Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Living the Life of an Artist
Coming off a weekend of NH Open Doors where I was set up at the Gallery at Well Sweep in Hillsborough, my mind is full of ideas and plans to further develop my skills as a successful artist and business woman. Defining oneself seems to be part of the on-going journey of life. Every time I come up with titles and start getting comfortable saying, “This is who I am,” other thoughts creep in telling me not quite. Artists not only have to come up with titles for what they do, but we also need to come up with ways to highlight our work for selling purposes. We are artists and sales people and the mentality that goes with needing to be both often feels totally at odds with one another.
The most successful artists are the ones who are great sales people. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good the art is, it’s about the art of salesmanship. To these people, the wheeling and dealing is part of their art. Then there are those of us who find putting ourselves out in front of people and selling foreign to our psyches. For us, this doesn’t come natural. I love to talk about my art, but to feel like I am pushing myself on a potential customer doesn’t feel right.
I AM AN ARTIST! I want others to love what I do and want to buy. I spend hours thinking and planning and reading tips on how to approach people, how to sell, what to say, etc. One tip that sticks the most right now is “Art does not sell itself.” So, what can I do to set myself apart from others? What will make my work appealing and different? What words will make people notice me? (Even making that last question makes me feel a little funny. I want people to notice my work. However, people have to notice me first through ads and websites and word of mouth.)
Today I am musing over my photography. I am labeled a photographer, yet I don’t feel like I’m just a photographer because I don’t do weddings and those kinds of services. I was calling myself a Fine Art Photographer because my work is more in the artistic realms. Wait a minute! That makes me a PHOTOGRAPHIC ARTIST. Hmmm, maybe I could experiment with that badge for awhile…
We often have discussions on the differences between being a craftsperson, artisan, and artist. Some of my work can fit in the category of Fine Art, like the charcoal landscape drawings and large photo prints. Some of my work leans more towards crafts, such as the cards. All is important to me as an artist and so much of the business of being this artist is learning what will sell where and to whom. It’s an on-going dilemma even for people who have been doing this for years.
It’s even harder for those of us who work in multiple mediums.