This article is by Brian Sherwin, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Conservative Punk, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint, Vandalog, COMPANY, artnet, WorldNetDaily (WND) and Art Fag City. Sherwin graduated from Illinois College (Jacksonville, Illinois) in 2003 -- he studied art and psychology extensively. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 24,022+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites. Disclaimer: This author's views are entirely his/her own and may not reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.
Do you know your audience? Who is your target audience? These questions should be answered sooner than later IF you are interested in selling art. Unfortunately, it often seems that artists don't know the answers. In fact, most take a 'shotgun' approach to art marketing in general – they attempt to attract EVERYONE. The 'shotgun' approach, in this context, may work if your artwork is varied (though that can be debated... and will be later in this FineArtViews series). That said, if your artistic direction is focused – if you regularly explore specific themes with your artwork -- your audience targeting needs to be focused as well. Reach out to the people who WANT your art.
Knowing your target audience will drastically increase your chances of successfully marketing your artwork. The success of Banksy comes to mind. For those who don't know: Banksy is arguably one of the most famous living artists at this time – he is certainly one of the most prominent street artists in the world. Past works on canvas by Banksy, such as Bird with Grenade (above image), have sold for over $200,000. Other works on canvas, including Keep it Spotless (image below), have sold for over 2 million dollars. Banksy may have never experienced this level of financial success had he not decided on a target audience during his early days. He has long targeted political / social activists -- specifically activists embracing counterculture elements. (Source of data)
I recently read a detailed article about Banksy and branding. The article mentions that Banksy originally set out to target an untapped demographic of 'young, would-be collectors'. His target audience at that time was simple enough: Banksy reached out to young men and women who were not interested in visiting art galleries... BUT loved art – specifically art with a social message aligned to their views. He made art collecting 'cool' for young people who likely viewed the prestigious circles of the art world as part of the 'Establishment'. One could suggest that Banksy's early target audience still 'fuels' his career. His artwork is sold for millions now... BUT it still attracts, message-wise, the demographic he targeted from day one – a legion of fans searching for his work online. (Source of information)
I can remember Banksy's images going 'viral' online. His artwork 'flooded' counterculture groups on Myspace back in the day – and on sites like LiveJournal (when you needed an 'invite code' to join) long before that. Once interest was established around specific works... he would offer them as prints – from that point he would have a business associate handle transactions from the trunk of his car... and eventually a small gallery space. It was not uncommon for his website to crash after announcing a new print... his fans wanted more – AND they could afford it. Banksy understood his audience. Those early prints sold for as low as $20 – the perfect price for a 'young, would-be collector'.
Banksy accomplished this level of online fan devotion by 'listening' to his fans – his target audience. He promoted images that 'clicked' with his audience online... while 'scrapping' images that received little to no feedback. He would remove images from his website and online accounts if they failed to attract enough attention. In a sense, Banksy 'pushed' the images that had the most impact with his target audience online. He did this by utilizing his artist website, taking advantage of online social networks (not just online art groups), and acknowledging what fans had to say about specific images.
Banksy gave his target audience what they wanted. What did they want? The answer is simple. His early admirers wanted affordable artwork that contained a social message they could sink their teeth into. He filled BOTH needs – he did not care about what other artists, collectors, and galleries were doing. He focused on HIS audience... and it paid off. The popularity of Banksy's artwork – spurred by a legion of dedicated fans – eventually forced prominent art galleries to see what all of the fuss was about. His artwork is now worth millions... BUT his target audience is still intact – still 'fueling' his name.
In closing, you should strive to tap into YOUR audience. In order to do that you must first recognize your audience. You can start by asking yourself who you create artwork for ('myself' is not the answer in this context). After all, if you are reading this article you are most likely a business-minded artist. Every business -- in general -- needs a target audience in order to thrive. Banksy understood this early on. More to come...
Take care, Stay true,