Saturday, November 18, 2006

marketing ... again


I wish I had the marketing gene. I understand the attraction of a marketing career -- it can require the kind of ingenuity and creativity that so many other jobs lack -- but there are only so many vessels for my obsessiveness, and marketing's not one.

It doesn't mean that I don't think about it. I visited this blog today that links to about 20 painting-a-day blogs. Once again I came face to face with the realisation that these guys are making a killing: painting tiny paintings, posting them on their blogs and linking them to eBay where some can command $300+ for each one -- and get it.

These are good paintings, very professional, but some are much smaller than my small art paintings and most command much higher prices. Is it that they already have an established client base, or is it that the most successful ones paint crowd-favourite subject matter (landscapes and still lives) in a realistic or impressionist style? Maybe they have a direct line to on-line buyers that I don't, especially if I just let my other blog hang around out there and don't promote it. It started well, but interest has petered out while I attend to other things, like larger work.

Over the past few months I have also noticed that something I discovered last year has been proven over and over again: there is no art buyer's demographic. There often even seems to be an inverse relationship. For example, if you're a professional, educated person with no (dependent) kids and some disposable income, have some art education and like to paint or do something creative in your spare time, guess what? You won't buy art. I'm sure there are those who do, but I can name several people that fit that description and never buy art. Go figure.

Then there are the people who love beautiful things -- music, painting, photography -- in spite of education/income/socio-economic status: mortgaged to the hilt, but with a few well-chosen and well-loved pieces of original art on the wall. These are people who seem to embrace life and take risks. I love that.

Finally, my brother told me yesterday how someone he knows was recently advised not to go into the arts "because you can't make any money at it." He didn't say anything (even though he makes his living as a storyboard artist) but his first thought was that the poor, misguided soul has no understanding of passion or what makes life worth living. But wouldn't it be great to be both happy and financially secure? Hmmm. Must think more about marketing...


Anonymous B-man said...

Hey! I know all about marketing.... I better cause I have spent... well you know how it goes, I'm some 6 years into paying off the 'from infinity to beyond' student loan that I took out to answer the very same questions you pose.

And so to save you (and everyone here) the time, expense, and near infinite grief associated with acquiring a business degree - here are the only three things you need to know to be financially secure forever:

The correct answer to ANY question is:
"It depends..."

'Debits' are closer to the window... (requisite accountant humour...ha ha....phtttt!)

and 3.
Marketing made easy:
If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying, “Circus is coming to Fairgrounds Sunday,” that’s Advertising.

If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk him through town, that’s a Promotion.

If the elephant walks through the Mayor’s flower bed, that’s Publicity.

If you can get the Mayor to laugh about it, that’s Public Relations.

If you can get the Mayor to come to your big-top and give you money to see the elephant that ruined his garden - that's Sales.

And, if you planned the whole thing, that’s Marketing!
- Author Unknown

So obviously - all you need to do oh tall blonde creative one, is buy an elephant.... or perhaps paint one????


18/11/06 11:09 PM  
Blogger Alina Chau said...

beautiful as always!

19/11/06 12:51 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

I like Eden it has a strong archetypal feel to me.

I think you are right that one of the reasons the small art people you mentioned are selling well is that they are doing crowd-pleasers. If that is what they love to paint then they are lucky to have hit on something that is true to their muse and easily sellable.

Have you put any paintings on e-bay to find out what they'd get there?

19/11/06 2:30 AM  
Blogger Ces said...

Andrea, I once read in the Wall Street journal about these cruise ships selling Thomas Kincaid's art work for $50 to $250 grand. Of course the article also talked about the snobbery of the real art afficionado, the curators, the museums and the academics. It is very easy to make money from painting by painting the things people like to buy. My neighbor, also a painter has not sold any of his "passion" paintings but decided to make a cheesy painting of a woman with big butt wearing a bikini and the men asked him how much he was selling it and they were interested. Park decided he wanted to sell it through his agent instead. I was horrified that three men wanted to but it. It was bad art and Park knew it too and he was smiling because he realised he discovered a market.

Ugh! when I was 15 ready to go to univeristy my mother redirected me to a "proper" professional path. I went to the college of nursing instead of the college of fine arts. It's a long story.

I have no words of wisdom for you. I am a starving artist. It's a good thing I wear a suit Monday to Friday or I would be destitute.

19/11/06 5:00 AM  
Blogger Toni said...

Andrea I hear you. I go to all these sites trying to figure out the best approach. I think it took time for these artists to build up a client base. I would love to be able to paint something everyday but my schedule just does not allow it now. I'm working on it. Wish i knew more for you.

19/11/06 5:40 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I know what you mean. I'm not an artist, but I've tried to become a freelance writer with only minimal financial gain. As much as I love writing for interesting magazines like Cahoots, it doesn't pay the bills.

Speaking of which, the painting in this post is one of my favourites. Is it still for sale? I'm thinking that if I can get paid for another article (what I usually consider my fun money), I may come calling...

19/11/06 6:40 AM  
Blogger Angela Rockett said...

Sing it, sister. I agree with you about the "poor, misguided soul."

I wrestle with these issues too (I'm pretty sure all artists do), and the only conclusion I've come to is to not let it rule me. When I start thinking too hard about all these things anb other people's successes, and how so-and-so has sold work on Etsy or e-Bay, so what am I doing wrong?, I have to shake myself and stop the madness or I go into a non-productive funk, which just spirals downward. I'm learning how to do this by trying to remind myself what I'm truly trying to accomplish with my art. I love getting paid for my work, and I'd love to be financially secure, but not at the expense of my true artistic expression, or I'd have stayed on the path to becoming an illustrator, or even just have kept my day job.

I'm not articulating this very well, but I hope it makes some sense.

Also, you should know, I've been envious of how well you do market yourself, and wonder where you get the energy.

19/11/06 8:31 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

B-man: Done. And clearly, since the elephant in the mayor's flowerbed is the one I like best, I have an alternate career as a publicist waiting for me in the wings. It's got to be more lucrative than this gig. Hey -- I was wondering about you guys a couple days ago. Hope all is well on the rock.

Alina: thanks!

Caroline: Damn, I think you're right. I wish I was without imagination, too :). (OK -- I know -- un-called for.) As for eBay, my attempts have not been too successful. Etsy is a better venue for art in my opinion. Hmmm -- maybe I should work on that shop for awhile and add a couple more items.

Ces: It makes me just about friggin' crazy to read what Kinkaid gets for his work. We're doing a sad job of educating people aesthetically/visually if that's the product for which people will trot out the big money. As for Park: smart guy in his way. If he decides to exploit that niche he'll free himself up financially to do what he really wants. I've tried that -- it doesn't work for me. It makes me angry when I'm not painting what I want to paint, so I only do it in very small doses. Finally, my mother tried to 'guide me' also. It worked for awhile as I became a teacher, then I imploded.

Toni: You sell in the same kinds of circles as me (looking forward to seeing you in an on-line shop or blog) so your observations are very valuable. Keep making them, please!

Heather: If my husband wasn't pulling down enough money to keep us afloat in this expensive city I'd still be teaching ... and probably on a cocktail of antidepressants. I liked teaching but I'm a type A person in extremis so was simply overloaded on stress, especially as he works long hours and travels, making me often like a single parent. I do count my blessings. The painting's for sale on my small art blog, so get those fingers flying over that keyboard, woman! Need some ideas? :) Seriously, writing is my second interest as art seems to be yours, and they are both solitary, creative activities, so I get your angle totally.

Angela: Yours was the perfect comment to read last as you know from whence I speak. You are 100% right and you expressed it very clearly. And I envy you your ability to stay true to your vision and create a whole solo show worth of related work. I can be so fragmented and flaky sometimes! My current goal is to be in your position: to have a large enough body of work to show together in a reputable gallery and *get reviewed*. On that note, I have a 36" x 36" on my easel that's not painting itself...

19/11/06 11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, I read your blog and relate so very much to every word. I loved reading the perspective of B-man too - what a great way to simplify things and even make it funny to think about! That's a great alternative to the heaps of stress I can sometimes attach to anything that is not art or family related - finances for example.

Being sincere in my efforts to really DO this, make a living from my art, part of it is inevitably dealing with the business side of things. Oh how great it would be if we could all be assigned a "staff" - accountant, manager, marketing team, etc.. Yes, please, where do I sign up!?

One thing's for sure in my mind about aquiring buyers as a contemporary artist - trying to do anything but what your heart wants you to do won't help business, in fact, it will hurt it. People interested in contemporary art want to see the real you, and YOU are one of the best artists to illustrate that! I loved reading about your resistance to paint anything but what you want to paint. Bravo!

For me, I feel like the return buyers I have are more like friends. I know it sounds corny, but it's true! I think it's the honesty of the art they are buying that sets the tone for both of us to feel comfortable speaking "real" with each other right away, even if it's just via emails.

Always love returning here for your wonderful writing and dazzling art!

19/11/06 11:17 AM  
Blogger Jana Bouc said...

I was thrilled to read your post today and all of the comments of your readers. I could relate to everything said, and it's all stuff I think about often. You are one of the artists I look up to as someone who does good honest successful marketing and paints work that is true to her heart and that is beautiful, unique and should be appealing to anyone with eyeballs.

I think there just aren't that many people who buy art (especially with the increase in availability of high quality giclee type prints on canvas that look like originals). Like you said, there's the high end snobs who only buy cutting edge (ugly/scary) paintings and the low end Kinkaid buyers, with a smaller group of intelligent independent buyers inbetween.

I heard a great art marketing story yesterday. A woman I know's daughter is a beautiful young NYU MFA student who's boyfriend's parents own French Vogue. She convinced them to sponsor and publish a book on an art show that she has arranged of the top 15 young NY artists (that she picked including herself) to be held in Florida during the week all the rich New Yorkers and others go to Miami for a week of art buying. She met Sean Lennon at a party and he agreed to perform at the opening. Now that's art marketing!

I just learned of a Yahoo group that is all about art marketing: you have to apply to join which I've done:

P.S. Thanks for the comparison to black paint in oils -- I was glad that someone understood what I was going through.

19/11/06 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Timely post for me, I've been thinking of this for the past month or so, if not longer. When I was in school, it was create, create, create. Then I graduated with no clue how to market myself. It's all self taught with some bombs and some successes.

To be honest, every so often I think to myself, just give it up. Let someone else do it. But, then I go into my studio and love what I'm doing and am transported. I haven't put anything up for sale in a month deliberately because I want to do it better.

I do buy other artist's work because I don't want a houseful of my own work. I like collecting art work and look for local as well as others that I find online.

20/11/06 6:48 AM  
Blogger Joyce said...

it strikes me as ironic that one doesn't typically get both the gift of marketing, and the gift of creativity.
I say that wealth is a state of mind, and artists have more depth of character than smooth marketing types.

20/11/06 7:45 AM  
Blogger Jana Bouc said...

I thought you might be interested in knowing about this online multi-day conference on art marketing:

http://www.smARTist -TeleSummit. com

Info about it came to me through a California art group I'm a member of. It sounds interesting and might be useful.

20/11/06 10:01 AM  
Blogger June Parrish Cookson said...

Wonderful post and comments. I just worked on creating my fine art portfolio nonstop for two weeks. Now it's marketing the finished product. It's going to be difficult but has to be done. While building the portfolio I struggled not to go to my studio which would have distracted me from finishing the task. Painting and marketing is all about balancing your priorities. You can paint one painting after another but eventually there comes a time when you have to make the decision to market your work provided you are in this for the long run. Otherwise, someone else is financially supporting you unless you have another job. The hard fact is... you must research and spend as much time as possible marketing your work to as many venues as possible. Even if the money isn't much, it's the most likely route to follow if you want to continue onward with your artistic journey. Otherwise, there is always that neverending burdening question not only from yourself but others as to why your career isn't going anywhere. Needless to say, but it's all about sells.

In regards to eBay I have tried them for a while but to no avail as yet. Need to figure out why some artist do so well here. Next I will try Etsy and see where that may lead me.

20/11/06 10:15 AM  
Blogger Within Without said...

Well, Andrea -- and I realize I'm treading here where a whole bunch of artists have already offered what appear to be very valuable feedback and insights -- I can only quote Billy Joel: "We love you just the way you are."

I know that doesn't help you much on this point about marketing and selling and making a living.

But there is something to be said for not "selling yourself out" and for not being a charlatan and all about sales and crass commercialism.

Because it seems to me the lovely part about you is how human you are and how real you are.

Yes, you combine this blog with your art interests and your career, and that's very important to you obviously but it's also very important to me as a non-artist who visits your blog regularly.

I do it not because you're an artist but because you're a great story-teller and you interact with me and many others on a wavelength beyond your art, and because you are feeling and compassionate and real.

And I can learn something about what it's like to be an artist and to see your trials and tribulations.

And I get to see all this fantastic art, an incredible talent and expression of who you are, and even buy some of it!

So as much as I can see that you need and want to market your work, which I think people will gobble up, I support you fully in your wish to maintain your principles and to paint what YOU want to paint.

20/11/06 2:11 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

Fabulous feedback! This is what I love about blogging: you put something out there and get SO much more back. It's a total win-win situation. If I wasn't so exhausted right now I'd respond to everyone because I have loads to say. Instead, I'll come back later and try and learn something from all the wise words.

20/11/06 7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes marketing - it must be done.People love scenery and still life subject in art this is true.Life is confusing.Well that is just it - some of the people who are financially secure are certainly not the happiest people in the world.Happiness comes from within, it's your outlook on the big picture.Taking what you already have in your life and being thankful.Thankfully I have a husband who brings in the dollars and every once and a while I do too - our house is pretty with art, but art isn't everything either.Remarkably people can get by with very little and still be happy.

21/11/06 6:20 AM  
Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

For an artist to create a demand for their work they either have to suffer through life as an insane esthete pauper and die or do the warholian wizbang marketing charm offensive and cultivate an audience and artificially create a demand by dwelling among motals as an extrordinary or outlandish creation themselves.

Living near or locating a group of competitive afficionados certainly helps..demand (the pre-death kind) needs a champion and it is usually hard for artists to wear that mantle because they are too critical and do not see the proverbial forest for the the most likely alternative is to find a cheerleader who is well connected and is made to feel like they are a part of the process...but then again I am just keyboarding out loud and I have been wrong about millions of other things.

21/11/06 9:05 PM  
Blogger kj said...

andrea, i take the approach that the "business" side of being an artist is okay. I also believe in abundance.

the standard "marketing" formula is that one third of your time goes to non-painting art related activities, such as speaking, demonstrating, distribution of written materials, e mail blasts, etc. then comes time and cost and pricing. there is a formula for that too.

i say: put yourself where you want to be and stay there. you are a FINE artist just as you are.

thinking of you, kj

24/11/06 11:12 PM  
Blogger Rrramone said...

Can I send you a big AMEN. :-)

27/11/06 6:57 AM  

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