Change Is Inevitable
In your art career, as in your life, changes are constant. How you deal with them will make a noticeable difference on the outcome of your career, and your success in other areas of your life. These days, change comes at us with never seen speed and complexity. If you have been around long as I have, you will recall the fax machine was once considered cutting edge technology.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that having a personalized email address and a website put you ahead of the tech curve. While those are still relevant, the avalanche of e-commerce, rapidly evolving consumer buying habits, the establishment of social media, and the decline of the gallery system all add to the changes visual artists deal with on a daily basis.
Change comes at us in so many ways, and most of them are too personal for me to presume being the best source to help you deal with them. That said, I do have thoughts on dealing with challenges regarding how to get your work seen and sold.
- First, you need to accept things are changed in the art marketplace, and they are not going back.
- Second, there is every reason to believe changes are still coming at us.
- Third, you have to decide to deal with those changes.
- Lastly, learn to pick your spots and admit you can’t deal with every new fangled development, app, wrinkle in the marketplace.
While Galleries Are Not Dinosaurs, Their Importance Has Diminished
Not so long ago, artists who had their own website and a blog were on the bleeding edge. Now, these things are a necessity for artists who wish to compete for consumer attention. These tools are the best way for artists to establish an ongoing dialogue with their collectors and potential collectors. Do you remember when it was considered career suicide for artists directly to reach out to buyers and prospects? When doing so put them at odds with the galleries and dealers who were on the front lines of selling art at the retail level.
Tech Changed the Rules for Everyone
Technology developments have not only made it possible for artists to affordably and effectively to promote one-on-one relationships with those interested in their work. Moreover, this is not just convenient, it is a must. Counting on any other delivery system to be there for you in the long term is putting yourself in the position of being crushed when certain changes occur.
I don’t buy it’s time to abandon the gallery system because there is still much value in having galleries sell your work. It’s just that relying solely on galleries, or any third-party solution, for primarily distributing your work is dicey. Just look at how many have closed their doors in recent years. This trend will not change anytime soon.
Social Media Is Not the Art Marketing Holy Grail
It is not just galleries. Social media, while terrific in many respects, is vulnerable to change. Look at how Facebook has changed recently to get my drift. It used to deliver your posts there to about 85% of your friends. Now, to generate revenue, it requires you to pay a fee to sponsor your posts to make certain they are seen by your entire list of friends. The cost depends on the size of your friends or fans list. With around 2,500 friends, I have to pay $7.00 per post to purchase extended coverage. If I paid for just two posts per week, that’s more than $700 annually in additional costs I did not have before.
I put Facebook links on posts, my website, blog and email signature to help it build its billion member audience. What’s happened now is I have to pay to reach the audience I helped build. Like it or not, it’s a who moved my cheese change I have to deal with, and so do you. Consider Facebook is flatlining in U.S. member growth, and more importantly, it is losing its hip factor with the very audience that it grew from, namely college age students. The trend is to not use the same platform as parents and other old fogeys, but rather to go back to email and things like Gchat which are more personal. So, if you were planning on using Facebook as your primary way to find new customers, I would recommend rethinking that strategy.
So, What’s An Artist Supposed to Do?
Embrace the change is the short answer. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post titled, “15 Reasons It is a Great Time to Be An Artist.” It’s a good read if I say so myself. If you accept that change is inevitable, then you are better prepared to deal with it. You have a couple of choices, you can learn to control how to use a website and blog together, and how use them to help you promote your work. Or, you can look to hire someone to help you. If you choose the latter, another change that has developed in this new tech age is the emergence of virtual assistants. They come in a variety ways of assisting you. These include organizational duties, writing, sales, tech support, social media and more.
This year, I began giving a live workshop on “How to Get Your Art Seen and Sold.” Because I have limited travel availability, I have put the entire workshop online as a webinar. It goes into detail on the best ways to build a solid core of loyal fans who buy directly from you. In my humble opinion, this is the future. The exciting part about it to me is as an artist, for the first time in history, you have both the affordable tools and unique opportunity to develop a one-to-one buying relationship with potential collectors.
Changes for Me
For several years now, I have been threatening to move Art Print Issues from Typepad to WordPress. As you can see, the blog has a new look. It is now on WordPress, and I could not be happier. When I switched from publishing an email-based newsletter to blogging in 2007, WordPress was not yet the tour de force it has become in the internet world. Typepad provided an easy-to-use and quick start format for someone like me. At that time, my tech skills were nowhere near what they have become today. Frankly, trying to get a blog to work on WordPress at that time would have been beyond my ability to get a satisfactory result.
The new blog look is a work in progress. You can expect to see modifications and improvements over the coming weeks. Use the comment link to let me know your thoughts on this blog and my new look.