What I love about January is that it always brings the promise of a fresh start.
It’s a chance to look back and to look ahead and to take stock of life. And this is true for artists too.
I spent 6 years on two continents at art schools in the 1970’s. I practiced weaving, printmaking, painting, life-drawing, sculpture, and pottery; but there was one subject that NEVER came up. That subject was Art Promotion which could include grant writing, approaching galleries, planning a show, finding venues for art and craft, pricing the work and more. It was all a big mystery and I now believe that many graduates abandoned hope and went into other fields. I hope art students today graduate with tools for promoting their work.
Fortunately we have the internet where there are many resources on the web to help artists learn marketing and promotional skills and today I want to tell you about 3 of my favorites.
THE marketing and organizing guru for artists is Alyson Stanfield. I used her ideas to good success from her book I’d rather be in the Studio when I organized my own pop-up art show a year ago. Alyson is very practical in her advice. She recommends a purposeful tracking of the previous year’s art income.
I did this recently and broke it down into income streams – galleries, online, markets, holiday shows, teaching. The results truly astonished me. I discovered that the galleries are doing the hard work of selling my paintings because even with their 35% – 40% commission, over 60% of my art income is from galleries. But also surprising is that 40% is self generated through sales at the studio, a self organized art show and to a very small degree, sales through markets and craft shows. I’ll use the data to strategize for this year.
My other planning method comes from British writer and artist Susannah Conway who shares a workbook to help artists plan their art direction in the coming year. The focus isn’t about income, it’s about what feeds the soul, the mind and the spirit so it’s a nice complement to Alyson’s suggestions. I wrote in my workbook yesterday and by the end of the afternoon, I had a clearer sense of my art path this year. There is a very cool exercise where you imagine the advice your future self will give your present self.
Another supporter of artists is painter Keesha Bruce who divides her time between Paris and New York. Her tweets are full of links with great articles about support for artists.
All three women also teach classes and seminars off and online. Their newletters are free and each of their websites have signup forms.
I think that anyone who is self-employed or is self-directed could benefit from these exercises. Are there January rituals that help you plan your new year? Please share.
PS: A shout out to artist and beekeeper Shirley Langpohl who let me know that my youtube video on monoprinting was mentioned in last October’s Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. What a lovely surprise that was! Sometimes promotion comes from unexpected places.