Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Interview With Me by Drew Bilofsky

The following interview was conducted by Andrew Bilofsky earlier this year. He asked has asked me several questions about marketing myself as an independent artist. Visit Drew's site when you get a chance.

1. What did you do early in your career that lead to your success today?

Actually, I feel like I am still in the early part in my career. If I take a moment and look at where I am now as compared to say, 2006, I am on the road to succeeding. I have been painting for about fifteen years, I have been more focused on it for the past five years. I think what has helped me develop my career so far is having a dedication to try new mediums and approaches, and having a desire to keep on learning. It is so important not to get in a rut, not to get too comfortable with what you do. Be self aware. Tenacity helps, too. Maybe when I reach the point of being successful, this is what I would tell you. I know all these things are what is keeping me motivated to be on that road.

2. How did you first earn money from your artwork?

The first show I did was in 2006. I donated a couple of artworks for a fundraiser for an organization that helps women get out of abusive relationships. It was a silent auction. Both of the pieces I put in the show did well in raising money: they both resulted in bidding wars. A couple of the losing bidders approached me for commissions at the end of the evening. So, I had my first commissions that evening.

3. Did you have a mentor or someone who helped you make the right connections?

I do have a mentor of sorts, although a lot of my connections have come through being aware of what is happening in the local artistic communities via art groups. The city I live in has a very active arts community, both established and independent. There are many opportunities to get your work out there. As far as non local, a friend of mine introduced me to deviant art, which was an introduction to the online artists community, which has helped me become aware of more and more online opportunitues. I try to maintain connections both locally and internationally.

4. How do you market your work or how do you find your buyers, collectors, ect.?

Now, more than ever, there are a multitude of tools for artists to use for promotion. You really cannot miss if you use them the right way, and you can cover a lot of bases.
So, here is a list of things I do to promote my work:
1. Even though there are plenty of sites out there to use, get your own URL. If anything you can use this as a web portal.
2. Keep your local network strong, too. Get involved in your artist communities.
3. Find a few gallery sites and set up a page. (Absolute Arts, deviant Art, MyArtSpace, Art Scuttlebutt, just to name a very few.)
4. Don't underestimate Facebook. They have great things to take advantage of for promotion. For instance, you can send out invites to shows, and set up a fan page for your fans. Same idea with MySpace, although they do not have the same tools for artists, unless you are also a musician.
5. Set up an Etsy account, Ebay Store or AbsoluteArts account to sell your work.
6. Be serious and use your real name, and the same name on all your web identities.
7. Make yourself Google-able. using your name. And, link all of your sites together. This drives up your clicks and soon you are very visible.
8. Take advantage of sites like to publish your work.

5. What do you do to retain your collectors or purchasers?

Be accessible and communicate. Plan a monthly, bimonthly or quarterly newsletter to keep people updated on what you are working on, current shows and accomplishments. I think it is critical to maintain the contact information, if possible, of your collectors, purchasers, as well as potential buyers. You may have people who express an interest, but do not buy at the time. Be sure to include them in your updates and newsletters, as well.

6. What is your most recent accomplishment?

I have a lot of things happening this year, including a couple of solo shows and I am co-chairing an abstract show at a local gallery.
But, I think my biggest accomplishment was being selected for The Greater Columbus Arts Council as a potential for the Partnership Awards. It was completely unsolicited, and I was told that 4 out of the 5 jurors selected my portfolio. My work was not selected as a final, but it was an honor none the less.

7. What do you plan to achieve next?

Well, I intend to put a lot of marketing plans into effect once I get the time. I have a lot of plans for a website redesign that I am excited about. I am also trying to get into a local gallery. Whether that works out or not is okay. I rather like being independent most of the time. Either way, I want to have a couple of places where my work is available to buy, and an updated web presence.

8. How do you determine your pricing?

Now that is a tough one. A lot of people do a "cost x 3" model, but that never seems right to me. Some people do a "per square inch" model. I work more toward the latter. It is still difficult, especially when you start figuring in the gallery's commission.

9. Have you ever experienced any harsh criticism or rejection on your path to success and if so how did you deal with it?

I would not say I have received harsh criticism so far. I have not been selected for some juried shows, and that can be frustrating, if you let it be. You have to keep on trying. That process if truly so subjective and jurors change from show to show.
I do have a "mentor" who keeps me in check. He is an accomplished artist whose work I admire, but he is not a fan of my work. He is very objective and gives me a lot of great feedback, which has helped in my development.

10. If you had to do it again, what would you do differently?

I would have concentrated on developing my artistic skills, painting, and creating art much sooner.

11. Is there any advice you could offer me as an ambitious up and coming artist?

Wow...I think I have a list!
1. Take criticism, but take it in stride.
2. Don't assume people know what you are up to: get out there and promote yourself.
3. Be tenacious. Don't give up.
4. Study...learn new things and do not get in a rut.

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