Art Close to the Heart
I mentioned in my last post that working with charities is one way I have developed my own clientele. What charities are you passionate about? Is there a local nonprofit that is having a silent auction? What do you enjoy as a subject matter but don't have much calling to create? In answering those questions for myself I have successfully developed more clientele. I have donated pieces to silent auctions knowing they could not only use the help but would publicize my involvement. Gift Horse Farm always has pugs in the family, and of course I have a soft spot for the shelters and rescues that help dogs. I have donated certificates to do pet portraits to their auctions. Similarly, when a local horse rescue wanted to do a T-shirt fundraiser I offered to do the artwork for them. I visited, took photos of some residents, and did a watercolor that included several horses and a fun miniature horse. I gave the rescue a partial copyright release which allowed them to use the image on stationary as well as the T-shirts.
|"Sammy", one of my favorite pet portraits.|
Speaking of stationary, use your artwork for your own. Images of your work on greeting cards, letterhead, websites and business cards can help you develop a level of brand recognition and presents a professional image. I like to see some level of consistency in the look of these items. Using the same fonts, color schemes, and a handful of your favorite images or of work that has won awards helps to create a recognizable presence.
What is it Worth?
Another stumbling block to artists is valuing their work. The values you place on your work is inherently linked to your marketing. The better known you are, the more you can charge for your time and talent. I take into account the cost of materials, the time spent researching and developing my reference, and the actual time creating. If a piece is being sold framed, obviously you need to add the cost of framing as well. Please note that for insurance and tax purposes, your work is only valued at the actual cost of materials until it sells. There are no exceptions. If you donate to a charity auction, the value you may claim for the piece is whatever the winning bid was, not what you would price the work in a gallery setting. Also, as a rule of thumb if your work is accepted into a professional, juried competition the value of the piece increases. If work wins awards at those competitions, the value increases that much more.
|"Bubbles," which I did as a gift to the bride and groom.|
Another important tip: keep good records. As your work sells and you develop a body of clients, it is helpful to have a mailing list at your disposal of those who are interested in your work. Whether you mail post cards or send email blasts, every time you have an opening or win an award is a great opportunity to communicate with your clients. Let them know you are working and the piece purchased from you should be growing in value as you become more accomplished.
I also do the occasional piece as a gift for very special occasions. There is little of more meaning to a bride and groom than an original work from an artist they know personally. I have also given gifts of work for showers and as baby gifts. Also consider graduations or award winners. One client asked that I do a portrait of her grandson with his award winning heifer as a gift to her daughter, the boy's mom. As you do work for friends and family for special occasions, you will find their friends and family come to you when a very special and personal gift is needed.
In the News
The last little tidbit I want to share is that anybody can submit a press release, including artists. Collect local and regional media contacts and don't be shy about using them. This is a simple way to greatly expand your outreach, and takes minimal time and energy. Remember that if you want to be successful you need to embrace self-promotion.