Marketing for Self-Taught Artists
Q: I've been painting for 20 years mainly for my own personal enjoyment, but people kept telling me how much they liked me art. So I started selling about two years ago and have made a little over $10000 since by promoting and marketing my paintings totally on my own. I've never taken any art courses and don't have a lot of confidence in myself, so I price pretty low. Reading articles in art magazines and online about the art world and about art galleries is pretty intimidating. It seems like you can't be a true artist without going to art school, having years of fine arts courses at the college level, and getting a degree. Any suggestions on what to do?
A: Most people feel just as intimidated as you do about the art world. Many are even afraid to do something as simple as set foot inside an art gallery. At the same time, however, the overwhelming majority of people like art and would own it if they found something nice that they felt comfortable about buying. This is where you come in. (You educated artists might pay a little attention here too.)
In a way, you have an advantage over the "intimidating" aspects of the art world and the formalities of art galleries because you're not intimidating. You know how to paint, can relate to everyday people, speak a language that they understand, and they like your art enough to buy it. You can't ask for much more than that. So far, you've made a modest amount of sales without having to travel among the "intimidators" and that's even better.
Your self-esteem, on the other hand, could use a boost. Understand that how you acquire your skills, what you choose to paint, what your art looks like, and how you present yourself and market your art are entirely up to you. Your art world persona is whatever you want it to be, not what you think it should be or what the so-called art world wants it to be. There are no rules governing who is or who is not an artist, how or where to sell art, or how much your art is worth. You're good, people like your art, you're selling, and you can't do much better than that.
For you to feel guilty about charging higher prices because you haven't taken art classes or don't have a diploma is ridiculous. Plenty of artists without formal training or educations experience high levels of success and charge plenty for their art. So if you're selling pretty much everything you paint within a reasonable period of time, think seriously about bumping your prices maybe 10% or maybe somewhat more. The only thing you should be concerned about is raising prices too high too fast for your biggest fans to afford. You know your market best, so you decide what you think those new higher levels should be.
As for increasing your sales, do a little survey. Ask people why they like your art, why they buy it, and where they think you might be able to sell more of it. Find out what they like about you personally, about how you present yourself and your art, and then capitalize on those positives. Use their feedback to develop a basic strategy or marketing plan in order to attract new collectors that incorporates all the good things people say about you. In addition, ask for referrals to other collectors or to local businesses that might be interested in letting you show your work. Also check with local arts organizations to see whether you can participate in outdoor art fairs, open studios, group shows, and other opportunities to present your work. In short, get yourself out there and stop wasting time on perceived inadequacies; you've got the ability to produce good art and that's that.
The most important thing is to believe in yourself and to be confident about your accomplishments. Don't sell yourself short and for sure don't feel like you're less of an artist because you've perfected your skills without formal education or training. In fact, it's more like the opposite-- you being "more" of an artist because you're talented enough to achieve success entirely on your own-- without help from others. People who buy art could care less about where you went to art school or how many diplomas you have. They're looking for one thing and one thing only-- good art. As far as you're concerned, creating art brings joy to your life and selling it brings joy to the lives of others. That's called success and it's pretty much what being an artist is all about.
Services for Artists and Collectors
- Art Consulting From Me Helps You >>