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Artists are a special breed. They march to a different drummer. Artists have been given a special gift, and that gift can be very rewarding as well as very frustrating. The rewards are self-evident. The frustration comes from how to make money from your creative efforts. The purpose of this article is to provide you with some tools to solve this problem.
It is important for the artists to understand that they are the most important part of the “Art Market”. Without the artist there is no art market…no art galleries, no art shows, no art books, no art magazines, no art workshops, no art supply houses, no art agents. In fact, no businesses of any kind relating to the art world exist if not for the artist.
Making money will never be your primary motivation, but it must run a close second if you want to make a living from your talents.
How should you represent your work in order to make a professional presentation of your artwork? As a professional artist it is extremely important to put your best foot forward when submitting your art for review. The following six components are the foundation for making money with your artwork.
1. Visual Communication
So, let’s start with how you communicate visually; and let’s also remember that as an artist you are in business, and every business should have a professional image. Here is what you will need in the category of “Professional Stationary”: your letterhead; your business card; and your mailing envelope.
Your letterhead should be simple and creative. It should have your telephone number, address, e-mail address and web address. Your business card should have all of the information that is on your letterhead. Finally, your mailing envelope should have your logo and return address.
2. Professional Slides and Photographs
You will also need some “Professional Quality Slides and Photographs”. What does professional quality really mean? As an artist you are creating a visual product, a product that needs to be seen before it can sell. Slides and photographs are your product inventory. If you are capable of taking a high quality photograph of your work, that is fine; but unless your photography truly captures your work, get a professional to do this for you. It is important when photographing your art that you never photograph your art framed. Framing is fine when your work is sold and hanging, but those reviewing your work are distracted by the framing process.
When submitting your art for review or consideration, your slides should have at the minimum your name and telephone number. However if you really want to be professional, your slides should also have the title, the medium and the size. The lab that does the developing can do this for you. If submitting photographs instead of slides, be sure that all of the above appears on the back of every photograph.
Every dollar you spend to make your art appear professional is more than worth the cost. Photography is a business expense and tax deductible.
3. Internet Presence Via Your Own Website
What about a “Professional Website” you ask? Absolutely! Four or five years ago, most artists were not aware of any of the following terms: URL, dot.com, Internet, Hosting, On-line, Search Engines, etc. Only now are they beginning to see the value of an online presence as an incredible new opportunity for exposure.
If you don’t already have a web site, you should remedy that as soon as possible. The fact is the Internet offers contemporary artists a unique opportunity to showcase and sell their art.
4. Professional Brochure
A first class brochure can be the most effective way to visually present what you do and how well you do it. A professional brochure can create a better impression than an entire book with cheap reproductions. Your brochure should contain a representative sampling of the scope of your work and should also include your biography.
A photograph should also appear on your biography page. Although this is not essential, an interesting picture of the artist can influence the reader’s interest in the artist’s work. Be sure your brochure is produced using the four-color process and is printed on 80-100lb gloss stock.
5. Professional Biography
Your biography is basically an artist statement. It is comprised of why you do what you do, who has influenced your work and anything that has been written about you. Your biography should incorporate a photograph of yourself.
6. Where to Submit Your Art
Finally, who should you submit your art to for review? The most readily available sources are: galleries; juried events; competitions; print publishers; agents and representatives; art fairs; and art festivals.
Take these simple steps one at a time to help get going on the road toward making money from your artistic talents. Remember to put your best foot forward and to represent yourself and work as if you were in a business because, indeed, you are.