DIY Not DIA Marketing

Art Biz Coach was launched 11 years ago after I heard from many artists that they wanted an agent. They were looking for someone to do the work for them so that they could stay in the studio and work.
I thought I might be able to be an artist agent, but I realized I would be doing artists a disservice if I did the work for them.
I had just left the museum world and would never have imagined talking to agents instead of artists. This just isn’t done at that level.
Curators, gallerists, and serious collectors want to work directly with artists, not with agents.

Kerry Thompson (a.k.a. Kerry Millard) talks about illustrating a book.
Kerry Thompson (a.k.a. Kerry Millard) talks about illustrating a book.

I opted to teach artists how to best represent themselves and take control of their careers (Do It Yourself or DIY) without doing it alone (DIA). Here’s why.

You Are Your Best Salesperson

You are the artist!
You are the face of your business. You’re the one with those amazing hands that make unimaginable works of art. You give form to big, beautiful ideas.
No one knows your art better than you. No one can relate the same passion you have for your work.
No one cares about your art more than you. They may appreciate it or even love it, but they don’t have the same attachment to how it lives in the world. They don’t have skin in the game.
No one wants you to succeed more than you. It’s your butt on the line. Why leave your life and livelihood in someone else’s hands?
You must learn to be not only your best advocate, but also your best salesperson. You have to do it yourself!

But . . .

Just because you do the marketing yourself (DIY) doesn’t mean you have to do it alone (DIA).
I didn’t leave artists to their own accord when they said they wanted agents. I created a service to help them become their own best agents. But I can’t help anyone who 1) doesn’t want to be helped or 2) isn’t willing to invest time and energy into building their businesses.
You might have a gallerist, a spouse, a coach, family, and friends on your side, or you might have a coach or colleagues in a mastermind group.
Any or all of these people are available to support you, but you still have to sell yourself to them. You do this by believing in your work and having confidence in your abilities. These are huge attractors.
People are not going to jump up and take notice without encouragement from you, and they’re not going to continue helping if they don’t see that you are doing your part.
To recap: DIY to build your art business, but no need to DIA.
Who is helping you avoid the DIA trap?

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17 thoughts on “DIY Not DIA Marketing”

  1. My Mom, my Dad, my aunt, my manager at work who stumbled across my website and stopped to tell me how amazing my work is, my good friend and fellow artist Carol Van Sant. Everyone on my newsletter mailing list, and so many other friends.

  2. My husband is my biggest fan, which is significant as he has to take over my share of the bills when I have a bad month.. But I fully agree with you, many of my friends and family members liked my paintings, but thought I was mad to go into art full-time, until they realised how much I put in, and how hard I work at it, now I have their support for life!
    And I believe that for an (occasionally struggling) artist, a good support system is one of the most important things.

  3. My support base consists of family (my kids have sales backgrounds and help with home shows; my husband supports me in a quite literal sense) and my fellow artists. Because I am primarily a plein air painter painting through a “circuit’ of events from spring to fall, I have met and become friends with hundreds of fellow artists. We do learn from each other, and a lot is shared, and artists are great companions while traveling. i also have a high school student working with me for a paid internship on the “business of art” through his school. he is a good find because he is helping with the social media promotion which he understands a lot better than i do. i have an easy website to work with (FASO), a nearby framer, graphic designer, and small print shop that does short runs for the prints and cards of my peripheral business. This still leaves all the marketing, promotion, database entry, shipping, financial bookkeeping, and production (i’m sure I’m leaving out a lot). Oh yes, and painting.

  4. I do have a few artist friends who are fun to be around, and who encourage me, guiding me through some of the basic tasks, especially graphic arts, and I am part of a larger group of artists who sponsor an Open Studios tour here in West Sonoma County, California. It seems that I am doing PR ALL the time – for the above tour (Art at the Source, or AATS)for our Guerneville monthly Artwalk, and for myself. Most of us are dedicated amateurs, but there are a couple of pros (I am in-between)most of whom too busy help others. I am not exactly DLA but they are definitely not DLA, either. Wish I could say I had a better support system from my family and non-artist friends/acquaintances. Hope this doesn’t sound whiney – just hoping to upgrade the support system somehow.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Karen: Figure out what you need from those other people and how you can tell or show them what you want.
      “Too busy to help others” ? Be careful about volunteering to clean up after everyone else.
      What’s DLA? Do you mean DIA ?? Yes, I think that’s what you mean.

  5. I have plenty of marketing skills, but I am not any good at sales. I have a great support group of peers and family, but a real sales person is someone who can close the deal. If, let’s say, I am and an exhibition opening and someone wants to talk about my art, I can do that. But the truth is I can NEVER close a sale. My work sells better if I don’t approach an interested party, and let them move on their own to one of the gallery staff. If I am working en plein air and am approached by someone, I don’t have the personality to actually sell the work. Most of us are introverts. We work alone much of the time. Marketing from the solitude of my computer is one thing. Selling (actual work, or myself as an artist) in person is a whole other ball game. I prefer to leave the selling to someone else. I already have a full-time job as an artist.

  6. My support groups in art, the art blogging community, my artist friends in Toronto, my supportive friends and collectors, the galleries that show my work and of course my family are super supporters. I suspect that the rules may be different in Canada though, and I think the top artists all have agents, or use the high end galleries they show in as agents. You would not deal directly with the big public galleries. I don’t think so, but I hope someone will debate this.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Barbara: You mean that only the agent deals with the galleries? And we’re talking commercial galleries, not museums (what you all call galleries also). Right?

  7. Karen I. Xoxony

    Thank you for this site! I am encouraged! I have sold all of my artwork and skills via neighbors, friends, family and some advertising that I made myself. I have made some good money, I dont paint for profit, but for enjoyment. My husband however would like to see as much come in as I spend on materials and time. I pray. I asked God 10 years ago to give me something to do , as my children were more independent. My neighbor came over that afternoon and asked if I would like to join her at the community rec. dept. oil painting class. I was asked if I would sell my first painting (a Pothaste copy) when I was halfway ! I was then asked to paint a mural, and a portrait (talk about scary!). I am pretty much self taught and led by God. It would be nice to have more money but I am pretty happy to have the icing on the cake and let my husband bring in the cake!! We are all blessed to have you share your insight for free and I look forward to more posts! Blessings, Karen

  8. Jeanette Minnich

    Your website/facebook posts have been invaluable. Here in Loveland, CO, the city established a temporary position called “Office of the Creative Sector,” and the woman in charge (Marcie Erion) has done a fantastic job supporting local artists with workshops, paid venues (stipend) to do their art in public places during community events, and advertising art opportunities in a consolidated web/facebook site. She also encouraged the city to use an empty storefront downtown for a rotating local artist gallery. We’ve also been taking advantage of our teenage daughter’s growing expertise from her marketing and web design classes. Our church community has been both patrons of our family’s art AND great word of mouth advertisers.

  9. I inadvertently replied to the e-mail, so I will try again here. Jeanette, I would like to know the web address of the “Office of the Creative Sector” you described, although I live in an unincorporated area in California, there may be hope, I hope.

    1. Jeanette Minnich

      @Karen–I went to your web page and sent a detailed replay (the formatting is a mess, but hopefully the content is what you need).

  10. I am the Biggest Fan of my art so it comes naturally for me to discuss my art in detail with people I know as well as people I do not know without getting intimidated or embarassed. I have so far gained five Collectors in just one year merely by showing enthusiasm and passion about my work, the sketches of my ideas that would become paintings and then texting them progress and photos of the sketches that I showed them now becoming Paintings. Sometimes I even post on my Artist Page my work-in-progress. The response has been huge. With each artwork purchase, I also give my Collectors a 7×5 high quality personalized COA with my Embossed Artist Seal on it [Like a Notary] and my full signature in Ink. It does not end here. I even meet them up for lunch and coffee from time to time because I do like intellectual conversations and who is better than those few people who have honored me, invested in me and decorated their spaces with my paintings? I like to know them personally and in turn they get to know me personally too. I invest in them the way they invest in me. They are not just Collectors but my friends and supportors. I even throw TEA Parties twice a year where I introduce my Collectors to each other. I cannot imagine anyone else talking about my Art with the same Passion and Conviction so you are absolutely right “Confidence” is the Key. I feel like a huge Magnet that attracts highly intelligent and some of the most amazing people who inspire me to soar. I feel so blessed and am so grateful to have these people in my life.

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