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#013 THE ARTIST SUCCESS PLAN



I love seeing artists succeed, and that's why I make this podcast and write this blog.

Resources helping artists to create with confidence, work with impact and understand the business of art.

As artists so much of what we do comes from within us, how we feel and what we think literally determines our steps. That is why I focus so much on the mindset behind good art. As artists, we need confidence and clarity as to what we do and why we create. If we want to make art with impact, bring that which is on the inside out with more power.

We need to know how can do this and how do we reach our potential art audience with our work. But what tools can we use to communicate this? And can you get paid for your art and how much can your art cost and what can you charge? As artists, we need to realise that we're in business.

We don't only make art when we feel like it, but we need to show up and go to work and make our art, in order to be successful. We need to see ourselves as more than just artists. We are businessmen and businesswoman. In this Help I am artist podcast. I will help you do this.

Meet Hank

Let me start off with a story of Hank. Hank is a flamboyant man that lives in the village where I live in the Netherlands.

He always looks so sharp, extremely extravagant. He has the hat and the tie, and it looks like he has just stepped out of another era. He has a large orange beard and the tips of his moustache are meticulously waxed. Some time ago, I got to chat with Hank. He came to one of my open studios and he shared that he was an artist. This did not surprise me one bit, and he shared interesting ideas about art and about creativity. Our pathes have crossed on various occasions, and every now and again I see Hank showing his work at art fairs, or I see him whizzing past me in the town that I live with his bicycle with a painting under his arms. I recently met him again while we were standing in the same aisle at my local grocer. I asked him how he was doing and how his art was going. He solemnly announced that he had given up on art. He had an entire attic full of paintings, but nobody wanted to buy them. When I asked him what he was making when he decided to stop painting, he said he was doing a bit of this and a bit of that, and that art was about making a statement and the actually found it a compliment. that people didn't like his art.

I remember thinking, 'Hank. No wonder you're not selling your art.' In all honesty, I could relate to Hank. Not that part that I didn't care and I found it a compliment that people don't like my art.

I wanted to give up on art

 I wanted people to like my art. But there was a point that I too wanted to give up on my art. I'd worked so hard on my art. I gave it all that I had, but I'd seen so few results. Something was not working and I had to find out why people were not looking at my art or buying my art.

I set out on a quest. I started interviewing artists. I did research online. And I found some consistencies between the artists that seemed to sell their art successfully.

My research has become the foundation of this Help, I'm Artist Podcast. I will share more about this in the episodes to come. But to start off with, I've written this 7 step Artist Success Guide for you to download here.

This guide is a powerful system to get more eyes on your art and to help you start to sell it. It is a step by step plan that will help you wherever you are on your artist journey.

Where do I start?

Maybe you're just starting out, but you don't know where to start. Or maybe you've been creating for years. And just like me or like Hank, have paintings flooding your attic but not selling them. You're getting no eyes on your art and you find it hard to make ends meet. Or maybe you've been selling successfully, but you've hit a dry spell and you just can't seem to get past it.

The Art World is changing

The times have changed and what used to work in the past is just not so effective anymore. Wherever you are on this artist's journey, the Artist Success Guide is there to help you.

When you get specific and clear about what you do you will be able to connect that with the right audience. And invariably you'll start to get more eyes in your art and start to sell it.

In this podcast and blog, I will briefly go through what you can expect of the Seven Step to Success Guide.

STEP 1: DISCOVERING THE ART WORLD

This is wonderful and exciting step. It's all about discovering. It's about zooming out and discovering what is out there. What does this art world look like? What does the playing field look like?

Very often where we live and what we've been exposed to and who've been listening to determines how we see the art world.

Internet changed the game for artists

The art world is rapidly changing. Internet has really changed the game. Former conventions have shifted and new rules apply. Whereas galleries used to dominate this closed and mysterious world, a new generation of artists are discovering all kinds of new and exciting opportunities to connect buyers with their art. And invariably get more eyes on the art.

Many independent artists are doing this for successfully making a substantial living, doing that what they love to do. But this shift can be quite overwhelming.

And as you head towards the first step, you're going to push the status quo. Check out the guide for further questions and assignments.

STEP 2: DEFINING WHO YOU ARE

This next step in your Artist Success Plan is all about you.

  • What defines who you are?
  • What is it that you want to say or to communicate?
  • And why are you making art?
  • And why do you find that it is important to say what you have to say?

Are you a jewellery designer or a printmaker, a sculptor or a dancer?

  • What is the reason that you're creating?
  • What is your drive?

If you're not sure about what you're doing and why you're doing or making your art. There's a good chance that other people will not get it at all.

You will not be able to communicate or articulate your art if you are not clear about who you are and why you are creating it.

If you're not clear about what you're doing, you'll get lost and be terribly overwhelmed. The clearer you are, the more effective your art will be.

In this Artist Success Guide I will take you through questions that will help you put words to what defines you.

Stop Right Here

If you do these first 2 steps you are already a success.

  1. You've discovered what's out there and what the art world looks like.
  2. You know that you love to do art and why you make art. You follow your passions and love to express yourself through your art.

I think this is more than many artists have done. So many artists actually work without intent or lack real focus. So hooray for you.

These first 2 steps will already launch you forward.

There is nothing wrong stopping right here and just enjoy making art. The art that you love. This is first and foremost.

But if you want to make income and build up a career as a happy working artist, I'd like to challenge you to take the next step in order to get more eyes on your art and actually make an income from your art.

Is your art marketable?

You need to ask, 'Is your art marketable'? Oh. There you have that word. Not very artistic or creative, but asking this question is essential.

And this does not mean that you are selling your artist soul.

If you want to grow and get noticed, you need to take steps forward.

It's time for you to think like an artist. And it is a wisdom and a privilege to actually make money doing what you love to do.

In my resource, 5 Things Successful Artists Get Rights, I mention the story of Rembrandt. He is considered a great master in the arts and is admired worldwide.

Did you know that Rembrandt joined the tradesmans guild and not the artist guild?

He saw his art as a business and worked hard to promote and make his art marketable. Maybe you will have to make concessions here and there. And as long as you stay true to yourself and doing what you're passionate about, you'll stay on track.

STEP 3: DISCERNING THE OPPORTUNITIES

In order to find out if your art is marketable, you need to get a better understanding of the art culture where you live.

  • What genres of art are popular?
  • What art is selling in your area?
  • What artists are getting the attention and why?

Step 3 is all about finding and discerning the art culture in your area. The  questions and assignments in the Artist Success Guide will really help you to:

  • Evaluate what art potential you have?
  • Know what are the opportunities in your area?
  • See whether your art is marketable?
  • Discern whether your art is going to sell successfully?

STEP 4: DECIDING WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE

Sep 4 is D-Day. This step is all about making a choice and about deciding what you are going to make. Because let's face it we can't do everything.

And the more specific you get about what you're making and how you can articulate it, the clearer it will be for your potential art buyer.

When someone asks you what you do, what do you say?

You say, oh, 'I create paintings' or like Hank, 'I make a bit of this and I make a bit of that.'

Or if you would say I make large, colorful paintings of female dancers using in encaustic wax.  If I was the owner of a large dance studio looking to invest in a painting for the entrance of my new dance auditorium, which one of these two descriptions would resonate with me more?

The more specific we get, the better we'll be able to communicate what we do.

Decide what you are going to make

  • What you actually going to make?
  • What are you selling?
  • Are you only going to make originals?
  • Or one of a kind pieces ?
  • Are you going to print your work on merchandise?
  • Are you going to take commissions?
  • Are going to show you work independently?
  • Are you going to work in collaboration with other artists?
  • Are you going to work in series?
  • What elements bind your collection together?
  • Is there a reoccurring subject or a colour theme?
  • What techniques are you going to use?
  • What genre are you going to work in?

It is time to get really specific.

The exercises in the Artist Success Guide will help you put words to that what you're making.

Maybe you're just starting out and you don't quite know what you're going to make. This exercise will help you to start thinking like an artist so that you can make important decisions down the road. 

Getting clear and precise about what you do will help you:

  1. Market your work more effectively,
  2. It will help you connect with a specific interested audience,
  3. It will help you decide whether you will do a commission or not.
  4. It will set you apart from other artists,
  5. You will become the go to artist in a certain genre or style.

In a future podcast, I'll be sharing more about the importance of deciding and defining your style and the power of working in a certain niche.

 STEP 5: DETERMINE WHO YOUR ART AUDIENCE IS

  •  You've discovered what you like,
  • Who you are and what you want to say,
  • You've become more discerning about the art culture you live in,
  • You've decided what genre or style will best suit what you have to say.

How can you connect your art with your potential art audience? Who is this art buyer and where can you find them?

Step 5 is all about determining your audience. Who is this mysterious person?

Maybe you are a textile designer or textile artist. You make handmade soap pillows.

  • How are you going to sell these pillars?
  • To whom are you going to sell your pillows?
  • In what genre?
  • What's the cost of the pillow?
  • How labour intensive is it?  
  • How custom made is it?
  • Is it going to appeal to the income of a low, middle of high segment clients?

The answers to these questions will determine the price of your product and  in turn determines what kind of client you are catering too.

Take time determine:

  1. Where your clients are?
  2. Where do your ideal art clients buy art?
  3. What are they willing to pay for it?

Determine WHO your potential client is.

  • Do the buy art at flea markets,
  • Or at an art fair,
  • Or do they buy art online,
  • Or at a gallery?

Once you know who your potential customer is and where and how they buy art, you can start to take bold steps to connect with them.

STEP 6: DARE TO TAKE BOLD STEPS

'If you want to get eyes on your art, you need to be eye catching.'

If you are ready and your art is at a level that you are happy, clear and confident about, then it's time for you to take bold steps not only out of your workspace, but probably outside of your comfort zone.

In order to connect to your potential art buyer and start selingl your art successfully you need to exercise extra care and be clear about your selling strategy

Examples Please!

But let's imagine you have determined you love to work big. You use bold colors, and you're passionate about connecting people. You lie awake about the inequality in your nation and you want to share this with the world.

You know, because of the

  1. scale,
  2. the quality of your work,
  3. and the reputation you have build up,

that you are catering for the high end segments and that your buyer will not buy your five thousand dollar art piece, on a whim at a flea market.  They will probably go through a dealer or carefully select your art online. They'll look for quality and excellence and see buying your art as a piece of investment. Your client is probably an influencer and wants to buy your art to make a statement supporting his or her philosophy on life.

All these criteria determine how and where you'll connect with your ideal clients.

A Word of Warning

You have to set realistic goals. Please be ready. Make sure that you can honor your words with quality and meet the expectations of your clients. If you're not quite ready, you want to use this exercise in the Artist Success Guide to get yourself ready.

You have to DARE to exercise patience. Dare to admit that you're not quite ready, Dare to wait.

There are all kinds of advantages when they are no eyes looking at you and your art  yet.

Why not being well known has it's perks

  1. You can work without the pressure.
  2. You can work in creative freedom with no one watching you,
  3. You have the room to experiment ,
  4. You will grow quicker,
  5. You will have time to develop your style, and determine your signature look,
  6. And you can fail graciously without  writing critiques about you,
  7. You have to grow confidence.

Use this time to work on the quality of your work so that you can start to produce more consistency.

It's one thing to sell one painting, but if you want a sustainable career as an artist and you will need to sell your work consistently.

 STEP 7: DEVELOPING LASTING ART RELATIONSHIPS

If you ask curators, gallery owners or successful artists what the most important aspect is to making or selling the successful art, they would invariably  say, 'It's all about relationships.'

 The quality of an artist's relationships will actually influence the success of the art.

In Step 7 in the Artist Success Guide we will look at 3 important artist relationships:

  1. The relationship the artist has with his or herself,
  2. The relationship that you have with potential buyers. Are you nurturing a relationship with potential buyers? Do they know where to find you?
  3. The having relationship with your support team. Do you have cheerleaders?Do you have people around you that are helping you and cheering you on? People that inspire, that know you, that understand you?

What Artist Rachel Teannalch is doing right

Last year, I took a trip to Idaho. I had the privilege to meet Artist Rachel Teannalach,  a contemporary landscape painter based in Boise.

Rachel hosted an open studio in the time that I was there and it was wonderful to see her studio jam packed with art enthusiasts. There was such a buzz about the place, people talking and excited, pointing and sharing experiences that her art provoked.

This intrigued me.

Why was she getting so many eyes on her art?

What could I learn from it?

  • I could see that Rachel knew her stuff. She had received an art education and controlled her two techniques and materials. Later, I read that she graduated Cum Laude from Scripps College in California, and later studied in Glasgow and in Florence, Italy.
  • Rachel had a distinct, unique and recognisable style. She paints large, local vistas and landscapes around the Treasure Valley area, which is close to Boise,
  • She uses colors that are distinct and the impasto use of wax and oil paint gives her paintings a very special quality.
  • I later heard that Rachel works consistently. Rachel set herself a challenge and painted a small painting every day for two consecutive years.
  • The project was called The Tiny Expense 365. And besides being very inspiring to see, she sells these paintings on Etsy
  • and was able to show these paintings and these processes and stories on her social media platforms, sparking engagements and conversation.
  • Rachel collaborates with conservation organizations supporting the efforts to preserve the land she paints and loves.
  • Rachel has learned how to articulate and to communicate her art.
  • She writes entertaining blogs and posts online and sends a regular newsletter.
  • She takes her art seriously.
  • She does the work and she finds a way of juggling her busy schedule and raising a young family.
  • I can tell that it's more than just doing her own thing in her studio.
  • She has made very intentional steps and I can see that it's paying off.
  • Rachel has found ways in which he's diversified her art. When I visited her studio, I was not only spellbound by her very large works, but she had produced many products in various price ranges.
  • Her paintings could be seen on scarves and postcards, and fridge magnets and calendars, one of which I proudly took back with me to the Netherlands.


Here is a shot of Rachel and I when we met up in Boise


I couldn't help but think of Hank.

What if Hank would take these steps and apply them to his art?

Last week, I saw Hank again while I was writing my new blog. As I looked out the window, I saw Hank hanging at the back of a garbage truck. Ever so stylish I must admit!....curled moustache and all.

I appreciate that Hank is doing whatever it takes and of course, I know nothing about his private life.

But when I see Hank, I suspect he would rather be painting.

It is stories like Hank that really get me riled up.

This is the reason that I'm making these podcasts and writing these resources and making these guides so that Hank or maybe you can get started or get back to making your art and do it successfully.

When you get very specific and clear about what you do, you'll not only be able to connect with the right audience, but inevitably you will get more eyes in your art.

If you would commit to working through the assignments questions of this 7 step Artist Success Guide I am convinced that you're going to see results.

If you are ready to get more clear and confidence about your art and want to take your art and your art business to a next level. Then this Artist Success Guide is for you.

Start by setting aside that 60 minutes for the next seven days to complete the tasks and answer the strategic questions. It will be time well spent.

The guide is specially designed to inspire and too gently but firmly nudge you to take steps to get more eyes on your art.

If you want to receive the 7 day - 7 step Artist Study Guide then click here to access it.

Get ready for tomorrow you will get your first worksheet in your inbox.

Other Artist Resources

If you're an artist and you're looking for more resources, then take a look at my website as there are a variety of free resources available for you.

If you want to receive them directly into your mailbox, then leave me your name and your email here and you'll be the first to receive my regular content with tips, tricks and inspiring artist stories.

Next Weeks Podcast

I'm really excited about next week's podcast. Next week, you will hear the compelling story of Leonie. E. Brown. She shares how art and the ability it gave her to express her emotions actually saved her life.

Leonie is an award winning South African artist, and in this episode she tells us more about what gets her painting every day and about an exciting commission she completed for a six star hotel in Namibia.

So don't miss it. I know it'll inspire you.

Well, that's all for this week. Don't forget to share this podcast and blog or leave a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to this podcast. This makes the podcast more visible and will help other artists find it.

Enjoy working through your Artist Success Guide !

Thanks so much for connecting. And until next time. 


This Weeks Artist Inspiration Quote

"For the next week try the best you can to pay attention to sounds. You will start hearing all these sounds coming in." 

Robert Irwin


 

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