Spit Shine Your Image

How others perceive you is based on four things: your art, yourself, the venues where you show and sell your art, and your marketing materials.
All of these are used in promoting your art. I have some ideas for how you can improve your image one step at a time. But first, let me ask you some questions about these four areas.
1. Your Art (and how you present it)
Do you have a recognizable style? Is your work “crafted” as best as it can be? Are your canvases sturdy?
Are you preparing your surfaces properly, or is everything going to fall apart in 5 years? Are your welded joints properly finished?
Are your mats perfectly cut? Are hanging devices properly attached? Do your pedestals have a clean coat of paint on them, or are they scuffed up? Are your display cases scratched?

Amber Maida
Amber Maida, The Lost City. Acrylic, pearlescent ink, sand/pumice, string, eggshells, antique key and vintage book pages on canvas, 24 x 30 inches. ©2009 The Artist

2. You
Do you speak kindly of other artists and festival organizers? Are you generous or guarded?
Do you dress like a professional when you go out or do you find yourself embarrassed at the way you look when someone asks you about your art? Do you keep your word, meet deadlines, and follow through with projects?
3. Your Venues
Will you forever be known as The Coffee Shop Artist because you found a safe place to show your art and never left?
Or are your venues consistently improving? Did you build a site on Etsy.com and stop there?

4. Your Marketing Materials

Is your art always the most important part of your marketing, or have you gotten carried away with funky fonts and design elements?
Do your business cards, note cards, hang tags, and letterhead convey a consistent message? Do your website and blog promote the same message as the rest of your marketing materials?
FINAL WORD: Presentation is everything. Everyone has to start somewhere, but you also need to grow and improve. We get only one chance to make a first impression. Make yours count by spit shining your image in any or all of these four areas.

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15 thoughts on “Spit Shine Your Image”

  1. Pingback: What is artistic style? — Art Biz Blog

  2. This is great advice. Because I came from the corporate world before starting my art career I am always attuned to the importance of appearance. I’m always amazed when I see other artists at shows that are dressed sloppily or who have sloppy displays. My husband calls me anal about things like hanging my prints straight and rejecting mats that have small flaws but I feel that if my name is on the work it has to be the best I can do. If that makes me anal, so be it! (By the way, it’s also important to proofread everything carefully. I once had an applicant for a secretarial job who had a typo in her resume — Needless to say she didn’t get the job!)

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  4. Alyson, After purchasing your book, AND devouring every word, I have followed your advice to the letter. I am unashamed to be bold about self promotion (to the point my closest friends call me the art whXre!). I always laugh and just keep plugging away. I opened my first solo gallery exhibition yesterday with a collection of 54 oil paintings and 2 prismacolor drawings, and a variety of giclee prints. I sold 15 paintings and 14 prints! Oh, and did I mention we are in a recession? THANK YOU, Alyson, for all your advice. I don’t know how you manage to have time to help others, because you are MY personal art guru!

  5. Alyson Stanfield

    Margaret: You’re not being anal. You’re paying attention to details!
    Dian: Holy cow. That’s awesome! What did you do to promote the exhibit?

  6. Alyson, I really take every word you write to heart. I have followed your advice to the letter. I started by posting an early announcement of my show in my Christmas cards and to the public on Facebook just after Christmas. This was a large show of 55 oil paintings, so I gave updates of my progress and a few sneak peeks at my work occasionally. I felt like I wanted to target Facebook with most of my energy because of the large number of locals. About 6 weeks ago, I sent an event invitation on facebook. I had a few posters printed and hung them, sent weekly reminders and finally posted my invitation as my profile photo. I mailed invitations, emailed invitations, hand delivered invitations. I knew who my audience was going to be and painted what I like with my audience in mind. I also painted for today’s economy. Half of my work was 8×10″ or 8×8.” I also had giclee prints availabe of about a dozen paintings I thought would be well received. Believe it or not, I also had t-shirts made with my poster on it, so I was a walking billboard last week! Finally, I decided to visualize my successful gallery opening (your suggestion). I did this last year with a specific number of paintings I wanted to sell and that’s exactly what sold. All week, I Have looked at the number 10 on my kitchen bulletin board. I thought the number ten and talked about the number ten. I worked hard to cover as many angles as possible. The updates on my progress generated alot of interest. The numbers were seen as impossible by most of my FB friends, so they really got personally involved and gave me lots of encouragement. By the time the gallery opened, they thought they had as much ownership as I!
    At the gallery,I used my journal studies and notes as the name cards for my work in the gallery (another of your suggestions) to get people to stand in front of my paintings longer. They really liked “getting into my head” in that way. Everything just worked, except for the number ten. It turned out to be 15 instead! Thanks again for all your advice. Dian

  7. Alyson Stanfield

    Dian: That is so awesome! I’m going to tweet this so that people don’t miss your amazing success. Congratulations!

  8. Dian,
    Thank you for sharing your process and how Alyson’s book helped you. I always enjoy reading a success story about an artist.

  9. Truly shows the power of keeping yourself focused on one goal and not allowing yourself to be distracted by other shiny things along the way! I will definitely try to keep this wonderful example in mind at all times.

  10. @Dian: Wow! How amazing! I appreciate your insight! 🙂
    Alyson’s book things really started pulling things together for me too too! I went out and started a newsletter with only 5 subscribers (family) and now, a few months later, I have over 70! I find being an art whXre is clearly not a bad thing!
    Formerly a marketing executive, I’ve been amazed at how difficult it is to really establish yourself as a personal brand.
    You seem to be well on your way! Congratulations! 🙂

  11. Dian:
    What a great example of visualization, planning, and follow-thru. Alyson’s mentoring is spot-on and you executed beautifully. Congratulations!

  12. Michael Newberry

    Dian, that is fantastic. Also it is good to know how much belief and effort you put into the show. I think most artists feel they have already put the effort into their paintings, and are confused when shows don’t go well. I have been there and done that. lol. But the presentation and marketing are great enablers. One of the things that I am most excited about is that after your presentation you got to truly enjoy the rewards. Well done.

  13. Even though I am deep on the bench, I just ‘had’ to jump in this a great comment thread!
    Because of social media, it is now easier than ever to for artists to market themselves. Social media is the quickest way to build
    ‘brand identity’ and it really does work for artists. I like the way Dian promoted her show via FB…
    Congrats to Dian and Elizabeth for their successes and thanks to Alyson for providing great advice!

  14. Pingback: Snap Photos of Your Art In Situ — Art Biz Blog

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Your Artist Mailing List: Rethinking + Assessing

Get a transcript of episode 182 of The Art Biz (Rethinking Mailing Lists for Artists) followed by a 3-page worksheet to evaluate the overall health and usage of the 3 types of artist lists.

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