Thursday, February 2, 2012

A marketing journey

Toward the end of last year, I decided that 2012 was going to be the year that I start treating my art like a business. Although I've sold a few paintings over the years, for the most part I've created art for my own enjoyment. I am at a point now where I'm confident my work is good enough to market.

There are so many avenues for marketing artwork: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, galleries, a website, blog, art groups, online art galleries, art festivals, competitions ... the list is seemingly endless. With so many options it's easy to get bogged down just trying to decide where to start. The other potential problem is starting too many marketing plans at the same time. To be effective, you need to try something for a period of time; starting too many things at the same time makes it impossible to know what works and what doesn't.

So I'm starting with Social Media. This is an easy, and inexpensive, way to get the word out. However, the problem with Social Media is that your outreach is limited by the number of "Friends" and "Likes" you have, subscribers to your website, your contact list, etc. With that in mind, I am also going to show my work at the Denver Art District's First Friday Art Walk. On the first Friday of every month over 60 galleries and studios are open in the evening so more people can visit. In warm weather, thousands of people attend Art Walk. In the winter, hundreds make the trek in the cold. Unfortunately, the weather forecasters are calling for a huge snowstorm tonight - dumping 12" to 18" of snow - and Art Walk may very well be canceled. That's disappointing, but fine. I'll do it again in March.

That's about all I can handle right now. Marketing is a lot of hard work and takes time away from the studio. Still, if you want to be a successful artist - however you define that term - it is something that has to be done.

Happy painting!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A slow start

I'm at a dangerous place in my studio. I've finished the projects I was working on without an idea for something new. As a professional writer, I understand writer's block. I have been writing for so many years that I've come up with strategies to overcome it.

My art is different. Although I've been painting most of my life, I recently sold my business and it's only been the last year or so that I've worked on my art full-time. When I get to an "in between" place I become afraid that my creativity has left for good. Fear, of course, is the biggest de-motivator and inspiration-stealing emotion we live with. Even though I understand that, I'm not confident enough to not be afraid when I'm between projects.

I normally work on at least two paintings at a time. I try to start something new while I still have something to finish. There was just something about the end of the year, the holidays, exhaustion, etc. that kept me from doing that.

So what should I do? 
  • I'm going to stop being afraid. I have been at this long enough, and have a big enough body of work, to know I'm creative.
  • I'm going to give myself some time to process what I accomplished in 2011 before starting 2012. I had a greater out put of work in 2011 – 33 paintings – than I have in the last few years combined.
  • I'm going to take some time to read. I get so focused on the art that I stop reading. Reading is inspirational whether it's a book on art or an artist, or something I just enjoy.
  • I'm going to visit our art museum. I haven't been for more than a year – which is unusual for me – and I am always inspired by other people's work.
  • I'm going to stop worrying. I'm going to "let it go, let it flow." This, of course, is easier said than done, but the more I stop myself from going there, the easier it gets.
Being an artist is difficult enough without sabatoging myself with doubt, fear and worry. So it's January 7th. So what. It's not time to panic, I have 358 more days to create art.

Happy painting,
Susan L Stewart