Friday, 20 November 2009

Bring out Your Inner Artist and Shine!

As an artist you are probably very similar to me, bold and brash on the outside but full of self doubt and shy of "exposing" your work. I grew up with a wildly enthusiastic mother who's glass was always half full, well to be honest, overflowing! As a result I have a sunny disposition but inside I actually think that anyone who says that my work is "good" is just being nice!
Whats all this got to do with anything?
I started blogging in January 2006 and seriously posting my work up about six months later. It was very much a case of learning on the job and as a result I made many mistakes, more about them in a minute.
The very first thing that I realised was that having and maintaining an Internet "presence" is quite a lot of work but it pays off. I was able to supplement my income as an illustrator quite quickly.  Plus selling paintings was slowly chipping away at that self doubt voice.
Being English as well I was, and still am, a bit embarrassed by the "look at me" aspect of self promotion. I rush to tell people who I know that I do it because it helps to sell my work. Actually by far the best thing to come out of it is getting to know so many other artists, even if it is cybernetics!
Being an artist is a terribly solitary occupation, you wander lonely as a cloud, seeking inspiration, wanting to chew the fat with other artists by joining groups but also jealously guarding your solitude at the same time. Blogging enables you to have those conversations, to see other peoples work and to network. We don't have water coolers, coffee breaks or office parties you see.
Having and maintaining a web identity also gives you the chance to sell your work, and therefor make a living. Some people use E-bay, others Etsy, some favor Folksy and some Imagekind. Some systems are better that others and the best advice is to go and try them out, see which you like, browse and search for things, see who is selling and what they are selling, get your pricing right and don't forget to factor in post and the time it takes to pack everything up. Putting a nice note, or a little card in with purchases makes a lot of difference. Think what you would like from a shop or gallery and go one step further. The other thing to bear in mind is getting people to come to your virtual gallery.
Social networking sites are becoming very popular for that, I don't Twitter so I cant talk about that but I have recently started a "fan page" on Facebook. This lets people who are friends of friends of friends see your work as well as catching a few total strangers along the way. It is possible to link up very easily with your blogs and so the fan page, as well as the fans, can see what you are up to.  Easily is the word, you have to make it easy for people to find and see your work, stick links on your emails, put your website on your car, and network like mad on your blogs. (I am bad about that, too lazy, must try harder!)
I used to toy with the idea of being anonymous and enigmatic, like Banksey, but it doesn't fit with my personality, I think it is a rare person indeed who can maintain an identity on blogs that is not their own, it seems to bring out personalities and show them for what they are.
So in a nutshell:
Blog, it makes you work hard and gets you seen.
Sell, via which ever site you feel happy with.
Network, on Facebook, Flicker, Twitter etc.
Throw away your inhibitions and stop waiting for the world to knock on your studio door, get out there and strut your stuff, after all you put your heart and soul into it so why not let it shine.
Sarah's Etsy shop.  Sarah's Facebook fan page
Katherine's Making-A-Mark fan page on facebook
Vivien's Etsy shop
Jeanette's Etsy shop
Gesah's Etsy shop.

( I have only put this here because I dont like blog posts without pictures and because I like this painting and because it has just sold in the gallery, Beside The Wave, that sells my work in the flesh, as opposed to on the internet, so I am happy!)

Now I know that I haven't put all of us on here as links, so fellow watery ones, please add your networking, selling sites.  After all Christmas is coming, someone out there might well be on the lookout for something extra special...


Katherine Tyrrell said...

Well said!!!

We started blogging at the same time -and I've loved following your artistic journies in Brittany and Cornwall, bought the book, started this group with you and got to meet up with you too - which has been really great.

All because we each started a blog!

Sarah Wimperis said...


Maree said...

This is a great post Jeanette and some great advice as well. LOVE your Etsy shop!

Kathy said...

Great advice! Thank you.

Lindsay said...

Great post, you generous hearted One! Thanks and now I'm feeling left out in the Etsy dept. MUST get this set up in the New Year.

You describe things perfectly...guarding solitude and longing for company...My poor family. They never know if they should give me space or take me out!

vivien said...

great post! and so true

Katherine persuaded me to start blogging and I was so self conscious at first - as you say we aren't good at the 'look at me'.

Through it I've got to know some lovely people and take part in interesting projects and learnt a lot.

I haven't yet caught up with your fan page - but intend to :>)

Congrats on another sale.

Jeanette said...

You've said what we all think Sarah.

Artists are wallflowers for the most part and hate drawing attention to themselves, but using technology to your advantages is a benefit that allows you some degree of comfort as you're one step removed from the harsher side of marketing.

Blogging and social media are almost the norm now for artists, even more so than static web pages. I started the same way, slowly, tentatively, scared and worried that no one could ever be bothered to read what I had to say.

Now look where we all are!

Anonymous said...

sound advice Sarah...thanks!

Gesa Helms said...

yes... indeed... but it just takes so much time :( - i hope you've sold some more pieces at the show, sarah - the fireworks piece is fabulous, i'm not surprised at all, it sold so quickly.

Laureline said...

Belated congratulations! That's a gorgeous painting---I envy its new owner!