Calls for artists are indirect sales channels for your artwork. How frequently do you apply to calls for artists and for what type do you typically apply? Where have you had the most success in generating the most margin on sales?
Side Arts can help. Learn more with our official guide, Marketing Art: A Fresh Approach.
Calls for artists include
- Requests for proposals – Commissions for your artwork
- Grants – Funds that are available for the completion of a project or growth of a practice
- Vendor events – Sell your own artwork at a rental space
- Exhibition opportunities – Agents sell your artwork at a relatively high commission.
- Competitions – Compete with others for a limited number of prizes
It is helpful to think of them in terms of both direct and indirect sales channels as they relate to the margin on your artwork. In other words, where do you get the most money relative to your efforts.
Margin By Sales Channels
In direct sales, requests for proposals, and grants, you are typically setting the terms of engagement. You know the inputs and there are specific results expected.
Vendor events rank slightly lower. This is because you cover the costs of the booth rental fee. More importantly, it introduces more variables that are outside your control such as rain, advertising for the event, and the attendence levels.
Likewise, platform sales, such as Etsy and EBay introduce flat and variable fees for including your work on their sites. Although they offer extra promotion services, they come at higher prices. Therefore, promotion, which costs time and money, is on you.
When utilizing licencing, the burden of promotion is now on the vendor to whom you have licenced your work. Since they do all the promotion, they take a much higher commission which reduces your margin considerably.
Exhibitions work the same way as licencing. The burden of promotion and sales is on the gallerist or curator hosting the exhibition. If they are not offering promotion and sales support, then it is simply a pay-for-play vendor event. The purpose of participating in an exhibition is to take advantage of the organization’s exclusive buyer’s lists which should align with the type of artwork you offer.
Lastly, competitions offer the greatest risk and least margin for your time and effort. You have no control as to how many others are participating, there are often fees to participate, and there may only be one winner.
Before applying for a call for artists, think through how best it fits with your goals and the risk you are willing to take. Make sure you know quantitative answers to questions regarding promotion, buyer’s lists, and commission percentages.
Most artists looking to grow their professional network and sales opportunities apply to 10-15 calls for artists per year. The average cost of applying is $25-45.
Are you ready to invest in yourself and showcase your artwork? Apply to become represented by Side Arts, a leading agency connecting artists with exhibition opportunities. With limited capacity and a rigorous jury review, Side Arts ensures that your work gets the attention it deserves. Click here to learn more about how Side Arts can elevate your art career and provide you with exciting opportunities to display your talent to a wider audience.
Take the leap and step into a world of endless possibilities for your artistic journey with Side Arts. Don’t miss out on this incredible chance to share your passion and creativity with the world. Apply now and open doors to a bright future as a recognized visual artist. Click here to apply.
Agreed, it’s much more fun to do almost anything than write a resume. How can you summarize what you do all day long into a short phrases? It’s not easy to see all your hard work in concise bullets with no context. It’s even harder for artists who strive to be creative and tell a story. And yet, you need one to apply for a job, to network with peers and colleagues, and to apply for your next award.
Ultimately, the objective of the resume is to highlight your strengths. It gives you the opportunity to move on to the next step.
Resume Tips From Jessica Saragovi
Before you start your resume, I suggest beginning with these questions. Taking the time to answer these questions will ultimately help you with your resume, the interview process and other aspects of the job search process. Write these answers down, revisit them, it’s an ongoing list and will be adapted as needed.
- What do you WANT? Is this for a grant application or for a bridge job? A different job will require a different focus and sections. This includes EVERYTHING from commute, salary (what salary structure – base, bonus and / or commission), hours, responsibilities, manager style, office set up. What’s your perfect day like?
- More importantly, what do you NOT want in your next role?
- What are your skills? These are things you know HOW to do, abilities, expertise, talents, competencies. These include both hard skills (measured, teachable and defined) and soft skills (not-measured, personality based and subjective).
- More importantly, what are your STRENGTHS? From the skills above, which ones do you LOVE to do? Strengths are skills that include an element of passion. What lights you when you talk about it? What comes easy to you and you enjoy doing?
The good news is that once you have a good foundation, it’s easy to update with your awards, exhibitions, and additional work experience. It’s important to have clear, legible fonts, the right amount of white space, and eye-friendly headings. A well-crafted, easy to read resume will help you open doors to jobs. It shows that you’re ready to be submitted for the next juried exhibition, grant, award, gallery show, commission, and residency program.
Free Resume Support
For Side Arts members, I offer a 20 minute complimentary conversation to answer questions and provide support for exactly where you are in the job search process. Request an appointment via email at email@example.com.
Jessica Saragovi is a Human Resources professional with more than two decades of experience across various industries and companies across New York, Miami, and Philadelphia. Jessica’s deep insight into how organizations hire, train, manage, and develop employees allows her to be a skilled resume writer. Jessica partners with clients in developing a resume that fully encompasses who they are, what they’ve done, and where they want to go with their next role. View my profile on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/jsaragovi.
Calling cards, takeaways, handouts, exclusives – no matter what you call them, they help your patrons understand your identity and keep them coming back. They are an important part of your strategy for marketing art. It’s all in the details, the signature things that your supporters find surprising and endearing. Whether you are preparing for a vendor event, exhibition, or an online storefront, try to think about the extras that would make it special for your supporters.
Ideas for Calling Cards
- Packaging: Consider how you can elevate your packaging and delivery – customize the box (something patrons can use in case they need to move or ship the item), add a personalized and signed thank you note, emboss, gold leaf, and detail the package.
- Business cards: If you are going to go the extra mile and spend more on business cards, make sure that the concept aligns with your art. Typically, a basic card size is all you need. Include your name, phone number, email address, and website. Remember to include white space to write additional details.
- Signage: Banners, flags, and table covers are always important. Consider the height, having things at eye-level can catch the patron’s eyes more frequently. Draw the attention to your art.
- Postcards: Believe it or not, some folks just don’t use the internet or email, use postcards to reach them. You want to be inclusive in your marketing. Even for those that are digital natives, receiving something of value in the snail mail can be a special occasion.
- Gift tags: Most art is purchased as a gift for others. Make it easy for them by not having to also have to purchase a gift tag, card, box, or bag.
- Return address labels: If you are mailing marketing or shipping artwork, add a unique identifier to the item. That way, the person doesn’t have to guess who or what they have received before needing to open it.
- Certificates of Authenticity: Your art is special. Show patrons how special it is with a letter of provenance. It elevates the art and provides another means for patrons to remember you. Remember to include the item’s description and story, your contact information, and personalized signature.
It is especially important to think about things that have value beyond one use items. For example, stamp a business card with a unique qualifier for an online storefront discount. Gift bags and totes can be re-used. Certificates of authenticity can be saved and framed with the artwork.
You already have your artwork and know your details. Try incorporating them into your takeaways. Vistaprint has a range of products and services that can help you do just that. Business cards, banners, flyers, and printing services are available. All products have a wide possibility of standard formats to customization. Wizards take you through the process and you can save details for later use and second print runs. Often, there are discounts for return users and special sales throughout the year.
A majority of art is sold through a variety of online store platforms. You can choose any sales methodology you like based on you strategy for marketing art. It depends on where and how you best reach your audience. You may have to experiment with several platforms and strategies before landing on the one that works best for you. There are many details and options to consider as well as new opportunities and platforms launching regularly.
A consistent way to connect with your followers is by building a targeted email list. Try sending announcements of new works available to your email lists and provide them a means to buy (either by reply to the email or a payment processing form). Inform your audience about upcoming exhibitions, vendor events, and pop-up galleries.
There are many ways to sell art through social network platforms. The challenging part is keeping up with the platforms’ ever changing features and algorithms. What may work today may not work tomorrow. Staying on top of the trends is important and can make a big difference with acquiring new patrons.
Try promoting new artwork for sale on Instagram. Provide a rich description including title, process, size, price, and inspiration. Add instructions for buyers – the first to comment with their email address will be sent a payment processing invoice (PayPal / Venmo). They have 24 hours to purchase the art. First come, first served after that. Update the description if the item is sold.
You may want to consider selling through a web platform, using your own website, or integrating a web platform into your website. The benefit of having an online store sales platform that you manage is that patrons can purchase at any time. This can often make a difference between an acquisition and someone’s lost interest. Keep in mind, just because your art is on a website or web platform doesn’t mean that it’s the platform’s job to promote it. Promotion is still up to you. Utilize your email and social networks.
Things to plan in advance
Sometimes with an online store, it is best to jump in and learn as you go. Other times, a little bit of preparation goes a long way. You will rarely know everything you need to in advance because situations change from person to person. Here are a few things to consider:
Photography: A good photo of your work can inspire patrons to purchase. Most mobile devices have above-average photo capability, but stand-alone cameras and photo editing software can make your work stand out. Setting up a dedicated area or having a set process is helpful.
Pricing: Research can help. Knowing your costs and time associated with creating your work is important. The most important aspect is always valuing your artwork for what it is truly worth.
Description: Each piece of artwork should have a unique and rich description including keywords and hashtags. This takes time to develop. The story behind the artwork is just as important as the artwork itself.
Shipping: Visit your local shipping center in advance. Determine what materials you should always have on hand and what needs to be purchased on a one-off basis. If you anticipate bulk shipping, explore what discounted pricing is available.
Taxes and bookkeeping: Consult a certified public accountant to help understand what taxes to account for and how to do so. Determine if you need bookkeeping software to help keep track.
Shopify Online Store
Check out Shopify as an online store. It has eCommerce and point-0f-sales features including card-readers for when you are online or on the go. Set up your shop as a standalone or integrate it securely with your website. Ready made templates help your store look like it was designed by a professional. Run social media campaigns. Manage orders, shipping, and payments.
Try Shopify for free, and explore all the tools and services you need to start, run, and grow your business.
What if you could do all your marketing in one place? Forget all the log ins, passwords, am I forgetting to do things? As an artist, wouldn’t it be ideal to have a total marketing art service that does it all? Let’s be honest, perfect solutions rarely exist and one size does not fit all or else we would all be using them. Fortunately, there are a few services out there that bundle together several features that you can use together in convenient and efficient ways.
What is marketing?
First and in order to understand what you may need, what is marketing? There is no single definition which applies to all.
One way to think about marketing is how you attract and retain those that might be interested in what you have to offer. This is different from sales where they are already interested and you negotiate a transaction involving a trade of money, products, or services. In both cases, the process is educational and transactional. Although in marketing, the action is suggested, while in sales, the action is explicit.
In marketing, the outcome is engagement or how often someone interacts with you. In sales, the outcome is financial whether direct (a trade of money for products or services) or indirect (a trade of products or services for a relative equally valued products or services).
One goal of marketing is to increase engagement (interactivity) in order to increase sales. Total marketing is valuated based on the ratio of dollars spent marketing to net profit.
Marketing activities common to artists
You might want to think about marketing as asking for the least to the most amount of effort. Another way of looking at it is the least to the most amount of privacy given.
Most start with social media. Choose a platform or two with which you feel comfortable. Measure engagement by the relative number of clicks, likes, and shares to your current number of followers.
Depending on your goals, having a website can help build a following. It can be a landing page, a profile page on an eCommerce site, or your own dedicated art website. There are any number of ways to measure engagement, but a good place to start is the number of pageviews per month and, if there is an eCommerce section, the total sales generated from the website per month.
Social media and web searchability is good, but you are still at the mercy of the platform’s algorithms. Collect your followers’ email addresses to take control of your how and when your content is seen. A great place to start is by sending a monthly newsletter. Measure email engagement by taking the average percent of your followers who open and click through your emails.
Mailchimp Total Marketing
One total marketing platform that combines social media, websites, and email is Mailchimp. It’s a favorite among artists and crafters because it is relatively easy to set up, has clear tutorials, and you can pick and choose which options work best. It integrates with many other utilities, sales platforms, survey tools, social media ad management. There are so many great features to integrate, often in a few clicks or less.
Mailchimp has reports for measuring engagement and customizable email templates. They have flexible plans for growing your creative practice. Give it a try!
It’s great to grow your social following as part of your strategy for marketing art. Even better if followers click through to your website. Often, followers won’t buy on the first visit. That’s why collecting email addresses is important. The more times visitors see your social content, visit your website, and read your emails, the more likely they are to buy your artwork or see your exhibit.
The great thing about email is that you are your own social algorithm. No need to worry if a social network is limiting who sees your views or what you need to do to increase the chances that you’re found in a search query.
Email Address Collection Strategy
First things first, collect your follower’s email addresses in an organized manner. It’s a much easier ask for an email address than for sales or donations. It’s a good place to start when thinking about growing your creative practice.
The first step is manual: collecting email addresses in a single location such as a notebook, journal, or spreadsheet doc. Most email lists start with the obvious… friends and family. Think about asking colleagues, sign up lists you’ve used previously, patrons, and others who have collected your art. Try posting an email sign up list at events you’re vending, outside your studio, and alongside public exhibitions of your work.
Make It Automatic
The next step is automatic: What if you could collect and save email addresses without having to be present? Try adding an email collection modal window to your website. Modal windows can be added to the header, footer, or a central pop-up that can be closed at any time. For example, check out Pop-up Domination. Customize every aspect of email collection: where it displays on the screen, when it appears, how frequently it appears, color, text, and size. Pop-up Domination not only connects to your website, but also to whatever email marketing service you use (such as MadMimi, Mailchimp, Constant Contact).
Try Pop-up Domination free for up to 14 days. Remember to post new content and share it on social media during the free trial so you get a sense of the difference when traffic is being driven to your site.
Remember that you should have a thoughtful strategy for growing your email addresses and creative practice. The process is different for everyone, but there are some basic guidelines to follow if you are not getting the results you want. Most important is to always be creating more art. Share snippets of the details on social media that link to your website or sales platform. Provide additional detail on your website or sales platform. Collect visitor’s email addresses. Share email updates which educate your followers about why your art is special. Continually drive followers back to your website. Provide a means for followers to make a purchase or support your art in some way.
Sometimes the task ahead seems a bit daunting. There is unfamiliar technology or risk in making changes that might have unintended consequences. That is when hiring professional freelancers with real world experience comes in.
The default is to go find a friend, but even that has risks. What happens if something goes wrong? Often, friendships can be seriously harmed. It’s even worse if the helper is a family member. Just to be on the safe side, steer clear of friends and family as contracted helpers. Rather, keep them as your personal support network.
Hiring freelancers can be a challenging, new undertaking. With careful planning, risk can be averted. There are many qualified online networks that make the process more approachable. The first step is developing a road map for the work you want to do. Define the goal you want to achieve with the work undertaken. Then, define the individual tactics needed to reach that goal. These things can include:
- Setting up a basic website
- Adding eCommerce to a website
- Integrating Google Analytics
- Setting up business email
- Designing web and print graphics
- Updating a resume or CV
- Photographing your work
- Creating and editing a video
Working with someone new can be stressful. You are giving them access to your personal work and online credentials. The benefit of using an online platform to hire freelancers is that there are contracts and procedures built in to protect you in the event of anything going wrong. They also provide rating systems so that you can find out how they have worked out with other clients.
When starting out with new freelancers, mitigate risk by only giving them a small job to do first. For example, instead of hiring someone to rebuild an entire website, have them redesign one or two pages. Instead of an entire re-branding update, start with a postcard or business card. If you like their work and they communicate well, then continue with a larger project.
Get work done faster with Fiverr or Upwork, and with confidence. Hire graphic and web designers, digital marketing experts, and music and audio professionals. Find any service within minutes. Find a freelancer with the exact specifications you require or post a request for work and have them bid on the job. There are flat and hourly rate options all handled by the platform.
Email is an important part of your strategy for marketing art. It is often overlooked or neglected in lieu of the quick responses from social media networks. To keep it simple, think of email as part of your overall strategy:
Social media network > Website > Email
Collecting email addresses is one of the most important things you can do to grow your professional practice. Collect them at every opportunity – prospective buyers at an art fair, visitors to your website, corporate and non-profit contacts with whom you have engaged. It starts out slowly and grows exponentially over time.
Email Growth Strategy
First, just get started. That’s usually the hardest part. It can be a dedicated notebook where email addresses are collected or a digital spreadsheet like Google Sheets. It’s okay if there are duplicates or something is spelled incorrectly, that will be addressed later.
Next, pick an email marketing provider. Most offer entry level pricing based on the number of emails saved. Plans scale based on how many more addresses are added.
Email Marketing Providers
If you are brand new to email marketing, Mad Mimi is a great place to start. It is brilliant in its simplicity. There are standard templates and limited options. Just right for testing the waters.
Is your email list growing quickly, then it’s time to upgrate to Mailchimp. Rich with features, customize all aspects of campaigns and keep the simplicity of functionality.
Constant Contact is a great way to start your email marketing if your technical skills are more advanced and you’re the type of person that loves tinkering with design, features, and apps. It has robust integration features for all kinds of other services. Plus, the reporting and analytics will give you a heads up about what is and is not working.
Frequency and Content
There are two more aspects for your email strategy: frequency and content. There are no set rules for either and the following are simply suggestions to get you started.
Just starting out? If you have under 1000 addresses, once a month is a good start. Up to 5000, twice a month. Hit the 10000 mark, do what you want – weekly, twice a week, or whenever new content is available. The important part is being consistent. Start out by sending on the same day at the same time each month. Over time, you will figure out how to optimize your sending strategy.
Show more than tell and give a clear call to action. Show images of new work for sale and provide a link or method to purchase. Tell a story by showing a series of pictures of a work in progress and describe each step along the way. Inform followers of where your work is shown or sold including upcoming art fairs, gallery exhibitions, or other retail/wholesale events. Share something about you that informs your artwork – why and how – such as a recent trip or social activism.
The more emails that are collected, more content can be sent. The more reasons there are for followers to click through to your content, and increase the likelihood that they purchase or share your content with others (who may, in turn, become followers).
There is fine tuning in terms of segmenting the list, A/B testing, geo-location, and so on. Advanced users can explore to their heart’s content. It’s a learning curve, most users have an intuitive sense as to when to take it to the next level. First things first… just get started!
I know that you’ve heard it before: networking is so important! Whether you are a business owner looking for clients, developing a strategy for marketing art, or an employee looking for your next big promotion, putting yourself out there and meeting new people is key in helping you find new opportunities that excite you. It is crucial to network and to learn how to network effectively.
That is why I brought the queen of networking herself, Jennifer Robinson of Purposeful Networking, on this week’s episode of the Stress-Less Career Show to share valuable ways you can improve your networking skills and make the most of your networking efforts.
Networking Tip 1
Networking is tough for a lot of us. It can be overwhelming to walk into an event with new people and know exactly how to strike up a conversation with person after person. Knowing this, the first networking tip that Jennifer has is simple: don’t set yourself up for failure. Look at the networking event details. Choose the events to go to based on what kind of networking environment you will be the most comfortable.
“If you’re somebody that likes small groups, don’t start out with going to 100 or 200 person event where you’re going to be extremely uncomfortable. If you’re not a morning person. Don’t schedule your networking event for breakfast.”
The goal at a networking event is to be the best version of yourself. Put yourself in an environment that will allow you to show that version of you off.
Networking Tip 2
In addition to setting yourself up for success, Jennifer’s next tip is one that I stress to my clients. It is one that has helped her in her own business as well. Before you walk into an event, you need to know what your networking goals are. Jennifer started her business after a career and background in litigation. As she grew her business, networking was crucial in her success. It took time for her to learn how to network effectively. Initially, she would go to any event just to try and get the word out about her new business. However, she realized that this was not serving her or her business.
“Everybody will say your best commodity is time… You really have to think about: Why am I going to this event? Why does this organization make sense? What are my goals? Who am I trying to meet? Who’s going to be in the room? Those are options that you really need to think about before you commit the time and the money to go to an event.”
This tip can save you from not only wasting your resources on events or networking organizations that do not lead to meeting the people you need to meet but also can keep you from constantly draining your energy.
“When I started, I would say for the first year or two I just found myself exhausted all the time. And it’s funny because now people always say, ‘Is there two of you? You’re everywhere and you’re at five things a day,’ but I’m actually at a lot less [networking events] than I used to be and I’m a lot more targeted about it than I used to be.”
Networking Tip 3
Jennifer’s final tip is especially important for female networkers. Try to make sure you go to co-ed and industry-specific events to network as well as gender-specific events.
“As women, we tend to network with our own… it’s awesome to network with your own sex. You have common bonds and support each other. Depending on your business, it’s also really important to network not only in a co-ed atmosphere but also in industry-specific atmospheres.”
Diversify strategically the types of events you go to. Ensure that you meet even more new people at each event. Networking is more than just something you need to check off your to-do list. It is a key tool in helping you connect with people and cultivate a career that you love. You should approach networking in a strategic and positive mindset.
“If you can’t show up as your best self, just stay home… If you’re not in a good space, it’s the worst time you could try to make a first impression on somebody whether it’s for a personal or business contact.”
Carlee Myers is the Founder of the Stress Less Company. She is an expert at helping people use art and creativity in order to find their passion again. As a firm believer in creativity, Carlee helps people find their purpose in life through a combination of coaching, creative expression, and experiential activities.
There are several components to a successful strategy for marketing art. Consider how a website can help. Before getting started on a website, it is usually best to begin with understanding your goals, strategies, and tactics. Here are a few basics.
Start with defining your goal. Why do you need a website? What is its purpose? It could be a representation of your creative legacy that you control, a sales portal, or something else.
Once you have a goal in mind, you can start thinking about the strategy. What do you want to convey? Consider showing images of your artwork in a gallery, an artist statement, biography, and contact information.
When you know what you want to show, the next step is figuring out the tactics – how to get it done. There are a variety of website services. Some are do-it-yourself, others may require outside help. If you need help, there are freelancer networks at your disposal.
Website wireframe (how it is organized)
Page 1) Homepage
Includes hero (main) image, name, navigation links (at top or side of each page)
Page 2) Gallery
Includes 10-20 images with brief descriptions for each (title, size, medium, etc)
Page 3) Workshops
- Workshop title with 2-3 sentence description each
- Teaching service with 2-3 sentence description
- Call to action – contact information (email, phone)
Page 4) Events
- List of upcoming events
- List of past events (keep this limited to the past 2-3 years)
- Partner organizations (linked to their websites, if applicable)
Page 5) Contact
- Contact information (Email, phone)
- Artist statement
That’s it! Five pages to get you started. Before signing up for a website, edit the copy and images you want to appear. You may need one image for the hero image on the homepage to be larger.
How to find help
I’m biased since I’ve been working on websites for a while, so I often think they are “easy and intuitive.” This is not always so. Even then, first hand experience is always helpful, especially when trying to explain something to someone else. Once your content is ready, give it a try. If you find it too confusing, by all means, stop and ask for help. I’ve organized the wireframe above to be the most helpful for a web designer. If you need one, try Fiverr – this freelance service offers web design help.