Marketing Your Fine Art. Or: How Do You Show Up in the World?

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Hello there dear!

I want to switch gears a little bit today away from licensing your fine art and talk a little bit about something just as important:

How you market your fine art.

Before you stop me and say: "Hold up, I hate marketing and absolutely don't want to have to be sleazy about marketing the work that is closest to my soul." 

First, I want to tell you that this isn't going to be a post that talks about the tactics of marketing.

We'll talk about the how of marketing your art in another post.

Today I want to talk to you about the why of marketing.

Because if you're thinking that marketing has to be sleazy or inauthentic, I want to tell you it doesn't have to be that way. 

Now let me give you a little bit of background:

Yes, I am a marketer.

Up until recently I was a director at a New York-based digital marketing agency. Ask me any question about marketing and I will geek out with you about it for hours.

But I am also an artist who creates from a very dark and vulnerable place.

Because I use my art to heal from an incredibly traumatizing background of having grown up in a cult.

This is the kind of dark work I create:

 Many artists use their work to heal, and that does not need to be entirely separated from how you market yourself.

Many artists use their work to heal, and that does not need to be entirely separated from how you market yourself.

I'll admit, on many days the fine artist and the marketer parts of me feel like they are at odds.

The vulnerable artist is scared to share her work because it will give others a glimpse into that wounded place, and she is afraid to be judged or taken advantage of or hurt again.

But the marketer in me says: "People need to see this work. People will be healed along with you. Show up and see the amazing things that can happen."

See, the marketer in me isn't sleazy or talking about how to trick people into liking my work or bamboozling them into buying it.

Mostly because the marketer in me isn't an asshole! 😂

However, many people think of marketing as salesy tactics that try to convince people to buy things they don't need.

And at its worst it can certainly be that.

But fundamentally, marketing is how you show up in the world.

Marketing is how you speak about who you are, what you do, and how you let people into your world and your process.

And from there it will translate into your website, your social media posts, and how you write about your work.

In fact I was just on the phone with my best friend talking about how she could be marketing her yoga business. 

Before we got into it she definitely had her doubts about markering, the same way that my artist self often does.

She said, "Marketing just seems to inauthentic to me. I just don't want to be something that I'm not!"

"But you don't have to," I said.

"You can show up, just as you are, and share with people the journey that you went through to get here. And people will connect with you. And they will want to work with you because they feel that connection."

You see, her background has darkness in it too. And she thought that she had to hide that if she wanted to be able to show up in the world.

In fact, it is exactly the opposite.

"What if," I said, "you were to create videos on things related to your yoga practice that you used to heal yourself."

"Think about how painful your relationship with food used to be. What if you created videos that talked about yoga and your spiritual practice helping you heal that relationship with food and your body."

Suddenly she began to get excited. She began to see where her Yogi self and her marketing self might be able to meet and collaborate.

 Think about ways you can use your marketing to let your audience see and understand your essence.

Think about ways you can use your marketing to let your audience see and understand your essence.

So what about you my dear?

What drives you to create your art?

And what in the world does this have to do with licensing?

Believe it or not, a lot.

People want to know you as an artist. They want to know the story behind your art. And they want to be able to see themselves in your art.

Oftentimes we like to think of our stories as unique to ourselves.

And in a way they are.

And in another way our experiences and stories are universal.

My story is definitely weird and not one you hear everyday. Not ever artist grew up in a cult.

But a lot of people can look at my art and see some facet of themselves reflected in it.

They can read my writing or hear me speak about the work and remember something in their own lives that resonates similarly.

And when I get an inquiry to license my work, it is because someone felt a connection to my work based on how I showed up with it.

When an author or musician tells me they want to use my image for their book or their album, it's not just because they think it's a nice picture. 

It's also because they feel as though the work resonates with them, or the way I wrote about the work moved them.

A lot of times we want our work to speak for itself. Certainly when it hangs on a gallery wall without any other context it does need to.

But in the world that you create for yourself online, you can give it so much more life.

Don't just post on Facebook or Instagram with "untitled" or a nondescript title, or post on your blog that you created a new piece without any explanation of where it came from.

Yes, there are a lot of artists who do that.

And maybe their work is phenomenal. But they are missing a huge opportunity.

If you can use the chance to share with your audience about where you work came from, who you are within that work, and why the work is meaningful to you, you will build an audience that cares about your work and cares about you as an artist.

This is what we call in the marketing world building the know, like and trust factors.

That is how your work begins to sell: whether it is a print sale or a direct licensing deal. 

When you make relationships, you will gain an audience of people who are invested in your work and will invest in it as collectors or licensors.

So let me ask you:

  • How are you showing up on your website? 
  • How are you showing up on social media? 
  • How are you showing up for fans and collectors on your newsletter?

Before you write any blog post or social media update, I want you to put it through the filter of "am I showing up authentically here?"

Because everything else is just tactics. Finding the right time to post, they right keywords or hashtags is just finding ways to work within an algorithmic system.

But none of that matters if you aren't nailing the eing human part.

So now I want to ask you: how do you want to show up around your work? Hit reply and let me know.

I think most of us want to show up authentically but are held back my fear.

Let me tell you a secret: fear means you're probably on the right track.

If you're looking for support on this journey, I want to invite you to join me in my Facebook group for artists Beneath the Surface.

I'm in there everyday and am happy to chat with you about your process, your concerns, and how it relates to marketing yourself as an artist.

Or you can leave a comment and let me know where you've been in your marketing process, what has worked and what hasn't, and how you want to start showing up in the future.

I look forward to hearing from you!

❤️,

Jen