“I’m an artist and not a sleaze bag, my art sells itself!!” is the answer I often get when I talk to other artists about what they do to help people buy their work. And yes… I’m talking about that super-repulsive extra gross word, which I can’t even mention here except to say it starts with an “M”. The mere mention of it often causes artists to turn up their noses in collective disgust.
A few things
First of all
your “gift” didn’t come by way of divine intervention and it didn’t give you a direct link to the big guy and in the process make you all powerful and all knowing. So step away from the high horse.
what is it exactly that you do when you are desperately trying to figure out how to design you booth, hang your art in a gallery, design that brochure or business card, take super cool photos of your stuff…what exactly is that you are doing. Don’t say “Ewww” because you are doing that gross thing that starts with an “M” .
do you really expect those pots of yours to jump off the shelf and actively engage in an intelligent conversation with that person who is hovering over them? Or… what about that abstract painting hanging on that minimalist wall? Last I checked pots don’t talk and not everybody has a well lit minimalist white wall to mount an exhibition. Also, most people live in houses or work in offices with all kinds of stuff on the walls that are painted all sorts of colors of the rainbow. And right now they are trying to figure out if that pot or that painting will fit in with their other stuff.
So… what to do?
Well…you could hide out in your studio or behind that curtain in the back of your booth and throw your voice so your stuff can talk. Or even better you could do the old talking fish routine only with your stuff, like make your stuff talk when it is touched!!
Or… if you do want to help your people find you, figure out what you have, decide they want your stuff and that your stuff will bring them everlasting happiness. You might, As Havi Brooks puts it, have to figure something else out, something less gross and ewwifing to call what you instinctively do. In linguistic circles that’s called “re-framing” kind of like putting a different frame on that piece hanging on the wall that suddenly looks like is built into the wall.
Sit down and write out…
what it is you do when you are trying to get folks to see and buy your stuff…go ahead write it out. Once you have it committed to paper then give it a name. Havi calls her “M” word process “biggification”. I call it artsyphartzy bizafying because it is all about putting art to work or better yet being artsyfartzy about all those things you do to be seen and having fun doing it. By doing so, I have re-framed the process away from that of the Mad Men and the slick backed hair, polyester clothed guy who tried to convince me to buy his super duper chicken chopper, dinner maker automatic thing. As a result I have taken the convincing, and posturing and other faky stuff out of the process,putting the focus back on artfully making yourself visible with no need for polyester or slick hair.
For me, the definition is simply the act of doing what I need to
- find the folks who like what I do
- give them help in applying/ using what I do
- supporting them in a non-judgmental way as they learn what I have to teach and
- inject some fun and creativity into the equation.
Whatever you do making it fun and playful will likely make it more flavorful to you and help you shift your brain from total grossness to naming however you do what you do which is basically helping people feel good.
If you can do this, then making all those things you do to help your people discover and own your stuff will actually start to feel like fun instead of mucking around knee deep in a swamp. This is a process I call “pulling your head out of your art” and I’ll be talking more about it later. See, as soon as you get all intellectual about what you have just made that thing that came from your heart and your hands becomes an object.
Oh… and about that other word that starts with an “S”
This is the snake oil word or commonly known as( Awwkkk) “sales” …yuk there I said it!
Well, once you have defined your “M” word frame, this stinky word disappears because you know you don’t have to convince nobody, no-how that your stuff is the greatest since sliced bread…because they already know it. How great is that?
One more thing
General George Patton was able to out maneuver and beat Field Marshal Erwin Rommel during the tank battles of North Africa because he studied Rommel for years…and, as he studied him, he adapted Rommels tactics to fit his own style. Notice I said “his own style” , or what worked for him… He didn’t become Rommel he took what worked improved upon it and tailored it to fit his style. If he hadn’t done that, the out come in North Africa would likely have been different.
So what’s the point?
Well if you really want to get your stuff to your people then it is a good idea to study the enemy’s tactics and build something new that fits you just right…it is just another type of intel to collect, that’s all. You can’t become a slime bag by osmosis! So hold your nose and pick a book or two, keep your mind open and see what you can use.
Just remember…the whole point of all this is to totally make yourself visible so that those folks who are out there looking for someone who makes stuff like you can find you and experience the joy your stuff brings.
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