people buy art in the first place. The serious buyers willing to pay higher prices generally buy art as an investment, so it should be evident that the more future potential you offer, the higher the price you can sell for. The general public will often buy lower priced work just to hang on their walls, but they should not be ignored because of this, since they can keep you going through the tough times.

Agents

The agent will typically take around thirty percent of your profit, but a good agent will work hard for that money. However, artists who display in galleries already lose up to fifty percent of their profit to the gallery, so you can understand their reluctance to give away any more money to an agent.

Consultants

An art consultant is an industry insider who will, for a fee, give you advice on your work and how to take it further. This can be extremely useful if you are not getting the success you think you deserve, but the price can be prohibitive. Talk to your fellow artists and find out if any of them know of a good local consultant.

Places to sell your work

The options of where to sell your work are really limited only by your imagination. Anywhere it can be displayed there is the potential of a sale. Galleries are obviously your first choice and we will be discussing them next month, but for now you shouldn’t be averse to other opportunities even if they don’t seem quite so prestigious.

Open studio

The open studio is becoming more and more popular. It simply involves allowing the public free access to your studio where you have a range of your art on display. Some artists find it a distraction or an invasion of their privacy, but it can work very well. Even if you don’t choose to allow public access, you should still keep a clean and tidy studio with priced work hanging on the walls. If someone important shows an interest in your work it means you can invite them back to your studio to see it first hand.

The internet

The global reach of the internet makes it a tempting option for selling your work, but you should remember that selling art is different to selling goods online. Most people will want to see the art before buying, or at least know the artist’s work well enough to know what they’re getting.

Art eXposed provides an easy means for artists to get exposure on the Internet. Working with the Art eXposed professionals, artists receive different types of promotional packages that suit their needs; from the ability to catalog their artwork in searchable databases on the Internet to a Public Relations Toolkit that provides them with the resources (news releases, media alerts, letters) to reach the media and organizations that can further support/endorse their efforts.

Another option is to simply sell giclee prints of your work. They are easily shippable and relatively low cost, so can be a nice way of supplementing your income. Make sure to use a specialized giclee printer and, as ever, talk to other artists about their experience.

Public buildings

Cafes, restaurants, bars, hotel lobbies and the like are always looking for work to hang on their walls. There are many artists who make their living exclusively from selling in these sorts of places, so there’s no need to feel any shame. What’s important is that the work is on display, not where it is. Try to make sure that the work has your name, a price and telephone number. If not possible then at least make sure the people who work there have your contact details

Maintaining integrity

You will only sell your art if you put time and effort into finding ways to sell it, but don’t become obsessed. Art shouldn’t feel like work, you should always be enjoying it no matter what you’re producing. However, if you find a certain style of painting sells well but you don’t think its worth much artistically, bite your tongue and keep producing them; in the end, you will always be judged by your best work.

Getting interest in your art

However good your art, it is worthless if not on display. If your studio is currently cluttered with unsold works stacked in piles then the time is right to start getting it out there. Where it is on display really matters far less than most artists think. There is no point in holding out to have it displayed in some prestigious gallery when you are losing opportunities elsewhere.

We will be discussing getting your work into galleries in two months time, but because it takes time to achieve this it is worthwhile looking at other immediate actions you can take to get your art out in public.

Places to display your art for free

The options of where to display your art are limited only by the number of empty walls in the country. You should constantly be on the lookout for places where your art would enhance the atmosphere and where it would be exposed to large numbers of people.

Your Studio

Keeping a range of your work hanging in your studio should be mandatory for the artist just starting out. The cost is negligible compared to the opportunities it can bring. It is also an excellent place to sell work from, which we’ll discuss next month. Treat your studio like a gallery, neat and clean with the work well organized and hung on the walls.

Events

Events, shows and exhibitions of all types are often interested in having art on display if they don’t have to pay for it. Keep track of any upcoming events in your area and approach the organizers with your portfolio, explaining why you think your art would enhance their event. Another effective way is to form a combined show with artists from different disciplines. Jazz music and abstract art are a common example, but try to think of a novel combination that your work would harmonize with.

Donating artwork

If you have spare work lying around your studio that is not likely to be sold, consider giving it away to cafes, restaurants, hotels, hospitals and any other public buildings you can think of. This is not the same as selling your work in these places, since many will not allow this. You are giving them the work permanently, and the only thing you ask is that your name and preferably website address are clearly on display. This can be a very effective way of getting your art noticed because of the volume of people who will be exposed to it each day.

Competitions

Art competitions are organized up and down the country by foundations, corporations and individuals. The prestige of a competition is best judged by the prize money being given out, but at first you should try to enter as many as possible whether prestigious or not. It not only gets interest in your art, but is also an excellent way of meeting people, gaining credibility and possibly earning a little money.

Grants and awards

Grants and awards give money and opportunities to promising new talent. They vary greatly in how they are run: some are nothing more than cash in hand, others offer training courses. They can be an excellent addition to your resume, and many also offer promotional opportunities. Always be wary of any grants or awards schemes run through the internet. If they ask for more than thirty dollars to apply then you should consider them a scam.

Promotional video

If you take a particularly novel approach to creating your art that would be of interest to the public then have a short video made of yourself producing it. You can send it off to galleries, put it onto your website and have it on display at your exhibitions. It gives people who know little about art something to talk about in discussing your work. You can even try sending it off to a local television network or newspaper.

Finally

The number of people who see your art is directly proportional to the price you can sell for, so get as much out there as possible especially in the local community. Just remember to make sure your name and contact details are clearly displayed alongside.

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.