Posts tagged Business of Art
Taking the Power Back in Your Art Career with Michelle I. Gomez
Photo by Milana Braslavsky @milanabphoto

Photo by Milana Braslavsky @milanabphoto

On this episode of Art & Cocktails, Kat talks with Michelle I. Gomez about her entrepreneurial journey and how artists can take back self-worth and gain control over their life and finances.

Michelle I. Gomez is the founder of Creative Unions Event Design LLC, the first event planning company dedicated to integrating contemporary art into life’s celebrations, she views marriage celebrations as specially curated art exhibitions that bring people together to celebrate and express unique love stories.

After having founded her own successful arts business, she now serves as a Launch Strategist for Women identifying Artists wanting to launch their own arts businesses by coaching her clients on business strategy and emotional intelligence so they too can do what they love (and get paid for it).

You can find Michelle at:

Coaching Services: www.artisttoartpreneur.com

Creative Unions Event Design: www.creativeunionsllc.com

Email: michelle@creativeunionsllc.com

IG: @michelleigomez and @creativeunion

What you really should know about "The Smartist Guide: Essential Art Career Tips for Emerging Artists"

By Ekaterina Popova and Alicia Puig, Co-Authors of “The Smartist Guide: Essential Art Career Tips For Emerging Artists”

“The Smartist Guide: Essential Art Career Tips For Emerging Artists” has been out for a little over two months and we are completely overwhelmed by the initial response. Readers from across the globe are sending us messages about how they are getting accepted to exhibitions, finding gallery representation and growing their Instagram accounts using the tips found in our book. That was exactly our intention when we dreamed of and began writing “The Smartist Guide”.

Alicia and I also know that this book is not for everyone. We wanted to address a few key features and help you figure out if it’s worth the investment. We wrote this book with a very specific artist in mind, someone who is new to the art world, but is passionate and ready to take their career into their own hands. We want this person to experience success in the initial stages of his or her art career by offering tips that are crucial but often overlooked in art school. On the curatorial side, a lot of the submissions we receive for Create! Magazine are lacking the essential components such as a bio, statement or proper images. We want artists to experience more success and not disqualify themselves from the actual jurying process because their application was incomplete or could have been improved by a few simple changes.

For those considering buying this guide or who want a little more information about it, we’ve put together our most asked questions so that you can get a better idea of what it is, why we wrote it and who can benefit from it! And, if you happened to read the book and found that it wasn’t a great match, no worries. We offer full money back guarantees. We would rather you find it helpful and empowering or spend the money on a new paintbrush if it wasn’t for you.

Where did the title “The Smartist Guide” come from?

Alicia: Yes, we know that ‘smartist’ isn’t a word! It is a made-up combination of ‘smart’ and ‘artist’ because we believe in positive, empowering language for artists rather than outdated stereotypes of creatives that promote the false ideas that we aren’t business savvy or ‘can’t make a living’ doing what we love to do. With hard work, persistence and a few smart tips from our book - we know that all artists can succeed!

Kat: Alicia is the brains behind the title! I loved it so much when she first suggested it because it embodies a new breed of artists that are fully equipped to bring success into their art career. Plus it’s really fun, and the more you learn, the more enjoyable building your art business becomes!

Why did we write this book?

Kat: I always felt like I was missing something important when I first graduated. I felt lost and was looking for resources to help me get a jump start as a painter. The truth is, all the information was already out there, but not in one place. After years of googling, learning from mistakes, reading art books and attending workshops, I realized there were a few very simple and basic tools you need to get started. This book was our way to give new artists a strong foundation for launching their careers with confidence. Plus, after experiencing my own success as a painter, I wanted to give back and “send the elevator back down” to others. While it takes time to experience success and recognition, the actual steps to getting there are not complicated.

Alicia: I agree with all of Kat’s response! I believe we mentioned this on the podcast episode of “Art & Cocktails” where we introduced the book too, but another big reason was that we both went through so many ups and downs in the early part of our careers and wanted to share what did and didn’t work so that a younger generation of creatives could hit fast forward and start achieving things on a bit quicker of a timeline than we did. We’re not shy about sharing our struggles or failures so that you can learn from them! In addition, while we both learned a lot in our business of art course in college, there was never really a focus on selling online, marketing yourself or creating a strong social media presence. While it’s great to perfect your artist statement or get a gallery to represent you, we know that these other topics are also really helpful for young artists.

Who will find it useful?

Alicia: For the most part I think that the subtitle says it all - it is geared towards emerging artists. That being said, those a little further ahead in their career might still find some of the encouragement in the book helpful as a little push to keep progressing and tons of people have reached out to us with very positive remarks about our chapters on social media.

Kat: I envisioned a reader who is interested in having a sustainable studio practice and starting to put themselves into the art world through exhibitions and even employment, either fresh out of college or someone who has been creating art and didn’t receive a formal education.

How did you decide on the length of this book?

Kat: The hardest and most time-consuming part of being an artist is actually creating the work. I was excited to offer a quick guide, almost like a pocketbook to cover the basics one would need to get started. A lot of times creatives get overwhelmed with overly formal jargon and confusing business terms. We stripped everything down to the essentials in order to give clear, simple tools that can be used right away. Alicia and I learned a lot of the tips we offer in college, but they were scattered throughout four years of learning. We wanted to bring all the resources together in one place.

Alicia: Exactly, I think that one of my favorite reviews so far has been ‘I received it yesterday, read it today and will begin utilizing the information now.’ As this is our first book, we just wanted something simple and to the point that would be easy to reference and a fast read as to not take away from studio time. Also, while we both truly enjoy reading books about self-improvement, we know that not only does this involve carving out time to read them, but also money. We kept the guide short so that it could be as affordable for artists as possible.

What’s next?

Alicia: We will continue to share free career articles on a monthly basis via Create! Magazine, but since we enjoyed the process of writing this first book so much we are planning a second Smartist Guide. I’ll be focusing on chapters about mentors, networking, starting over, dealing with negativity and time-management among other topics. We’re always open to hearing what you’d like us to write about or what questions you’re looking to have answered. Feel free to reach out to us at info@createmagazine.com or alicia@createmagazine.com.

Kat: I’m currently writing in-depth advice for artists such as marketing, selling, attending residencies and more for our next, full-length edition. The first book was a great start for someone brand new to the art world, but the next one will empower artists to take over the world. Just kidding! I’m just really passionate about showing artists that they have exactly what it takes to create their dream career.

Ready to purchase? Click here to buy The Smartist Guide ebook or get the print version on Amazon.

Sell and Market Your Work in 5 Simple Steps

By Ekaterina Popova

When I first committed to my art career, there was a lot of mystery and confusion about how to make sales as an artist. I waited for a gallery to do it for me and truly thought I didn’t have the permission to do it on my own. In fact, I didn’t even think it was possible to sell paintings directly. I was miserable, waiting for some magical opportunity or an art dealer to come knocking on my door.

As you can imagine, no one ever came and I had to figure it out on my own. Through a series of life lessons, investing in additional education and personal development, I discovered that I do not have to wait for anyone to make me qualified to promote my own art. Regardless of whether I have a gallery or not, people may be interested in collecting my work.

As scary as it was putting myself out there, I learned a few simple things about what it takes to make direct sales to collectors online and through exhibitions. Even though I work with a gallery now, I still use these tools to support myself and advance my art career.

When I was just starting out, I truly believed that having an art gallery would eliminate my struggles and somehow would outsource all the sales and marketing for me. I imagined that having a gallery would allow me to paint in a far away cabin in the woods and never have to worry about any other part of my art career. This is far from the truth, but that’s definitely not a bad thing. Over the years of doing it solo, I took back a lot of power and independence when it comes to selling my art, and this has relieved a lot of the pressure of finding a gallery to represent my work. Even if things don’t work out with a gallery, I know I have what it takes to do it on my own.

Working with a gallery has been wonderful so far, but I think part of why this is the case is having the understanding and respect for what they do and how they can potentially elevate my image. I also love to approach galleries as a partnership instead of expecting them to “do something for me” and continue to market and push my work to help sales. This creates a healthy relationship and multiplies the efforts, so both parties win! So don’t be like the past me and think of it as “giving up” if it is your ultimate dream to be represented by a great gallery. You can still work toward that goal and market your work until that happens. Chances are, you are much more likely to get noticed if you are putting yourself out there and sending a message to the world that you are ready to be seen and your art is for sale.

Here are five tips that transformed my mindset around selling and promoting my art. Stop waiting for permission and come up with a plan to inspire new collectors and make some sales:

1. People want to buy art. Help them!

A simple trick that changed everything for me is actually announcing that work is for sale. This is silly, and I write and talk about this all the time, but often when it comes to online marketing you need to nudge your potential collector in the right direction.

Create an album on Facebook that says “available work” and send a newsletter announcing any new collections, limited edition prints or work you recently got back from a show! Be excited and give your audience a way to contact you. Be sure to only post work for sale that you are TRULY proud of. If something in your gut tells you that are not quite there yet, and need to polish up your skills, don’t rush in. Take the time you need to develop a strong body of work and then start selling with confidence.

A caption such as “work available for sale, dm or email for details” or something along those lines makes a huge difference! This is obvious, but if you are represented by a gallery and only sell work through them, direct your buyer towards the gallery and you both win! Remember that people want to buy art and you are not being annoying by giving them that joy. People shop for expensive shoes, purses, and cars. Art brings a lot more meaningful pleasure to a collector than a lot of any other items might. Don’t deprive a potential collector!

2. You are the CEO of your art career. Invest in your business!

Creating a small budget to pay for affordable advertisements on Facebook and Instagram ($10-$50) per post is a fabulous way to push out your work to new collectors that are not in your immediate network. Invest a few dollars each month to grow your audience through ads, reputable Instagram shoutouts, and other creative ways of advertising to get great results. Do a little research on ads and how to find your target audience by doing a quick Google search. Instagram has an “automatic” audience feature to explore as well.

Other ways to invest into your are career include taking additional workshops (both art and business or anything else you want to gain skills in), applying to juried exhibitions and publications, reading educational literature, and of course, using any free resources online. You have to be willing to trust in your dream and invest in your future. This also sends a message to the world that you are serious about your art career. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but don’t skimp on developing your future!

3. Have a commerce platform ready before you announce your sale.

Whether it’s selling on Etsy, getting paid via PayPal directly, having an e-commerce platform such as Shopify or a page on Squarespace, make sure you set up your shop and test it out for seamless customer experience. If you are shipping originals, your shop structure will be very simple. Just make sure you calculate your shipping cost both domestic and international. Invest into a simple scale (you can get one for under $30 on Amazon), order shipping supplies in bulk to save money and pass on the shipping cost to your buyer, especially if it’s a larger work. I offer free shipping on small works and works on paper. If you are stuck on how to pack artwork, check out this article on Saatchi that I frequently use as a guide for my own shipments. Pricing your art can be challenging, but you just have to get started and stay consistent. Look around at local galleries that show artists at your career level and get an idea for what your type of work is sold for. Just pick a number for each size of work based on the material you create and stick to that price consistently for at least a year.

4. Be great to work with.

Whether you are represented by a gallery or not, be a great person to work with. Offer payment plans to potential clients who may not be able to pay full price right away, be courteous, and respond to messages or questions. I think being a great partner to your gallery can multiply your success, but even if you are on your own, your collector will remember you and will be more likely to add more pieces to their collection in the future. I consider this a win-win, because if they loved buying from you - they will recommend you to a friend and do the marketing for you.

I remember even during my first few art sales, I got a compliment from an older gentleman collector who happened to be a lawyer. He told me how impressed he was with my professionalism, quick replies, and having a seamless sales process. Mind you, this was in 2012 where I was using a simple e-mail invoice and he was sending me a paper check. Do the best you can with what you have and it will pay off!

5. Fix your mindset around marketing and selling.

A lot of us learned to associate selling with sleazy and pushy businessmen portrayed as villains in Hollywood films. This can obviously be the case, but when it comes to your approach to selling and promoting yourself, you can truly make it your own. People will only respond to you if you are true to your work and yourself and develop a way of sharing what you create that works for you and FEELS GOOD. Don’t try to use marketing techniques that feel weird or inauthentic. Share your story and be excited about a work of art that makes you proud. Buying and collecting art is an intimate and personal process. Be confident, follow up, but don’t be offended or take things personally if they don’t go the way you hoped. Like any relationship, you are looking for a good fit, and you want both you and the buyer to be happy with the outcome.

As you continue to grow and develop your craft, your audience and circle of collectors will grow. Sometimes it takes years to get there, and that is ok. I don’t know about you, but I would rather have someone truly LOVE the piece they get from me than be pressured into purchase something they aren’t 100% excited about.

Marketing and sales are amazing as long as you learn ways to make them fun and deeply fulfilling experiences for yourself.

Remember that your priority will always be in the studio. Making art comes first, but it’s a really amazing time to use marketing to take your power back and enjoy the freedom of being an artist without having to ask anyone’s permission or approval.

Cheers!

P.S. if you are just starting out and need some basic art career tips like applying to galleries and marketing on Instagram Alicia Puig and I recently wrote a book called The Smartist Guide which can help!

How to Submit Your Art
How to Submit Your Art.png

If you are new to the art world and are having trouble figuring out how to submit work to juried shows, publications, art blogs and more, fear not! I have compiled a quick list of tips that I noticed from the curatorial end. I share simple advice to help you increase your chances of getting accepted to that dream opportunity!

For those of you looking to step it up and take the photos yourself, I’m sharing my camera and light studio that I use from Amazon. Keep in mind that you will also need a tripod, but it doesn’t have to be super expensive.

Cheers!

Kat