Tuesday, August 20, 2013

marketing or just connecting with people?

I've been thinking a lot about marketing my art - how to market it, should I write a marketing plan, who are my customers and how do I reach them, what are the demographics...  and I don't think traditional business plan processes are always the best way to go with art, especially with the internet. I remember when I got a job at an art gallery, I was so excited to be working in my field until I realized it was just working retail. I was in sales, not art. The art was a product and whether I liked it or not, it was my job to talk with everyone who came in the door and apply all sorts of tactics (I had to go through sales training) to get them to buy. I had learn how to "close" a sale and anticipate objections so that I could negate them before the customer said it. I could never ask a yes or no question, had to keep them engaged in the art... It was stressful and not enjoyable at all.

After a while I realized my commission was barely anymore than my hourly, so I switched gears and just had conversations with people that came in. Conversations about whatever felt natural or whatever came up - if we talked about the art that was good, if not that was good too. I would see people around town and continue our conversations because they felt like friends, not customers. I'm still friends with some of those gallery customers because of that switch in my approach. It felt a little like anti-sales and it became fun. 

Yes, it's a product - I create a piece then you can buy then I can ship it to you. Art is also an extension of the artist. But the more I read about marketing, online or not, the more I find it all comes down to relationships. The relationship you build with your customers, who become more than that when you talk with them and learn about them and in turn they learn about you and your art. It's an exchange, or sharing. Either way, the majority of people who have purchased my work are people I know. I either met them at a gallery opening, through a friend or family member, a lot are family, or I have met them online. So, I guess as I stress about how I'm supposed to market my work, I should realize that I already am just by sharing the story and the process (even if it's difficult).  So, I'll just keep connecting with people and see how that goes.

This is the latest piece I've been working on. It is another burst design, this time on vintage fabric. I wasn't sure if I would like the idea of a patterned background, but I think it is great and it has given me a lot of ideas about manipulating the fabric before stitching. I have one more color to add to this before it's done, and then I may paint the paint like I've done on others before mounting it on stretcher bars. I have been posting the "in progress" pics of my work on Instagram - if you're there, please let me know - it is currently my favorite photo app : )

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