What I love most about the holidays isn’t receiving gifts. It’s giving them.
I love everything about the process: from trying to find the perfect gift for a special person on my list, to wrapping it and watching them open it.
I throw parties and give “lovely parting gifts” to our guests (as if the party wasn’t enough).
I decorate envelopes to delight recipients.
The thrill of gift giving is sacred in my book.
Unfortunately, when building a business, giving gifts can be tarnished by the giver wanting or expecting something in return. It’s part of the list-building process.
In return for your email address, I offered 6 free video lessons or perhaps a checklist, special report, or webinar at some point.
These presents are easy for me to deliver because I offer a service. I have loads of content that will help you gain recognition and sell more art.
It’s harder for artists to offer gifts in return for email addresses.
Stop Trying to Solve Problems with Your Art
When consuming marketing advice, it’s important to distinguish the difference between what I share to help you in your art career and what other business coaches might be teaching.
Many of these coaches are working with small business entrepreneurs (like me) who sell services. Our business model is to solve problems that potential clients might have.
At Art Biz Coach, I help ambitious artists gain recognition, build confidence, and sell more art. With my private clients, we customize marketing plans with strategies that are the best fit for each artist’s individual situation.
The free gifts that I offer and those from others that are most consumed online are those that solve a problem. They promise the consumer or artist any or all of the following:
- This will save you time.
- This will save you money.
- This will save you effort.
- This will make you money.
When you read this list of promises, it’s hard to see what you as an artist might have to offer in exchange for an email address. On the other hand, if you also teach art, you can create a free report to attract students.
But let’s just stick to the fine art and put the possibility of teaching aside for now.
You could make the argument that art solves a problem. Maybe it fills a hole in the wall or a void in someone’s life. But this argument is weak.
Most people, outside of artists themselves, don’t need art to survive or to overcome a tough situation.
The truth is, the empty wall over the sofa and the garden don’t need your art. They will be fine, although arguably less aesthetically pleasing, remaining empty.
Here’s the bottom line: Stop trying to fit your art business into a formula created for other products and services. Art is special. Your art is special.
The Purpose of Art
Art doesn’t solve a problem. If you insist that art should have a purpose, try any of these:
Art delights. It adds joy to one’s life.
Art questions the status quo.
Art piques our curiosity.
Art brings back fond memories.
Art educates us about religion, philosophy, history, and geography.
For the people who need it (you and me), art is absolutely essential. But we have to face that not everyone feels this way.
Hundreds of millions of people around the world live in poverty and have no place for art purchases in their meager budgets. Fortunately, most art can be observed free of charge in galleries and art centers, on museum free days, and online.
I love the way Elizabeth Gilbert frames art’s role in society in her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, which every artist should read. She insists that art is nonessential and embraces the notion that she makes useless things. She says:
It means I am not exclusively chained to the grind of mere survival. It means we still have enough space left in our civilization for the luxuries of imagination and beauty and emotion – and even total frivolousness.
Pure creativity is something better than a necessity; it’s a gift.
Focus on the Gift
Your gift is your art.
Your gift is using your art to communicate something special to the world. Focus on the gift and give more of it.
Instead of looking to receive something in return, give freely. No, I’m not talking about giving your art away. I want you to share it more openly – in emails and on social media.
Focus on your art and the stories behind it, as well as your life as an artist in your communication. Stop trying to make your art fit into a certain marketing formula.
Delight. Surprise. Educate. Through your art. This is your gift.
Let’s talk about giving gifts and building your list. Please leave a comment below.