JDA Creative Services 12019 SE Sumner Portland, OR 97220 (503)525-0846

Photography and Printing for Fine Art and Enterprise … and You!

Where Can I Sell My art?

We belong to a number of forums and groups via Social Media. Often they will propose questions, and we answer many of the ones we have expertise in. This question seemed apropos for a blog post, and so I’m posting our answer with a little embellishment!

Q: Where can I sell my work?

A: Isn’t it interesting how difficult, really complex questions can be stated so simply? There are so many variables that effect the answer. Let's examine some of those underlying factors, then you can answer the question yourself!

1) When you visualize yourself selling your art, what do you see? Are you in a gallery… a coffee house… a farmers market… an online store…?

2) How much time do you have available to promote your work?
Every successful artist is a marketer. Don’t let that term scare you. There are a lot of ways to “market” your work. Do you like to write emails to friends? One of the most effective marketing techniques is a newsletter distributed via email. A newsletter is just an email that you send to a lot of friends at the same time! There are email services that you can use for free to get your newsletter rolling- Mailchimp (https://mailchimp.com/), and Constant Contact (https://www.constantcontact.com/index.jsp) are two of my favorites. You build your email list by encouraging everyone you come in contact with to opt in. put a form on your website, Facebook page, email that you send out, make a QR code that you can put on printed pieces, and any posts or online profile you share with others. (here’s ours in case you aren’t signed up http://jdapdx.com/SignUp/) If you get lost or discouraged, we can help you.

3) How well are you known already?
If you are selling everything you make currently for many thousands of dollars, you probably don’t need my advice about promoting your work, nor are you at a loss for places to display your work. However, most artists struggle with name recognition. Let’s face it, The Internet is a wonderful place to get found but unless people know your name, you will probably be invisible except by accident. I’ve written previously about how to help potential clients find you (see http://jdapdx.com/Blog/files/tag-marketing-art002c-keywords002c-social-media002c-video002c-youtube002c-blogs002c-long-tail-keywords.html) and I’m sure will again. This is the field called SEO- Search Engine Optimization.

4) How brave and direct are you? How committed are you to success?
Professional artists are in business, and, like every business, success is something you need to plan for and work (hard) for to achieve. Life is exciting, rewarding, joyful, and , well, fun! But it’s not for the faint hearted. There aren’t any do overs. There are no mulligans, Just one time around the shell. Make the most of it and don’t be timid about it! Always have something you can hand a potential client, gallery owner, or venue manager. At the very least a business card… something with a link to a webpage with your work displayed. It can be your website, an Etsy or Ebay store, a gallery’s website anyplace that can be reached online. Keep a copy of your portfolio in your car. We recently created a portfolio for one of clients that he takes with him whenever he travels. It was designed to leave behind with gallerists, and he’s had marvelous responses to it. He credits it with helping get accepted at several high end galleries in 4 different States! Again, give us a call, we can help you with all of this stuff.

My company deals with hundreds of artists, some very well known, some just getting started. When I'm asked questions like this one, my answer is always, "How involved in your success are you willing to be?"

It is relatively easy to find a place to hang your work. We have clients who have had successful shows and installations in coffee houses, cafés, insurance offices, dentist offices, pubs, and restaurants. They sell in galleries, farmers markets, holiday bazaars, furniture stores, as well as there own studios and, of course, online. The pattern here is there isn't one. Any place that attracts people is a potential venue for your work. My local Red Cross has an art display that changes monthly. Portland has several churches that feature artwork from the community and sponsor terrific openings.

OK, so people can see your work, but how do they buy it? Well, except for galleries, most of these venues aren't staffed by people who are qualified or interested in selling your art. The barista making that double half caff mocha latté with a sprinkle of imported Brazilian organic raw sugar, literally could not care less about selling your paintings. Often these venues don't even tell their employees how to ring up the sale. So should you skip them altogether? No, of course not! These venues attract hundreds sometimes thousands of people you would otherwise never touch. The key is to get them to a place where they can buy the work online right on their phone or tablet. How? well the easiest way is using a QR code that links with an appropriate page on the Internet. Now that can be an eCommerce page on your website, an Etsy or EBay product page, or one of the many art sales sites (like Saatchi). QR Codes are one of the earlier implementations of the new field of Augmented Reality. Watch for more to come in that space (look up "Live Portrait"). In fact, the new iPhone X is implementing some AR features.

I'm a strong proponent of the Internet. Not because it will generate sales while you sit back and watch, but because, with the proper promotion it can expose your work to a tremendous number of people. Services like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. even twitter and LinkedIn can be invaluable resources- especially if you are willing to invest a few bucks in promoting posts, and many hours building a following.

One more thing, consider having items that the average person can afford. Perhaps Giclée prints, Metal prints, or maybe something as mundane as a coffee mug or a t-shirt. All these can be sold for prices that the average person can and will afford online. It's relatively easy to sell a $40 small Giclée or a $20 coffee mug- it's much harder to sell a $500+ original. The same is true for smaller venues that aren't frequented specifically for the art on the walls. Talk with that coffee shop owner about a coffee mug featuring your art that is completely unique to his shop. We will be happy to help facilitate the design with you.

I guess the answer to the question is not so much Where to sell but How and What to to sell. Venues are literally all around you. The challenge is preparing to be successful. Building a following both in the physical world and the virtual one. In addition to Social Media, you need to develop that email list, perhaps even a "snail mail" list, to let your fans know what you are doing. A regular newsletter is terrific. What are you working on? Where are you showing? What has sold recently? What new products are available (e.g. a pair of coffee mugs and a pound of coffee as a Valentine's Day package). This is the kind of thing that successful galleries do.

So, ask your favorite places if they will display your work and start building up the infrastructure to take advantage of the increased viewers!

An Interest in Pinterest

DandM web adj 3

If you haven't noticed, Pinterest is storming the online world!

What the heck is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a new Social Media service where you "pin" things you're interested in to virtual refrigerator doors (or bulletin boards, if you prefer) that are dedicated to those interests. These are called “pinboards”. For example, you might have a pinboard for your favorite books, another for your favorite bands, artwork, goofy little things you've found on the Internet, even things you hate! (See our Pinterest account)

How does it work?

Well, you find something you want to add to a pinboard , tell Pinterest the URL, it finds the pictures on the page, you choose the one you want, and Pinterest puts it neatly on the board. Cool, huh! You can make the process easier by adding the Pinit button to your browser. You can then easily pin a page to the appropriate pin board without the tedious typing or copying and pasting.

OK, I get the cool factor, but why are you writing about this on an art marketing blog?
As I've been playing with it for a number of weeks, I've found that many of the pictures and pages I wanted to share on Pinterest, were, well, lets just say, not optimal. The pictures were tiny, there was little information about the book/photo/painting that I could turn into a caption, and often the page didn't have links to where one could buy a copy, see more like it, or even a little bit about the creator of the work.

(I think you can see where I'm going with this)

Pintrest presents a marvelous opportunity to increase you audience. The more work you pin- and publicize of course- the larger your community becomes.

Make it a breeze for people wanting to add your work to their pages! This is the absolute best kind of promotion. Other people telling their friends about your work! I can hear you saying, "I don't have time for these Social Media things!" The beauty of this is that you don't have to be a user to benefit from it! This service works to your benefit whether you use it or not, as your friends and fans can pin your work from anywhere on the web. If your work is online it could be on Printerest. (I do recommend being part of the experience, though.)

So, what should I be doing?

Create Pinterest friendly web pages. Here's a few tips:
1) Have as few graphics as possible on the page. Make it easy for the program to find the image quickly.
2) The image should be of good quality and about 400-600 pixels in the largest dimension.
3) It should have a good description with links to your page, blog, Etsy store, Facebook Fan page, or email, so the visitor can buy what you are selling be it a book, photo, original oil, Giclee, cards, music link, etc.
4) Make sure you have the PinIt button on your page or post. This will easily allow them to post to their board if they don’t have their own browser button.

If you decide to get involved in Pinterest (and again, I strongly urge you to do so), make sure you read and heed the Terms Of Use. The folks at Pinterest have clearly laid out their goals in creating the service and what they want the user experience to be, namely, spam free! While they recognize that there will be some blatant self promotion, they expect you to keep it to an absolute minimum. They expect your pinboards to be like your natural conversations or your refrigerator door. You wouldn't spend all your time at a party bragging now would you? Perhaps you'd mention something that was going on in the life of your family, maybe a gallery opening you'd been to, a class you'd taken, or a funny story you'd heard. You would talk about the achievements of your friends. you'd mention some new development or gizmo you'd discovered. If all you do is brag and try to sell something, your listener will soon excuse herself, never to return. The goal here is to invite them home for coffee. In the virtual world, home is your website. There you can show them your work and show them how easily they can own some (or buy your book, or music, etc.) Remember, the conversation you're having is with pictures. Pin some of your art - new works, what you are working on now- if you want to feature something you've just sold, consider a shot of the happy customer holding the piece, or a a shot of it hanging on the clients wall. Show how it fits the client's lifestyle. Post pictures of you hanging your art for your next show. Including people in your shots helps to give them interest and establish the boards newsworthy-ness.

Artists, writers, and musicians have a distinct advantage over most business users on Pinterest in that people have a built in curiosity about the creative life. Use that curiosity to encourage your fans to "follow you home"! Give your readers a glimpse at your life and they will share it with others.

Finally, at this time, some 80% of Pinterest users are women. This is very advantageous for the artist in that women are typically the decision makers for esthetic purchases. Keep that in mind as you create your landing pages from Pinterest.

So go explore Pinterest, see where it takes you and your art!