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The Only Two Things Artists Have to Master

by Clint Watson on 12/17/2009 12:05:35 PM

There are only two things you need to master to be a successful artist:

1. Creating remarkably good art.
2. Finding the people who love your art and sharing it with them.

Unfortunately, many people spend their entire careers learning to be great at either the first thing or the second thing. You've got to master both.*

*(Some artists focus on number one and partner with a gallery or spouse who excels at the second item.  That combination works too since both items are mastered by the combined team.)


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Topics: Art Commentary | art marketing 

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Lori Woodward
Clint, this week I put feelers out asking what artists want to know. Today, one artist said that since it's unlikely that she'll ever work with a high profile gallery or maybe not work with galleries at all, how will she find her audience.

That's an excellent question, and I think one that confuses many artists. There are many types of audiences for art, and many types of art... finding a match between your art and an audience is what it takes.

I started out doing outdoor art shows in New England states. I sold a lot of paintings, grew a mailing list, and was approached by 3 galleries while doing those shows. I also participated in fundraisers where wealthy people attended, but I made sure I had a reserve price on my work (reasonable) and got a decent percentage of the sale... usually 40 percent. Most often I offered portrait commissions, and the folks who bought those were not art collectors.

Well.. I made them into art collectors ;-) Finding your audience on your own can be difficult, but not at all impossible.

Lori Woodward
I meant that I got 50-60 percent on the sale. The fundraising organization got 40 percent.

Maria Brophy
This article explains the connundrum of why there are so many incredibly talented artists who are still living in their mother's basement....

Louise B. Hafesh
I've had reasonable success selling my work at alternative venues.

Specialty, high-end art framing and gift stores are ideal. Their clientele have already bought into the value of displaying art in their homes and there's the added benefit of often not having to frame your own work (In my case the framer chose about 5 paintings to showcase their craft).

I recently exhibited my work at a well-known, prestigious spa and salon and was absolutely thrilled when one of their patrons bought three pieces right off the walls!

Ann Bell
Getting your work seen by people who like the type of work you do can be challenging.

When you sell a painting, it's important to get contact information of the purchaser and send them an invitation EVERY time your work is shown, whether it's a gallery show, a juried show, an open studio, or even an outdorr art fair.

Even if they do not come, the invitation reminds them of your existence.

Obviously, the invitation is most effective if it shows a piece of your art.

Ann Bell

Phyllis O'Shields
Creating remarkable art and sharing with the target audience really sums it up.... A very important part of this for me is remembering the audience while creating and executing the painting. This does not drive my painting but helps clarify during the process of creation while thinking about how the WOW factor is coming through (or not) - striving for this in every painting and drawing. It's an internal standard to be checked before allowing anything to go out to the public. Phyllis O'Shields


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