Marketing Tricks: Streamline your Art without Sacrificing your Artist Brand

New York Public Library #5 by an untrained eye, on Flickr

As an artist, I’m sure you more than likely run screaming at the dreaded word, marketing. It’s true that marketing has kind of gotten a bad rep in the eyes of the public – what with all the typical salesmen and media advertisements out there, all with the underlying mantra to sell, sell, sell. The definition of marketing is to trick people into buying something, after all. Well, according to Tim Allen.

Wait, what’s Tim Allen got to do with marketing?

Playing Outdoor Man’s marketing guru on his newest ABC comedy, Last Man Standing might not make him qualified, but the show itself does provide storylines that deliver some quality thoughts on marketing. The latest episode explores what happens when young, “hip”, and modern marketing theory attempts to overshadow your personal brand. But here’s the thing, the same hard set of rules doesn’t always apply to everyone. This especially rings true if you are creative, or an artist.

Think about it. We weren’t taught the “everybody’s different” adage for nothing, and the saying can apply to our business and artistry just as much as it applies to our personalities. And as artists – whether visual, literary, or otherwise – our art becomes our brand.

Your success with marketing your art, and your entire art career, depends on the very qualities that make you an artist in the first place. Emphasize that “uniqueness”, whatever it is that makes you you, and your fans (a.k.a. your customers) will naturally gravitate toward you and your projects.

So, what are some of these qualities that make your brand unique, as an artist? Just to give you an idea, it could be….

Your vision. Those that have an unmatched drive and determination, combined with the power to not only envision what they want but to execute it, will soar to great heights.
Your product. Since I’m also an artist, I know how tough it is to think of your art or your project as a “product”. They’re like our babies, not something mass-produced! But as with real babies, at some point they’re strong enough to go out into the world and find new homes. And the artist that can create a stellar work of art – something you just know is inherently good – always rises to success.
Your style. Everybody has a style all their own, right? If your style is what really sets you apart from the rest, then soon your name and your projects will be on the tips of tongues everywhere. Artists with style get noticed, which certainly paves the path for opportunity. Your style could include anything from the style of the art itself to an interesting way you go about promoting and selling your work.
Your expertise. When we can all tell that you know your stuff, it’s definitely a good thing. Respect and trust inevitably accompanies your expertise and knowledge in your field, and like I talked about in my guest post here on bridging your connections, trust is always at the root of every avid customer and any purchase – especially in arts and entertainment because they’re industries that rely on an emotional gut response. Paired with a dash of humility, your expertise will take you far.

When you have an awareness of the qualities that give your art that extra punch, you can use the knowledge about yourself in conscious efforts to market yourself and your projects. But what often happens when anyone starts diving into marketing is this: We make the common mistake that every strategy, every theory, and every method out there is right for us. I mean, it worked awesomely for what’s-her-face and so-and-so, so it has to work for me, right?

Wrong.

Because you are a different artist than what’s-her-face and so-and-so. Give a knight anything other than a sword, and how can we expect him to defeat the dragon? It’s been said before that even a jack-of-all-trades can’t do everything (I learned this the hard way), so you’ll need the social media tools that suit you best if you expect to make progress with promoting and selling your projects online. I know an aspiring cartoonist and comic artist whose fanbase stems primarily from being active all these years on deviantART. Of course now she also uses Twitter and Facebook, and even has a site for her comic – but her preferred platform for connecting is, and has always been, deviantART.

Does this mean deviantART works for everybody? Not necessarily. (Although if you’re unfamiliar with dA, I strongly urge you to check out this devious community of artists from around the world.) The point is that deviantART worked for her. When a marketing strategy is true for yourself and your art, that’s when you’ll reap the best results.

The real marketing trick? Adapt the marketing to suit you and your art, not the other way around.

What do you think? Share your thoughts on marketing vs. personal brand, what makes an artist brand unique, and Tim Allen (you know you want to) in the comments!

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Danny Iny Danny Iny
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Firepole Marketing - Marketing Ideas that Work - Contest

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Tanya Marcy is a writer, storyteller, and avid reader who loves advising writers and mentoring young creatives.