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Socializing With Purpose

by Keith Bond on 6/14/2010 12:50:56 PM

This article is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

Recently, Hugh Macleod posted a cartoon that reads: “Business is socializing with purpose” (I stole the last 3 words for the title of this article). The artwork depicts a target with one word per ring moving inward toward the center. The word “purpose” is in the bull’s eye. View the cartoon here

In his commentary about the cartoon, Hugh summarizes a thesis by Mark Earls. 

 “…Mark's thesis is, simply, 1. That people are social animals, 2. That businesses are social groups, not machines, 3. That what holds these social groups (businesses) together is a collective sense of "purpose", 3. A business without a strong "Purpose-Idea" is at a considerable disadvantage.”

Let’s apply this to your art

Primary and Secondary Purposes

First you must know what success means to you. No one else can determine that. Only you. Have you identified the one BIG purpose or idea for your art? All of your efforts should support this big idea. You must also have secondary purposes to help you fulfill the bigger purpose. Some are goals and tasks. But there are also social events which require specific purposes which are secondary to your overall objective. 

An example of a secondary purpose: you invite a client to brunch for the purpose of asking them to host a home show for you. The home show is not the major purpose of your art. But the home show supports your BIG purpose of being an artist.

Social Settings

You are human. Thus you are a social animal, according to Mark. Some of you may be more social while others are more animal. :) For some, social settings are difficult. For others, they come easily. I do much better in small groups than in a large group. But I am working on it and getting better.

Let’s look some business opportunities requiring you to socialize. You may have an open studio event, lunch with a client or gallery owner, gallery openings, juried or invitational shows, craft fairs, gala receptions, and the list goes on and on.

Do You Socialize or Hide?

While at these events, do you socialize? Or do you avoid socializing by hanging out by the hors d’oeuvres or drinks? While at your booth, do you sit and read? If you are working on your art, do you ignore visitors or do you acknowledge them? Do you greet them? At receptions, do you hang out with other artists? Or do you mingle with the collectors? There is nothing wrong with visiting with other artists. That is important. But don’t neglect the collectors by using your artist friends as another way to hide. Or do you avoid attending these events all together? It is critical to attend and socialize with collectors and others who can help you achieve your purpose. 

Do You Socialize with Purpose?

Do you have purpose when you socialize? What is that purpose? Have you ever thought about that? Do you steer the conversation to attain that purpose? Do you market yourself or your art or both? 

Social Media with Purpose

What about virtual socializing? How do you use social media? Do you drive visitors to your website with all your social media activities? Do you have a clear “message” or “idea” in your artwork? Is it evident on your website? 

Last Thought

There has been a lot of discussion over the past couple years about using conversations to market yourself and your work. Share your art (and yourself) with others through conversation. This is socializing.

Best Wishes,

Keith Bond

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Backstory: About Clint. Email EditorTwitter. Republish. ]

Related Posts:

Do Artists Need Twitter?

Make Amazing Art, Be Authentic, Tell Your Stories and the Art Will Sell

Email... Friend or Foe?

Finding Your Collectors

Topics: art marketing | art websites | sell art 

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Helen Horn Musser
Another great post, Keith, thank you for all the cues you give us about promoting our art. For the most part, I love greeting those who show up for our events in NorthEast Fine Art Alliance. We did some demonstrations during the Heritage Jublilee in Terrell in April. When it is just an exhibit of my work I am more self conscience and detracted from talking about the work. As long as someone ask about some of the pieces I can begin talking. Do you have any magic that would help me with this?

liza myers
Being friendly is so important. Chatting with potential clients can make the difference between a sale and a "be backer," whether it's at a show or at the gallery. But sometimes it's a delicate line. All of my works have stories. Sometimes it's too much for the client... It's important to know when to just back off and let a client interpret the work through their own cadre of life experiences.
Being open and available is very productive.

Carol Schmauder
Very good post Keith. I am one of those who would like to hide rather than talk, however, I am getting better at talking to those who are viewing my art as the years go by. I really enjoy visiting with people but I have to push myself to "socialize" at the beginning then I warm up to it. I realize how important socializing is and am aiming at perfecting this skill.

Kathy Chin
Great article as usual Keith, you've got a real knack for hitting the nail on the head!
I've been trying hard to be more social, and talk more about the gallery, and my art (usually in that order!) We've recently had a couple of events and while we had an excellent turnout of artists, there weren't as many guests/collectors as we had hoped. We're in the process of trying to advertise more through various avenues, so hopefully we'll do much better at our next reception.
Thanks for reminding us that we need to be more visible!

Jill Banks
I love talking to people about art ... both through social media and in person. The purpose is to be approachable, friendly, helpful in addressing their concerns, in order to potentially gain them as collectors or fans.

Jill Banks
Something that has worked for me to keep socializing with a purpose is taking a team approach. At shows and receptions (at my studio gallery), my husband helps out ... by being the "money" guy and an extra set of eyes/ears to figure out if someone wants to talk to me or is interested in a piece. It really helps!

We had our annual art studio tour this past weekend and I've come to view it as really very fun to talk with the visitors. Some let you know in various ways that they want to be left alone to look, while others want to talk with you and ask questions as they look. The stand-offish ones often will begin to talk after they've taken their time to look without being hovered over.
I do have a difficult time in other sorts of contexts deftly bringing a conversation around to my work because I know that I find people who are constantly giving you their schtick kind of tiresome, but if the subject comes up or can be introduced with some finesse, then I feel better about that.

Marilyn Gilis
Good article. I can be very sociable in the right environment. I really enjoy talking about being creative.

Bob Phillips
Hi Everyone.
I seldom do posts like this, but several days ago I read Clint Watson's comments on driving traffic to your website via key words, etc. In that article he gave list of over 50 words/sentences to use which I copied and posted on on my computer desktop.
Following that I spent several days locating other relevant words, names, sentences, etc. all relating to art, painting, artists, supplies, etc.
These I posted on my website page "properties" section, as well on my blog.
Nothing much happened for a couple of days, but I have seen an increase in traffic in the last couple of days.
Normally get 700 to 1000 hits a month on my website, which up until about 18 months ago was enough for a decent number of sales or originals and reproductions.
So I wanted to thank Clint for that and inform others about what happened.
Now when I think or see a comment or word regarding art I add that to my lists.
Thanks for reading this.
Best Regards

max hulse
Keith Excellent points about being social
in your art business. I feel that most people
do business with people they like and also those
that they trust.
If you provide good product, seem sincere, and
"socialize" well, you have many advantages over
a painting selling itself.

Max Hulse

Lorraine Khachatourians
I appreciate the point about socializing with a purpose. This is something that I hadn't thought about specifically. Something to keep in mind for the next show for sure. Thanks for the pointers!

Martha Inman Lorch
'Good advice for using social situations for sharing our passion for art. I'd add one thing: just as a business person always has a business card to leave behind with someone, I always carry in my purse either invites from previous shows (with a painting image), bookmarks with images, art business cards, or anything that can remind that person of our conversation - and, ideally, will have my www address.

Marian Fortunati
I admire those people who are able to socialize easily and maintain contacts and friends. I agree that socializing is an important part of growing one's business but, hopefully, not all socializing is business related.
I find that I enjoy talking with people at exhibits and shows because it seems we have common interests - especially as those interests relate to art. There are, however, a surprisingly large group of people who aren't very interested in art... But maybe if they sense my excitement.. they'll be interested too.
Probably those who are the best conversationalists have the widest knowledge and can therefore find many interesting things to talk about... which may eventually lead to the business of art...

Donna Robillard
I like the phrase "socializing with a purpose". I do enjoy sharing my art and talking about it; however, I know I can do better. Thanks for helping to keep us focused.

Michael Cardosa
Kieth, you always seem to come up with a great one!

There are so many things to come away with from this.

I know this won't work at all venues but there is a "trick" that I've know some pretty successful salespeople to use when in a situation where they can network. I'd like to share it because I think it might help some people when they get into "social" situations. That's set a goal for yourself. Think about the venue and if there are a number of collectors or any group of people that might be good for you to meet, give yourself a number of contacts that you have to reach to be successful for the day/night. If you're very outgoing maybe the number is 10 or 15 or twenty. If you're usually pretty shy and don't feel comfortable introducing yourself to strangers go low. Tell yourself to meet 2 people that don't approach you first. Once you start doing this you'll get more comfortable and be able to get to higher numbers and a larger group of potential contacts and possibly enjoy yourself more while advancing your career and business. The funny thing is, and I guess this is the real trick to it, is that once you make the first contact you think more about making your number than meeting the people and it gets much easier.


Joanne Benson
Hi Keith,
Great post as usual. In marketing terms I'm guessing "socializing with purpose" is akin to "working the room". I enjoy conversing with people when I'm on home turf but it gets tougher at unfamiliar venues.

I also find that many of the venues I frequent have mostly artists show up for events. There are always a few friends and collectors but it seems like the artists are the ones more interested in seeing what everyone is doing. Perhaps I need some new venues! Or more friends to invite!

However, I do agree that people are more likely to do business with you if they like you as a person as well as like your art. You are selling yourself along with your art.

Michael, I like your idea of a numerical goal. It makes it like a game....

Marsha Hamby Savage
I understand that it is hard from some artists to approach unknown people when in a social situation and it is mostly about their art. But, I am one that mostly does not have that problem. What I have developed is a plan -- wait while they have a good look at the art, then approach with a comment or question.

I usually ask them "You've been studying the art, now tell me what you think." This gets them started telling me their thoughts. I believe it is a good idea to be able to listen to their perspective. Not always be the artist that must regale them with your knowledge. This is not a time to impress them with "art-speak."

I believe that making them feel comfortable is at the crux of the matter. We don't have to be the greatest conversationalist, but we should be a good listener. In my opinion, this makes it easier to have the conversation, takes the burden off the artist to "hold" the conversation. I think the customer appreciates it and feels more a part of the event.

Marilyn Gilis
Thanks for your post about your plan. I'm not very good at starting conversations. Your approach of asking the potential buyer what they think will be invaluable to me. Abstract art is what the viewer sees in it not about what the artist sees. Most of my work is abstract and when I've gotten comments about it I've been totally surprised at what people see in the art. I usually don't see what they see. Amazing!!!

Esther J. Williams
Keith, I am a very social artist, I always have something going on, art receptions, volunteer hours at a gallery, open studio painting sessions, painting on location, outdoor art fairs and tons of other outside activities that involve talking with people. I think it is very important to engage in conversation and listen also. My goals are to pursue the highest level of art and to have my art speak to people. I like to promote my art too. As much as I like to attain these goals, I find that I like to help others out by listening to them. Being reciprocal in a conversation is the most enjoyable to me. If I can give advice or some type of tip, it comes back to me twofold. So, talking and giving someone my ear so that they can talk leaves me feeling that the revolving door is a give and take, all benefit. In the long run, I have had so many doors open to me, life is fun!

I am rather shy at social settings and most of the time procrastinate or am undecisive to attend or not. I know it's not a good thing. I am probably taking this too serious. I should really start to drink some wine, get tipsy and shake hands with everyone and introduce myself, which in a sober state I won't do :-) I think it comes from a inner thought that I do not want to come over like I want to sell something and have a fake conversation to disguise the sales process. Strange thought maybe? I don't know.

Helen Horn Musser
Dimitrios, I would rather have a conversation that was true and sincere than one that is contrived and fake. I think you are right on!

Sue Martin
Great advice, Keith! I find the most important purpose in socializing is to build relationships. You do that not so much by talking but by listening. Since I tend to be a bit shy, I always have a list of questions in mind to ask people I meet. If you can have a memorable conversation, it's a lot more likely these "new friends" will agree to be on your mail list, come to your next opening, or take a look at your web site.

Joanne Benson
I like your idea about asking questions to make folks comfortable. It also take the pressure off of you as the artist to do the talking. Also, love your work!

Michael Cardosa

I think you might be worrying for nothing. People who show up at gallery openings, shows or art fairs know that artists are there to sell their art. That's what artists do. It's how the can afford to make more art (oh, and live another day!) If you want to break the ice, don't be timid about it, go the other way entirely. Ask them if they have lots of wall space because you have way too many painting to take home with you. Trust me, they won't be offended and they might even get a chuckle out of it and start a real conversation with you. As for having some of that wine and getting tipsy first... I'll leave that comment for another time :)


Karen Winters
Dimitrios, Funny but I rarely drink wine at my art shows because I want to have all my wits about me nd to be able to have good recall later of what people said to me. But I do carry a wine glass and drink perrier or something. I would be concerned that I would get tongue tied or inadvertently say the wrong thing and that would be inhibiting. Now at home or relaxing, that's another story!

Another good posting, I agree we must be our own biggest promotor, (or drag your husband along)in order to sell, you must sell yourself!


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