Friday, August 29, 2008

Marketing Your Work 101

I have known for a long time that I needed to focus more attention on the internet as a way to connect with students, buyers, my collectors and friends. With the crazy life I live it has been a big problem getting around to this, but this clump of time in my life seems to be fueled by some kind of driven energy, and so many things have been accomplished recently, including my first newsletter which you are welcome to get by emailing me at and request to be on my email list or go to my website and click on "Monthly Newsletter" in the left navigation links.

I am so pleased with the response to my first newsletter. Many of my friends have send unsolicited responses to me with very complimentary comments about the newsletter and the images on it. My idea is to use this type of communication to feature new work, shows I'm in, classes and workshops that are upcoming, and various other items of interest. This first offering was done in little batches, so my internet server would mail my emails, but next time I hope to have paid for a marketing list which will allow people to opt out easily, and give me an opportunity to upload the whole list at one time and away they go!

I read somewhere, in one of the books I have on the "business of art" that marketing your work will take 75% of your time, leaving 25% of your time for studio work. Isn't that amazing! It is so true, and having struggled with this unbalanced situation most of my life I don't really know that there is a solution to it, for me at least. Even with a gallery and/or agent I found it didn't redistribute the percentages at all, and it still required lots of time for schlepping my work all over the place and when I had my own gallery and teaching facility it was probably even less time for studio work with all the management details and the effort to find students. And putting this newsletter, blog, website, email list and everything I have had to do to learn to do all this has been at least a 75% time management problem.

My mother used to say, much to my disgust, "it's who you know". In my naive early years, I thought art was sold on merit...if someone saw a good painting they would buy it, of course, if they liked it. In New York, at Art School, I was somewhat befuddled by the mania in the 60s for the bizarre, strange, and downright ugly, art that was being sold hand over fist. Later I learned that much of this was organized by very skilled and clever art whizzes who could sell anything they liked to anyone who came within their sphere of influence, and artists could get on this bandwagon by schmoozing with the glitterati at parties and soirees and presto they were household names!

My eyes were opened somewhat by observing a very odd phenomenon; a formal show of my work would generate amazing sales, expecially if there were good finger foods and a good quality wine. Some of the sales were to people who saw the works in my studio. But it took a formal, and expensive opening, invitations, cards on the wall, jacked up prices to pay for all this, to encourage people to part with their cash. Go figure!

I still don't know how to market my work. I am amazed at what people will buy. I am stupefied by some of the celebrity artists who have works of art that look like candidates for the nearest trash can. I guess it will remain a mystery, for me, at least. And in the meantime I slave away at the computer, while the painting in the studio is crying out for attention....later, later. I say to the painting in the studio "I still have another 60% of marketing time to do before I can get to you...just wait awhile longer!"


  1. I think what you say about what people buy is very true of a certain kind of buyer. Others buy paintings because they speak to them so personally.

    It's hard when what speaks to you so personally is way beyond your budget... but I've seen it happen. It's an adjustment and it's going to be harder, but the key is to get your stuff seen by people who are going to respond to it and know they need to have that painting in their lives.

    Which, of course, takes a lot of time.

  2. Perhaps I'm a little too cynical but it definitely has to do with being in the right place at the right time, and this not only takes a huge amount of time but a lot of money too. I love the idea of the internet because it allows us to cut through a lot of that time/money stuff and get work out there in front of so many people who, could be moved to buy artwork, or at least remember those artists that moved them in some way.