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Artists: Do you know your target audience? Part 5

by Brian Sherwin on 6/23/2013 5:49:44 PM

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.

I have stressed the need for artists to recognize their target audience throughout this series. However, I realize that this task may be easier said than done. I know of artists working with multiple directions in their art studios... and others who have long embraced a solid direction (exploring specific themes, subjects, what have you) -- AND in both groups I have found artists who still have no clue who their target audience is. All is not lost. Your target audience may find you!


Your target audience may discover you: I know an artist near Chicago who creates dark, brooding paintings. She noticed that people living the 'goth lifestyle' loved her work. She made that connection by looking at people who requested her friendship on Facebook and other social networking websites -- and taking note of common interests, fashion style, taste in music and other factors that her online friends shared. In a sense, she did a little profiling... and discovered common links shared among the majority of her online following. Her audience was there -- they had found her. She just had to 'tap' her audience on the shoulder.


Knowledge about your audience is power: The artist mentioned above used that knowledge -- the data she had gathered -- to her art marketing advantage. She started to add vampires and Victorian elements to some of her artwork. It was not necessarily a change in creative direction... because she had interest in those creatures / scenes as well. Her paintings were already 'dark and brooding'... she simply added to the 'environment' by throwing in structures and mythological figures that she knew her followers would sink their teeth into. Point-blank, her followers already enjoyed her paintings -- now they had reason to really, really LOVE her artwork. Her business decision paid off.


Is this an example of 'selling out'?: I realize the story I've shared may be controversial to some readers. I can already see the 'she sold out!' comments. Good. I'm glad that she is selling more art. The artist in this story wants to see her artwork sold... I see nothing wrong with her paying attention to the common interests shared among her online fans -- and using that information to connect with them. Her audience found her... she just had to put the icing on the cake, if you will. Is it wrong for a business-minded artist to pay attention to what his or her potential buyers want? Think about that question.


In closing, sometimes your target audience will find YOU. You just have to look at the details -- connect the dots... and give them what they want. If people are 'friending' you online because of your art... you may want to consider that information -- and find your own way to put the 'icing on the cake'. Is this an unethical approach to selling art? I'm sure some readers will suggest that it is not ethical. That said, other businesses do this all the time... it is how they STAY in business. I see nothing wrong with artists taking the same approach. Your audience may be right under your nose... you may need to tweak your product (yes, I said product) in order to solidify the connection. Consider this food for thought.


Take care, Stay true,


Brian Sherwin


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Related Posts:

Artists: Do you know your target audience? Part 1

Artists: Do you know your target audience? Part 4

Artists: Do you know your target audience? Part 3

Community Art Events: The Studio Hop

Artists: Do you know your target audience? Part 2

You've Been in Sales Your Whole Life

Is Perfection Holding You Back?

Topics: advice for artists | art and psychology | Art Business | art collectors | art marketing | Brian Sherwin | exposure tips | FineArtViews | Instruction | sell art | selling art online | selling fine art online | social networking | Think Tank 

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Tom Shropshire
If you are only painting for yourself, you should burn your work when finished, or if you have lots of storage you can hoard them. That way you can never be accused of selling out since you will never sell anything.

However, if you want to continue painting and make a living, you should create the best art you can and find an audience for it.

Winslow Homer stated: “I will paint for money at any time, any subject, any size.”

My kinda guy!

Tom Shropshire
Write another comment . . .

Michele Traum

I was hoping you'd continue this series. You're right, some of us have no clue who our target audience is (hand high). Well, maybe a slight clue, but really nothing significant. So, starting today I'm going to pay more attention to who's visiting my website, who's repinning my paintings in Pinterest, who's retweeting my painting tweets...

I'm sure there's more to think about, like when I talk with a potential client, ask her questions so I can understand what she's interested in. Simple, but hardly ever considered and ventured.

Selling out? No, way. Smart marketing - absolutely! Thank you for a wonderful series!


Brian Sherwin
Tom -- Great quote! I know this is 'touchy' subject for some artists. BUT if you plan to making a living -- or part of your living -- from selling art... paying attention to what customers / potential customer want from you art is key.

If the artist does not want to pay attention to his or her audience... perhaps he or she should stay out of art marketing. Just saying. ;)

Brian Sherwin
Michele -- Your Pinterest suggestion is a good tip. I know some people will suggest that Facebook 'likes', Pinterest re-pins, and so on boils down to useless information. BUT that information may tell you what people enjoy in your artwork.

That kind of ties into the first part of this series. Banksy would delete images that did not 'click' with his online following. In a sense, he focused on images that received attention from online followers.

Marian Fortunati
I believe it IS hard to really figure out what the "target audience" is... and even if we have some inkling about which types of our paintings sell best to which group... how do we go BEYOND those that are already familiar with our work??

It's a tough one, in my opinion.

Brian Sherwin
Marian -- Do you mean 'go beyond' that by targeting other groups? Creating a new direction of work for another group? The problem there is that you may spread yourself thin if you are not careful.

Marian Fortunati
Hi Brian....
No... I didn't mean expanding to different GROUPS but finding more potential collectors with the same interests/aesthetic/commonalities as those in the target group.

Perhaps, I just don't really understand the concept of a target group.


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