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)