Friday, August 5, 2016

The artist as a marketeer #1

From the Renaissance on the ideas about what an artist was supposed to be began to shift slowly. The radical change took place in the nineteenth century. From a skilled and sometimes highly appreciated craftsman, often working for the king or the church, he became an opinionated genius, only interested in expressing himself. Van Gogh is iconic for this new kind of artist.

In the twentieth century the artist also had to be 'avant-garde'. He (almost always a he, but that's a different subject) had to break through the barriers of tradition and walk ahead of the crowd. A genuine artist had an extra sense for all kinds of trends in society, long before they surfaced. The-artist-as-a-mining-canary myth. And of course, money was no object, which led to another myth, the starving artist.

These concepts of what an artist should be resounded all through the twentieth century and even now they are still quite influential. Bad luck for me. I'm none of the above... I value craftmanship, I'm not interested in expressing my, let's say, 'inner landscape', I build on tradition, I don't have the ability nor the ambition to be a mining canary and yes, money is an object. A man's gotta eat.

Since the start of the economic crises in 2008 (time flies...) quite a number of the galleries I worked with went out of business. The ones that survived generally stopped hosting one-person shows and stopped selling large size paintings. Consequently I could no longer rely on the galleries and had to generate a larger part of my income from direct sales. The last few years this number has been steadily growing.
If you want to increase your direct sales the first advice I can give you is to gather email addresses. Build a database that contains everyone who ever wrote you an email about your work. Add everyone who might be slightly interested. This is of course an effort that will take a long long time, but it'll be worth it. You're going to need the addresses for your newsletter, your next step.

Maybe I'll tell you more about my efforts to market my own work in the next blog entry. You'd almost forget that all this business stuff has only one goal and that is to keep me painting. At the moment I'm reworking a painting I thought was finished about a month ago. This is what it looks like at the moment.

Cloud and Dune, oils on panel, 90 x 120 cm

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