because they understand that there is more to art than the stroke of a brush, a pencil scratch on paper, or a hand shaping clay. Art is more than a completed piece. In many ways,
There is a whole entrepreneurial aspect of making a living as an artist, and these successful artists have learned that they must identify opportunities and seize them.
Who are you?
Art is not only about the art, but it is also about the artist. Building connections between you and clients (i.e., your artistic persona and your clients’ perception of who you are and what you’re about) will infuse your art with an intimate personal quality that will continue to drive more of a client’s business your way.
Whether you are submitting your art solely to deviantART or you have your own website, one of the first major details is to create a page that explains who you are as an artist and as a person. This usually comes in the form of an "About the Artist" section.
There are a couple of things you should include, such as where you live, how you began your career, any big artistic moments such as places you have been published or awards you've won, plus a description of your artistic passion. Try to project a uniqueness about yourself to distinguish yourself from other artists of the same genre, as well as an inviting sense of humor. Make yourself somehow memorable for potential clients’ future projects.
Every artist needs a portfolio, whether you are a sculptor, photographer, or comic book artist. Don't be afraid to carry one around with you and show people. You never know who may need your skills, so be prepared for impromptu displays of your wares on subway rides or in dentists’ waiting rooms.
Keep your portfolio small and current. Each prospective client may have their own set guidelines, but a good rule of thumb is to have no less than 5 and no more than 20 pieces to show. While your deviantART gallery is perfect for showcasing all of your art as a social tool, from sketches to final pieces, your portfolio should be designed to showcase your very best work. Get in and get out quickly to not only impress, but also leave them wanting more.
Start with an amazing piece for a good first impression. Always end with an equally amazing piece. If you are speaking one on one with a client, they will view your portfolio and may leave the final image open as the two of you speak more. An impressive final piece, much like the good ending to a movie, will linger in their minds and could be what gets them to sign that contract.
Take a second and think about your favorite artist. What were the first things that came to mind? Their style? That amazing piece hanging on your wall above the couch? A funny story you read while searching for the artist online? All of these aspects and more contribute to an artists brand.
As an artist, you
are the brand. How you convey this brand will help inform how the public as a whole interprets you and your art. You will need to create and maintain this brand on and offline.
Remember, if you don't get the word out, nobody else will.
If you want to become a serious artist, you will need to take online social interaction seriously. Doing things such as creating an artist Facebook account as well as Twitter and Tumblr for professional interaction and promotion will help drive traffic to you. Tumblr posts get shared, tweets get retweeted, friends share with friends, and your fans and clients will grow through these interactions. These are also terrific places, along with deviantART and other art-centric sites, to post works in progress and other status messages to help keep you fresh in the minds of both fans and clients.
If you start something, keep it going. Stay fresh in peoples minds by showing off new pieces, adding works in progress, and sketches to these online sites. If you start live streaming your artistic sessions, continue to do that at similar times to help build a steady fan base. Viewers may not flock immediately. It could take months or years to truly see the value of posting consistently on these sites, but if you do so, the work will pay off. The passion and loyalty of your original base of hardcore fans and supporters will be the seedbed of any “blowing-up” of your art. So don’t let regular online chats and other events die on the vine because the numbers remain small. Treat your return fans like the solid bricks in your launch-pad that they truly are.
Once you become more more established, others will begin to talk about you in ways similar to how you market yourself. Word of mouth is an incredible tool, as “he/she is awesome” is more powerful than “I am awesome.”
Confidence is KeyThe public will tend to place no more value in your art than you do. If you believe in your talent and vision and artistic worth, and state this belief boldly, the public will tend to want to check out you and your art. Confidence is the best salesman, whether it’s wielded with bravado on job interviews or meeting new people. You wouldn't buy paper towels with the slogan "We can probably clean that," would you? No! You would buy the one claiming suitability for toxic waste disposal.
Being confident in your art and confident a discriminating client will like what you’re selling does not mean you are an arrogant egotistical person. Confidence only means presenting your art in a manner reflecting its true worth.
Clients respond positively to genuine confidence:
“I am great at this style. You should hire me.”
But be careful. Confidence can slip into egotism and turn-off the potential client:
“I am so much better than this other artist. You should hire me.”
Both exude confidence, but the second statement pushes the idea further, insulting another artist. Most clients prefer artistic brands emanating from a positive place rather than a competitive place. If a piece of art needs to be promoted by downgrading another artists effort, then that piece is automatically degraded in perceived value, as is the artist himself or herself. A confident person doesn’t mind competition. A confident artist finds competition stimulating.
You have practiced and perfected your art. You have begun promoting and creating your brand. You will need to be ready for clients and buyers with pricing for your art. There are a couple of things to consider when figuring out the prices for your art.
1. Materials used
The first is to look at the materials used. Everything that you use to create art needs to be purchased. You must charge at least what the tools used cost you. Did you use two and a half bricks of clay for your sculpture? What you charge better have that factored in.
2. Creation time
How long did you spend on your piece of art? Was it 3 hours or 30 hours? This can be the most ambiguous item on this list, as it is easy to undervalue your art.
There are different ways to figure out what you should charge. You could figure out an hourly rate that you think is acceptable, then add that total to the price. You could also charge a flat rate for certain sizes and complexities if you can estimate the amount of time it may take. If you can generally paint a portrait in 15 hours, you will know approximately what to charge compared to concept sketches that could take 2 or 3 hours.
3. Market Value
What are other artists close to your skill level charging? This is something that every business does to stay relevant and is something you will need to do, as well. You might find out that you have been undervaluing your estimated creation time this whole time.
4. Rights Transfer
Do you retain control of the art produced or does the client? Depending on the nature of the project, the client may need to 100% own the art. Logo designs and mascots are examples of projects that the client would prefer to control without question. If the client does want to own the art completely, make sure to factor that into the price.
These are only a few key points to consider as you begin the journey of turning your passion into a viable career as an artist. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring the learning of the business of art as you concentrate on learning the craft of your actual artworks. Awaiting the interest of buyers and then turning the selling over to a hastily arranged agent isn’t the way to best serve your artistic gift. To truly live the life of an artist means you putting the time into learning the business of art and the business of you.
I leave you with this quote, which illustrates my plea that you give yourself your best chance at becoming who you want be and doing what you want to do.
"The most common money-related mistake artists make
is a reluctance to invest in their own careers." -Caroll Michels,
Career Coach, Art Marketing Consultant, and Artist-Advocate
Questions for the reader:
Do you romanticize the idea of the starving artist? Might this be a way of shunning learning the business of your art?
Are you presently actively creating an online and offline persona or brand as an artist?
Are you organizing events to present your art to potential clients?
Are you utilizing tools provided by deviantART to help sell you and your art?
Is it difficult for you to charge a premium price for your hours creating a piece, or are you confident that every work of art you create will one day be worth thousands of times what it originally sold for?