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Measure Your Mastery

by Clint Watson on 3/3/2015 7:00:48 AM

This article is by Clint Watson,  former art gallery owner/director/salesperson and founder of FineArtViews. You should follow Clint on Twitter here or sign up for his newsletter here.


Kevin Macpherson, a Master, in his studio.


There are lots of people out there who want to teach you how to market your art with social media.  And that can be a good thing.


Sometimes though, the advice seems to focus so much on "how to get more followers".


So here's the thing.  If your profession is being a social media consultant...then it's probably important to have a lot of followers.  It's proof you're good at what you do.


But if you're an artist, that's not what you do.  What you do is create art.  And having a lot of followers tells the world nothing about how great of an artist you are.


In fact, sometimes when I find artists with tens of thousands of followers, it makes me wonder if the artist is great at art...or is that artist just great at social media?


There's a famous business maxim, attributed to Peter Drucker [1], that says "What gets measured, gets managed", which is another way of pointing out that what you focus on determines what actually gets done.


If you focus on the number of Twitter followers you have, you're going to optimize your art business to get Twitter followers, but if you focus on the quality of your artwork, you're going to become a better artist and, in my experience, in the end, better artists sell a whole lot more art, even without Twitter followers.


I love the following quote by Dustin Curtis, and I think he's correct:


"The difference between what drives traffic and what drives respect is enormous. Even worse, they are often mutually exclusive."


- Dustin Curtis [source]



Measure the number of pieces you've completed.  Measure whether you're getting better or not.  Get a journal and measure the way you feel about your progress as an artist.  Be brutally honest with yourself - how good is your art work?


Do these things and measure your mastery.  And if you can honestly hold your head high if asked to hang your art next to the masters whom you revere, you will have achieved a career milestone and one that will lead to sales.




Clint Watson

FASO Founder, Software Craftsman, Art Fanatic



[1] It's often attributed to Drucker, but I could find no proof he is the one who actually coined the saying.




Editor's Note:  You can view Clint's original post here.


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Related Posts:

Advice for a Newbie, Revised

Keep Your Artist Website Updated: Remember to provide current information

Social Networking and Art: Desperation OR art marketing strategy?

You Don't Need a Degree to be a Successful Artist

Topics: advice for artists | Art Business | art collectors | art marketing | Clint Watson | exposure tips | FineArtViews | social networking | Twitter 

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Faith Dance
So true! Maintaining a good online presence (including getting more followers) takes time away from painting. We need both, so it is a difficult balance. But since the instant gratification of more followers is easier to measure than the mastery of painting, guess what - when in need of it, we tend to go for the followers. ;-)

By the way, the same goes for participating in all kinds of online communities, such as FASO. I don't know how some do it, to keep active in several forums and still get some paintings done.

Back to the studio ....

Along the topic of social media, I am currently conducting a test on social media... incorporating the hashtag (#) and one word comment to see if it drives those who might search by hashtags to my site. I must say I am new at the # andto date it has not proven to increase "likes" or "followers". #2WEEKSTOGO!

Lynne Hurd Bryant
I'm guilty of looking at my website traffic a bit more than is necessary, but often I'm testing something, be it a new arrangement of galleries or a new idea. Here's a case in point.

I have had my FASO website for years and I never sell anything directly from there, or rather I didn't. Usually someone emails me to ask how to buy something. That's not very effective or convenient! Not too long ago I put a tab under my gallery tab "How to Purchase or Commission Original Artwork" and inside there are short blurbs about how I do things, information about my shipping policies, even layaway terms (yes, I do layaway. I've been tracking whether or not that information is seen. It is seen, most people who look at more than one piece of art have read that section. The result? I've started selling through my website. In fact, yesterday I sold three drawings to one buyer outside of the US. The views of that page told me whether that was considered useful or a bit too forward/pushy.

Shirley Quaid
Amen, Clint! It seems that all of the art marketing experts focus on social media, email lists, newsletters, blogging, etc and although I acknowledge that these things are important, I am left wondering when there is time left over to paint.

Marilyn Rose
Clint, thank you so much for permission to get back to my easel. I have spent way too much time and energy lately on Facebook, and the words you have just spoken reinforce what I've thought all along.

I've printed out your last two paragraphs, with your name, and it's posted above my easel.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Hello Clint...

I too like especially your last two paragraphs.

For me too, and I HATE to admit is handling the anxiety that comes to me when trying to do my art work. I suspect that comes from being afraid of not being good enough which touches a lot of my or not.

The anxiety comes too when I fear that I am not on social media enough. AM I missing out on getting my work out there more so by not being on things such as twitter, etc....Just am Not on much of the social media stuff. Facebook, yes. But not much on that right now.

Heyyyyyyyyy...maybe being on all that social media stuff and trying to keep up with it all is also an excuse to not do your art work. Maybe that is a way of dealing with our "Art and Fear." I have to go back and read that book by David Bayles and Ted Orland.
There are rewards and perils as we do our art. Why shouldn't there be some king of anxiety to deal with also??!! Being an artist is not an easy profession.

By the way, when I blog, it is to calm myself down believe it or not...or it is to tell about something that has happened with the art, tell about art show events, or just share and express my thoughts about something. But no matter what I blog about, it is about my journey through life as an artist, good or bad, art or not.

AND, I AM SO GLAD and GRATEFUL that other artists are out there blogging too so I can feel not so alone and learn also from their sharing and expressing.

Focusing is important though, no matter what if we want to get ahead and let's face it, not only do our best work, but MAKE SALES so we can feel more liked and worthwhile in what we do.
What was that sentence Sally Field said that time when accepting her oscar..."You really like me, you really like." That was so REAL. So us.

I have often wondered if using all that internet media is really beneficial. If there are a lot of followers, do they purchase art work or not?

I do know that if I did not do the art shows (outdoors and indoors)I would not have as much as a following.
Doing art shows and keeping your art work out there TO BE SEEN in person is it local, regional or national.

Walter Paul Bebirian
well the social media sites are tools and as tools go there is a great advantage to knowing how to use them and then letting the tools do the work -

that said - the use of a Facebook fan page - well that creates or shows or indicates to new viewers landing on your page - through something known or referred to as observability that - well perhaps that some other people at least like your work - and because of that there is a chance that this new person or new people thereafter may be encouraged to take your work a little more seriously and to perhaps begin to like it as well - sort of like being at an outdoor show - where all the booths are lined up one after another but down the line there is one very very very busy booth where it looks like everyone at the show is congregating at and well you just have to see what it is that is going on there - maybe there is some great artist with some great art there after all - no guarantee but it does peek people's interest -

now that is all that I can say at the moment - but these are - again just tools -

Damien Hearst - I just learned recently - somehow got Saatchi to purchase some of his work - and well that peeked the interest (did I spell that correctly) of the rest of the art purchasing world -

but of course you and I and all the other artists have to come up with our very own - way to peek the interests of - well -- ---- whoever we want to catch the attention of - right?

Lori Woodward
This is exactly what I've been learning lately. Gotta get much, much better.

This was good to hear...

Brian Sherwin
One buyer is worth far more to an artist than 1,000 'likes' on Facebook. People can 'like' a post or page... and forget it about it within a few minutes. A buyer will continue to admire your work -- he or she will introduce it to others in the process.

I do think it is important to have a strong online presence. However, I don't think every waking moment should be spent working on it. I think it is best to stick to some form of schedule -- know when to cut yourself out of the digital world, so to speak.

I follow hundreds of artists on Facebook... I'm not surprised when some of them have to rush to crank work out for an exhibit. They spend entirely too much time chatting.

Brian Sherwin
Walter -- That is true. Saatchi was an earlier supporter of Damien Hirst. However, he collected work from others as well -- not all of them went on to be the financial powerhouse that Hirst is today. He certainly does not owe all of his success to Saatchi.

Hirst is tactful. At one point he initiated a college tour to promote his work and conceptual art in general (I think it was in associated with NPR or some other group). I believe that was in the late 1990s. There was also a touring lecture in the United States. In a sense, he tapped future art collectors on the shoulder. I'm sure many art students embraced his ideas as well.

I think a lot of artists have forgotten the power of footwork. We need to think about what can be achieved offline.

Case in point: There are two colleges in my town. The town is located less than 50 miles away from two establish art communities in Illinois -- it is also within a reasonable distance from Chicago. Yet the two colleges have had a tough time bringing artists in to lecture about art. Those are missed opportunities.

A college lecture or exhibit is a win-win if you think about the number of mobile devices on campuses today. Students will no doubt look up information about the artist. A few may end up posting video of the lecture or exhibit. The artist is killing two birds with one stone... gaining offline and online exposure at the same time.

Moira Donohoe
I would like to thank Lynne Hurd Bryant for her comments about adding tabs to make the buying process easier for clients. What a great idea. I want to offer layaway and commission work as well, but didn't quite know how to go about it.

I also have a question. I noticed many people include shipping in their pricing, but I don't see tax. I know you can set up tax with paypal, however, with a large painting, the tax could add a huge wallop at the end of the purchasing process, maybe 4 or 5
hundred dollars or more. I'm wondering if tax should also be included as part of the purchasing price.

Donald Fox
I'd reinforce the idea of keeping a journal or other written log of what you're thinking about your painting. This can help you to clarify your intentions over time. I'd also include observations about the work of other artists. Becoming a better critical thinker can do as much for overall improvement as working on technique.

carol a. grigus
Brian....your title says it all....
"MEASURE YOUR MASTERY"....and Master your medium!!

Sharon Weaver
Thanks for saying what I have been thinking for years. Getting lots of likes on Facebook doesn't sell your art.

Cristina Del Sol
I am a bit late in adding my comment, but better late than never.
I can't agree more with you Brian.

I was really tired of having to delete about fifty emails from Facebook and tweeter.
My followers are friends and relatives. None of them collectors.
My Daily Painting Blog was also chipping away at my precious painting time.
Even though I felt guilty at this decision, I stopped all the social media.
Now I have a more artwork to show, more galleries to represent me and in the last two years I have sold the most art ever.
A quite famous "art consultant" told me I would never get into galleries unless I promote my art in Facebook and get more followers. Social media is it. Once I have that big number of fans (I would called them groupies) the galleries will take notice.
Facebook does not sell your art, neither Tweeter.
Achieving excellence in my work and putting miles in my paint brushes is more important than social media.
The paintings I have sold on line or most of the inquires come from my Pinterest page.


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