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How Does an Artist Find Their Niche?

by Moshe Mikanovsky on 12/16/2010 9:12:16 AM

This article  is by Moshe Mikanovsky, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  An emerging artist searching his way in the art world, he loves to share what he learns.  With over 20 years of technology experience, Moshe combines his technological background and his passion for the arts with the goal of "working his dream".  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.


When I wrote last time about how to develop your niche, I didn’t realize that many of us don’t know what our niche is, and how to find it. Many of the comments you wrote were boiling down to one question: “How do I find my niche?”


To say that ART is your niche is too broad, in my opinion. Yes, ART is one of the many markets out there, but it’s like saying to a Software Developer that his niche is “Software”. Would he ever go to potential clients, tell them “Here is my Software” and expect them to just buy it? Or to a restaurateur to say that her niche is “Food”. True, she is in the business of feeding people, but between you and I, would you prefer to go to a restaurant that “specializes” in not knowing which part of the world’s cuisine it serves, or rather go to a Sushi bar, Korean BBQ, or just Jewish Style Deli?


The same is true with every business you are in. And if you are in the business of ART, then you will specialize in something.


Here are some ways you can find what it is that you specialize in. Some of these points must be obvious for all of us, and used intuitively, but are still mentioned here as part of the big picture. I am also writing these points for those of us who want to identify our niche. If you are not one of them, and prefer to make your art for the sake of making the art and nothing more, please don’t read this list. We will part here and I will wish you a beautiful and artistic day. But if you are interested, read on:


1.      Style – Do you paint abstract or in the impressionism style? Do you prefer super realism or fantastic illustrations? Or have you created a whole new style that you believe must be studied by the next generations of art scholars? Whichever that style is, there are people to whom this style is speaking to. And they are your niche market, the buyers you are looking for. Even if there are thousands of other artists painting in your style, or more correctly, in your style-school, we all have something unique to offer, and there are always venues to offer it. For example, look for galleries that share your style values, or art magazines that publish artists’ work in the same style-niche.


2.      Medium – As ART is too broad of a niche, so working in specific media is a very wide-range niche. The results of each artist could differ so much from others. But still, a sculptor is not in the same niche as a print maker, and a watercolorist usually does not compete with the oil painter. If you are a potter, making clay sculptures, you won’t belong in art shows that only show photographs and 2D art. You would rather show your art at potters’ show, which will attract pottery lovers.


3.      Subject Matter – As you develop your art, you will see yourself drawn to specific subject matters. Things that will capture your attention more than others. Childhood memories or religious feelings. Places you love exploring or intriguing human features. It does not matter really what it is, your subject matter will talk to many others, as it talks to you. And that is where your niche lies. Even if the viewers will not be able to express it in words, your image will be worth all the words in the world for them. Now, to make it easier for you to find them, think where people with the same values, emotions, and life experience will be found. If you paint Christian based images, you would want to present your art in churches or art shows of relatively religious areas. If your photographs depict animals, you might find your market at pet shows or state fairs.


4.      Purpose – Think about what is the purpose of your artwork. Is it to make someone happy? To illustrate an important document (such as in my Ketubah niche)? Or is it best suitable to set a dramatic and expensive tone to the executive offices of a Fortune 500 company? Or maybe you can see how all the coffee shops in your city can decorate their walls with your coffee-mug paintings, or maybe not just your city but all over the world?

You see, art always has a purpose. Whether it is functional or emotional, it is there to do something. Find what is it that you art does, and you will find your niche. And this doing is not limited to you only. It can do exactly the same thing to thousands of others.


Finding your niche might take time. And it can evolve from one or combination of all the above. You might develop one or more niches, or stumble upon one, just keep your eyes open to the opportunities.


What are the ways that you develop your niche in the art world?






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Related Posts:

How Does an Artist Develop a Niche?

How to Reach Beyond the Art Niche

Dead Ends, New Beginnings

Topics: art marketing | FineArtViews | sell art 

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mimi torchia boothby watercolors
Moshe, this definitely helps. Doesn't solve the problem, but inches me in the right direction. I like to paint watercolors that please people. I love to capture wonderful colors and strong feelings and when I paint a commission, i try to capture that particular (person or pet) for them.
Thank you. that definitely helps. I haven't QUITE found my niche but feel like i am getting closer.

Stede Barber
Thanks Moshe...I enjoy your sense of humor with all the information.

I suspect finding our niche is much like examining our own hand held directly over our eyes...we need help stepping back to see clearly.


Moshe - agree with your article, but a more fascinating topic might be "niche-creep", which is my own term for the conflict that can sometimes arise between painting (creating) what you love vs. painting what will sell.

Do you stick with your niche (Van Gogh) even though there is no public interest, or do you get seduced into deviating from your niche to deliver what "they" want?

Some struggle with the conflict between following the heart vs. following the money. I think it would be fascinating topic for you to explore and write about.

Carol Schmauder
As usual Moshe, you have provided us with food for thought. I especially like this statement: "You see, art always has a purpose. Whether it is functional or emotional, it is there to do something. Find what is it that you art does, and you will find your niche." I have always loved art. I love it because it moves me in some way. My hope is that my art brings happiness to others.

Teresa Tromp
Contrarian, your remarks are so true.
I often think about Van Gogh in that regard.
If he could have only lived another 100 years, his niche would have really paid off.

tom weinkle
Great observations. I think you could add a slash to Subject matter with Passion.

I also like Contrarian's point. It can be daunting when you have many people telling you ...“oh paint this, we can sell it, or “our gallery clients like ______”.

I don't fault anyone from following the market demands, but I do advocate following a passion. For some, it may be the idea of success and money. For others it's the art itself.

I have met many artists who love to paint what others happen to love to buy.

Sharon Weaver
Finding a niche is needed to target your marketing efforts and sell your work. I wonder if there are any artists who truly don't care if their work sells. I try to think only of my passions but can't help but meander into the salable subjects. Passion verses profit. Tough choice.

Gary Smith
It is odd that I have been in this 'business' for so many years but have missed some of Moshe's wisdoms here.

Thank you Moshe.


Sandy Askey-Adams
Good article Moshe..and very helpful.

Thanks again.

Bonnie Samuel
Thanks, Moshe. I think finding one's niche is also about finding your own voice and passion--art is not without emotion and expression of our own values. Understanding that, then the job is to match the style, medium, subject to the passion.

Of course, as Contrarian noted, if one is just into niche-creep, his/her own voice is not in the mix, just bucks. Sure happens a lot sadly.

Donna Robillard
I have been doing art for only a few years and have tried many different media. When I used to hear others say that you need to find a niche, I thought "how does a person do that?" But I find that the more art I create, I am naturally drawn to a particular medium and subject matter. With whatever medium I've worked in, it has always been realistic. Do I enjoy doing varied things? Yes, but, before long, I find myself going back to the path where my niche is.

Moshe Mikanovsky
Excellent comments everyone!
Contrarian, completely agree with the dilemma of art-for-the-heart vs. art-for-the-stomach (i.e. to fill it with food)... I remember reading a blog post awhile ago about this topic exactly, I will try to find it out and post the link here. The bottom line is that to succeed in ANY art, one cannot do with one or the other (or only few fortunate one can...). You do the art you have passion for to feed your heart, and then you do the art you can sell, so you will have a full stomach to allow you to continue doing your art you have passion for....


Carlos Thága
in my case I like and appreciate a beautiful painting with figurative themes, but also love abstract painting. both interest me a lot in my reflections I, on the other rest my soul.

Janet Keen
One way around doing art for your heart and art that you can sell is to do site specific art.
For instance I love doing volcanic cross section paintings. There is not a lot of call for these in main stream hhgalleries in NEw Zealand. But when I placed them in a space inside a tourist site called Waimangu I sold a lot of them because they reminded the tourists of what they had seen during their journey through the volcanic wonderland.

Cheers janet

I really like making mosaic fish, fish are out of fashoon at the monet but if I place them in a tourist attraction where you go to view fish, people buy them.
You could do art about books and put it in a bookshop, art about fruit and put it in a fruitshop. The possibilities are endless and have worked for me.

I have made mosaic crosses and had exhibitions in churches.

Presently I am doing art about paddocks, cows and green trees because I have just come back from a trip to Hamilton which is a farming service centre city. I will find a gallery that is interested in these. I believe everything yo do has a market you just have to find it.

Joanne Benson
Hi Moshe, Thanks for all the great food for thought. I'm still searching for my niche. I like too many things and I love to switch around my mediums. Too many choices!

Gary Smith
Janet, I agree with you 100 percent. I note too that you paint what you like (the volcsnos) and THEN you find where to market them.

When this can happen it is much better than painting some for yourself and others for sale. It is well worth searching for the right place to sell the paintings you want to do.

So, 'Well done".

Carlos Thága
Thank you Gary Smith solidarity in my opinion, I believe that in art there is no limitations as to what cria.picasso did everything followed no school, was not faithful to a single language artistica.temos to be faithful to our inner selves because everything else comes with tempo.como picasso says: I do not seek, I think! I sell all my figurative and abstract paintings and I people are different and do not believe in recipes for success! success for me is be yourself! love you all!

Carlos Thága
Joanne Benson your niche does not exist! nor from anybody, we are not repetitive machines to suit a certain grupo.Somos sensitive people with so many emotions and contradictions! not worry about pleasing anyone except to yourself. do: watercolor, oil painting, sculpture, collage ! you can! and you should let them have their own opinion about your work! But do not worry because they are only opinions. inportante is to be happy while you're passing through this mundo.seja happy!

Carlos Thága
Janet Keen! There is a saying: when the disciple is ready the master aparece.portanto much work to do what you love and they show up to buy their wonderful criações.é simple: nothing is more important in the world for you that you mesma.desfrute this and thou shalt feliz.fui ...................

Joanne Benson
Thanks Carlos. I'm happy and that's what's important!

Kathy Chin
Hi Moshe,
Thanks for a very much needed makes a lot of sense. And Janet, your info took it to the next step...I too love to take photos of what I want, but was trying to ignore the fact that I like taking pics of birds and horses and thought there wasn't much of a market for them. Silly me, now I realize that it's up to me to find those markets!!!
Thanks very much both of you!!!

Carlos Thága
Kathy Chin for me is a great pleasure to be in touch with you all, because every day I see that I am not alone .. there a big brotherhood of art that are connected by marriage to this wonderful universe we call art.Todas forms of express themselves in art has its value.The will always be those who feel attracted to our creations.

Jo Allebach
Super helpful information to think on! and act on.

Carlos Thága
Jo Allebach! have in our subconscious endless answers our needs, it always corresponds to our requests, but it takes hard work and good will to get where you want!

Jo Allebach
Carlos - I have no idea what you are trying to tell me.

Barb Stachow
Finding my niche will take time, I am still trying to find what I really like and to narrow down what kind of paintings I want to pursue!

Carlos Thága
Jo Allebach I wanted to say is that great ideas are only valid when we learn to put them in prática all information only becomes a great potential when we do what must be done

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