Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


Tuesday’s Business: Promoting Yourself

Now that you’ve put together some of the components of your business plan, you have to think about how you’re going to promote yourself if you are not doing so already. How else will you reach your target market? Yes, promoting yourself can be scary, especially for us artists who tend to be introverted. But I can assure you that once you’ve promoted yourself, each successive one gets easier.

So acknowledge the butterflies in your stomach, don’t run and hide, and give it a try.

The Portfolio

In terms of promoting yourself, the portfolio refers to all those items you currently use to promote yourself. This might include letterhead, business cards, an artist statement, a resume, a biography, images of your work, brochures or spec sheets, a web site, blog, or Flickr site, and a cohesive body of work.

Considering the above list, what items do you currently use to promote yourself? Are there items in this list that you haven’t considered? For those items that you do use, how do you use them?

Do you carry business cards with you at all times? Do you take pictures of new work as soon as it is completed and upload it to your web site or blog or Flickr site? Do you send announcements to your mailing list on your new work?

One of the big considerations when promoting yourself is consistency in design and information. This includes developing a logo, if desired, and using the same font across all your promotional materials. Consistency gives you a cohesive look.

Choose a font that is legible and not too funky. Keep in mind that what might look groovy in print may not translate well when viewed on screen (and vice versa.) Keep in mind too who your target market is; radical or grungy or cutting edge promotional materials may go over well with urban customers/collectors but not suburban or rural customers/collectors. Think about your body of work. Is there a font that captures or compliments the essence of the body of work.

Once you’ve decided upon a consistent look for your promotional materials, remember to update them on a regular basis. You want to be prepared for those dream opportunities.

Name Recognition

Another aspect to promoting yourself is building name recognition. The idea here is that the more people relate to you, the more they will be interested in your art. So how does one build name recognition?

The simplest way is that customer mailing list. Start one if you haven’t already and if you do have one remember to update it regularly. Now I admit this is one of my weak areas. I have a customer mailing list, but I typically use it only to promote shows. And with the fluctuating economy, I’m doing fewer and fewer shows. So where does that leave my customer mailing list…other than collecting virtual dust?

Recently I put together a new product announcement in Word, converted it into a PDF, and emailed it to several gallery customers. To my pleasant surprise it garnered one new order. Mailing lists can work for you because it keeps your name and work in front of the customer/collector. Again the key here is consistency and finding an acceptable frequency. This could range from monthly to quarterly, depending on how prolific you are in creating your art.

Think about how you can use your mailing list other than show or open studio announcements. Do you have upcoming exhibit? Perhaps you recently received recognition or an award? Has a trip or book influenced your work? These are all bits of information you can share with people on your mailing list via email announcements or postcards.

Other ways to build name recognition is to join community art groups, teach, provide demonstrations, blog, write articles and put together short videos. And don’t forget press releases.

Promotional Goals

In our Art Salon, Alyson Stanfield provided the following list of promotional goals for artists to consider. Choose the ones that are most applicable to you.

Creating a mailing list
Send out mailings
Develop a newsletter
Meeting influential people
Writing articles about your work
Exhibition entries
Grant applications
Teaching and/or demonstrations
Public talks
Open studios
Gallery representation
Web site

And I’ll add:

Squidoo lens
Informative videos
Local cable access program

As artists in the 21st century, we have many exciting and challenging options when it comes to promoting ourselves. You may have to try a few before finding one that works well. And keep in mind that multiple formats of promotion are better than one. Think out of the box and get creative.