by guest blogger Kate Ashton
Need help in marketing and promoting your art? Consider these options and see if any of them are a fit for your small business.
You’ve probably heard the old adage, but living as an artist is an actual career option today. When the financial crisis hit us a few years ago, many were forced out of the conventional 9-to-5 job market and this left them no option but to follow their dreams and take bigger risks. This was, in many ways, a blessing in disguise for those who would never have otherwise followed their passion.
A much bigger chunk of the workforce in the country today is made up of artists and freelancers. There are a lot more real, fingers-in-paint kind of artists today and they’ve gotten creative about the way their art careers are managed. Working and earning as an artist is definitely doable, but it requires some creative thinking when it comes to things like marketing and managing finances. Being an artist, however, means getting creative about anything is never a big deal.
If you’ve decided to make a career in art, you may need some help getting your work out there. Like any other field of work, one person is never enough to get everything done successfully. If you are a gifted marketer and are able to sell your art successfully, that’s great. But for those of us who aren’t, seeking assistance could well be the best option.
So, here are a number of ways you can get marketing assistance while working as an artist. I’ll be going through many options that an artist has when it comes to getting marketing help. Depending on your situation, some might be more suitable than others.
While art is often thought of as a solo career, there are actually a lot of middlemen involved in getting the art to market. These middlemen are often dealt with on behalf of the artist by the publicists. The job involves handling the media, dealers, curators and personal appeals. They basically need to know who to contact and how to present to people in the best way possible.
Robert Zakanitch, a painter in New York, hired Pat Hamilton, a publicist from Los Angeles, to join him in the year 2000. He said it was because “he didn’t have the thick skin required to go out and sell the art in a professional way.”
Publicists can cost a lot and their results may not be entirely measurable or guaranteed, but when it comes to handling the labor intensive work of promoting art properly, they can be very much needed by professional artists. They can cost anywhere from a couple thousand a month to a per project charge.
Virtual assistants are great if you don’t want to get bogged down by the business side of running an art career. They can take care of all the routine stuff and let you simply focus on the artwork. They don’t even have to be expensive. Just a few hours a week and all your payroll services and taxes are sorted out.
Think of a virtual assistant as your personal assistant who can take care of all the busy work that goes into building and promoting your art career.
What better way to market your art than to put it up on a website? Now, developing and maintaining a website is not for everyone. I tried doing it myself a few years ago and the results were less than average (horrible, to be honest). A webmaster is an expert at maintaining your website. They can handle the search engines, social media, updates, bug fixes and other matters. Consider hiring them on a freelance basis. A good webmaster will cost between $45 and $100 per hour, but their work is done in quarter-hour increments.
A graphic artist once described himself as a “visual communicator.” What they do is, in many ways, the opposite of what fine artists do. They get a brief with a problem to solve and specific outcomes, which they then work on to find the best solution.
Graphic artists can help you come up with logos, brochures, newsletters or images for blog posts. They’ll assist you with all the visual elements that go into creating a brand. The amount you pay a graphic artist depends on the quality of the work, but you can expect to shell out anywhere from $40 to $150 per hour for their services.
Freelance writers & assistants
Freelance writers can help you create content for your website, and also maintain a steady stream of blog posts on other sites to drive traffic and get more people onto your site to view your work. Freelance writers and assistants are very easy to hire, and the pay-as-you-go payment structure ensures you don’t overpay for work you need. A fixed price contract usually costs about $1 per 100 words and you can expect to pay between $10-$20 an hour for a professional assistant or writer.
Having a business partner could put you in a very good position indeed, as it means joining up with someone who allows you to focus solely on what you do best – make art. If you are looking for a business partner, getting the right person involved is the most important step. You need someone you can trust, like a family member or friend. You also need to make sure they can handle the business side of things, and arrange to compensate them appropriately. They will share in the business as part-owner. That can be an ideal situation for you both if your interests align perfectly. Issues are easier to resolve if there is no overlap in each partner’s area of expertise.
For a good business partner, you need a combination of trustworthiness and competency. If you have an opportunity to get involved with a person who has both, I’d suggest you go for it!
Hiring an agent may have been the first idea you had when thinking about marketing your art, but it is tricky business and hard to get right. There are a ton of unscrupulous individuals out there who want to take your money but don’t have much to deliver.
Empowering yourself to be your own agent may be the best option, since no one cares about your art as much as you do. But if you do find yourself in need of an agent, you may try to contact a licensing agent or a marketing agency such as Agency Access. Corporate art consultants may be able to help you sell your work as well, if that is your market. Make sure you’ve done your homework before approaching any potential agents.
This could be the best scenario for an artist seeking to get marketing done. Art galleries and art shows serve as the face of your business to their public, leaving you enough time and energy to focus on your art entirely. If you are lucky enough, you may get to establish a relationship with a reputed art gallery and exhibit your work at art shows on a fairly regular basis. This takes care of the business end of things for you.
The list of responsibilities for a fine artist may be very long, but making a living as an artist doesn’t necessarily mean you try to do everything yourself. In fact, if you get the right people to join you, the business could grow much more quickly than you could ever have managed on your own, regardless of how talented you are.
Guest blogger Kate Ashton is an owner, artist, instructor & mentor at Art on 30th – An Art to Market Community. Arton30th offers Art Classes and host regional & national Art Shows in a lively & classic gallery setting, honoring the artists she mentors by taking their art to market.
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