Sizing Up the Competition

Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.
–Sun-tzu, Chinese general & military strategist (ca. 400 BCE)

This week’s Art Marketing Action newsletter helps you identify your competition. Here are some ways to keep an eye on competitors.

  • Attend openings and events for your competition. Always introduce yourself front and center to the other artists. Hold your head high and emit confidence. Never cower in the background. (Ideas for mingling at art openings)
  • Keep an eye on your competition’s Web site and blog. Sign up for any newsletters and blog updates.
  • Track the pricing of your competitors, being especially mindful of price changes.
  • Pay attention to any new offerings (new work, services, classes) from your competition.
  • You have Google Alerts lined up for yourself, right? Why not add your competitors’ names to your list? This should keep you current.

Above all, give yourself credit for everything. Although you might not have approached your career in the same way the competition has, that doesn’t mean your way isn’t every bit as valid. Know what they do better than you, but recognize where you excel. Play to your strengths.

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8 thoughts on “Sizing Up the Competition”

  1. Hi Alyson, I find the concept of competition unsettling in all areas of life, and particularly distasteful in regards to art. Studying the trends and observing what others are doing is not competitive to me. It’s about learning and expanding. I prefer to call it networking, which is a much more comfortable and productive approach to finding out what’s going on as far as trends and prices. For me, networking is not limited to personal contact, either. Using Google Key Word Alerts and commenting on others’ blogs is social networking as much as mingling at galleries and art shows. Thanks, as always, for your great suggestions.

  2. I felt a touch of un-easiness with the thought of introducing myself to my competition! So…this tells me I need to work on in my life. I am a hairdresser by trade but I really really want to sell my art. Holding my head high and emitting confidence has always been hard for me but for some reason tonight I feel that this could be an attainable goal for me with other artists as well as other hair stylists! I can do this! I appreciate all you do! Have a great hair day! Becci

  3. Alyson B. Stanfield

    Shelley: Whatever works for you is what you should do. Becci: Yes, feel the fear and do it anyway. If you’re afraid, it must be the right thing.

  4. I am Mr. Sociable at the art fairs, and I really love being around my fellow artists. Especially pastelists. We share energy, learn from one another, get and give advice. I want to add the next part, which is that I also stick close to my betters, some of whom become mentors over time. Competition is a great word, IMHO.

  5. Michael Lynn Adams

    Competition? What an odd concept. I see artists as being in competition for attention. But if it is generally true that collectors buy what they love and they love your work, where is the competition? If collector loves Sherri McGraw she isn’t going to buy Peter Adams instead of McGraw even if he has a great show with a lot of press. There definitely is competition to getting attention – getting public awareness – and salesmanship. Watching how other artists handle those two important skills is certainly worthwhile.

  6. That’s a great tip to set up a Google Alert to keep track of other artists and my own type of art. I’m going to do that right away. I’m even setting up Alerts for artists I admire and want to be like, career-wise. Thanks for the tip!

  7. I was just talking to someone today about how I procrastinate & self-sabotage. The posting today about sizing up your competition really struck a chord within me — because I am my competition ! My worst competition. Now how crazy is that? My goodness. In hearing the word “competition” I even thought to myself that I couldn’t possibly be right. (Denial?) So I opened a word doc and went to the Thesaurus and typed in the word “competition”…..still thinking that I might be wrong. Here they are: Synonyms for COMPETITION: Rivalry, Opposition, Antagonism. War, Struggle, I am competing against myself with my procrastination. I’m stuck in a cycle of not making art, defeating my future, making a few pieces but not marketing them, making websites for friends & family on the side…and still not having mine completed……going round & round like a pup chasing it’s tail. So. I vow tonight that I will no longer compete against myself. I will not expend all that energy moving backwards. Instead I will empower myself to move forward. That’s it. There is no competition other than myself, and that, quite frankly, is futile. I just re-read the blog entry on Sizing up the Competition and keeping an eye on your competitors. I believe that if I don’t go to openings and fairs I will continue to hold myself back. If I do the recommended things I will actually become empowered and excited to keep moving forward. It’s a win-win situation! Next….I will write a mantra….and live it!

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