Focusing on organic growth in art marketing is nothing new, but there’s no amount of paid placement that can substitute for an artist in tune with their style who can express themselves eloquently and whose artwork has heads turning. In addition to our past work asking art dealers key points artists should consider when speculating on their art sales (or lack thereof), we touched base with mid-career artists to learn about how artists can grow a new and/or expanded collector base by identifying what’s missing in art marketing strategies and considering what steps they can take to make sure their artworks are speaking to audiences who will become new patrons. We’ve reviewed artists’ insights on how genuine, organic art marketing can build greater exposure and more gravitas around an artist’s practice.
Build Loyalty via Authentic Art Marketing
Award-winning artist Olympio has built a loyal following and collector base in the US and internationally. Originating from Togo, the artist moved from this West Coast African country to Minneapolis in the Midwest United States before finally landing in Los Angeles, his current home. With patrons in France, the US and farther afield, Olympio understands the importance of genuine connections in building a mystique and affinity for an artist’s work. In terms of approaching marketing, Olympio shows that having one’s artistic priorities intact is what is really key to unlocking new collectors – and sales potential. “As an artist, first you have to only worry about becoming yourself as an artist,” observes Olympio. “It’s really important because when something is genuine then people can feel it. Express yourself, be original through your art. Have to remember that art is not a movement: it is deeply personal. You are the style. This is the most important factor. Become yourself, then you can try to expose your work.” Authenticity is key in gaining higher visibility in the art world, particularly in an industry fraught with Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and Basquiat look-alikes (learn some tips here about how to avoid becoming a reductive art copycat.)
Olympio also points out the importance of building a definable personality: become a person about whom studio visitors, collectors and other artists can meet and take away memories, remembering positive, stylish attributes. “Be prepared for visitors to studio: just have your art available, have tequila ready if you like tequila, if you drink tea then offer tea: have things around that reflect your personality.” There’s a reason why Salvador Dali had his remarkable mustache in images and Yayoi Kusama is immortalized in bright red wigs: having a memorable physical attribute and/or a uniquely personal style in addition to a unique, authentic artistic practice will make waves with others and leave a lingering impression.
Finally, the artist points out that having the high esteem of your artist peers can go a long way in keeping you on an upward trajectory. “Join associations with other artists. Hang around with other artists – don’t go pay other people to do this marketing and that project for you: rather, it is important (especially in the beginning) to grow organically. To be successful finding other opportunities, go out there to art shows and be yourself.”
Friendly advice around securing your visibility in a crowded market, yet tried and true as well!
From Personal Style to Art Marketing & Sales Success
Telling your story through your artwork is as crucial as explaining your artistic evolution and current attention in the art world to potential art collectors. Art marketing starts with how you explain yourself as an artist, detailing the path you have chosen yourself and tracing your pivotal growth points and career highlights. Unless you’re able to communicate why your work matters and how your personal struggles and triumphs are embodied within your work, finding new and passionate collectors of your work will be an uphill battle. By allowing others to buy into your story and understand why it is meaningful that you’ve made it to where you are today, and see the potential you have in the future through the lens of how far you’ve already made it, collectors and patrons can become personally invested both in an artist’s practice and their artistic evolution. Many collectors want to see their artist’s personalities and personal experiences as integral to the collections they amass, and artists can do their part by investing in developing personal relationships with fans and collectors. Organic art marketing can take artists to new heights once their audience begins sharing news about them. By gaining converts and collectors en masse, suddenly every interview or positive announcement is magnified as those invested in the artist’s future will make sure these achievements are featured across social media channels and through word-of-mouth.
As an artist’s work begins to feature in more private and public collections, and/or gain more awards, those in the press will take note and find ways to capitalize on an artist’s success by featuring them in interviews and/or on “Top — Under –“ lists. By making your case as an artist of note known to those in other creative disciplines, such as film, music and fashion, artists can expand their reach and exposure, sharing their success by partnering with other burgeoning creatives and empowering both themselves and others who are budding stars in their field. From visual artists partnering with Solange to street artists whose work becomes the focus point of cutting-edge documentary films, by gaining prominence in creative circles outside of the fine arts market artists will show potential fans they are not afraid to think outside of the box, express a unique personality and have the opportunity to feature their personal journey alongside their compelling, highly individual artwork.
Collectors will be drawn to purchase work from artists who impress them, not only with the genuine nature of their artwork, but with an expanded network and aptitude for staying in the conversation across different cultural landscapes. Make sure that your work is relevant across a wider swath of cultural fields, and you’ve just guaranteed a greater visibility for your artistic practice – and higher probability of new sales and collector devotees!
Share your personal authenticity! What about your artwork makes you unique, and how have you shared this with a new group of potential collectors – or with individual fans of your work?