Monday, February 25, 2008

Marketing Maggie Style - Part I

"Strawberries" - unfinished 35 minute sketch from my sketchbook/ done during my workshop
Copyright 2008 Maggie Stiefvater.
Remember to subscribe to the blog if you want a chance to win the sketchbook when I'm done with it!

Okay, I promised a mini-series of posts on art marketing, so here goes. I want to preface this like I preface all my advicey blogs: there are a million ways to do everything having to do with art, including the business of it, so take my advice and adapt it to what you do. Seriously. If something works for you, run with it like it's going out of style. If it doesn't chuck it. Nobody's grading you here on anything but results!

So, that out of the way, in this first post, I want to talk about diversity. Diversity is absolutely crucial in any art marketing plan. Unless you are a talking whale who does pastels and you land a spot on Oprah, I can guarantee you that you're not going to get all your marketing needs from one place. You're going to need to be like my dog Ginger -- everywhere.

However . . . before I talk about various places I've poked my head up for the sake of marketing, I want to talk about bad publicity. There is such a thing as negative exposure. Couple of examples?

  • In the company of bad artists. I'm not talking about artists in a different style from yours. I'm talking about websites that mostly advertise artists who aren't yet at the top of their game. If you're at the top of your game, you don't want to be lumped in with them. Believe me, it is far better to have artists who are your equals or better all around you if you're paying for advertising. Don't be intimidated by other good artists -- I don't believe that a good artist truly has to worry about competition from other artists. You're a unique commodity.
  • On unprofessional looking websites. Yours or anyone else's. It's far better to look elusive and unreachable than to be found on a two-color website coded by a ten year old that is called "Lola's Fine Art & Hairdressing."
  • On a myspace page also featuring photos of you throwing up on your date after a party. This partially goes under the second heading, but the point of this one is that your business and personal identities need to mesh seamlessly or one of them has to get off the internet. Period.
Okay. I'm assuming that none of you would commit any of the above sins. Now here are a few ideas of places that you can use for marketing. I'll go into more detail on the next posts on marketing (which will be on Wednesday and Friday for those so inclined).

  • a personal website to act as a professional portfolio ( hosts very nice template based ones)
  • a blog that is at least 75% about your art and is updated at least twice a week
  • on FREE artists' portfolio sites with good traffic (Painters Keys is one of these but there are other -- use Google, it is your friend)
  • by posting on artists' forums with useful information and works in progress (WetCanvas & ScribbleTalk are just two)
  • by reading other artist's blogs and commenting intelligently to drive traffic back to your blog (and to get to know other artists)
  • magazine articles. write them and submit them - submission guidelines are on most magazines' websites and there are so many subject specific mags that you don't have a reason not to
  • local exhibitions. find out where people display art locally and work yourself into it -- as long as it's free. DO NOT PAY FOR GALLERY SPACE. Note that you probably won't sell pieces at a local show. Doesn't matter. Exposure always pays off in the long run.
  • national exhibitions. You will have to pay a jury fee for these. But find the ones most specific to your medium and subject and it will pay off.
  • business cards. Make them beautiful and send them out into the world so they can keep working for you while you're sleeping.
  • local festivals. I try to do a booth at my local town festival every year. It's tiny, but that's the good part -- word of mouth in a tiny town can do wonders. Big fish in a small pond isn't a bad thing.
  • subject-related shows. When I want to get horse portraits, I do booths at horse shows. Find venues related to what you paint, whatever it is you paint, and make yourself known.
  • eBay - if you think of eBay as a marketing tool instead of an income maker, you'll be a lot happier.
This is just a start -- but I do all of these things consistently. You'll notice that most of them don't cost money, and I'm inherently wary of things that do. Another note -- it takes awhile for these things to pay off. So sow the seeds now so they can start to bear fruit sooner rather than later



hbedrosian said...


Some of these tips I've heard before; some I haven't. All of them I am taking seriously, based on your success! (Of course, talent has a lot to do with it too...)

Kasie @ ~The Art of Life~ said...

Thanks so much for sharing Maggie.
I truly respect you and how hard you work.
I know that your advice is very valuable. :)

Katherine said...

Not much new for some but everything is good advice for most people! :)

Plus it's always good to have a blog post you can bookmark because it's all in one place - so this is being linked to from my blog next Sunday!

Mary Rogers said...

Thanks for sharing, Maggie. It's easy to get discouraged at times, but your success and wisdom is inspiring.

Barbara Pask said...

Thank so much Maggie, I carefully read every word and took a few notes. I really appreciate how generous you are. Thanks again. Barb

Tania said...

Thanks Maggie! For someone who is new to the "I'm actively marketing my art" bit, this sort of advice is exactly what I'm looking for.

connie said...

Stellar post. I am looking forward to more on marketing. Love ALL of your blog. Connie Snipes

Belinda Lindhardt said...

Thanks again Maggie for a fabulous post. I am happy with myself for knowing that i am already doing the majority of these and your right it is paying off.

I am curious tho, you say that you wont sell in local shows (i only looked at them for expsoure anyway)but i was wondering why dont you sell there ? Is it the target audience just isnt a "buyer" as such ??

Giesla said...'s the updating at least twice a week that I have trouble with. I could update with a bunch of junk like hey! I had burritos for lunch! but updating with pertinent work information is tricky.

Love your blogs! (I'm taking the "comment on other artists' blogs" advice to heart....a lot of the time I just read them and don't say anything!)

Cooper Dragonette said...

Maggic, Don't ever leave us. Your tell-it-like-it-is advice is invaluable and I always take note! Can't wait to retool my marketing department now! Thanks so much!!!

Sandy said...

I always love visiting here. I'm a suscriber and love your art.