Art has always played an important role in society. It’s what makes us human. But the truth is, most people will never make it as an artist. According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than one percent of artists earn more than $50,000 per year from their art-related work.
This is due to many factors like lack of training and skills, lack of time for art (due to holding down another job), and not knowing how to market themselves. A common question for emerging artists is, “How do I get noticed?” This post will walk through some proven steps on how you can get seen as an artist with little effort on your part.
What’s Your Medium?
Whether you make paintings, sculptures, or music, make sure to pick your medium first. There are many young emerging artists who have been “discovered” by their social media following alone. When I was starting, I picked painting because I was pretty good at it and knew that this would be the best way to create my own business – a workshop based on commission art.
Ask yourself: is art a passion for you? Is it something you can pursue full time? Don’t worry if it’s not a career you have yet to “discuss” with your parents. People have been in the same position.
Figuring Out Your Message
When it comes to branding and marketing yourself as an artist, you have to figure out what you want your audience to take away from your work. One of the best ways to get ideas about how to communicate your message is to search for the work of others who are doing what you want to do.
You can search the web for popular art trends and figures, books about art, or even art galleries that feature your brand of choice.
Many photographers and illustrators create works of art that are tied to the personal philosophy they have. Others try to portray the subjects they’re photographing or illustrating in the most creative way.
First thing’s first: you have to know someone who knows someone. I know it sounds cliché and not very exciting, but it’s true. This is a huge benefit for artists, especially as small business owners, because we know people. And it turns out they know people.
One of my favorite art teachers tells me that there are a few good artists in every small town. When people see one of them, they’ll ask about the other. I’ve found this to be true. For example, here in my hometown, there’s a jewelry artist named Stephanie Hall.
Familiarize Yourself with the Community
The easiest way to get noticed as an artist is to meet the right people. Art enthusiasts, curators, gallery owners, and collectors are a relatively small group. It is not that easy to walk into a gallery and find a successful artist. However, you can easily find someone to introduce you to by attending a show or two.
While getting noticed through networking or attending shows and openings are the primary means of promotion for artists, it is important to remember that you also need to familiarize yourself with the community. Many people are familiar with museums and local art organizations, but the market you are seeking to enter is much more complicated.
Know Your Competition
You must understand who your competition is. For example, if you’re a graphic designer who creates mainly logos and websites, your competition is other graphic designers who do the same. But if you’re an illustrator creating children’s illustrations or digital illustrations, your competition is the thousands of digital designers who are able to make such graphics. The reason why you should know your competition is so you can better yourself and have a competitive edge against them. For example, if you’re an illustrator and you design advertisements for a restaurant chain, you can focus on special effects or textures while your competition only does typography.
Whether it’s through showcasing a gallery show, going to shows, going to artist gatherings, or writing a blog, you need to show people what you have to offer. Also, you need to have at least one piece of work that you can show people. You can start by making some sketches of what you would like to create. You can also browse Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram for inspiration. You can find inspiration in many forms; galleries, art in magazines and art books, children’s toys, books, and more. If you are too indecisive and afraid to be creative, try writing down your ideas and develop your style by experimenting with different techniques and materials.
Marketing Yourself as an Artist
A clear statement of who you are and what you do is the first step to marketing yourself as an artist. You have to be a unique entity that represents your genre and helps others get excited about it. As with most marketing, it’s difficult to get the word out about your work. We like to think we’re creative, but how many people can paint animals in a cute manner? Art has to be entertaining for people to see, and it has to tell a story that grabs their attention.
That being said, some of the best ways to get noticed as an artist is to: Help other artists. Being an active member of any art-related forum, either in person or online, gives you a network of artists to collaborate with.
Be Present on Social Media Platforms
The most important social media platforms for artists are Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Facebook has more than a billion users and offers some creative tools for artists:
- Message to your fans
- Take and select a photo/video for your profile.
- Find your fans
If your fans use Facebook Messenger, your profile will be tagged with a special “Chat Now” icon which makes it easy to message you (assuming they have given you their e-mail address). You can easily engage with your fans using this feature. This will allow them to follow your posts.
Put Up a Website
One of the first things to do is to put up a website. This will allow you to showcase your art online. Many artists I know still don’t have websites (perhaps I’m not the only one…), but at least now, they have a foundation to build from. To do so, simply create a free website using a web host like SiteGround.com or Wix.com. Both of these are popular choices, but make sure to check their quality rating for each.
The next step is to start updating your website with images. You want to make sure that you keep them fresh and up-to-date to help promote your art. And for the images that you do use, make sure you post-professional, high-resolution images of the work. Go to Flickr and Upload Your Images.
Submit to Art Galleries and Competitions
There are many art galleries that will accept work for shows and competitions for submission. Some galleries even have payment options if they do not sell any of your work, so you can hold onto the art you made and continue submitting to those galleries.
The Boston Art Library, founded by Jill Ebstein, has a great online gallery with an open submission policy. As soon as you submit your work to The Boston Art Library, your name and work will show up on a search engine for artists, making your work more visible to potential buyers. If a potential buyer likes your work, you can request to submit your work to the gallery for an exhibition. If they say yes, you have the chance to show your work to hundreds or thousands of people.
Nobody can force you to be an artist. But it is by creating a name for yourself in your community that you can be seen. It’s an art of self-promotion. Being seen as an artist is like trying to become a celebrity, a difficult, arduous task. Yet, the more you work at becoming an artist, the easier it will become.