Whether artists likes it or not, they must engage in art marketing to build a following and gain access to new opportunities. Half the job of an artist is sharing one’s artistic practice and building interest in this work in order to access new opportunities ranging from exhibitions, sales, grants, and residencies, to publications and much more. Marketing one’s art is as critical as making the work itself, and consistency is at the center of any strong art marketing plan.
Curators, collectors, and dealers need to quickly identify an artist’s brand and recognize your work when they see it online and in real life at galleries and art fairs. Unifying one’s brand across a personal website, and email marketing and social media channels will make one’s work that much more identifiable. While it can feel a little yucky to think of an artistic practice as a “brand”, in reality, commercially successful artists are also brands. Artists create work with a consistent style and voice that is recognizable as their own. When visiting artists’ various online channels, the imagery and visual style you see should be consistent. This results in visitors immediately understanding exactly whose work they’re looking at. But can an artist ensure a consistent art marketing brand across all of these outlets?
Art Marketing 101: Brand Identity
Creating brand identity through a name and typeface are crucial. Select an artist nom de plume and stick to it. Studio practices do not require cute or gimmicky names: in fact, the best method is for one’s practice be clearly identified by the creative’s name in question. Whatever the final name, keep it consistent. For example, don’t use a nickname on an artist website but a different social media handle altogether. Don’t go back and forth between names as this will only confuse viewers. Skip a logo and instead invest time into deciding the typeface for use on an artist’s website and across email marketing and other materials. Choose a font that is easy to read online, isn’t dated or flowery, and is timeless, rather than hyper-trendy (yes, there are font trends!). Having a font that is consistent across website and email headings, as well as CV and other materials, will serve as enough of a logo for anyone to present themselves effectively.
Don’t spread things too thin across social media. Start out by identifying which art marketing channels make the most sense in relation to specific artistic practices and find out which platform has the best art marketing target audience reach. Don’t dilute the messaging by posting across too many art marketing channels. It’s just too much for one individual to do effectively. For most visual artists a focus on Instagram as a top priority, followed by Facebook, best serve as art marketing for an artist’s practice. However, other art marketing channels like Twitter or LinkedIn may also prove beneficial depending on one’s practice. For example, the comic arts industry has heavy engagement on Twitter, so having a strong presence there is important. Whichever ones are identified as the best channels to direct art marketing energy toward, be sure to reassess them periodically because things change quickly in the social media space.
Simplifying an Artist Image
Keep it simple. There are a lot of ways to waste time, energy, and money on art marketing and promotion — engaging in too much social media, overthinking your branding scheme, making an overly-complicated website. Approaching an artistic practice like a business will help to gauge the amount of time and energy needed to achieve real results. Figure out ways to limit energy input while still maximizing your results. Find a cheap, or even free, website builder like Wix, Squarespace, Other People’s Pixels, or Indexhibit, instead of hiring a web designer that will cost money every time the website needs an update. Limit social media channels, and create a clean, understated visual brand cross-platform that doesn’t detract from the artworks being featured — the work itself should always be the focus, not a flashy logo. If unsure of design skills and capability, best to go super-basic and stick with Helvetica or Arial for an artist’s website, email newsletters, and printed material.
Images, images images. It’s all about the pictures shared across an art marketing space. Post images of finished works, work in progress, studio space, inspiring reading or viewing materials, images at events and openings — anything that shows engagement with the wider arts community. These images need to consistent in style, voice, and presentation. The most successful Instagram feeds deliver a consistent style in terms of color palette, framing and white space, and subject matter. Viewers know they can come across specific artists on their Instagram newsfeed and get exactly what they’re expecting. Change things up, but within the limits of consistency. Think about this Instagram feed as casual art-marketing-channel-as-online-exhibition that can change over time. Avoid Instagram filters to prevent interference with the true aesthetics ad color palette of an existing artistic practice. Be consistent in post-production changes, and the reward will be a consistent Instagram presence. For example, for images with contrast and a white border, keep the dimensions the same across each and every post. Apps like Preview will allow you to view and organize your Instagram feed easily before you post images. These types of apps are extremely useful for managing not only the visual look of your feed but also the time you spend posting! Finally, feel free to use Artrepreneur as a platform for artistic images to live, linking out to press clippings, personal websites and more – not only will images be listed for free, there are ample opportunities to enroll in open call contests, apply for creative opportunities and even receive new “followers” engaging with the work on view!
Art marketing can feel overwhelming, and sometimes it can be hard to know exactly where to begin. Start small with one channel (your website first) and get it up to speed, and once happy with it, build on that one channel. Over time it will all become more manageable, the hard part will be done, and it will be easy just get back to the studio and make new work!
Have any tips on how to conquer the art marketing sphere through actionable advice and easy and quick changes? Add relevant thoughts and advice here in the comments below!