Visual Artists Rock How Your Art Is Defined

Isn’t it true that nearly all artists find garnering success, acclaim, recognition and staying relevant a constant battle? These things do not come easily to most of us. We fight for our right to be seen and to be respected.

train tracks bob dylanYou never understood that it ain’t no good,
You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you.  ~ Like a Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan

During the Q&A after a recent webinar I gave on how to achieve print market success, I had this question, “Do you think digitally created art is more difficult to sell than traditionally made art?”

While the question caused me to think art in general can be difficult to sell for many reasons, I came away believing artists today have the power to define their work and themselves as never before.

Digital art deserves respect. So do you!

Regarding selling digital art, it is valid to ask if selling it is harder. For me, the short answer is yes, depending on who is selling and who they are talking to. Nevertheless, I believe artists in the digital medium have the means to stand up and demand respect and fair market value for their work.

Isn’t it true that nearly all artists find garnering success, acclaim, recognition and staying relevant a constant battle? These things do not come easily to most of us. We fight for our right to be seen and to be respected.

Genius can be plucked from obscurity

Yes, there is what seems like the occasional overnight success. One plucked from obscurity by some fluke occurrence as with Susan Boyle on some British talent show. But, I bet she spent thousands of hours perfecting her incredible voice, just like The Beatles spent thousands of hours in seedy bars in Hamburg perfecting their craft and, as the apropos lyrics from their tune Blackbird says,

“All your life, you were only waiting for moment to arise.” ~ Blackbird, The Beatles

I went on further in answering the question to mention there is Museum of Computer Art celebrating digitally made art, which is great sales cannon fodder. I pointed out the museum is mentioned in an Art Print Issues blog post titled, Overload – What Digital Art Tells Us About the Future. So, digital art is already on the scene, just maybe not conscious to buyers on Main Street. But so what, is that where your future is? Is Main Street where you will build your collector base?

The future is bright for digital art and any artist who seizes control of how their work is marketed

It does not take much investigation to find there numerous serious artists working in digital form. Take for instance, Bonny Lhotka. She has been around for decades and is a founder of the digital artist collaborative Digital Atelier. Other founding member are Dorothy Krause and Karin Schminke. The Digital Atelier® conducts research on digital imaging for fine art application.

The Digital Painting Forum is a beacon

Would a thriving community such as found on the Digital Painting Forum with a substantial viable paid membership be possible if there was not a bright future for digital art?  In my opinion, making digital art is too compelling for many artists to be able to put it down or dismiss it. Giclee printing did not come from consumer or artist demand. It was a product for art publishers. Digital art is the opposite in that I see the demand on the artist side that eventually will take it into the mainstream.

I surmise in complete conjecture that perhaps older generations who can remember when a fax machine was cutting edge technology are less prone to accept digital art. But, those in subsequent generations have grown up on a steady diet of digital art. As such, I see the future as bright for digital art.

In short, my best advice in answering the question from the webinar is artists have control over how their art is defined if they are proactive. You can choose to let others define you, or you can choose to demand others take your perspective. How you roll on your decisions and actions is what will make the difference.

Confidence, courage and conviction will lead you to new art career heights

I know it takes true confidence in your work and what it stands for to be demandingly bold about its importance. As always, the meek will have a harder time controlling the buzz around their art. At the heart of it, you have to stand for something, believe in it and not let others, as Dylan says, “Get your kicks for you.”

Certainly, if any one artist embodies what it means to stand by his work in the face of withering repression from those who wanted to define him, it is Bob Dylan. At the height of his soaring popularity as a folk singer, and unaccepted spokesperson for his generation title, he dropped his acoustic guitar and plugged in to begin writing the most powerful rock n’ roll lyrics ever written, much to the deep dismay of his most loyal fans.

You can define how you and your artwork are perceived

In fact, “Like a Rolling Stone”, tops Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest rock songs ever. I know you are reading this piece and that you are not likely to galvanize an entire generation with your artwork. Nevertheless, you can take a lesson from Dylan to realize displaying the courage to stand up for yourself and your art, to not be fenced in, to define yourself and to define your artwork is all in your hands.

The Internet flattens the playing field

Today, with the Internet greatly helping to flatten the playing field, the art arbiters have less power than any previous time. Artists are not beholden to galleries and agents to make their career. You can be as controversial as you want and still command respect and sales. The inestimable Hazel Dooney has proved this to all who admire her fearlessness when it comes making art and taking control of who her followers are and what message they get directly from the artist.

There is opportunity in market fragmentation

You are the artist. You are the message. You can use the Internet, blogging and social media to control the message. You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, but if you are spinning silk, no matter what anyone else tells you or says about you, you can make art that collectors you develop will repeatedly buy from you.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in. ~ Anthem, Leonard Cohen

I talked a bit about market fragmentation in my webinar. It’s made things different and all but sadly put traditional media such as Decor Magazine, Art Business News, Art World News, and tradeshows such as Decor Expo Atlanta and ArtExpo New York in the grave or on life support.

Use the cracks to let the light shine on you and your artwork

On the flip side, market fragmentation causes cracks. It is how the light gets in. It is in those cracks that artists, especially digital artists, can define themselves, create a market, and control the buzz about their artwork and themselves. That’s a delightful unintended consequence that those paying attention are using every day to their distinct advantage.

It’s my hope you are inspired by reading this to get your own kicks for you!

Some links in the post may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

About Barney Davey

I am an art marketing author, consultant, blogger and podcaster. I enjoy helping others understand and reach their potential. Follow me on and check out my art marketing e-store at


  1. Awesome post, Barney! I love the musical inspiration :)

  2. Thanks for this enthusiastic, inspirational post, Barney! Selling digital art IS hard, just like blazing any new trail is hard — but more than worth doing.

    I’ve found that educating potential buyers is the best route to sales. Explain to them, in layman’s terms, why digital art is valid and as desirable as more traditional mediums.

    That it’s the product of the ARTIST — not of the computer.

    That digital art is here to stay in a modern world that’s ready for it! Understanding can equal acceptance and desire.

    Be willing to ‘show’ as well as ‘tell’. Find places to display your work, locally, and ALWAYS carry a portfolio/flip book, in addition to highlighting your web presence. Seeing is believing, after all.

    That’s my method, anyway. :-)

  3. Great post Barney! What is fun about being an artist in our current environment is that we get to make up the rules in some areas. As the market continues to splinter it gives more artists more opportunities to show the world their work. Just as more and more musicians are discovered through various communication venues the same holds true for visual artists.

    In the digital art arena the argument I have heard so many times from people is that digital art is not as good as oil painting or pastels or (insert your choice here). Oddly this seems to come from the artist themselves. The creation of digital art is no better or worse than any other art form. It is just a different medium and requires a different skill set to create, just as carving granite takes a different skill than creating a water color masterpiece.

    The thought process, planning, creativity and interpretation of the artist as well as the technical skill set is what makes a beautiful piece. Marketing is tough for any small business and even more so in an industry that forages on the discretionary income side of the coin.

    The good news is that in today’s market I believe we have more opportunity then ever before. We can publish high quality prints on demand and not have to bankroll a huge inventory, we can carve out a specific market niche with highly targeted marketing with our blogs, websites and social media venues and we have inexpensive tools to help us develop and maintain relationships with potential clients.

    Life is good. Thanks for another great post.

  4. Hi Wendy, I’m glad you found the post inspirational. Your methods and suggestions are great! I hope readers take them to heart!

  5. Dear Shelley, Thanks for the comments. Of all those I know as regular readers, it is not surprising to me that the musical references hit home with you.

  6. Hi Tim,
    Thanks for your insightful remarks. Digital art is only going to become more important as time goes by. It’s good to know you are working hard at the Digital Painting Forum to help foster talent and inspiration from digital painters!

Leave a Reply