Successful Internet Artists Notes
I keep an eye on successful artists, not for their paintings, but for their promotional skill. Some are top drawer artists with great skill, some have marginal skill. They are successful because they are excellent marketers, and successful on the Internet. Many of them have bypassed traditional galleries and have taken up their own career direction without the middleman. That is the path I have gradually moved toward in my own career. I still show in a few local and area art galleries but have stopped showing my work in far away galleries. I prefer the direct sales on the Internet to out of area galleries.
Here are a few reasons for artists’ Internet success:
These artists produce good quality and consistent work. They are not fly by night or throw it together painters.
They are professional in their dealing with clients and have a professional approach to their art business. Whether artists like to admit it or not, art is a product like everything else and must be sold in a professional way.
They present their artwork well using good quality images and good design. They have a consistent style, making their work recognizable and collectible.
They use well known mediums and a variety of sizes, framed and unframed, to allow people to buy at least some of their work at reasonable prices.
They display new work regularly on a blog/website/Internet/art site.
They communicate well, giving patrons and friends a sense of what an artist’s life all about, engaging their viewers and readers in friendship and camaraderie. They talk about their work, explaining the vision for their life’s work. The viewer understands the passion behind it. They share their life with viewers in an open engaging way. They build up a personal relationship with their customers, many of whom go on to become personal friends. A successful artist never forgets that the client is a true friend, who allows them to survive in a very unfriendly environment for artists. A successful artist is always truly grateful to those who make their work possible. There is no room for arrogance as far as I am concerned.
They make purchasing very easy with pay pal or another shopping cart system immediately available. The sold painting is well packaged and arrives promptly with good shipping information sent to the buyer, so they know when to expect their painting. All complaints are attended to immediately. The artist stands by their work willing to exchange or refund if needed. Remember, the customer is always right.
They use their mailing list religiously, encouraging referrals and testimonials from satisfied clients.
Some of this may bother you. You may feel resentful that I have made art a product and that the customer is always right. You may feel that the artist should be in control, not the client. If this is true, you are not thinking as a business person. You are being led by your emotions rather than your business sense. I think it is important to say that a professional artist who desires to live off their paintings must learn to separate his/her job into two different jobs. While at the easel, I am an artist 100%. Once the painting is completed, I must be a business person 100%. I must separate myself from the painting emotionally and go about the business of selling it and paying my bills as any other business person would.
The exception to this is commissioned work which is all about business from start to finish. Commission work is my day job, not my love as an artist. Rarely does a commission client allow me the free reign to express myself artistically, though some do. It is about their dream 99% of the time, not about mine. That is not to say I am not grateful for the commission work. I wish I could get a lot more of it. I love doing it because it pays well and it is a total challenge to discipline my own nature as an artist. It also improves my painting skills, so bring it on!!!
I can only tell you what works for me and others in terms of selling on the Internet. Whether you choose to use the techniques or not depends on you. For myself, whatever creative autonomy I give up is worth the price, because I get to paint all day and work for myself. That is worth any inconvenience to me.
More musings for artists and collectors to come….