Saturday, March 01, 2008

Marketing, Maggie Style, Part III

Okay. This is the third and final marketing post in the series (though I will answer all questions posed in the comments of all three posts on Sunday) and I have only two key phrases for you:

1) Marketing may be an art, but it ain't art.
2) If you're only exposing yourself online, you're only as good as Paris Hilton.

Do you like them? I took all of, like, two seconds to think of them and I think they're quite catchy. Not bumper sticker worthy, but still, I'm proud of them.

Anyway. First things first. Marketing may be an art, but it's not art. You can't neglect one or the other; It's crucial that you balance your art and marketing efforts. There's is absolutely no point in having a huge and lovely inventory that never gets sold because of ineffective marketing. And likewise there's no point in marketing yourself into the ground for an inventory of four paintings.

The amount of time you spend on each is going to vary depending on how time consuming your art making methods are and how efficient you are at marketing -- but I would say for me it's at least a solid 50-50. Sometimes leaning decidedly more 60-40 in the marketing direction. And if it falls below 50% -- you'd better believe my wallet feels it. Not right away, but a month down the road.

And while I enjoy marketing, I don't like it nearly as much as making art. (that's where the catch phrase comes in). And some people don't like it at all. But honestly, if you want to be a professional artist, you're going to have to find a way to make it palatable. Professional art and marketing -- inseparable. Until you get rich and famous and you can hire some guy with a snotty name like Theodorus Alexander Hamilton Ltd to promote you while you do the hermit artist thing.

Now, this is only vaguely related, but I want to rant very briefly about fine art snobbery because it irritates me and shoots many nice artists in the feet. I see a lot of this attitude: "I'm a fine artist, so I can only sell limited edition giclees with my images on it. If my work appears on any other sort of product, I'm selling out and I'm not really a fine artist."

I was going to preach a long few paragraphs in defense of getting your art out in as many creative ways possible -- including t-shirts, calendars, etc. -- but instead I'm just going to say this: think about it for two seconds. Seriously. I know those really big famous artists like Da Vinci and Vermeer etc. would never be caught dead on t-shirts etc., because that would devalue the original pieces, but . . . oh yeah, that's right. They're everywhere. Put your art everywhere too.

Onto my second amazing catchphrase. The one about Paris Hilton. I see a lot of artists who are struggling to make a living at it only promoting online. If they ask my opinion, I always say: get your work out in the real world. In my opinion, there is no replacement for real life exposure.

"But Maggie," they all say (and if I had a dime for every single time an artist tells me this I could hire Theodorus Alexander Hamilton Ltd right now) "but Karin Jurick/ Duane Keiser/ fill in the blank with some famous daily painter just has their online blog and they make x amount of money every day from their paintings."

Okay, no. Just stop right there. They don't just have their blogs. All of them do gallery pieces, or portraits, or private showings. Show me someone who looks like they do 100% of their marketing online and I will show you someone who does incredible marketing online . . . and incredible marketing offline. Read their blogs -- interspersed between their daily paintings, you will find mentions of their bigger pieces and their galleries that represent them and exhibitions and openings and magazine articles and . . . are you getting my gist here? You may acknowledge that you need help figuring out how to get your work out in the real world but it's just not right to say that you don't need to be out in the real world.

The internet is a wonderful thing for the professional artist. It opens up a tremendous amount of business and makes being a pro possible for many people (myself included). But it will never replace seeing the art in person -- seeing you in person. Because while you may be an amazing artist, there are a million other amazing artists out there, but 900,000 will never leave their studios or promote their art to the fullest extent. Don't be one of those 900,000. If you want this, really want it -- go get it. Don't go 50%. Go 100%.

All questions in the comments this week will be answered on Sunday, so ask away (or disagree with me too if you do)!


Becca said...

Have you had to deal with art theft yet? As in people stealing the work off your site ect, and if not, how would you deal with it?

Marsha Robinett said...

What wonderful inspiration this series has been. I missed it in the beginning, but did a quick catch-up read today...can't believe how much you have packed into just three posts.

The % of time you spend on marketing was a validation to me. I too have been dividing my time about 50/50 between creating and promoting.

With the economy as it is, branding and promotion cannot be left to chance.

Thank you for caring enough to share.

Casey Klahn said...

Congrats on a great series of posts, Maggie. I wanted to comment the other day, but I was indisposed.

Becca, I had thefts at a museum show two years running! One work one year, and another one the next. As it turns out, they made a nice pair, so we knew it must've been the same thief and possibly an inside job.

The museum venue paid me for them. Am I flattered? Yes, in a backhanded way. But I can't see them showing off and bragging about them, either.

Karen Thumm said...

Maggie, I've thoroughly enjoyed your series on art marketing. It's been a great reminder of all that stuff we learned from Alison Stanfield.

Do you have a cure for Studio Avoidance? I have a severe case of it and can't seem to get over it. I spend about 95/5% on marketing and am down to those four paintings, so I'm getting pretty desperate.

Maybe I need an intervention.

Karen Thumm said...

And BTW I had no idea you were so big into equestrian art until I signed up for your blog!

I thought you were just another run of the mill artist with a good sense of humor instead of a fellow soul sister of the equine arts. Who else can understand why you have purple paint under your fingernails and manure on your boots?

Belinda Lindhardt said...

clap clap clap well said maggie.. i love the thing about art snobbery as well.. i was watching an art show about a famous australian artist the other day where they had artists of today discussing things about this particular artist.. i found myself yelling at the tv saying what a load of absolute @#$@#$@ it really annoys me !! :)

Cooper Dragonette said...

Once again, I find pearls here at your blog. Thank you as always for your insights!!

Cathy Gatland said...

I wish I'd had this marketing series drummed into me ten, oh, twenty years ago. Somehow I thought it would all just fall into place... Thanks so much for the kick in the pants!