Painting and travel are my ideal pair. British Impressionism will be the focus of my next overseas trip to the UK in September. Philip Wilson Steer, Alfred Sisley, John Singer Sargent (yes he did landscapes too) painted the British countryside, along with many others. To paint the scenes that have been the legacy of that era seems to me like great fun. Does anyone have any suggestions of artists or places to paint while I am there? .
Well a few days ago I stated that for those artists just starting out, you are best not trying to sell your work too soon. Why?
You might remember a few weeks ago I talked about the tripod of success: 1. Showing up and doing the work. 2. Developing a great skillset. 3. Having a great business plan. Selling your work belongs to #3, and attempting to do that before you have established a sustainable, consistent work routine, and getting your skills to a solid baseline level… well that’s like putting the cart before the horse. Practise, practise, practise, I can’t emphasise that enough. Get good enough at your art that you can enter the market with knowledge and confidence. Websites, galleries, sales… that will all come in good time, but in the early stages of your career these are unnecessary distractions from the real work required.
And there is another more practical reason for not selling too soon. Build your audience first. If you grow a solid following of people ready to buy your work, you can enter the market confidently at a higher price point than those just starting out. This avoids the trap of becoming stuck in a beginner’s market which your audience will identify you with. I’ve seen this happen a lot.
Not selling, however, is different to not showing. You must show your work. Here on Instagram is a great place to start as you will get completely free exposure. How will you know when to sell? When your audience is big enough that you start getting a consistent stream of enquiries about your work. Remember… daily routine and a solid skillset are the core of all success! .
I walk along the coast every day. Come home at dusk. When I walk I see the sky for hours. Magnificence thundering above while I focus on the path ahead. The pictures taken by my side never never ever ever capture it. I determined to capture it. I stopped and watched, imprinted it in my mind’s eye. When I got home it flowed out. It flowed onto the brush before it was lost in the night .
Green fields and rolling hills, the backdrop for light and big sky theatrics. Turquoise and lemon yellow are my go to colours. Big Australian skies are part of our artistic heritage. Zinc Blue and Titanium White. Skies and light. Heidelberg and all the others. The modern take on ageless landscapes are my offering .
Build an email list. They may not be very sexy, but digital marketers still refer to the email list as the number one marketing tool. Every time someone sends you an enquiry, invite them to sign up to your email list. Social media contacts are great, but this is your very own contact list. No-one can shut it down. People are very choosy when it comes to handing out their email address, so every subscriber is like gold. These are your hottest prospects, the people who have already taken that extra step of contacting you. Giving out their details is a massive vote of confidence in you and your work.
Let them know about upcoming shows, your latest work, thoughts, achievements, show your process. Keep the tone friendly, don’t make your emails too salesy. And remember… don’t over bombard your subscribers. You have been given privileged information, treat it with appropriate respect ✊
Painter’s block? For me it is the opposite. The more I paint the more I need to paint. The ideas never stop. I cannot keep up. Sleep is elusive. Brain active with ideas and more ideas. It is true that inspiration has to find you already working. I look out the door. I walk to the beach. I see the shoreline. The trees call out. The valleys beckon. I can but paint paint paint .
The person best equipped to sell your work will always be you. But if you have decided to outsource that task to someone else, here are 3 questions to ask them:
1. What are you studying about digital marketing?
2. How many qualified buyers will you be showing my work to every day?
3. What story will you be telling people about my work?
Selling art isn’t easy. It requires a particular skillset and a commitment to learning. Opening a shop is no guarantee that the owner has the skills to run a successful business. Selling art requires passion, knowledge, great communication and reach… so before committing your valuable work to others to sell, remember that they will be both your lens and your filter to the world.
Tip: for those who are just starting out… wait as long as possible before you start to sell your work, even if it means holding down another job in the meantime. It will be far better for you in the long run. (I will be talking more about this in a future post).
The first brushstrokes are often your best. When blocking in a painting… pause, stand back and resist the urge to move on straight away and cover them up. Don’t underestimate your first marks as they tell the story of how the work was first created.
I like to think of an oil painting as an archaeological site… each layer revealing something about the process, unravelling the story of what it is to be human. So… trust those first marks. The first thing you do is usually right .
Tintoretto once said 'Beautiful colours can be bought in the shops on the Rialto, but good drawing can only be bought from the casket of the artist's talent with patient study and nights without sleep.' (a little drawing I did in Edinburgh of St Giles church).
Note to self: Value the observational process. Embrace drawing. Do more! .
This doesn’t really have anything to do with art but is such a good story I just had to share. This is Kent’s new office. Kent lives in the Philippines. He has been my website designer and has taken care of all my online stuff since 2011. Whenever I’ve needed anything done, Kent always manages to be there and has never let me down.
When Kent told me he was trying to raise funds to build an office that was separate to his family home, I jumped at the chance to help him out with a small loan.
I love seeing people with an entrepreneurial spirit striving to make a better life for themselves and their families. As Kent says, “$100 here can get me a lot of materials! Thanks to you and my other clients, my mini two-floor office is already in progress”. Note to self: success is a gradual process of small steps, a series of daily wins. Work within your means but dream big! .
Richard Claremont - artist. A peek into my studio. How I think. How I paint. How I run my art business. Bite sized daily chunks of goodness. Just me talking aloud, really. Join me for a chat over a cuppa.
subscribe to newsletter