I’m sure that you’ve heard about the concept of the starving artist a million times. I mean what artist hasn’t. Often times it can be our parents hounding us that we’re throwing our lives away – “How are you ever going to pay for your food and your mortgage!”
Are you a Starving Artist?
Stressful right? Unfortunately, this image isn’t too far from the truth for many artists. Often times, you find yourself faced with the opportunity of earning a quick commission for something you can paint in a day over a true masterpiece that could generate you a large sum of money.
And why wouldn’t you choose that option? After all, materials can be expensive for excellent works. They take time – something that you don’t have if there is no food in the fridge and are holding an extra few jobs to pay the rent.
In order to get big ticket commissions, you need to showcase the BEST of your abilities. And the more that you get in the habit of doing your best work, the BETTER your work is going to get. Well no duh!
Unfortunately, there may not be opportunities for you to take the time to do this, there seems like there’s no one to buy these big ticket pieces anyways and there are not many opportunities for you to prove yourself either. All in all it seems like you’re in a pretty grim situation.
To get around this, lots of artists work extremely hard to get into fancy galleries, get sponsorships or earn places at exhibitions and fairs. Sound familiar? From getting you a ton of customers to getting exposure, these deals seem like the holy grail.
But remember, *almost* all of the businesses and sponsors around the world have one motive: profit maximization. This explains why galleries not only take away a huge part of the commission received but some event exploit and take advantage of artists.
This isn’t to say that working with a gallery is always a bad idea but you should know who your target customer is and what you should be charging. That way you can decide if the portion of your profit that the gallery is taking is reasonable? Are you okay with it? Are you showcasing your work to customers that will actually be interested? Does your vibe match the gallery’s?
Although it seems like all of this is out of your control, it turns out that what happens is very much dependant on your own marketing strategies. In order to create masterpiece like no other, you need to fully indulge yourself in the work that you are doing (again – duh!). This requires an investment of time and energy and most importantly, a BUYER!
The trick is how do you get all of these things?
Your focus needs not only to be on getting the food in the fridge, creating a wonderful work or even becoming the best artist of all time. Chances are, even if it turns out that you are the best artist alive today, it won’t matter without some key things. And the most important thing is BUSINESS!
You need to know about business. You need communication skills, an ability to meet the quality EXPECTATIONS of the customer and you need to be able to reach the customer. You need to study your customer. Basically you need to find someone who likes your work, who has money to buy your work, who will wait for more of your work and who LIKES YOU! If your customer doesn’t like you, they won’t like your art.
Remember, however, that people are different and that what someone likes, someone else might hate. This is not a bad thing. I repeat: this is not a bad thing! It’s not a bad thing at all if people dislike your art – even if many people dislike it.
All you need is to appeal to some people! Not everyone likes salad. Some people hate salad – can’t stand green things at all. But lots of people LOVE salad. Some people eat 2 or 3 salads a day. Some people live off of salad (not advisable though) but you get the point.
Don’t try to get everyone to like you – try instead to get some people to LOVE you.
Art is a very personal thing. Think about your favourite artworks. The ones that you would buy for large amounts of money if you could. What do you think of when you think about the artist who created them? Do they hold a certain level of mystery, fascination and greatness for you? Of course they do! So create this for yourself.
How you might ask?
Well there are several ways but they all require knowledge of business and more specifically, how to run a business online. You need to leverage the power of the internet to identify and connect with your future customers. They are out there – you just need to know how to get to them.
With the right website, additional content and marketing plan, you can start making those big ticket commissions I was talking about. You can even make small amounts of money. You can do whatever you want to do because you’re in control.
When was the last time you were looking around on the internet and you found an online gallery showcasing some artworks that you LOVED? What did the website look like? Who was the artist behind the scenes? Were they selling digital prints? Actual paintings? Sculptures?
What else was on the website? Were there articles or an about me page?
Where did you find the website? Did you find it through Google search, did you see an Ad on Facebook or did you click on a pin on Pintrest?
Ask yourself – could you do that too? And if that artist is paying for advertising, they must be making money right? They can’t afford that from nothing. Which means what?
They are selling their artwork online!
So ask yourself again – why can’t you do this too?
Technological advancements are made every day and to use these to our benefit is the sensible thing to do. Through the creation of a website, you can target the correct consumer market and you can save soooo much time and soooo much money.
That means more time to paint, or draw or design. That means more money for food in the fridge. More money so that you don’t need to work those other jobs. And that means that you get even more time! There is barely any overhead when you start a website. You have to pay for your hosting and your domain name (only about 10$
In addition to that, when a sale is made through online galleries, all earnings received tend to go directly into the artists pocket without any “commissions’ rate” intruding. Furthermore, the website alone will not entirely work and therefore, the artist should not over price or under price his designs or paintings and it is advised that he pays close attention to what other artists around him might be charging their customers.