Marketing is a daunting task for artists just starting their career. Those without much experience marketing themselves may feel overwhelmed by the idea of initiating conversations to increase their opportunities. It can be intimidating to create the connections you need to grow your network and create a make a living as an artist.
To help artists overcome these challenges and learn how to best promote themselves, the Arts Entrepreneur program at the University of Utah’s Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute met with two experienced art entrepreneurs – illustrator and muralist Brooke Smart and Joseph Blake, a choreographer, performer, educator at Weber State University, and director of “joBdance.” They shared the following three tips to help you to jump-start your marketing skills.
1. Develop a Personal Brand
In the age of digital interactions, branding can be used as a tool to create distinction between you and other artists. Blake encourages artists to use their personal brand to experiment how they want to engage with their audience. “Have fun! If it doesn’t work, you can always pull back,” he said. Being perceptive of how others are finding success will provide you with guidance as to what you want to adopt and adapt from their branding.
Asking yourself questions that define your values will help you align your brand with your artistry. Blake asks artists “what is your story?” as a way of prompting their personal brands. Putting into words your experience and what you seek to inspire with your art will make you a unique brand that you can interweave throughout all your marketing materials. Smart agreed, “Consistently utilizing my brand through Instagram helped expand my work to larger audiences.”
2. Engage with Your Community
Just as important as expanding your network, maintaining relationships with the people you have already worked with requires effort. Be professional and compassionate in all your interactions with your current peers and collaborators. “The arts world is small – don’t ever burn the bridges you’ve built with other artists,” Blake cautioned. Those bridges will help you to find the tools you need to succeed in the future.
Both Blake and Smart emphasized the ways in which we can learn from others’ experiences. Finding inspiration in others’ personal stories and sharing in them together creates a sense of community through wellness. “Don’t make yourself larger than you are – be human,” Blake said. Seek opportunities to find commonalities with others, regardless of age or experience, in your everyday life and through internships and jobs. The relationships you build will connect you to your audience by forming a reciprocal relationship wherein you serve and support each other.
3. Immerse Yourself in Your Craft
One of the most effective ways to market your art is by investing in the development of your craft. Smart advised putting your whole energies into your art. “Live in the moment,” she said. Practicing your craft every day will refine your artistic specialties and interests, which you can then incorporate into your branding. Blake asks himself the question “how do I reinvent myself?” to spark creative change that leads him to opportunities. Know the value of your time, and invest it within your art.
When purposefully approached, you can network through your work. Use your passion to create work that you are proud of and draw others towards your artistry through your commitment to your values. Once you have built your network around these values, utilize it to find jobs and create opportunities for yourself. “Make sure your work is seen,” Blake said, and expand your brand by saying “yes” to the opportunities that follow.