How do you stand out among a sea of other artists and get your share of the spotlight?
It can feel really frustrating when no one is buying your art – or worse, not even noticing it, commenting on it or… anything! It can feel like there’s big blasted door blocking your success — WHAAAA!
You’ve done the work (or maybe not, yet) and you want to be recognized as an artist. I get it! When it gets down to it, you want to sell your work and bring in the money. If only people could just see and understand your work they would buy!
You feel that if you don’t figure it out soon, you may even give up on the dream of making a living from your art — or worse – giving up on your art altogether. Not good.
(pause here: To be clear, I view money as spiritual – give and receive – so if you’ve got money issues or giving away your art for free, then that’s the next thing to put under the microscope).
So how DO you compete for the spotlight?
Let’s think through it.
This ‘SEA’… is it a sea of sameness or sea of abundance? Are you really showing up in ALL the ways that you can? Are you creating in a media you love? Is your subject or style really yours? Are you’re skills and technique as good as can be?
Every artist has, YOU have, a unique gift and style. It’s your job to uncover it and let it out. If you choose a subject or style that’s widely done, then you’ve got to be the best at how you do it — something I call the Pletka Effect, which I’ll explain in an upcoming post.
Showing up is more than just a standing at a show and selling your art. It’s when you pull out your message, your style, your flair, your story, your juice — and share it with passion and enthusiasm!
If you loose motivation and passion, aren’t creating what makes your heart sing and don’t fully show up, ready to share your art, they — the beautiful fans and buyers that support you — won’t either. Why should they?
There are two archenemies of an artist:
- Not showing up in your true style.
- Not being visible.
Thankfully, the sea is bountiful!
Think about what happens in the ocean’s food chain. When the fish show up (e.g. artist doing the work AND promoting it), the predators (collectors in this story) ALWAYS find them. And those fish – the ones that get eaten first? They’re out in the open – where the predators are that love their flavor.
The next question is, how does one find the group that likes your flavor?
First, put on your detective hat and think of where YOU would go to buy your art? A particular show? An area of your town? For example: Do you paint little kittens and there’s a yarn shop in your town? Start there!
When selling your art, don’t underestimate the value in the people, little shops and spaces right where you live.
For a broader view – look at art magazines and websites that focus on your style. You’re not comparing when you do this – instead, imagine how your work would look next to them. Who is advertising there and what images, language and headlines are they using? Who is featured in the editorial?
Remember that you’ve got your detective hat on and gather an understanding of the conversations already going on in the market where you want to be seen. Pick a few of the featured artists that you’re drawn to and go to their websites. Notice how they are presenting themselves, how they tell their story, where are they showing up.
Make a list of shows or ideas that come from browsing, then ask yourself: how you would stand out if someone was browsing YOUR site right alongside that artist? Would you stand out? Not above or better, but unique?
If you are able to, go to a show and ASK the artist about their work and LISTEN! By observing and talking with artists, you’ll begin to get a sense of who is ready to sell and who is not confident in their work. Some will tell their story so well, you’ll want to take a piece of that work home with you (whether you have space for it or not!) — when that happens, take notes.
A Quick Story From the Racetrack
Something I learned and always remember from when I ran events at racetracks, is – you never know what’s really going on, on the track unless you’re IN the race. When you’re in the race, you navigate the track, see who is revving, stalling, getting flats, neck to neck, bumping, leading, falling back. You learn how to position yourself – when to slow, how to maneuver and when to pedal down – full power. It’s the same with selling your work.
Even the greats of racing get bumped out, cuss and fuss and lose – but then, they get right back into the next race.
If you’re in the pit — you just eat rubber.
Let’s Get Real
You may know all this, but you want some practical tips right now to top feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and invisible, am I right?
These two things will change your life:
Okay first, the challenge is to know what the ONE thing is right now that will make the difference for you and what you’re doing or not doing that’s stopping you from being seen.
Next, figure out how to fix it and FIX IT. (It’s likely not only one thing – so it may be a bit of a scavenger hunt).
Want a shortcut?
Get out there and DO IT and learn from the bumps and bruises OR get private consultation. Once you’ve figured out what’s holding you back and how to fix it, you’ll be on the road to selling your work for real! You will be noticed, buyers will appear, your art will sell!
Where are you struggling with showing up? Share in the comments!
If you found this article useful, would you please share it with another artist? Thanks!
Thank you to Kurt Caddy @fourwindsfineart for the inspirational headline and question he asked here on Instagram
image credit: dkeats