from Rebecca Collins
This September I celebrate the eighth year of my full time pet portrait business, Art Paw. I started in 1998 with one computer and a desktop printer. I now have six computers in the studio and a large format giclee printer. I employee a staff of four part time artists. Together we have created well over 2000 portraits in the last eight years. I am a gal that loves art, commerce, animals, and my Macs. I also love new technology, the web, and all things digital. I think the key to my success lies in the shear joy and creativity that I put not only into my art, but also into the marketing of that art. I spent more than a few years after college in retail selling “stuff”. I sold all kinds of stuff and it was all the same stuff really. Stuff, stuff, stuff! It was all stuff that I could really care less about. I have a hard headed independent streak and eventually broke from my retail cage to start my own greeting card business in the mid 1990’s. The card business was a wild ride and running from trade show to trade show did not allow me enough time to develop a truly personal art. A new puppy by the name of Atticus provided the inspiration for my venture into pet portraits. A business that started on a playful lark has become a robust and joyful enterprise. Now I wake up each day and I get to create my art, instead of selling “stuff” I get to sell myself and my artwork. With Art Paw I feel I have found my perfect balance between art and commerce. It is a powerful feeling.
Many artists resent time spent away from their studios. They often don’t want to be bothered by that dirty little task of selling. For them an artist rep is the only way to go. You can also do quite well by taking advantage of online portfolio services such as EBSQ. If you want to get more aggressive and truly be responsible for your own success I offer up a few tips to keep in mind.
#1 The first is that marketing is not a task, it is an art itself and it takes dedication, discipline and love.
#2 Know your market and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. If you are a floral painter and can not quite break into galleries yet then visit your local botanical gift shop or arboretum society and see if they might purchase some of your prints, or better yet donate a painting to their next fund raiser.
#3 Adapt to new technology and embrace the web. You do not have to learn html to have a few outposts and portfolios on the web. Yes I said a few. The web is an ocean and the more places you can have your art seen on the web the better. It is just like the real world. It is quite nice to be in one respected gallery in your city, however when you can be in several galleries all over the country you are going to sell a lot more. The same is true on the web.
#4 Do not be afraid to spend some money. Some artists would never think to use cheap canvas, or inferior paint, yet they are unwilling to spend a dime on their portfolios or other marketing tools. Invest in yourself and watch the returns grow.
#5 Never stop believing in yourself. If you think your art is good someone else will too.
From my perspective finding your own perfect balance between art and commerce, will fuel your creativity in ways you can not imagine. Once you realize how much they have in common the whole game of self representation will be just that ... a game to be played with joy.