Why Your Differences Are The Hidden Blessings That Can Help Your Art Stand Out

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Marisa D. Aceves. Distant Memory. digital photography http://acevesart.com/

article by Marisa D. Aceves

In a sea of artists producing similar work and selling it successfully, it is easy for artists that create work outside the accepted status quo to feel both bewildered and distressed about their future.

Many of us know there are few certainties in life and yet we crave stability; We often seek it out even if it means that we give up pursuing our latest innovations.

The fear of failure is alive today as it has been for centuries.

It’s not going away.

We have to battle it one piece of artwork at a time.

Despite the overwhelming feelings some of us face as we force ourselves to push forward into unchartered artistic territory, the very things that make us different are the important elements (if used correctly) that can help us stand out.

Here are some helpful tips for overcoming the perceived mental blocks that keep us from confidence in our creativity:

1) Research Your Niche 

Carefully study what other people in your niche are creating.  How are they marketing their work? Who is their target audience?  What works for them? What doesn’t? Add your own personal voice and style to differentiate yourself from artists producing similar work. We all would like to do our own thing. We should produce the artwork that holds the most interest for us, but sometimes when the general population have difficulty with accepting the type of work we are producing, we may also have to look at what does appeal to people and why? When you complete this exercise, you are able to get outside of yourself. You begin to get valuable insights into how others view things.

2) Create Your Brand Around Your Unique Vision

Branding is a necessity, because it helps others to both know and trust you.  If an audience doesn’t know you, than trust will be difficult if not impossible.  As you market your work across different social media platforms, make sure that you are consistent with your overall message. Generally people are more likely to respond to new and different art when you reach them through your message. If your message resonates with them, then your art business has a much better chance of survival. The art then is a symbol for that message. Each time people see your work, they will think about that message because you have given them something to relate to.

3) Network With Other Artists 

Make friends and business connections with other artists.  Some may have similar interests; others may not.  When you have similar interests with other artists you may share what works and what does not. If you are in contact with artists that may not have similar interests, sometimes they can help you to view your niche from a unique perspective. Connections are key to building a successful art business.  When you reach out to others for support and encouragement, don’t forget to provide it.

4) Become A Storyteller

People want to know the story behind your art.  Share both obstacles and inspiration, but be careful not to divulge inappropriate or personal information that could hurt you and your business. When writing about your story, consider these questions:

a) What are you trying to say with your work?

b) What is important to you and why?

c) How does your world view effect the type of work you produce?

5) Share Your Success Stories

When people like and trust you, they are more likely to buy from you and promote your work.  There is nothing wrong with letting people know about a sale that you have made, a contest you have won, your latest commission or a show that features your work as long as you do this appropriately and politely. Simply informing your audience about peoples’ appreciation of your products and services is acceptable. Constantly boasting about your abilities or how much money you make can eventually irritate your audience and keep them from visiting your website so practice discretion.

While researching or creating your niche is a challenge, remember this: No thing worth doing is ever easy. The healthiest approach to tackling difficult aspects of your art business is to view them as both learning opportunities and teaching moments. If you apply the same mixture of discovery and discipline to your marketing efforts, finding your niche will be more enjoyable and less intimidating.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me.  I’d love to hear from you.

How To Banish Self-Doubt So You Can Achieve Your Creative Vision

"An abstract photograph of an ordinary household object"
Marisa D. Aceves. Satellite 3: Uncharted Landscape Composition 2. Digital Photography. 2014.

(Abstract photography from the Satellite series) To check out the rest of the series visit http://www.acevesart.com/

Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of pursuing another medium like branching out into mixed media work (ex. mixed media painting, mixed media sculpture, installation etc.) or alternative media (ex. video, digital art etc.) but every time that you dared to consider a direction less familiar your head suddenly fills with mental movie clips of naysayers, tremendous obstacles and absolute failure to succeed.

As if this were not enough, your personal artistic adventurer/explorer is further quashed by exhibition deadlines, less than stellar time management and a host of weekly family activities.

Does this mirror your present situation?

If so, here are some suggestions that will help you keep your sanity, manage your time, and stop the insecure thoughts that are holding you back:

SELF DOUBT THOUGHT/THOUGHTS #1:  I know absolutely nothing about the new medium/mediums that I want to work in; if I attempt to produce a piece of artwork using this medium/mediums, I’ll just screw it up!!!

 

Possible Solution:

A. Research The Medium You Plan To Use For Your Piece

a1.  Research the history of the medium

b1.  Research the application of the materials or various techniques that can be applied when using these materials. (For example if you are a photographer researching ceramic sculpture because you wanted to do a public project using ceramics as part of your installation piece , you might research certain techniques used in ceramics like slab construction, coil construction or carving clay).

c1. Research art pieces that have used this medium/mediums.  You may want to research other artists who are experts or specialize in using this medium/mediums. Take note of the works that have the most impact.  Ask yourself why?

 

B.  Enlist help or Outsource

b1.  Research artists and professionals that have experience working with the medium/mediums

c1.  Try to make contact with these professionals and ask them what their rates are?  What do they charge for employing them to help with certain tasks or parts of the piece.  When you are comfortable with the price range that is within your budget, then communicate with the professional about what you want to do with the project you are pursuing.  What is the piece about?  Is the work you need done simple or does it require a high level of skills?  The better you communicate what you want and need the professional to do, the easier it will be to complete the piece.

 

SELF DOUBT THOUGHT/THOUGHTS #2:  How can I create work in another medium if I don’t have the budget?

Possible Solution:

A. Start Small

Who says that you have to create a huge, life-changing piece.  When you create a small (tester piece), you can focus on learning how to use the material that you have researched effectively.

B. Create a List of Weekly Expenses

Make a list or chart of weekly expenses.  This way you can see how your money is being spent, where it is going, and where you can cut back.  For example, look at the money you spend on extracurricular activities and see if you can use half of that to fund your project.

C.  Raise funds for your project

Set up a fundraiser to raise money for your project/projects. This can be done locally or through social media crowd funding websites.

 

SELF DOUBT THOUGHT/THOUGHTS #3: Nobody will like the new piece/pieces of artwork; My clients won’t understand what I am trying to do.

Possible Solution:

A.  Everything Involves Risk

When you have found something successful that has worked for you, it is scary to think that your latest passion may not be received the way you would have initially envisioned.  Continue producing what sells while trying to find alternative ways to market your work in this new medium.  Your continued success in the medium in which you are familiar will offset any initial rejection or cool reception of the pieces produced in the new medium/mediums.

B. Market Your Work To A Different Audience Using Social Media

This helps to expose your work to people that are unfamiliar with what you do.  So they are less likely to judge you based on your past work and the medium in which it is produced.

C. Consider dealing with the same subject matter and themes that you deal with in the medium in which you have experience. Then you can tie your old work and your new work in a different medium together using theme.  This theme based work will help your present collectors to more easily identify with your work in this new medium.

 

SELF DOUBT THOUGHT/THOUGHTS #4: I don’t have enough time to pursue another medium.

Possible Solution:

A. Make A Time Chart

Look at your present schedule.  How do you allocate time in your day for each item on your to-do list? Try to see if there are any open spaces of time that you could use for your new project.

B. Enlist family members to help with chores

Ask your son, daughter or spouse to cook for you some days or take out the trash. You’d be surprised, even the smallest, simplest tasks take up precious time that  you could be using to do research and to create your new work.

C. Outsource

Outsource time consuming jobs like sending your packets out to galleries, updating your website and writing copy to an assistant, intern or freelancer.

When you attack self doubt with action steps to solve the problem/problems you are worried about, you begin to see the possibilities.  Tasks seem easier to conquer.  Dreams seem attainable when approached in small steps.

*If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to contact me.  I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Steps To Increasing Productivity In Your Art Business

An abstract photo of designer soap 5

 

Many many weeks ago…

In the land of salsa and tumble weeds….

I felt I had made an artistic breakthrough.

I was going to combine both texture and glazing techniques to give my pure acrylic paintings a more mixed-media look and feel, but then something unexpected happened,…

It started to rain.

This of course slowed the drying time of the acrylic paint. Ever the optimist (yeh, right), I decided to be patient.

Surely, this little bought of wet weather would change the moment we all chose to blink as it always does in South Texas…but…nooooooooo…

It rained again and again.

At this stage, the paint remained tacky. It had an elmer’s glue consistency that when pressed slightly, released the wet paint from the bottom layers to the semi-dry surface.

Darn, I thought, this is going to take a week to dry….and it did.

Despite this annoying setback, I plodded on trying to make the best of the crazy weather conditions that were beyond my control. Still, I longed to finish the painting that I’d started and stepping aside to let the sucker dry was more than my limited patience could bear.

If you have ever found yourself in a similar situation and you are wondering what the heck you are going to do with all  that time on your hands that you would have spent painting, drawing, sculpting etc. then consider these helpful common sense suggestions:

1. Become A List Maker

Yes, I know… plopping down on your bottom and writing a list of all the things that you would like to accomplish with your career for the week is a boring and tedious exercise, but it also helps to relieve the anxiety you feel when you are just “floating” through the day with no structure or plans for getting things done. When you know were you are going, you can take the necessary small steps to accomplish larger goals by meeting smaller ones.

2. Organize Your Studio Space

While you are waiting for the paint to dry, the plate to be printed, materials to cure etc., try cleaning up areas in your studio that you will need to use to complete your latest body of work. Even though the thought of meeting hidden dust bunnies and mutant roaches that take up their home in that dark, damp, abandoned corner of your workspace is both scary and at the very least unappealing, the benefits of a clean, uncluttered working environment far outweigh the temporary inconvenience of a much needed “spring cleaning” session.

3. Make a Sketchbook/Artist Book For Each Series / Body of Work

Literally set aside a small economy sketchbook for each series of work that you want to produce. Be sure to sketch out all your ideas for individual paintings, sculpture, ceramics etc. that you want to include in that particular series. Add any comments or information about what inspired you to produce the work. If you are a photographer, you can create a photo journal to help you plan your next photo essay.

4. Research Materials and Content For Your Current Series / Body of Work

Sometimes, it helps to do research on certain topics that you want to discuss with your work. If you are a multimedia artist, and you plan on using materials that you might not ordinarily use that are connected to the subject matter of your series / body of work, you may also wish to do research on
how to properly use these materials. This practice will help you and others to better understand your artistic process. You may also want to add this information to your sketchbook/artist book to refer to at a later time.

5. Look for Galleries and Alternative Spaces to Show Your Completed Work

If have already figured out the style and subject matter of your work, you can begin actively searching for galleries and alternative spaces that are marketing artists creating similar work in the same genre. For example, if you are an artist that produces academic realist paintings of street scenes, you may want to research galleries that sell and promote academic realist paintings. The more specific you are in describing the type of work that you do in a gallery search, the easier it will be to target the gallery that is right for you and your work.

6. Market Your Completed Inventory

Make a list of all of the inventory that you have completed that you would consider selling or exhibiting. Clean and prepare the work for display. Make sure that you have good quality pictures for all of your work. Research juried shows, competitions and online exhibitions to gain exposure for you work.

7. Take Time to Visit Local Galleries and Museums

Apply for membership to your local museums. Make sure to subscribe to the mailing lists of both museums and galleries so that you can be notified of upcoming events that you can attend. This will help you to become a part of your local art community. Often we underestimate the need for contact with other artists and art business professionals.

8. Write an Artist Journal

Write an artist journal addressing the things that you believe are holding you back. As you mention each problem, try to acknowledge you feelings about that particular problem. Then, try to come up with possible solutions to that problem. If the problem is something that is beyond your control, maybe you can think of an alternative activity to pursue or a different way of viewing your situation.

Even though temporary setbacks annoy us because they keep us from working on a piece of art that we want to complete within a certain period of time, sometimes these setbacks force us to deal with other aspects of our career that need our attention. This is especially true if we have been taking the “path of least resistance” approach to our art, avoiding or ignoring these issues because we don’t believe we can be successful at marketing our own work. However, if we want to see progress, we must take risks.

*If you have any comments or questions about this article feel free to contact me, I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

3 Ways to Market Your Art Using Video

Marisa D. Aceves, Satellite 2: Valley 2, digital photography
Marisa D. Aceves, Satellite 2: Valley 2, digital photography 

Sharing your artwork with the world is not only an inherent need for most artists…

It is a marketing necessity.

When you film your art, you are providing art collectors, fans, and students with a window into your studio experience.  The internet provides a variety of social platforms that can help you increase your visibility and customer base.

Do you know how to use them both safely and effectively?

Here are some simple suggestions for how you can market your work using video without subjecting yourself to theft and copyright infringement:

1. Mastering Medium Specific DIY Demonstrations – Instead of taping your artistic process from start to finish, consider creating demonstrations on how to master basic skills and techniques that relate to the medium that you are most familiar with.  For instance, if you are a painter, you may want to video tape a demonstration on how to mix oil paints or how to apply glazing methods.  The beauty of video demonstrations is that they don’t have to be long detailed productions. Make sure to provide a link to your main website.  If other artists find your demonstrations useful, they just may decide to visit your website on a regular basis. This could help increase traffic to your website and therefore increase your visibility on the web.

2. Tapping Into The Hidden Potential of The Artist Webinar – If you have ever dreamed of teaching a room full of eager, bright, wide-eyed students, then artist webinars are for you. You don’t have to send an application for employment to your local university, the internet is your university and your the professor.  All  you need is a camera and an eagerness to share your knowledge with others. While most workshops are held at specific physical locations, webinars (a live workshop, seminar and presentation rolled up into one) can be made available to whomever signs up for enrollment. 

3. Sharing Your Unique Artistic Experience Through Video blogging – Video blogging offers your audience the experience of a “sit-down conversation” with you that regular blogging does not.  You can share your inspiration for a painting, sculpture, photography series etc.  This particular style of blogging is especially appealing to people who feel uncomfortable with writing about their business, but love to tell stories or chat with people. Your customers, students, and admirers get a chance to see the face behind the work.  This helps them to relate to you on a completely different level and can increase interest in you and the type of work that you produce.

While doing something a little different, can be scary at times, the risk is worth it as long as you look before you leap.  With all of these video suggestions, it is helpful if you put yourself on a schedule and come up with a sound marketing strategy before you attempt to promote your work in this manner.

Note:   A “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” approach is never a good idea. It is important that you are organized and are aware of the information that you want to share with your audience.  If you fail to present the information in a clear, concise manner, people may become confused about what you are trying to say and leave your site.

*If you have any comments or questions regarding this article, feel free to contact me!  I’d love to hear from you!

 

  

Are You Giving Your Art Career Away? The Possible Perils of Filming Your Process

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written by Marisa D. Aceves

Your creative process not only helps to make your work unique and marketable…

It is the life blood of your art career.

It is a precious gem that helps you to stand out from a myriad of other artists that are competing for the same gallery showing, artist publication covers etc.

So why would you simply give your trade secrets away by filming every brush stroke, chisel or camera technique from start to finish?

Doesn’t make a lot of sense does it?

…or DOES IT???

Though this particular marketing strategy, may appear to be a good idea at first, consider who really benefits from this not-so-subtle form of advertising…

The answer just may surprise you.

WHY FILMING YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS CAN PUT YOU AT RISK?

Giving your style away is like giving away your originality!

Why should visitors and collectors come by your blog and website if they can find several other artists working in the same style and genre.

Consider these points before you film your art business out of existence:

1. Filming your creative process can expose you to theft from other artists 

For example…

a) From an artist with an “end-justifies-the means” mentality who only cares about making sales…

b) An art student that has to complete a project, but has no ideas…

c) A well known artist who has run out of ideas,

Someone can steal your style and subject matter and present them as their own.

Depending on how far along you are in your art career, this can destroy you and your ability to earn money from your art. Especially, if the artist that steals from you is well known and you are in the beginning stages of getting your work out to the public.

Who will they believe then?

A scrappy yet talented underdoggie or an artist with numerous publication covers and awards under their their big boy belt buckle?

We both know the answer to that one!

2. Filming your creative process can expose you to theft from designer art companies

When this particular scenario happens, and it does happen more often than we’d like to think, large companies selling designer artwork (paintings, sculpture, photography etc.) make money off of YOUR hard work.

They are allowed to get away with this because unless your work is copyrighted and protected by law, it’s fair game.

It’s public information.

It’s free content.

Anyone that is trained at copying the work of other artists can watch the video footage you took of your process (start to finish) and steal from you without getting caught.

The work is sold through a large company at rock bottom prices. The copiers that reproduce your work, usually go anonymous.

Even if your work is protected by law and you are able to report an obvious case of copyright infringement, if the theft occurs from a company outside of your country, it will make it even more difficult to take the guilty party to court.

In the mean time, you have probably lost thousands of dollars in future profits.

Not a good place to be!

However…

Sharing an appropriate amount of information (without giving away your secrets) could both increase your visibility on the internet, and help your present and future clients to better understand the reasons why you create your art.

*For more information about your rights,copyright infringement and protecting your work please check out these helpful Artist Resources:

1) Legal Guide for the Visual Artist,Fifth Edition by Tad Crawford

2) Photographer’s Survival Manual: A Legal Guide for Artists in the Digital Age (Lark Photography Book) by Edward C. Greenberg and Jack Reznicki

3) Art Law: The Guide for Collectors, Artists, Investors, Dealers, and Artists (2 Volume Set) by Ralph E. Lerner and Judith Bresler

Next week…

NEXT WEEK….3 Ways To Market Your Art Using Video