Recently, I was contacted by Loraine seeking guidance in reference to her art career. She wrote, “…for many years I was too afraid to go for it. I thought that I wasn’t good enough. I have now decided to give up that belief and learn rather than assume that I will never get better.” Kudos, Loraine, for this positive step. The best way to conquer fear is to practice and practice and practice. It will build your confidence.
Before we go further, I have to preface any guidance with the fact that I have been working on my own art career over ten years and I am still learning. My advice is based on my accumulated knowledge through my trial and error.
First and foremost, Loraine, don’t quit your day job. At least, not yet. Your strongest assets are determination and persistence. Expect delays and rejections… it’s part of the game. Stay positive. With this in mind, I suggest you approach your career with baby steps and in phases.
Phase I – Creating Artwork:
- Practice daily – not every piece should be for sell, you’re developing your style
- Materials – use the highest quality of materials that you can afford
- Create in Series – need 4 to 5 pieces for a series
Phase II – Goals
- Set Goals – choose three to five goals and master those before adding more:
- Studio Space – devote an area to your artwork where you don’t have to set up and clean up every time you work on a piece – you need to be able to leave your mess and come back to it later… the dining room table is not an option
- Build your Portfolio – you will need at least 25 to 30 pieces in a cohesive style to begin
- Photograph your work – I photograph my own. Since I cannot take a photo without it being blurred, I use a tripod for the camera. Clear images that are cropped are mandatory.
- Your Name is your Brand – you want people to remember you. Create your email address using your name, e.g. I use firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Stories – create stories to go with each piece. Potential buyers want to know about you and your artwork. Give people an emotional connection to your work.
Phase III – Promoting your Work
Until you build your portfolio, you may not be ready for this phase yet.
- Social Media – Use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – post daily, if you can. Post an image along with Title, Medium, Size, and Price (more about price later)
- Website – build your site using a free service. There are a number available, Square Space, Shopify, Saatchi. Personally, I use FASO for which I pay. I like to have control over any changes I need to make and FASO provides that. Remember to use your name as you create the site, e.g. my site is JerryHardestyStudio.com. Note I use my name in my email address and my website name.
- Bio and Artist Statement – Create your Bio in the third person and an Artist Statement in the first person. You will need these for your website and for any submissions to contests or galleries. These are not static documents, but change as your work improves and as you change.
Phase IV – Other Art Business
- Pricing – be consistent. Do not price pieces that are the same size differently. You will lose buyers. Create a price list. When I began, I used $1 per square inch, width x height; therefore, an 8×10 would be 80 square inches or $80.
- Business Cards – create a basic business card. Include an image if possible and basic information, your email address and website address. Don’t leave home without them and pass them out wherever you go. I use Vistaprint and Moo.
- Internet – review other artists sites, bios and artists’ statements before creating your own.
- Read – in addition to the Internet, the Library is a great resource. Read about favorite artists, books about technique, and books about art business. I have an extensive personal library and have used the city library as well.
Phase V – Art Gallries, Contests, Organizations
- Join organizations such as Art Societies
- Visit Galleries and Museums
- Attend Gallery Strolls
- Enter local contests (some charge for participating)
Overwhelmed? I was. I am. Loraine, you can work on much of this simultaneously, however, do not attempt to do it all at once. Decide what’s most important, and I cannot emphasize enough that building that portfolio is the most important.