Now you have awesome photographs of your art, a killer bio, you’ve started the process of building your resume of juried shows and awards, and your artist’s website/blogsite rocks! You’re ready to launch the trinity.
Errr, the what? Well, I call it the trinity because it has three moving parts: Your Facebook page, your website, and either a blogsite or some written material space on your website.
Here’s how it works: You post something on Facebook, anything you want to put out there, such as a new piece of work, a show coming up, an idea about something you think people will find interesting. You are a visual artist, so almost all your posts will have a picture of some kind.
Now here’s the thing: Keep your post on Facebook very short, maybe three lines, and very engaging with a picture. Then, end the post with a link to the rest of what you want to say, and put that on your website or blogsite.
There are two really good reasons to do it this way. First, if you put a 300-word post on Facebook, they’ll bury everything after about the first three lines. So if someone wants to read what you wrote, they have to click on the fine print to open up your full post.
But the main reason is this: You want people spending the bulk of their time in your world, on your website and/or blogsite. You want to take charge of what people see, rather than leave it to Facebook. And when people do spend that time in your world instead of Facebook’s, it boosts your search engine rankings. It makes you easier to find in a Google search.
For example, here’s a short post I put up on Facebook a few weeks ago:
“Show your art to the big tribe! Here’s how: http://ericlhansen.net/archives/2600,”
and I included a picture from my series Blood Rescue. That short post got some serious attention, I could see the stats spike on my blogsite over the next few days. Plus, some number of people clicked from my blogsite to my website to see the rest of my work. Either way, anyone who’s interested can read more about me because my bio’s in both places. A lot of people spent a really long time, like over an hour, going through my stuff. This is way better than a Facebook post.
About blog sites: If you’re not going to write a 300-500 word post maybe once a week, it’s probably better not to have a blog. Instead, incorporate your occasional written pieces into your website; which means you want to design that capability into your website. Here’s one example of a website that does that. The artist had some favorable comments about her work. Instead of putting them all on Facebook where they’d be buried, she could have a Facebook post like, “Look what all those people said about my work, OMG…” and then a link to her website http://briggswhiteford.com/Asset.asp?AssetID=61253&AKey=APRX3K7X
A lot of people will see the comments and then want to see her work. They’re already on her website, it’s too easy. Whichever way you decide to go: Combining writing with your website, or separate platforms for writing and visual; Remember you’re an artist. Make your visuals really great!
If you are a visual artist, your website should do one thing and do it really well: Show your art. Does that sound like a no-brainer? But wait… it’s really not.
When someone goes to your website, will the first image they see fill their monitor? Will that image enlarge or shrink to fill their available window? Can they select a body of your work and see all of it full screen, one piece at a time, with just one click?
I kind of like my website, so try going here to see an example of what I’m talking about.
The first thing you see is one of my images; a slide show starts. There’s a pale gray tag on the far left that says “menu,” but it’s pretty inconspicuous. Basically, you see art, and that’s pretty much all you see. I’ve gone to the extreme that you don’t even see my name until you hover over the menu. I figure by the time you get to my website, you know where you are; I don’t have to tell you again. You just came here to see some art.
Notice that the images fill whatever window you have open. So try grabbing the lower right corner of your window with your cursor and drag it to make your window smaller, then larger. Notice how the images you see expand or shrink to fill the available window.
Now hover over the menu on the left. You don’t even have to click to see the list. Pick any portfolio, say for example, +Fusion. Bam, an image appears and fills your available window. If you want to see more, you can use your arrow keys to go right or left; you don’t have to click anything. So yes, you can land on my website, select a portfolio, and see all of it, one image at a time, with just one click.
I’m emphasizing 1) desirable visual qualities, and 2) ease of navigation for an artist’s website because a lot out there don’t. Often, there are colored borders on both sides of a page with a relatively small image in the middle. If you expand or shrink your browser window, the small image in the middle stays the same size. Only the colored borders expand or shrink. Then often, I see a fair amount of writing on the same page with the image. IMHO, an image stands or falls on its own, with or without writing. So, why the writing? It just distracts from the image.
Navigating many artist websites requires you to click to enlarge an image, then click back and click again to see the next one, then click on it to enlarge it, and so on. It gets to be enough clicks to stop many viewers from seeing all of your work.
An artist’s website needssome ability to display written material. But remember: Your art is visual. Writing should be tucked away someplace where it’s easily found but not a distraction.
So how to get this done? Please, don’t pay someone to build a website for you from scratch; especially if they don’t specialize in artist’s websites, and especially if it’s your friend who’ll do it for less than $400. Here’s the good news: There are platform templates available from various vendors with an almost infinite variety of looks and feels. Then beyond that, they can be customized. I use Foliolink, but there are others as well. Think about it. Just saying…
“Orangs In Flowers,” from Fusion, merges Oriental and Occidental aesthetics in an over-photographed painting.
But orangutans are the real story. Males reach maturity around age 15. Then, they can develop flanges around their face; cheek pads, throat pouches, and long fur. This is supposed to make them more attractive to females. And it works! Females strongly prefer flanged males. These lucky males generally consort with one to three females and dwell with them in a stable, defined range.
But this is a Catch 22: To get flanges and become attractive to females, solitary unflanged males have to first consort with females. Otherwise, no flanges. So in the end, they have to kill a flanged male to gain access to his females. Rapes ensue. If they succeed, they’ll grow flanges almost immediately.
So males without flanges travel alone, looking for social groups with weak leaders. They lurk until the time is right. Killing and rapes are common.
OK, at least flanged males don’t kill their young, like many other male primates. After all, it’s eight years before a female becomes estrous again after giving birth. A flanged male can never be sure he’ll be around long enough to sire again. Unflanged males can appear suddenly, and then… who knows.
Last Saturday fourteen visual artists, all at different career stages; from new, to emerging, to mid-career, to mature; showed up for a condensed and distilled four-hour intensive: “From The Studio To The World: How To Get Your Work Out There.” I’m the kind of coach/facilitator that wants to know: Did this work for you? So at the beginning of the class, I asked everyone three questions about where they stood with getting their work out to collectors.
The first of the three questions looked at their long-term ideas: “How’s your plan to get your work out there where collectors can find you?”
The second question looked at the short term: “Are you clear about what to do next to get your work out there where collectors can find you?”
The third was a confidence assessment: “Overall, how confidant are you that you know what you are doing to get your work out there where collectors can find you?”
Everyone answered on a scale from one to ten, where ‘one’ is “I have no clue”; all the way to ‘ten’ “I’ve got this nailed.”
At the end of the class, I asked everyone the same three questions on the same scale.
Looks like a lot happened in four, mash-up, hours. Confidence soared on the one-to-ten scale, from 2.3 before the class to 7.0 at the end of the four hours; a 300% improvement. The short term, what to do next, jumped up from 3.0 to 7.8. Having a long term plan rocked from a pre-class 3.1 to post-class 7.0; it more than doubled. Nice!
Remember that this was a four-hour intensive with a group of fourteen participants plus the coach/facilitator. To see actual results getting work out there and purchased by collectors, there are still things to do. For all five action items, each participant self-assessed how to get it done: 1. “I’m ready to do it now,” or 2. “I’m going to seek out some coaching for skills where I need more hands-on,” or 3. “Either I don’t want to do this one, so I’ll make arrangements for someone else to do it for me.”
Now fourteen artists have a plan for how to get their work from the studio to collectors. So guys, pause… celebrate this important event. And then? Do it, keep track of your progress, and remember to celebrate some more, as you rack up accomplishments one after the other!
My workshop “From the Studio to the World: Getting Your Art Out There“ at Art and Soul was a sellout! Confidence soared, Do-It-Now jumped up, and the Plan rocked on! See more here
The next class is now available, exactly the same, on Sunday afternoon, March 23, at Plaza Art Supply here in Nashville, same price $50! Plaza calls it “Prosperous Artist Now.” Click and scroll down to March 23. The class is from 12:30PM until 4:30PM. I encourage you to register right away, click to find the instructions from Plaza. It may fill quickly!
If you are new to the workshop, you can find out more about it here!
Now you have four good reasons to submit your work to juried shows. If you missed my earlier post or you want to review, go here. Here’s how to how to pick and choose.
First of all, I think Art Deadlines is the best way to find juried shows. They are an international online listing service, and they let you do keyword searches. There is a nominal annual subscription fee. Most of the best shows are listed there.
But be selective! I use these four criteria:
1. The juror: Anything juried by a museum curator is always a good show to enter. Next, anything curated by a reputable gallery owner is, in effect, a gallery submission where you know your work will be seen and reviewed. If you get in the show or even if you don’t, it gives you entrée to speak with the gallery owner about taking on your work. It’s not that easy to meet gallery owners who are located beyond half a day’s drive. Anything curated by a successful artist, a respected art teacher, the staff of a local arts magazine, the owner of an art supply store… you get the idea; pass. The benefits aren’t nearly good enough to be worth the costs. Worse, low ranked shows make a statement about who you are as an artist, and this can work against your career.
2. Proximity: Anything within driving distance is desirable since it saves you shipping. But some shows may be so attractive otherwise that you submit anyway and you’re willing to ship. The physical size of your work is a consideration; smaller is easier to ship.
3. Venue: No to movie theatre lobbies, retail stores like coffee shops etc., No to airports, booths or art fairs, and one-night stands. Yes to galleries, dedicated art spaces, and museums, provided your work will be up for at least 30 days. As of today, I might submit to an online gallery depending on the juror, but I definitely would not pay a fee. Oh, and never pay a gallery to show your work. These are called vanity galleries. Showing there says that regular galleries don’t think they can sell your work. Plus the vanity gallery owner typically doesn’t have the collector connections to do you any good. And, your work will show next to stuff that’s not as good as yours. It’s a general downer.
4. Look for shows with cash prizes, other forms of recognition, and the potential for a solo show later.
Here’s an example of maybe the perfect juried show: An Andrea Meislin Gallery New York group show juried by the curator of the American Collection at the Museum of Modern Art. Sweet! But maybe a show at a reputable Chicago gallery juried by the Director of the Chicago Art Institute might be better because Chicago is 470 miles from home compared with twice that to New York City; basically, you can drive to Chicago pretty easily, but New York is a long haul, you’d have to ship your piece. Still, a show like my example in New York would be hard to turn down.
When you are accepted in a show, find out if the juror will attend the opening. If they are, definitely go and meet them. If the juror won’t be attending, find other reasons to attend or not, and then decide. I’ve attended most of my group shows.
Submitting your work to juried shows is not free, there are costs. I’ve pretty much sold enough work from them to cover the associated costs. But the long run benefits have way exceeded my time and effort. Especially if you live in a secondary art market (i.e., you don’t live in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago) and even more especially if you live in a very high per-capita artist city like Nashville… you can still begin getting your work out there regionally for not a lot of money. When you do, you should expect to see some additional sales. With that positive feedback, find a good packer/shipper, and start entering shows at a little more distance. Let it build.
Our job as artists includes those big tribe celebrations, the ones with music, maybe dance, a little wine, and a happy time in some art space where people’s lives can be enriched even transformed by the visual experience we provide. This is our heritage as artists, our job, the spiritual imperative handed down to us from generations going back 35,000 years. We chose to be artists, so we make art. Showing art is the rest of our job.
30,000 years ago cave painters made astounding art in the depths of the caves at Lascaux and Chauvet. Then, tribes would gather there by the light of stone oil lamps to make music, to dance, to celebrate visions their artists had portrayed for them on the cave walls.
Now it seems the world has radically changed. To show your art to the big tribe today, there are no caves. You pretty much have to get your work into galleries, museum collections, and other art spaces. Today, celebrating your art almost always involves the exchange of money for work. How different!
But is it really? I say the basics are the same. Your job isn’t over when you complete any particular piece of art. It’s not over until the big tribe holds that celebration, the one with music, maybe dance, a little wine, and a happy time in some art space where people’s lives can be enriched even transformed by the visual experience you provide. This is our heritage as artists, our job, the spiritual imperative handed down to us from generations going back 35,000 years, the rich heritage of our species. You’ve chosen to be an artist. This is the rest of your job.
Begin with juried shows. Here are four reasons why:
1. It’ll drive up your price points. Collectors will buy a piece of art they love from an artist with an engaging story, and that’s a good thing. But there’s a big difference between I-love-that-picture price points versus collectible art price points… big difference! And it’s your history of juried shows, awards, and especially museum shows and permanent collections that make your work collectible… think $20,000-$25,000 for a piece or a portfolio.
2. You’ll build a resume, a track record that demonstrates you know how to deliver work on time, provide information… basically, that you are a responsible person and you know what you’re doing.
3. You’ll get your work seen in markets beyond where you live; from local to regional to national to international. Especially if you live in Nashville, we have one of the highest per capita artists ratios in the country. The market here isn’t big enough to support all the artists, so we have to look outside the area for collectors.
4. You’ll put your work in front of important curators. You never know who’s going to remember you the next time they curate something. I can tell you story after story.
It’s kind of easy to find and enter juried shows. So at first, be a little cautious about how many you enter all at once. I began by submitting work to 20 thinking I’d get into two or three; I was accepted into 16 within the space of 45 days. It made me crazy, fulltime printing, matting, framing, shipping… and it all happened right before Xmas!
OK, here’s how juried shows work: Typically you submit three to five images to a group show, and if you get in, one or two pieces will be accepted. Usually there is a $25-$45 entry fee that’s not refundable whether you are accepted or not. It costs them money to put on a show, and entry fees are typically how they’re funded.
Submit to more than one show at a time (just not 16 at once), and then be sure to notify each venue if and when a piece is no longer available.
Next week, the processes: How to find, select, and enter juried shows.
On Facebook, Graham Gerdeman posted a really great question about writing your bio in the “I” word first person, something that resonates with a lot of artists I know. He asked:
One thing that brings questions to mind for me is the use of first person in the biography. One sees this both ways (first person or third), of course, whether on website “About” pages or artists’ statements.
I have been cautioned on multiple occasions to always avoid the first person, and even more specifically to avoid the use of “I” whenever possible, because it is more aggressive. Even when it comes to business emails.
So for example, even in first person, one should not say, “I have always loved painting flowers,” but rather, “Flowers are the things that most inspire me” or “…are my favorite subject,” etc.
When it comes to a more lengthy biography, I would assume that a third person narrative would follow that general rule. I’m not happy with my own “about” page, as it currently exists, but I’ve shied away from a more intimate biography. (http://www.grahamgerdeman.com/#!/about).
Can you speak to the first person / third person issue. Is that something you encounter in your Academic work?
Here’s the thing: First person narratives have a long and venerable history in literature. I’ll use Catcher In the Rye as an example, but the great literature of the world written in the first person is a really really long list. No one finds these narratives offensive, egotistical or super aggressive. Instead, the first person narrative creates a sense of intimacy, an up-close and personal relationship with the protagonist that is not really possible with a third person narrative.
Here’s a random quote from Catcher In the Rye, the protagonist Holden Caulfield: “And I have one of those very loud, stupid laughs. I mean if I ever sat behind myself in a movie or something, I’d probably lean over and tell myself to please shut up.” Don’t we feel we really know this guy? Holden Caulfield is one of the best known, most loved characters in all of literature. That’s what first person narratives do.
And that’s the goal with your bio. Treat yourself as the first-person character in a narrative. Tell the truth, but write like a Holden Caulfield narrative. You want to create that sense of intimacy between yourself and a potential collector, a feeling that they are up-close and personal with you, they really know you, they resonate with your story. That’s when they write you a check.