Monday, March 28, 2011

A Kinder, Gentler Blog

So, even in my last post, trying to avoid negativity and a solemn tone, it still was not exactly effervescent, and to anyone who DID want to be a race car driver when they grew up, "I apologize." Apparently, there is some deep rooted bitterness under the surface that I was unaware of, but, rather than change the title of my blog to "Fear and Loathing in Hyannis", I'm going to do what I initially set out to do. Help others who are experiencing similar obstacles to find ways over, around and through them, and despite the economy, not just survive as an artist, but prosper. And... I will do it with my genuine and true to character wit and charm. I'm even going to insert a joke here:

How many gallery customers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
(answer below)

Today, I'm going to fill you in on what I've been doing lately to pursue my dream of being an artist when I haven't been too busy writing about the difficulties along the way. Looking over that last sentence and seeing the way I phrased ,"my dream of becoming an artist", I'm going to edit it a tad. I AM an artist, and really always have been. The phrase that I need to focus on is the title of this blog,"Making A Living As An Artist." I have made a living in the Arts for a long time, from Gallery Owner, to Art Consultant, to Lecturer and Auctioneer. I have a real working knowledge of the industry. Its time to take what  I know from working on one side of the table and use it now that I'm on the other. Hopefully, if anyone out there is looking to attempt a similar undertaking, they will be able to use some of the information.

Okay ... enough boring explanations of where I've been and where I'm going...

So... Here's what I did...

1.)---ADVERTISING: No money for ads?.. No problem. I put an ad on Barnstable-Hyannis Patch. It cost me nothing and drove several people to my blog as well as my website and my online store. So far, I am the only artist on there.

Joke Answer: Two
(reason below)

2.)--- ONLINE STORE: To increase traffic in my online store I removed art that was not moving. Then I added more works in small groups.  My hits went from 2 or 3 a day, to 75-100/day.  On my studio floor against a wall in a corner were some studies that I had done of some simple Matisse line-drawings. I had originally done them just to get a feel for his sense of line with no intent to sell them. He has a beautiful, simple, elegant line that just seems to flow out of his crayon/brush...anyway... when I put them online. I tagged them Matisse studies... 100's of hits that day... Next time I'll put them on one at a time and be able to stretch that traffic out for days.

3.) ---TAG YOUR PHOTOS: Always use/add meta-tags to your photos. This increases their "Google-ability". An example is in the above, on that site, if someone was searching for a Matisse my work would come up.... The way those sites are visited it also will increased my visibility if some one  Googles "Matisse"...(eventually)

4.) ---WEBSITE: I've had a website, but haven't really spent too much time in building it. I spent some time this week just tweaking it a bit. There was no contact info on it. I changed that and added a hyper link so the viewer can e-mail me. I also played with some of the color and fonts. for the most part it looks the same because the template was designed by the nice folks at Apple and they know a heck of a lot more than you or I... More pages will be coming and I'll be loading more artwork. One key thing is making sure that all your sites are linked. Can the viewer get to your e-mail?.. Your blog?.. Your online store? with just one click? Make it as easy for them as possible.

5.) EVENTS AND SELLING: A few weeks back I mentioned Romero Britto and what exposure did for him... So this past week I looked to see where and how to get myself out there. Maybe an Absolute Vodka exec will be vacationing on the Cape this summer. So I looked to see what kind of Art events would be going on in my area. I found several within pedaling distance. One of them is the HY-arts Artist Shanties I applied and got one. As It stands now I've got a few weeks at the begining of the season. We'll see where it goes from there. Here are some links to other events going on in this area this summer :

Art on the Village Green
(There's also one in June which isn't on this page...)

6.) ALL ARTISTS CAPE COD: If you haven't seen the ads for their meetings it's probably because you haven't been looking. The next meeting that I'm sure about is at the South Yarmouth Library, on Wednesday, April 20th, at 6:00 PM. Basically, it's going to be a group of artists getting together to discuss (oddly enough...) "How to Make a Living As An Artist." If you have any questions on this feel free to e-mail or call. They are still building their website, but it will be here:

Punch Line:
One to change the lightbulb, and the other to say,"Pffft... My four year old could have done that..."

I hope that artists found this informative, especially those of you in my area...

I hope that you are enjoying my blog.

If you'd like to help me make a living as an artist. Please check out my online store:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I'm Not going to kill myself... I don't even wish I were dead!

Okay, it has come to my attention that some of you think that my blog is a bit droll... perhaps even somber. Some worry that I'm depressed. Am I alright?...


I am doing what I want to do in life! It used to be that I sat at a desk all day and wished that I were doing something else.  THAT was miserable. I wished that I could just create and make a living at it. Now, that is what I do.( okay... so the "making a living" part is coming...) Truthfully, on occasion, I do use this as a way to vent my spleen. But often times I'm just looking for some feed back or constructive criticism. So relaaaaaax. I'm having fun and doing what I really want to do. How many readers out there hate their jobs? Hating my job makes me loose a hell of a lot more sleep than worrying about bills. Besides, I don't really have any bills. There is food... but hasn't anyone been following my other blog: The Starving Artist Diet. I'm down like 20 pounds and I feel great. Remember how you wanted to be a race car driver when you grew up? Well those 3 speeding tickets on your way to your cubicle last year are as close as you've come. This isn't meant to be an 'in your face' to anyone.  Don't feel sorry for me. Is there anything really worth getting that is easy? On the other hand if you really think you want something, try working towards it, if the goal doesn't seem worth the effort then it's not the right goal.

I've found my goal, and so far it's worth it.

If you need help in getting started toward living your dream, HERE is a link that may help!

Buy a painting or Print and help me live MY dream!
(click the link below)

If you'd like an online store like this one, click here:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Getting Recognized...(Part 1)

As an artist recognition is key. It is the cornerstone of your career. Romero Britto  was a starving artist, almost literally, until one day an executive for Absolute Vodka saw his work and put him on a bottle... Suddenly, his work was on the back page of every other magazine in the world. Now, because of that one bottle, (along with his god given talent) his work goes for tens of thousands of dollars. I know, I sold a lot of it. But his talent was always there, the recognition was the catalyst for his success. When people can look at an artwork and recognize something,  maybe not even the artists name, perhaps just their style or use of color... the viewer then gives that work a perceived value. This I know as a former art dealer. The more you do to get a work out there, the more people that actually see it, the better the odds of getting a sale. (Providing the work is not absolute crap of course.)  If I advertise one of an artists paintings in a magazine, when a potential buyer comes into my gallery, they are drawn to it. You can tuck it in a back corner and somehow they will find it. It is that recognition that stimulates the curiosity, which in turn, given that there is enough of the aforementioned interest generated, will lead to a sale.

So how does a starving artist go about getting their work out there?  How do they get enough people to see it that they can actually find one of them to like it enough to spend money on it? The first step is to create art... Art that people may actually like. My mother literally once asked me,"Why don't you paint something that people like?" (No, seriously she did...) After I pulled the knife out of my chest and got over my self and my ego and my "artistic integrity", I realized that she was right. Plain and simple, the more people that your work appeals to, the better your odds are of selling it. Now, if this rubs you the wrong way, if you are too blinded by your own creative ego, paint whatever the heck you want, but if you want to sell something I think that it will appeal to more people if its not an image of a severed limb in a jar. (If you are going for that kind of niche, make sure that out of all the people painting severed limbs in jars, yours is the absolute best.) Use your creativity, create your own style, but cater to your target market... But not too much. you need to find a balance, you need to avoid cliche. I'm an artist living on Cape Cod, the bulk of the people buying art here are not looking for a severed limb in a jar, (That's a really gross example I know but it illustrates my point.) but that's not to say I want to paint cottages with white picket fences surrounded by hydrangeas. That is not me. So I focus on the things that drew me back to the Cape. Landscapes, Seascapes, and Skyscapes, while trying to capture the unique light you can only seem to get here. Take a boat for example, below is one of my quick paint sketches of a sailboat:

Now look at how another artist, Tom Melillo, captures similar subject matter:

Two different artists, two different styles, both Sale-able on Cape Cod. ( I never should have shown you Tom's work because he has really done a much better job of both creating his own style and making it appealing and recognizable... If your interested in owning any of Tom's art, let me know and I'll put you in touch with him!)

Now I have my inventory... I chose what to paint and how to paint it, now how do I get my self seen. Seen, not recognized... not yet anyway. That's all I really want at this point.

This past week I've worked on a website, done some free advertising, and updated my blog. These things are a start. But how do I take that to the next level. How do I build the momentum and get people to SEE my work. They have to first see them before they can recognize them. And... how do you do it as a starving artist (not yet literally, but getting closer...) I've put myself out on these free sites:

Or check out my online store here!

Now where do I go from here?  Any suggestions I would love to hear from you.

Until next time!

P.S. When I say that I would love to hear from you, I mean that I would love to hear from you... There's a comment box below. Can I get an Amen?

(Click here for Part 2)