Do we really sell our Art?


I propose you to discover marketing basics over one letter every 2 weeks as I publish the first 4 episodes from my newsletter Not Art Fundamentals here.

Fear not young padawans, nothing crazy, it will be an introduction for artists. I'll make it as easy to understand as I can ;). If it’s not, feel free to reply telling me what wasn’t clear.

Here's the plan:

  • Ep01: Positioning, be at the right place, at the right time
  • Ep02: Diagnosis and the power of knowing your audience =D
  • Ep03: Application to Artists: Are we selling our Art?
  • Ep04: It’s simple but not easy.

Hope it helps!

Is your art your product, or a skill to make products?

From your answer, your marketing will be different.

From the previous letters, I said to begin with the diagnosis, and knowing your audience. Which leads to positioning, which leads to designing your product and, finally, promoting it.

I don’t know what to produce!

For artists it’s natural to begin with the product though.

“Do what you love and put it online”.

Our styles and skillsets define our positioning. With this hypothesis, we have no power over the choice of our audience. It's like relying on faith of having interests and an artstyle matching an audience.

It’s natural for us because we work day and night on our style. We already have affinities tied to our personalities. Your comfort zone may be intricate 3D based SciFi Landscapes when I prefer simple, stylized fantasy characters.

We stay stuck in the execution phase, in an infinite loop of creating content and promoting it. Sure, we do what we love, drawing cool stuff. But who does it help? You? The client? The fucking algorithm?

You...Not so much when we're struggling at surviving in an expensive country. Or when we have a family to provide to. It leads more to anxiety, a rejection of doing art, imposter syndrome and all kind of cool burnouts and shenanigans. It's like throwing our art at a wall.

The client... If you don't know them, their needs, their pains, why they're looking for an artist, how can you help them? Do they buy your art because it's pretty? Or do they have ulterior motives for it?
Clients and recruiters can spend a long time looking for the right artist or the right art piece. They may be looking for someone exactly like you, but will they find you if you're not focusing on them?

Become a Sudowoodo

It will be a weird anology but here it goes: I played a lot of Pokemon (Blue* and Silver). In silver, there was those legendary dogs that spawned in random locations over the world. I never knew where to look to catch them. They were always on the move!

But there was another pokemon that was rare: Sudowoodo. And that one, I knew where to get it. It was always on Road 36. It's the same when looking for artists. We're either legendaries always on the move, or pidgeys among a crowd of pidgeys making us very hard to catch (why would Ash choose one pidgey over another?)

But it would make it easier for both clients and artists to be Sudowoodos. Unique and easy to find.

What's left is the algorithm. Algorithm work to keep their users addicted to the platform. The more you post, the more engagement from your users you can see. The more the platform will help you get exposed.
Sure, the algorithm can help you. But if you’re stuck in the execution phase, it’s more likely that you will help the platform against your own interests.

This way of thinking is what I call “seeing our art as a product”.

The difficulty for us is to go back to fundamentals. Not drawing basics, but marketing basics.

Our Art is a skill, a competence to be used to serve others. Taking this stance reveals art at the same level as being good with numbers. Or writing, building stuff with our hands or understanding how to use a computer.

When you know how to write, you can help corporations sell their product online as a copywriter. They don’t sell words, they give better traffic and revenues. When you understand computers, you don’t sell time browsing the internet. You can enable seniors to talk with their grand-daughter who's travelling around the world.

We draw. We can help people connect, make them feel special, help them escape reality. We can help projects get funded, raise awareness on social issues or ease the workload on game productions. Art can decorate a home, be used as investment and tax deductible assets (like the Art market).

Our drawings are so much more than colors on papers. From an interview with Siobhan, who often buys from Etsy and Artsphere:

NT: Why do you want artworks for your new home?
SS: “For me personally,
it's a way of expressing uniqueness or how to make your home, your home. It is also how I grew up. […] I like the fact that it brings personality into a space.”

Now, write down:

What can you do with your art? What is your comfort zone?
List all possible use of your art and the people who can make use of it.

For example: I love line drawing and creating expressive characters in a very stylized way. That’s my comfort zone. I can use it for:

  • Animated movie and series production in-house,
  • Freelance as a backup for overwhelmed teams
  • On games as concept arts to ease the pipeline on the other departments.
  • For founders looking to support their website and copywriting with illustration
  • For their branding so they can stand out from a crowd of competitors
  • For game themed weddings
  • For museum temporary expositions
  • etc.

Try to understand exactly why these people need you. And learn from them. You will be surprised!

*if you have red, let me know, I'm still looking to complete the collection


Siobhan Solberg

MarketingLand illustration
on Linkedin

How to Take Advantage of How the Instagram Algorithm Works in 2021

You! (or more precisely, 15 independant artists, board games creators and publishers, Art directors. Thank you so so much for accepting my 45min interview!)

And you, what can you do with your art?

Feel free to answer to this email by a DM or an email, I will be glad to learn about your story and feedback!

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