Sunday, November 22, 2009

A little more about the internet and artists marketing.

I think you need to have an internet presence, But I am not sure how much is really required. My own assiduous research seems to indicate that blogging is not a moneymaker. There is however plenty of work in it. I don't think that Facebook is a bad idea either, although I don't put in much time there, it is fun to network a little with some artists from across the country. Where that will lead I don't know. There seems to be a linked community developing and I have discovered some fine painters out there and probably gotten some name recognition. I don't think it its a moneymaker either.

You simply have to have a web site though. The first thing people do these days is go online and look you up. Gotta have it! If you don't, you don't exist. I think the phrase "award winning artist" is getting a little shopworn incidentally. I wrote several posts about writing bios and here is a link to one of them. Your site needs to have a good bio and it needs to show perhaps up to 20 of your best paintings.

When I had my first web site built in about 2001 it was an e commerce site. It was a data base driven behemoth that had prices on it, computed tax and gave dimensions , shipping costs and fed my cats when I was out of town. You hit that flashing "buy now" button, and the patent leather dirigibles came in real low, strafing the frightened customer with feather bearing leopards wearing balls and chains. Everything in my inventory was on the site, and it had to be updated every eight hours. I kept telling the web master I wanted flames coming from my name but he wouldn't let me have em, said that was only for porn sites. It was wicked cool, but it didn't sell art.

Now I see a web site as an advertising device, like a magazine ad. I put up about twenty of my paintings and now and then add a new one. But it is pretty static. If you want changing, dynamic content and you have to come to the blog.

I am a little torn on how to advise amateurs and students on whether to post their art. I know it doesn't make sense for them to buy magazine ads. My advice on that is that you shouldn't pay more for an ad than you are ROUTINELY paid for a painting. I see some advertisements in the art magazines that make me embarrassed for the people who bought them. They always begin with "award winning artist".

But I guess I feel differently about web sites. So long as they are not expensive and as your art improves you update them. But don't try to pretend you are something you are not, avoid the superlatives like "internationally known". There are so many artists out there making those claims that no one is impressed by them and what the artist is really selling is integrity. Tell people what the deal really is, and build their trust. In the long run, people buy from artists they trust. I don't generally think it good to post your prices on your web site, but people differ on this. I guess if they are very low and you don't need to look classy its OK. But if you have high prices and want to play in the upper market I think it looks a little off.

I am not a big fan of the daily painting thing, however if that's what you want to do, I suppose it is a good discipline. You will post prices for that though. I think it will make it hard to sell more expensive work in the galleries. If I were running a gallery I would be reticent to handle an artist who was selling his work online for less than the price of a decent pair of tassel loafers.

For developing your art doing a painting a day is probably a good idea, although I suggest you plan on doing a certain number like 60 rather than making an open ended commitment like this ridiculous blog, that just goes on and on.I wouldn't recommend it being ALL that you do. As I said last night I think the bottom of the market is a miserable place to operate. That's not to say we can all be the big Kahuna either, but there is a lot of room in between.

It seems funny to me that the idea has a risen that art can be sold in great quantities to Joe Bagadonuts for low prices and a living can be had that way. Maybe it can, I have to admit I have all my life been dealing with the well to do and the upper middle class with substantial disposable income. I make a formal sort of painting, so my art naturally goes into more formal homes. But if you can make it selling small inexpensive paintings, good for you. In 1983 I was selling 8 by 10s for eighty five dollars, framed.


Robert J. Simone said...

What does a decent pair of "tassel loafers" cost? Didn't know they were still selling those...

Good post Stape! What would you say to students who are selling work done in class, with their instructor's brushwork on it?

Mary Byrom said...

Thanks Stapleton for slaving over this blog every night... Great observations. I was advised by Ralph Benko, author of "The Webster's Dictionary" (social media marketing book) to have a website- that's your "world store front", join some artist groups on ning if possible to keep up on things,(Plein Air Artists) and be moderate with facebook (the professionals call it "the Calcutta of the internet"). Blogs are important as they are current; after looking at your website they go to your blog -its how they get to know what's happening "now".
I teach at an art school and my students have researched me on my website and blog. Collectors have purchased paintings as a result of my website and blog. Collectors have also purchased after viewing jpegs of new paintings (they know me well & already owned several of my paintings).
Twitter has some merit as it is really current and will drive traffic to your website & blog...the hard numbers are still out on twitter as it doesn't have a long track record... but I don't have much time for it as I don't use a phone or computer when I am painting...though I have a couple of collectors following me as a result of twitter - my painting subject attracted them.
I don't sell any paintings on the internet via those electronic market places. Wonder if those markets are to build a fan/student base? The daily painters seem to have lots of fans who follow their blogs and take classes from them...

jeff said...

Great post on modern electronic media exposure for an old medium, painting.

I did some research into the daily painting phenomenon years ago and came to the conclusion that only the first generation of practitioners of this idea made out well.

The ones who were written up in the NY Times really took off and after that everyone and their grandmother tried to do this. Most sold nothing and gave Ebay some more revenue.
A lucky few did sell more but I would bet most sold little to nothing.

The best at this were and still are Duane Kaiser and Julian Merrow-Smith who are accomplished professional painters. Kaiser has some good articles on this stuff and admits that the after the Times article which was also picked up by some other national news papers his thing took off.

I think one can sell small paintings online that a gallery would not be interested in, as they can't sell such small paintings for good money or enough to make it worth their while. I don't see any competition there and if your lucky enough to sell work this way maybe it will drive some traffic to a gallery your in.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I wore mine today.Every one else in the church was dressed in an athletic costume, whats going on?
I have a trick to prevent the students passing off my work as theirs AND to allow them to compare what I do with their own workI will do a post on it after the next ,if I can remember.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am just whining for effect. I like writing the blog, most of the time. It does make me feel useful.
Would you expand on the Calcutta comment?

Stapleton Kearns said...

I have suspected that was the case. I have checked around and seen some sites full of unsold paintings at prices that wouldn't justify their execution.

Stapleton Kearns said...

No comments on Sugar Pie ?

Mary Byrom said...

Calcutta - its teaming with humanity, many levels and layers of it, you may get lost in one of its hundreds of alleys, you may not even know you are lost and it might take a long time to get back home...

Unknown said...

Great post, Stape. Thanks much.
I think the value of daily paintings is that the old adage "practice makes perfect" still rings true,(they can help hone observational skills, especially if you set a time limit on them...) and if you look at them as a warm up, or just an "excuse" to paint something or some style that you might not normally paint - not as something that you must sell, then they bring a sort of freedom and joy into the process. Lately, I've been painting cowboys and western scenes, just because I want to. So there.

ps. I know what that trick is. Pretty sneaky too.
pss. I quit Facebook.. it was too overwhelming. And "unfriend" was the #1 new word added to the language for 2009.

Joann Wells Greenbaum said...

This is a good antidote message to hear for someone like me who has been reading so much about how to promote your artwork through facebook, twitter and blogging, yet have felt skeptical about the reality of the advice to do so.
Thank you for offering a different explanation that justifies my skepticism.