How to Promote Your Art and Advance Your Art Career

As an emerging artist, creating your artwork is only the first step to making a living. You will also need to learn how to promote it so as to launch your career as a professional artist. And based on how the headline-grabbing art world is configured and how inequitable the high-end gallery system is for amplifying how the majority of artists struggle, you might as well take matters into your own hands.  

That said, promoting your art shouldn’t be that difficult or overwhelming. Also, it shouldn’t take too much of your time from actually working on your art. The key to a successful art promotion campaign is focusing on your audience and targeting it aptly so that it meets your goals. Every action you take in terms of promoting your art and yourself as an artist should be focused on what you really want to achieve. In the end, if you don’t take the necessary time to make your work known, no one will know about it, nor will they be excited to purchase your work in the near future. Here are some valuable tips to get you started on promoting and advancing your art career in today’s competitive art market.

Cropped image of Kenneth Noland (1924-2010) painting “Circle” (1958), oil on canvas | Source: jonathanboos.com

Figure Out Your Goals

Your goal is to reach the right audience, build and cultivate a reputation, and meet potential art buyers. But before you start selling art, consider the main reason why you want people to see your work. This step is critical as it will dictate how you grow your creative business as a professional artist. Whether you want to get more exposure, you want to make more art sales, or you want to get a possible teaching or consulting job on the side, you will need to ask yourself what you hope to achieve by promoting your art. There is no such thing as a right or wrong goal, as long as it’s what you truly want. 

Develop Your Brand, Message, and Style

All professional marketers know that consistency is key to their success. And whether you realize it or not, audiences, critics, gallery owners, and curators are paying attention to how you present yourself and your work. When it comes to promoting your art, this consistency translates to a coherent brand, message, and style. In other words, your overall body of work and messages around it needs to be aligned with your artistic vision and creative mission. This consistency allows your audience and the art industry to recognize and appreciate your work whenever they see it. On a similar note, you will also need a clear message that will help establish trust and will make it easier for your art buyers to get to know you and your art better. 

Use Your Portfolio

Every artist needs a comprehensive portfolio. Its purpose is to express your creative talent and develop your brand and promote your artwork. Having a well-organized art portfolio will make it much easier to post on your website, submit to competitions and grants, attract art dealers and galleries, as well as to develop future art marketing material. 

Just keep in mind to focus on the visual aspect of your portfolio as this is what will attract the most people and make your art accessible to your audience. In addition, each image should also have a short but captivating story that describes your work. Don’t forget to add additional information such as the work’s title, size, and medium in which it’s presented. Likewise, your portfolio should also include your bio, artist statement, and contact information. If you capture a potential buyer’s attention or you spark the interest of a gallerist, you will want them to be able to contact you.

Build A Strong Digital Presence

In today’s internet-dominated world, you need to build a compelling digital presence on online marketplaces. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram allow you to reach out to new audiences and potential clients as well as maintain your existing ones. By setting up business accounts on these platforms, you can market and promote yourself as an artist. And when you promote your art online, you gain access to a wider audience and jumpstart your art career. 

Building your own website with its own online art gallery is also a great way to start, yet it can be a bit costly and time-consuming to manage it yourself. This is particularly true if you are an emerging artist with limited resources or experience in web development even if they’re easy-to-use softwares. A more effective strategy to showcase your portfolio is to create an artist page on an art-specific site. These will provide you with the perfect environment to promote your work to art enthusiasts and professionals. By marketing your art, you can attract clients and gallery representation.

ARTDEX is one such art-oriented website. Essentially, it’s a cloud-based archiving site and mobile app used by artists, dealers, and collectors to manage their portfolios and inventories. It also functions as a professional networking site, allowing users to discover, connect, and share their ideas, as well as their digital collections.

Images from the Seattle Art Fair at Seattle’s J. Rinehart Gallery booth on Aug. 1, 2019. Photo credit: Dorothy Edwards/Crosscut | Source: crosscut.com

Don’t Neglect Networking

While this may be true for almost all industries, having a robust network of connections in the art world is among the most effective ways of promoting your work. It’s pretty well known that the majority of business opportunities happen as a direct result of a recommendation, referral, or meeting. Therefore, by putting yourself out there, attending as many events as possible, and building your contact list, you will increase your visibility and will work toward advancing your artistic career.  

Art organizations are an obvious place to start networking on a professional level. Not only will these networks help you as a beginning artist to come in contact with fellow artists and art professionals who can offer valuable coaching and mentoring, but they also provide a multitude of resources for artists and best-known practices. Art competitions are equally as important as they immediately put you in front of curators, gallerists, and industry leaders. They’re also a great way of building your resume and enabling you to develop your professional skills as an artist.

Art community events, be it art fairs, street shows, or charity auctions, also provide you with an amazing opportunity to connect with fellow artists and collectors to build rapport and connections in your area. These neighborhood local art events can act as the foundation for your following; granted people start recognizing you as a familiar local artist. You can also go to local schools and volunteer some of your time in teaching students some of your techniques. This is another excellent way to promote art while increasing your visibility in the community. 

Whichever events you decide to involve yourself in, it’s of the utmost importance that you follow up with all the new contacts you get. To that end, don’t forget to provide some form of contact information. The value of building and maintaining these relationships is the key to your success as an artist over the long term.

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