This Post is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Find out how you can be a guest author.
I recently stumbled upon the website businessonmain.msn.com which has some great business advice. While there, I watched a short video clip on branding. It was part of the "Business Fantasy Camp" series. In the episode (#2 – Branding: Daisy Fuentes), a small business owner of a line of high-end beauty products was struggling to know how to get her name out there. Daisy Fuentes gave her some great practical advice that could easily be applied to art. In fact, it supports much of what has been written about recently on Fine Art Views. I would recommend watching the episode, but I will summarize the main points here.
1. Know Your Brand's Story. Know what you want to say about your product, or what your product represents. Story is very important to building a brand. Make sure that the story translates to your product, so that when customers see your product, they understand the story. If you are unclear on your story, then you won't be able to translate that to your product.
So, how to apply this to your art? What message do you want to say with your art (I do not mean specific pieces of art, I mean your entire body of work; your focus; your reason for creating art.)? Figure out the 'what' and the 'why' behind your art. Figure out the story. Then once you are clear on what you are passionate about, communicate that message. Yes, some will translate automatically if your art is created with sincerity, but in all of your communications you must also tell your story.
2. Get Support, but Stay in Control. No one can do it all. Once you know what you want to achieve, what your vision is, then find people who can help you achieve it. Don't let others persuade you to change your ideas or vision, because it will then become theirs not yours. Don't be afraid to find the support you need, but make sure it builds up your vision. Don't let the support dilute what you want to achieve. Business is about networking not imposing.
How does this apply to you as an artist? Networking is so important. Tremendous things can happen by knowing other artists, dealers, collectors, magazine reps, etc., etc. Galleries or dealers can also be a great asset if you find the right ones. Even your collectors can serve as a great support if done properly. Remember not to impose. Remember, you must control what the story is, but allow others to help you communicate that story. There is power in numbers.
3. Be Open, but Stay True To Your Vision. Your business, if it's successful, will grow and perhaps in directions that you haven't thought of. Consider any reasonable offer, but make sure it fits with your story, your brand, your product. Don't stray too far from your original idea.
How does this concept fit with your art? This could apply in several different ways. It could be new subject matter or a new medium. Does it make sense with your vision or story to explore means of expression? Another application could be whether to offer prints, cards, calendars, etc. What about teaching, or creating an instructional DVD? Would they detract from your vision or correspond with it? Commissions are also opportunities that should be considered, but only undertaken if it is in line with your focus on your art.
Several years ago, while still living in San Antonio, I was asked to submit a proposal for a large scale mural project. My initial thought was decorative or faux painting, which I was not interested in. Once the project was explained to me, though, I felt that it was something I would be interested in creating. The client was interested in a large scale fine art oil painting depicting the Texas Hill Country landscape. I felt that it was in harmony with my story, but also that it could open new doors and opportunities. It was a challenging, but rewarding project and has since led to several other mural projects. I was also subsequently asked to submit for a mural project that I turned down, because it was not in line with my focus.
Clint's invitation to write for Fine Art Views was also something I had to consider carefully. Despite the time away from painting, I felt that it was a way for me to share facets of my story and help others find theirs.
In short, consider opportunities that come your way, but don't simply accept everything. You must believe in it, and it must fit your story as an artist.
So to recap, determine what your story is as an artist. Find your voice. Then find those who can help you communicate your voice. And finally, welcome opportunities that come your way as long as they further or support your story. Don't take on projects that take you away from that which you should be doing.