Art Marketing-the value of interactive discussion

“You have brains in your head. 
You have feet in your shoes. 
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. 

You’re on your own. And you know what you know. 
YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
~ Dr. Seuss, Oh, the places you’ll go

Last May, I took a 5-week course that was another stepping stone to gaining confidence in my artistic life. I had a lot of inertia earlier in the year, and felt like I had to clarify my career path.

Enter The Business of Art: Showing & Selling with Matt Runfola, offered at the Evanston Art Center. With the goal of “Know Thyself, Thy Work, and Thy Audience for a better chance of success”, I felt some of the class topics would help solidify my direction.

“Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?”
~ Dr. Suess

One of the key things this workshop helped me with was to write that dreaded artist statement. We spent a full session discussing this and bios and resumes, and then were invited to keep tweaking these documents throughout the course. Having the instructor and workshop members provide instant feedback on a draft was very helpful and helped us see our art-making through the eyes of someone not as familiar with our chosen medium.


From knowing ourselves we moved into defining our art work and discussing how to present it in the best way, via photographs, our online presence, the appropriate exhibits/selling venues, and by defining our target market(s). We also discussed placing a value of our art, primarily in the form of pricing, but also its value to ourselves and in relation to the market.

“So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember 
that Life’s a Great Balancing Act.”
~ Dr. Suess

While many of these topics are addressed in books and other marketing courses, the benefit to me was to have a forum of discussion among other local artists, knowing that I am not alone in carving out this new career path for myself. The other attendees were at various stages in their careers, from having sold out at fairs to winning awards that were covered in magazines, and each working on rebranding and refining our art.

Since the workshop, I made multiple submission packages for calls to art (which included rewriting the artist statement yet again), and have been accepted (but also rejected) to various local shows. Even though I can take a decent photo, I am still leaving the art photography to a professional.

Encaustic collages by Maike’s Marvels

I’ve been more disciplined about my pricing, and the dialogue and assigned reading on the topic provided me a firmer value proposition. One small triptych sold this summer and another is on layaway by another customer–Collectors, there is nothing wrong with asking for a payment plan with your artists (I’ve done so myself).

Meanwhile I am heeding the suggestions of others on where to show, and working on having enough inventory to grace the wall of a coworking space or a cafe in the future.

“And when things start to happen, don’t worry, don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.”
~ Dr. Seuss

Matt is hosting another session this Fall, and I highly recommend dropping in on this class. Business of Art: The Lunch Sessions starts Tuesday, October 23, 2012 and ends December 4, 2012. The class is held Tuesdays from 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

“Bring your lunch and learn how to de-mystify the business end of your art passion, and gain confidence showing and selling your work. Each week a different topic will be addressed, with the goal “Know Thyself, Thy Work, and Thy Audience” for a better chance of success. Open to all levels and mediums. Sign up for the full course here, or pick and choose topics of interest with single-session drop-ins for $20 a session.”

  • Résumé, Bio and Artist Statement (October 23)
  • Photographing Your Work (October 30)
  • Sizing Your Digital Images (November 6)
  • Pricing Your Art (November 13)
  • Establishing An Online Presence (November 27)
  • Marketplace – Where to Show and Sell (December 4)

“And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed)”
~ Dr. Seuss, Oh the places you’ll go

Laughing it up at Kim Bernard’s Maine Encaustic Workshop Retreat student show

All Dr. Seuss quotes from “Oh, the places you’ll go.”

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