"Great interview! Great guy! Thanks for bringing Jason Kelly into the limelight. I enjoyed all the article and have passed it along to several friends. Well done!" —Lynn

Radio shows

From Our Readers

A peek Inside

About Outside the Lines

Upcoming Interviews

Member Resources

Contact Us

malware removal and website security

We started the month of June with an in depth interview with glass artists and rennaisance entrepreneurs Chris Anderson and Will Carlton of San Luis Obispo County, California. Chris and Will have so many irons in the fire that it's a bit of a challenge to keep up. We have been wanting to interview them since the inception of Outside the Lines. With your full subscription, you can read their interview here. On the 10th of June we followed the Anderson/Carlton interview with an article about the lasting and sometimes surprising impact your work can have on those who engage it, and another article detailing the encouraging and enlightening results from the People's Choice balloting for our recently concluded second Phantom Project show.

To get all the content we send to our members:

or get more info about our subscription program.

Below you'll find our first full length article about art marketing from Linda Waldon. Keep checking back from time to time for more samples of what we deliver to our subscribers every Sunday morning.

Introducing Linda's Art Marketing Corner

A few weeks ago, we mentioned in passing that we were thinking about the idea of introducing you to guest writers from time to time in Outside the Lines. We had already begun talking to Linda Waldon about the article you will read below. We really like what Linda has to say, and we have begun to work with her on a series of articles that will be published under the banner of Linda's Art Marketing Corner from time to time. In the Art Marketing Corner, you will find articles similar to the one featured here, along with one-on-one interviews of people who are masters at marketing art.

I personally have some work to do. I realized as I read Linda's article, that I could be doing a lot better on several key points that she talks about in this article. We're really looking forward to seeing what she will bring to us all in the coming months!

And if you haven't put 2 and 2 together yet, Linda is married to Robert Oblon. We interviewed Robert at the beginning of May.

Seven Tips for Promoting and Marketing your Art

How to become a wildly successful artist through effective art marketing!

As Michael said in his Demons & Daimons article, “Sales is one of the toughest things for most highly creative people.” After leaving a career in Silicon Valley, I had more time to work with my artist husband, Robert Oblon, and to explore his world of art and artists. What I discovered were many talented people who create beautiful, meaningful works of art. I also saw that most of the artists had day jobs (including my husband!). When they were not working, they were in the studio creating. That does not leave much time to market their art! So, I decided to pitch in, and I attended art-marketing classes to educate myself (I recommend Kate and Robert Burridge’s Art Marketing), read books, and began creating my husband’s website and marketing materials. I discovered that it's a fulltime job to market artwork, and it's not easy! It requires a pro-active, ambitious, self-promoting attitude. If you don't believe in your art, why will anyone else?

For artists who choose to sell their work, it may be difficult to balance the creative process and the business of selling art. As with anything in life, having a plan is important, and consistency and professionalism count. Sylvia White, gallery owner and artist consultant, recommends allotting 30 minutes a day to career development. This includes setting up your domain name and artist website, photographing your work, documenting pieces, updating your resume and other marketing material, reading relevant art publications, visiting galleries in-person or online, sending out portfolio packages, etc. Whew! If you cannot spare the time daily, then devote 30 minute per week. Her advice is to be “consistent and diligent, without exceptions” to your art career.

Marketing is marketing. It's the same whether you are marketing a home to a potential buyer or presenting an artist portfolio to a gallery owner. It's all about connecting your product with people through communication—a picture, a description, a video. Knowing your target audience, positioning your product or service effectively, and presenting a confident, polished appearance make a big difference.

Here are some things I learned about marketing art (or just about any product or service). The most important thing I learned is you have to have huge passion for your work because it takes hard work and dedication to promote it! Creating art is one thing, getting it in front of people is a whole other ballgame...

Linda’s Art Marketing Tips:

Tip #1: Set Goals

Write down three goals you want to accomplish in the next year, and five goals that you want to accomplish in the next five years. Just the act of writing it down helps you manifest results. Refer to these goals often and ask yourself if you are moving closer to your goals or further away.

Any marketing plan begins with a set of objectives or goals that are measurable (quantities, dates, dollar amounts), stated in the present (as if already true), and doable (try not to set yourself up for failure). As an artist, you have goals. It can be anything from “I have a portfolio of twenty pieces by the end of this year,” to “I sell five pieces of art by June this year,” to something more specific like “I have a gallery in San Francisco that is showing my work in October this year.”

Tip #2: Create a Business Plan

Write down your marketing strategy that includes a description of your target collectors (describe the people who will buy your art—age, income bracket, interests, professions), galleries that are a good fit for your artwork, and research your competition (compare your work with ten other artists in a similar genre and price range—what is unique about your work? What is your unique selling proposition?) and position your work accordingly.

Do you have a clear vision for a unified collection? Does your body of work feel like a “series?” Can you describe your vision in a statement of work?

It's a good idea to set production goals and make a plan to meet them. How can you improve the quality of your work, and increase the amount of work you produce? Can you purchase better materials?

Tip #3: Create and Maintain Professional-Looking Marketing Materials

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.”

—William Foster

Professionally designed promotional materials help you stand out from the crowd and show off the unique qualities of your artwork. This is your opportunity to stir the emotions of your potential art buyer or gallery owner. You owe it to all the hours of creative sweat you poured into your artwork to represent it in the most elegant, meaningful way. Your promotional materials should create an irresistible call to action—buy my artwork!

Create the following pieces and keep them updated to reflect new work and new accomplishments:

Marketing Collateral Description
Bio This is a one-page story about you. Talk about your life chronologically, make it interesting and appealing, and explain how and why you got into art.
Resume Your 2-page (max) resume chronicles your art career highlights and provides your identity, reputation, and credentials. Include your education, major shows and awards, and a list of collectors (e.g. Bill and Nancy Smith, Chicago, Ill., 2 pieces). A gallery owner told me that he does not read the entire resume; he just skims it. Put your gallery owner hat on when you are writing your resume and go for the wow factor.
Artist statement of work Write a statement that is meaningful but not so esoteric it doesn’t make sense to anyone but you! Your statements change every time you change the work; your goal is to describe your motivation for the work and go for an emotional connection with the reader.
Images You need good, professional quality photographs of your work to successfully market your art. This is often the Achilles heel of artists! Invest in a good digital camera and learn how to photograph your work or hire a professional. You will need both TIFF (print) and JPEG (website) formats.
Portfolio Jason Horejs, the owner of Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ, teaches an art marketing class, From “Starving” to Successful, and he recommends a paper portfolio with print images in protective sheet covers that include title, medium, dimensions, price, and your name and contact information on every page, in case the page gets separated from the portfolio. He personally dislikes receiving CDs from artists—requires too much effort to review. He recommends a portfolio of 20-30 images max, and likes to see photos of two to three works installed in a home or office setting. Include your website address, and contact information.
Website Your website is your gallery. Make it as professional and appealing as you can. Pictures count the most! Create crisp, clear photographs with vivid colors, and accompany the photos with title, if applicable, dimensions, and medium. Spell-check everything you write. When I read misspelled words on a website, it leaves the impression the author doesn’t care or is sloppy. Keep your most current work on your website. Include a contact form so people can register their name and address, and use that contact list to announce your openings or promote a new collection. Include links to your galleries so interested buyers can contact the gallery. My husband uses Sitewelder as his artist website. It's easy to organize and update photos and create information pages. And there are many other artist template websites, as well as local web designers who can build your website from scratch.

Tip #4: Get Organized or Find Someone to Do It For You

Create an inventory list and vow to keep it current. The list tracks where each piece is located, and if sold, includes information about the collector. For example, your inventory spreadsheet could include an Inventory # (e.g. #100-040312-A/C representing the hundredth piece, date created, acrylic on canvas), Title, Dimensions, Medium, Price (Retail), Location (this can be a code signifying where it's stored or sold). You can include additional notes such as your hard costs, collector information, assignment for future exhibitions, etc. This can be done in a spreadsheet or using a software program such as Art Tracker. Create a separate list of galleries to which you send your portfolio, include the cover letters, and a list of the galleries you want to approach.

Tip #5: Produce Gallery-Ready Artwork

When it comes to finishing your piece for a gallery or juried exhibition, you cannot over-prepare. Frames, mats, backboards, wire hangers or d-rings, should be installed and ready to hang. If your sculpture needs a pedestal, arrange this with the gallery or supply your own. This added level of professionalism makes all the difference to the gallery owner or exhibition curator.

Tip #6: Create a Consistent, Simple Pricing Plan

The value of your work is completely arbitrary! The key to a successful art career is to have a consistent pricing model that uses a simple pricing formula determined by size, materials, or costs. Be able to explain the pricing when you speak to galleries.

Here are some points to consider when pricing your artwork:

  • Be consistent. If you are selling your work through galleries, keep your studio price consistent with the gallery. For example, if a gallery sells your 23x30 for $1,500, you would sell your 23x30 directly to the public for $1,500 as well. Keep your prices between galleries consistent.
  • Base the price on your research (comparable artists) and your goals, not on the local market.
  • Review your pricing regularly. Do not over-price. You can always go up.

Tip #7: Jump On the Social Media Bandwagon

Either you love social media or you loathe it, right? In the case of art marketing, social media can be your biggest asset if you use it effectively. As you prepare for an exhibition, use Facebook, email, Twitter, and Evite (free online invitations) to let your collectors and friends know all the details. Experienced art marketers use social media to keep in touch with potential collectors, publish monthly e-newsletters, and share interesting art news with fellow artists and collectors. When you create a Facebook page and post photos of your latest works-in-progress, it sets up the anticipation of an upcoming exhibition! Come on, you know you love reading all the positive feedback from hundreds of your closest “friends.”

In conclusion

I have great respect for creative artists (I consider myself a creative cousin!) who put their souls into their art and then display it for everyone to see. What I learned from observing successful art marketers is that the selling of art is business, and even though your creative process is personal, you cannot take the art business personally. I know. It's crazy difficult to accept rejection gracefully. You have to segment your brain and your daily life into a creative side and a business side, spending some portion of your life marketing, researching, inventorying, and networking. These left-brain activities may leave you with a throbbing headache, but keep it simple and straightforward, and it will create a routine that brings positive results. Do your own art marketing or hire someone to do it for you. Just do it! It could turn your dreams of recognition and financial reward into reality.

About the Author

Linda Waldon lives in Arroyo Grande, California, with her husband, Robert Oblon, and two Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Linda knew early in life that she had an interest in writing, but it took a turn in the computer industry to give her the skills she needed to turn her passion for writing into a new career. "I used to write plays in grade school that we would perform for the entire school. I thought of this as a hobby, and it wasn’t until recently that I realized this is a creative passion that I could turn into a career!" Building upon her strategic relationships with Silicon Valley, Linda develops training, marketing programs, and writes e-books, white papers, and other marketing copy for technology companies.

You can learn more about Linda at her website, lindawaldon.com.

Have You Got Something to Say?

Linda has brought a unique, fresh perspective to Outside the Lines. If you've been reading our emails and our website for long, you know that the community of creative people is what we are all about. for the most part, what we have done so far is a one way street—we write, you read. But that is not the ultimate plan. We want to hear from you. It can be a simple email or it can be an idea or thought you want to share in more detail. If you have an idea for an article, or a series of articles, we'd like to hear about it. And maybe we will be able to feature you or your idea in an issue sometime soon.

The content above was part of our Outside the lines member's note from Sunday morning, May 13. To get all the content we send to our members:

or get more info about our subscription program.