Marketing Yourself as an Artist–What is your Brand?

As the owner of American Fine Arts Foundry, a leading bronze and stainless steel art foundry, I sit in a unique spot in the art business.  Everyday I have the pleasure of meeting and speaking with great artists and people from the gallery and wholesale sides of art distribution.  This blog post is an attempt to share with you the success factors that work for those that achieve commercial success by selling their work.  These guidelines will work for any type of artwork.  My guiding belief system is to turn your art sales from a lucky one time event to a systematic and predictable sales machine.

Are you a brand?

We have become a branded economy.  So much of what we consume is from companies we know, relate to, and trust.  A brand is the entry point into a relationship with the companies we buy from.  As an artist, one of the most important things you can do is lower the barrier to having a relationship with you by increasing the level of trust.  Yes, it is true that some collectors don’t care about the artist, but I have observed that more commonly they want to “know” the artist and this influences their art buying decision making.

So what is a brand?  A brand is a spot in your audience’s mind.  It is the trigger.  When they see your work in a gallery or in an ad, they can say, “Oh, look at that new work by________.”  Your brand should communicate your vision, your style, your ethics, etc.

If you think about any great artist from the past, they have been identified with a style.  Using Van Gogh as an example, many people today can readily identify his work by his style of applying paint to the canvas and the way he captured his subject.  The same can be said for Rodin or Remington.  In today’s world the same can be said for Richard MacDonald or Jeff Koons.

In defining your brand, think of an integrated approach.  The more congruent you can make the public’s experience of you and your art, the more they will resonate with your brand.  Resonance and congruency equate to trust in your customer’s mind.  There are of course always exceptions, but the exceptions usually succeed based on other characteristics or elements of the brand.  As an example, if you sculpt cute puppies and look like an ex-con, some portion of your potential audience may not be able to make the connection in their minds.

Brand elements can consist of your artistic style, your subject matter, your vision, your persona, the marketing channels you use, etc.  All of these elements can be strung together into a cohesive identity that becomes your personal brand statement.  After sitting down and writing out your brand statement you can begin to plan how you will communicate your brand.  Although you are an artist, if you are not adept at the art of graphic design, hire a professional to assist you.  They will be more objective than you and will faithfully represent what you have written out.  If you aren’t getting a style that you feel represents you, then you may need to go back and revisit your brand statement for possible tweaking.

If you found this article helpful but need more direct guidance and support,Brett Barneyis available for personal one on one coaching.

Stay tuned for our next article on claiming your position in the art market.

For more than 30 years, Brett Barney, owner of American Fine Arts Foundry, has been marketing and selling products and services to domestic and global markets.  He has both small business and Fortune 500 experience and leverages this experience to help artists find commercial success.

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