As part of our on-going plan to ramp up our respective art businesses, we escaped from the studio this past Wednesday to attend a business marketing symposium geared for artists, namely Art Works. The venue was the amazing Shenkman Arts Centre in Orleans, which features a massive auditorium at its center, as well as many galleries, studio spaces and bright foyers.
We’re both pretty savvy about promotion, and Holly (more so than me) has already put a lot of the ideas bandied about into practice, particularly regarding on-line promotion.
After the keynote, we split up for the break-out sessions. She registered for the sales and on-line marketing workshops, while I covered other bases with a session on applying for loans and grants, and in the afternoon, a reminder on the importance of marketing generally.
Some artists are contemptuous of marketing, or would prefer to be in their studios creating. Unless those artists have someone else handling their marketing, they are going to have a struggle before them. So I heard about niches, branding, positioning, rational benefits etc. It struck me, after listening again to all the discussions and the Q&A, just how oddly art and artists fit in with traditional or standard business models and yet, if artists want to make money at their art, they must abandon romantic notions about their work and render it as a commodity. So a successful artist must almost be split in their approach, having one attitude to the work when creating it, and another when selling it. All this, or course, in a time when galleries and representation for artists is a very exclusive matter indeed. In the end, the marketing speaker replied to questions generally that “we are creative people; come up with creative solutions for marketing.” True enough.
Overall, we liked the event and enjoyed the talks and speeches, reacquainted with some artists we know, and came away with some very interesting bits to add to our own collected wisdom.