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 24,173+ 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.. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
As mentioned previously in this series, artists who create varied works of art will likely have multiple targets to consider audience-wise. In some ways that is a blessing -- in other ways it is a curse. I put it that way because with varied artworks you will likely have to work double-time (or triple) in order to market your artwork successfully. Having a solid focus -- at least with the artwork you plan to sell– makes things a tad easier.
If your artwork varies you will need to think about how to approach each group: This will likely involve dividing up your time. For example, the audience that loves your landscape paintings may not be overly fond of your abstract paintings. In that scenario you will need to approach art marketing on two fronts. In other words, you will need to find a way to reach your landscape audience AND your abstract audience -- whereas the artist with one solid direction will likely enjoy a clearer art marketing path. (Note: My point is that it is hard enough to secure one audience -- targeting several increases the difficulty overall.)
Targeting one audience is a lot easier than targeting several: Take artist Chet Zar -- a past BoldBrush judge -- for example. Chet's artwork is deeply rooted in classic horror films -- and in many ways he targets that audience. He makes his love of horror films clear on his website, Facebook, and other sources. Additionally, he has paid homage to classic horror films, such as Night of the Living Dead and Carnival of Souls, with specific paintings. His fans -- they tend to be horror film fans as well -- take notice of these references. It is a plus that he has a background in creating creatures and designs for Hollywood films... he uses that to his advantage.
That said, those same fans would likely show little interest if Chet started to offer paintings of flowers in addition to what he has become known for -- unless, perhaps, the flower paintings included elements that his artwork is known for. He would likely have to explore different avenues in order to market the flower paintings IF they have zero connection to his 'standard work'. Needless to say, that time and energy would distract from the market he has established for himself. Would it be worth the investment of time and energy? Perhaps. BUT there is only so much time in the day.
This is what I want to stress: An artist with varied artwork will likely have multiple audiences to consider. The audience attracted to his or her landscape paintings may not be attracted to his or her still life paintings. Additionally, the audience interested in his or her sculptures may have zero interest in his or her paintings (even if the general theme is the same). That means that each direction will need to be promoted with those multiple targets in mind. The artist in this scenario is at risk of spreading himself or herself thin. Thus, he or she may need to decide which direction is more marketable. (Note: That does not mean that he or she should stop exploring the other directions in his or her studio... but for marketing purposes -- it might be best to have a solid direction).
Think of it in a different way: It is easy for me to think of this issue in terms of authors due to the fact that my wife has a MASSIVE book collection. Many authors branch out in different directions with their writing -- and they do that knowing that their center fan base (main target audience) may not come along for the ride. They attempt to target multiple audiences... and it does not always go over well. In that situation it is not uncommon for an author to fallback to 'what works'. (Note: The author of the Harry Potter novels recently found this out the hard way... her first non-fantasy book 'bombed'.)
Take author Anne Rice for example, her vampire novels have a strong following... that is her center fan base (target audience). She knows if she writes a novel about vampires it will most likely be a best seller. BUT she also writes pure romance novels. My guess is that your average Lestat fan probably won't be interested in that kind of romance. I'm certain that Anne Rice realizes this... and thus looks for ways to attract fans for those specific books beyond her target audience (she has used an alias for some of those books) -- all while offering books 'tailored' for her target audience. She knows which direction is her 'bread and butter'.
Author Mercedes Lackey is another good example. She is known for fantasy and sci-fi novels. My wife LOVES her fantasy novels... but she loathes her sci-fi novels. With that in mind, Lackey clearly has two directions going... to groups of readers. If she is interviewed by a fantasy magazine or blog she does not mention the sci-fi stuff... and vice versa. If she is interviewed by a magazine or blog that does not have a clear focus -- she may mention both directions. That is targeting, true? She approaches each audience differently. You should do the same if your work is varied. This is not a 'one size fits all' situation.
In closing, I know there are exceptions to what I've stated -- but that does not mean that my opinion should be dismissed art marketing-wise. In general it is a lot harder to attract several audiences. It is far easier to have a solid focus... and to work toward gaining a following for that specific direction. Think of that when planning your art marketing strategy.
Take care, Stay true,