ArtWorks Featured Profiles

Profile: Kristen Stein on Roots and Inspiration

What mediums have you worked in and which is your favorite?

I am a contemporary artist working primarily with acrylics on canvas.  I occasionally dabble in pastels and oils. I love working in mixed media and often add gritty, grainy textures to my paint. I’ve also created paintings using layers of newspaper, paper towels, tissues, string, dried flowers, leaves and more to add extra texture and dimension to the painting. I sometimes work on wood, but generally use stretched canvas.  I’m in the process of learning silk-screening and hope to ‘pull’ my own prints.  I have also worked in digital painting and creating images as scalable vector graphics.


How did you get started?

I have been creating art for friends and as gifts for several decades, but I started selling my artwork as a business about 10 years. It began as a part-time passion while I was working on my dissertation in Economics at the University of Virginia. I still use a lot of my economics background on the business side of my art career, but my creative side won out and I starting selling my artwork full-time in early 2000. I am not formally trained in art. I took one class in high-school and one elective class in college. I recall several of the projects that I made in these two classes and I know that they have fueled my passion to continue to learn and grow as an artist.

Who has influenced/inspired your art work?

Friends, family and other artists have all played an integral role in influencing my artistic visions and enthusiasm for ‘all things art’. My parents are both incredibly talented and I know that they have directly influenced my love for the arts.  More recently, I’ve met several new artists online through various social networks and I’m enjoying learning how to use the new venues to expand the reach of my art to new audiences. I’ve also recently approached other artists and photographers to work on collaborative projects. It’s a fun way for artists to share their talents and create an image that embodies their various interests or styles. That’s how the “Spirit of Autumn Fire” image (with Lyse Marion) came about.  As for master artists, I love the works of Picasso, Gris, Matisse, Frank Lloyd Wright, Rothko, Dali among many others.


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Marketing Monday: Truth about Getting Real


marketing monday good stuff weekly

Last week I talked about how potential buyers can’t be buyers if they can’t find you and I showed you lots of different ways to make yourself visible. Visibility by itself is not going to guarantee sales you’ll have to do a bit more to get to that point. The “bit more” I’m talking about  is developing a relationship with your potential buyers so they can trust you enough to give you their hard earned Dinero.

Any discussion of the kind of relationships you may want to establish with your buyers needs  to first travel through the land of friendly selling. Two terms are bouncing around marketing circles now, each is being talked about a lot but not in any great depth. As a result most folks looking to learn how to connect to their buyers are not getting the best guidance. The terms I’m talking about are: Relationships and Authenticity.

As a result of all the buzz and misguidance business owners are either completely adapting behaviors that appear to reflect these terms or they are completely tossing them out the window and continuing on in their ignorance. The problem is that most folks who adapt and try to use these concepts are going way to far into left field with them and as a result are feeling exposed and vulnerable and their buyers are busy scratching their heads wondering WTF?

retro_adds2Not what you expected?

So when we talk about relationships we aren’t talking about becoming BFF with every buyer or for that matter any buyer, no, you don’t have to have an anxiety attack, thinking this means you have to invite them over for dinner or even have coffee with them. What we are talking about is genuine friendliness, and an understanding that it is important to get to know them on whatever level you feel comfortable, depending on the kind of relationship you want to have with your buyers. Now you won’t have the same kind of relationship with every buyer in fact you may end up having as many kinds of relationships as you have buyers …and that’s ok. What is important to understand here about relationships is a couple of things:


    Do you ever want to see that ( or any ) buyer again?

  • Do you want repeat and referral business?

When you‚’re noodling over this, consider your perfect buyer profile and your Who and what statements. Why? Because depending who that who is you might like to see them come around more often and drag a few of their BFFs also.

When thinking about the two questions above, also keep in mind that your buyers are your most important resource. Let’s face it without them you’d probably be doing some crappy job punching widgets out on an assembly line. But here’s the kicker…like I said above you don’t have to be BFFs with any of them, you do have to be human and that especially goes for folks who really only want to see that customer’s face once! You never know who they might know…I’m just sayin’

One more thing…don’t fake it, don’t try to pretend that you want to have them for diner and a sleep over as you mumble to yourself you wish they’d just get their smelly body out of your space, they’re not as dumb as they may look..seriously!

There’s Authentic and then there’s authentic

How many times have you seen or heard someone trying to sell you something use the term authentic as if that word alone is supposed to ring your bell and get you to pull out your pen and ask  “where do I sign…?” What you were really doing was scanning for an escape route while thinking that guy was as deeply authentic as a mud puddle.

The problem is the way this term is being thrown around business owners are starting to feel like they have to bare all so buyers can ‚”really see who they are”. So they start talking about what they had for lunch and when they are going to the dentist. While that sort of thing may be really transparent you don’t have to go that far to ‚”authentically be you”. The authenticity that is important, is whatever is authentically you as an artist …your artistic persona. As an example: The way I write is my persona on my blog and in my newsletter, and, that persona is all together different than my persona as a photographer or for that matter in everyday life. As an artist your work may project a certain persona, a part of you that allows your creations to take form, and it is that persona that is your authenticity. It gives you and your stuff the meat you need to  attract buyers, because it reflects you and what you are trying to say with your art. Now that’s AUTHENTICITY! Think of  “Authentically Florida Oranges” just because they are grown in Florida doesn’t mean they have all things that make up Florida squeezed into their little orangie DNA…they are just grown in Florida!

OK…what you need to understand here is that if you want to keep selling your stuff you are going to have to figure this part out because it will play a major part in the direction you business goes or not. The ‚”or not” is because that’s where you’ll be if there is mismatch between where you want your business to go and how you treat those folks who keep showing up to buy your stuff. Selling stuff is about interacting with people.

Let’s get clear here…I’m not even coming close to suggesting that you go all bi-polar on yourself, if you are grumpy be grumpy and make it part of your mystique, your persona, then when people see that fun loving playful side guess what? They’ll be astounded that it is really you. See, this is important because none of us especially creatives are single dimensional, we have all kinds of sides, angles and quarks, you as an artsyfartsy biz person have to know which of those sides you want to show when and here’s the biggie…why.

In the end how you want to relate with your buyers and how much and what you want to show them of yourself will have an effect on your business success. If you see your buyers as the enemy and bark at them like a drill sergeant don‚Äôt start wondering why no one shows up to buy your stuff. On the other hand don,t go all Mary Poppins  and then chop the head off of the first buyer who dares ask you a question. Don,t worry about being ‚”authentic”, just be you.


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Marketing Monday: The Art of Being a Beacon


marketing mondat good stuff weekly the art of being a beacon


Last week we talked about the importance of knowing who is likely to buy your work and  what it is your work does for them that makes them want it. The importance of really getting down and working out something that reflects both you and your work, helps you by giving you a strong understanding of your market and the beginning of a real tool to help you both stay focused and remain flexible in changing times.

The other main purpose of knowing your Who and What is the foundation it gives you when you actually start finding those folks who are gaga over your work. It is like having your own crib sheet handy at all times. Today we’re going to cover this in more depth  as we talk about how you let people know you’ve the stuff they are looking for how you can be a beacon guiding their search.

So what does this have to do with the price of beer on Sunday? Well, it is the all important key stone to expanding your Who & What into a way of describing the problems you solve and who you solve them for. This what we call “Marketing Sytax” a concept made popular by Robert Middleton and Mark Silver. The concept consists of boiling down all of the information you have gathered thus far about your buyers, their problems and how you help them.

Have a message

Identify the problem your buyers face, you described this in your What descriptions.

“I help young couples who are looking for unique locally handmade tableware”
Or “I help families who want to memorialize the key events in their lives but don’t want the standard portrait style.”

Here’s the key and important part of this…a problem oriented statement whether it stays in your brain or you use it answer questions about your work will, 99.9% of the time if worded right lead the person you are talking to to ask a “how do you do that” kind of question. And that is where the  the solution based followup comes in.

Focus on benefits when you followup so the statement above would look like this when benefits are added:

“I help young couples who are looking for unique locally handmade tableware. My pots are designed to make you smile when you dine and be great conversation starters when you entertain.”

“I help families who want to memorialize the key events in their lives but don’t want the standard portrait style. We create visual conversations of your families important events by  capture you as you are and building a story of the event. By building a memory book   families will always be able  to relive the event through the conversations the memories stir”

As you can see this is a whole lot more thought provoking and curiosity generating than the simple Who and What and that is the goal…you want to engage people so they eventually identify or not identify as a member of your fan club. You can expand the statements above for use through out a conversation by including stories of how your work helped someone, or the effect your work had on their lives. For example, your painting might have just the right feel to a neglected room that it is now a favorite. Or your pots may have create such a fun entertaining experience that the couple bought a custom table set.

Hang with them

This stuff is important when you are out mixing with with potential fans, it you identify you as the one and only person who can solve their problem. I t does this by giving you a way to engage them as the nice person you are instead of the way that used car sales man in the polyester ‘70s vintage suite can’t even imagine.

Now that you are fully armed with the best tools you can start to really hone in on finding the best places the hang and hang with them. So what might these places be? Everybody likes to hang out with people who they identify with. Brainstorm all the places you think these potential fans might hang out for example:

On the internet

A  jeweler who has identified young professional women could look for on-line forums where these women hang out. They  could be everything from Mommy oriented forums to professional societies or clubs. Painters and potters identifying homeowners interested in redecorating might hang out in home improvement or decorating forums.

There are a lot of specialty blogs out there that might match up with your fan base or be aimed at helping them but don’t do so for what you have to offer. Finding those blogs and commenting on posts relevant to the problem you solve will go a long way towards driving potential fans your way and help establish you as the nice creative person you are.

Your blog
Set up your blog in ways that let people learn about how you can solve their problems. For example, don’t just limit yourself to describing and showing your process show how your work can be used. So if you are a fiber artist and your work can be used for walls or table tops write about and post photos that show how your work can be used to solve decorating problems.



Teach a class
This may not appeal to all but it does work for finding potential fans and buyers. Most folks taking classes at art centers aren’t there to learn how to compete with you they just want to do something creative. Teaching them how to do that and including how they could use the work your are teaching them create will help them identify with you or at least spread the word to their friends.

Talk to groups
Talking to groups is not an easy thing, in fact I hate it, and it does work pretty much in the same way as teaching does because you are actually teaching folks about both your medium and your work and how your unique has helped others resolve their problems. So you might talk to ASID (association of interior designers) if you are a potter, painter, photographer or any type of artist producing work that can be used to improve the environments of home or office.

Quite often magazines are on the look out for articles that address problems and issues you may be intimately familiar with. It doesn’t hurt approaching them with a problem/solution based article like how hand made work is better than stuff bought at K-Mart.

Draw a map

Once have stirred interest you need to help these folks find your stuff AND buy it. No, I’m not talking about being a pest I’m talking about making the paths to buying your stuff obvious and easy find and follow. So here are some simple ways to do that:

put all of your contact information on your e-mail signature and include your statement we just talked about. Include links to your web site/blog, facebook, twitter etc.

Your biz card
First don’t print your own business cards unless you don’t want folks to really take your serious. Design the card to have two sides one that gives your basic contact information the other that has your problem/solution statement on it.

Selling on-line
Design the page that shows only the work a customer is interested in to also show other items they might like, check out the way Amazon does this. Don’t give your customers to many options at one time generally anything more than three wil tend to freeze their brain causing them to wander of in a trance. Finally, put a clear call to action on your sales page like “buy now” or “click to purchase” or “learn more”. Your call to action should only give them two ways to go… buy or don’t buy.

Become visible

The point of all of this is to light yourself up in such a way as to be a beacon for all those  with a problem you solve better than anyone else. You don’t have to spend a lot if any money to do this here are some easy ways to get your marketing message out there.

Videos & photos
Put photos on your blog that illustrate how you solve the problems your fans face. You can turn those photos into slide shows and post them on your blog whenever you talk about that particular problem. You can also create a Youtube channel and link the videos on your blog to that channel. Flickr is a great place to show your work especially if you use their photostream which can be easily embedded into your blog. To see what this looks like check our featured artists.

Business card
Make it fun and make it reflect not only you but also the problem you solve.

Web site
In this day and age a web site is imperative and it needs to reflect you and who you work with. If you are thinking of using some freebee lame set up don’t even bother because you’ll waist your time. Blogs are the best format for getting and growing your visibility,  there are a lot of options available. Remember… a blog is just a web site that has more flexibility  and ease of use on your end than a static web site.

Images of work courtesy of Kristen Stein and Jane Campbell


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Marketing Mondays: Don’t miss the real costs

The final step in this part of the game, kind of involves looking backwards. See, the venues and the details required to turn them into winners is not free, and I’m not just talkin’ about money either. There is something equally important as money here, in economics it is called “opportunity Cost” or the cost of choosing a course of action that when added to the monetary cost tells you the actual cost of what you chose to do.


Jane Campbell talks about Marketing



il_430xN-5Tell us about your marketing journey How did you start?

Wow it has been a “journey”! Just a few years ago, which seems like only months, I had no idea what a blog was, -html, a widget, etc… It has been quite a learning experience. A whole world I never knew existed. Where as I once worked 9 to 5, I now work sometimes 10 to 14 hours a day. I love it so I doesn’t feel like I work that long. Usually it’s only when the family starts hollering that I quit for the day.

When did you discover that you needed to market?

I quickly realized that marketing is more than 1/2 of the job. To make money, to do il_430xN-6this as a business you have to treat it like a business and put yourself out there. This was very difficult for me at first. I’m basically a shy private person. I also discovered that people don’t just want a piece of your art, they want a little piece of you too, they want to know who you are, where this art came from. Art is a little piece of ourselves so we have to share ourselves as well.

Do you have a marketing plan or strategy ?

I’m still learning. I like selling online. It’s the largest audience. I have met people all over the world and my art is now in several different countries.
il_430xN-3I have been privileged & honored to be in several galleries in the Sacramento area. This is a great boost in moral, helps with marketing and I love the interaction with other artists & meeting the public, however, it seems to me that the audience in a gallery is limited, therefore sales are limited, but it is essential to be a part of the gallery experience.

Do you use Social media online alone or do you combine it with off-line efforts?

Mostly online medias but I do belong to the Swell Sister Society which is a wonderful group of Sacramento women artists. We inspire & encourage one another, do gallery shows together, keep each other up to date on what’s happening in the art scene. I love being a senior member in this group and it gets me out of my studio and keeps me from being a total recluse!

What has been the reaction to your making your work available in non-traditional ways, like mugs, jewelry etc?il_430xN-2

I’m proud to say I currently have my art being sold on jewelry that is in 2 Downtown Disney galleries in Florida; Pop Gallery & Hoipoloi. I also have a Cafepress site. I have had several sales but not enough to “cash out” the proceeds.

Where do most of your sales come from?

Most of my sales are online sales either from Ebay or Etsy. I have recently joined new online venues such as Blue Canvas & Artfire but do not have originals or print for sale there yet.

jane campbell on marketingil_430xN

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Jane Campbell on roots and influences



il_430xN_1First, tell me about your work?

My work is full of color, fun, it’s folky but with a modern/contemporary edge. 90% of the time I sit down to a blank canvas, nothing drawn out or preconcieved, and I paint until I’m happy. My angels come to life on their own. Their eyes usually follow you, have a different expression on each side of their face, & uneven whimsical features which I feel gives them a special character & it makes me love painting them. They are my favorite. My folk art crabs, mermaids, & florals are inspired by my Carolina roots.
I love painting on an imperfect canvas. Especially wood that is destined for the dumps or canvas that has been covered in fine sand. It’s the organic quality & rough texture that draws me to it and the feeling it gives me to turn waste into something wonderful.

What mediums have you worked in and which is your favorite?

I work with oils & acrylics. Working with oils is truly my favorite, however, most of my work is done with acrylics for the easeil_430xN of drying time.
I also enjoy photography, altering photographs, clay work, sewing, knitting, crochet, & hand embroidery.

How did you get started?

I started painting when I was 13. Let’s just say that was a long time ago and leave it at that. I have always painted for myself, family, friends or just because my spirit needed me to. I dreamed of being able to paint for a living nearly all my life. It was when I found myself unemployed November 2007 that I decided to go for it. When my paintings started selling online I was amazed, flattered & compelled to keep painting. I am now living my dream. I have never worked as long and hard but never have been this happy either.

il_430xN_2Who has influenced/inspired your art work?

Walt Sorenson, a retired Art Director at Disney was a huge influence. His portrait classes instilled my love and appreciation of the human face. I no longer follow all of his rules as I once did. I like the freedom of being quirky instead of realistic.
It would be impossible for me to chose a favorite artist but these are some of my favorites, not necessarily in order: Edward Hopper, Jack Vettriano, Winslow Homer, Maxfield Parrish, Michael Parks, Alphonse Mucha, Claude Monet, Henry Matisse, Diego Rivera, Raphael and of course Piccasso.

jane campbell on influences

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Featured Artist: Jane Campbell talks about vision and lessons


jane campbell What is your vision for your art?

This is a difficult question because art is an evolution of self. It’s living. My vision for my art today may not be the same in a year or 2 or 3 or… At this point my vision is to honor God with my art, and make others happy, inspired and have my art provide for the necessities & luxuries in life.

What do you see your work doing for those who buy it?

I would like my art to touch people, enhance their lives or a little corner of it, and make them happy when they look at it. I am blessed to have received many emails telling me that my art has done this for them and I will continue to strive for just that reaction. My most touching emails I have recieved have been someone telling me that one of my angels reminded them of someone they have lost or how it makes them smile.

How has your art evolved over time?il_430xN-2

For many years it was all about realism. Pushing myself to paint like a photograph. I would drive myself crazy, sometimes abandoning a painting only to find it still unfinished years later because I couldn’t get something the way I wanted it. It was only when I began painting from my heart, painting what I wanted to & what I like, giving myself more freedom to not be perfect, not painting to please others or painting something to match the furniture, that I began to really truly enjoy it.

il_430xN-3What are the most important lessons you have learned about being an artist and selling your work?

The most important lessons I have learned are that marketing & being true to yourself is essential. It takes an enormous amount of time and work but staying devoted will reap rewards.

What advice would you give to other artists?il_430xN-4

Be true to yourself. Do what you love most. Don’t create art solely to make a dollar, there’s no heart in that or satisfaction. Create art from your own experiences and life, not others. Put yourself out there even though it’s not comfortable. Not everyone is going to like what you do, don’t be discouraged and lose your confidence from the few that don’t. Know your market place, market yourself, believe in yourself then others will & provide great customer service. You are your business.


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Marketing Monday: Getting Focused

The Problem

Most people identify themselves by a label when they are asked what they do or even when they think of themselves in terms of their work. So you might identify yourself as an artist or, I might think of myself as a photographer, well as you see, sticking a label on us doesn’t really help us attract qualified buyers. It also doesn’t help us develop and use a finely focused vision of who we really serve and what we really do. We just continue skipping around in la-la land whistling a happy tune, unaware that we are going in circles.

What we really need is another tool in our kit that we can pull out when we need it. Well, that tool is the Who and What or the Who and Do What. The tool is not an elevator speech, YUK, nor is it a sales pitch. Instead, it is a way of  knowing who really wants our work what they look like etc. and what it is about our stuff that makes them want it or what problem  we solve. Basically, it tightens down the focus of our Perfect customer profile and our offer so we can know it instantly and more importantly have it become part of the core of our business. Knowing these two important things helps us:

  • Stay focused on our intents and in turn helps the right prospects find us.
  • Know how better market and merchandise our work.

    And there’s the label problem…

    So what’s the big deal with calling yourself an artist or me calling myself a photographer? Isn’t that what we are? Well yes and no. There are three major problems with labels.


    A label puts the attention on you and what you do and takes it away from your buyers, because you aren’t just an artist and I’m not just a photographer. As a result we are left with describing ourselves in terms of our process which more often than not leaves whoever is trying to follow us with a blank glassy eyed stare.  You in turn are left wondering what just happened to you message. What did just happen was you lost that potential buyer because she could tell you were more engrossed in describing your process than you were in getting to know her.

    The other thing that tends to happen more often than not is the label gets misinterpreted. So suddenly you find you’re self being asked if you do caricatures causing to delve into a major discourse about how you are a painter not an entertainer for birthday parties, all this just leads you further down the rabbit hole of talking about yourself.


    A label can get you all tongue tied because you know you are more than just that label and yet when you are asked what you do go off on a litany of process descriptions. Even worse, you can suffer from a severe onset of brain fart and start talking in tongues which is not helpful to either you or her. So again, she walks way, not knowing what exactly you do and more importantly if you are the secret to solving her problems.


    This one is pretty important in that it can really  limit you and your business in being able to respond quickly to market changes…like now. If you are known as an artist or as a painter it will be harder for you to reposition yourself, because, you are known only that way. So if I were to describe myself as a wedding photographer I would have to pretty much re-invent myself in order to move into another market or style.

    Now, it is important to understand that you are not the only one having difficulty with this and, changing it will not necessarily happen over night. That is were the knowing how to use the Who and What comes in handy because, when successfully used it will not only cure a headache, upset stomach,  etc. It will also help you increase sales, know better how to display your work and in general make your life a lot more enjoyable.

    Who is the Who?

    Guess what, unless you’re a some kind of super hero, you can’t help everyone and even more if you try to bethe_who_add everything to all, you’ll end up being a little bit to a few…that’s not real satisfying for anybody. And it really doesn’t help the right people find you or you to know how to let them know you’re available. So you need to FOCUS and that is what knowing who your market is does for you. It is basically breaking down all those characteristics of your perfect buyer and applying them to a group of people.

    So…your Who is made up of:

    • demographic or statistical info like age,gender etc.
    • psychographic info like the values and opinions that cause them to self identify.

      Basically  your who is the  folks who would walk blocks to buy your work through snow,sleet, rain or heat.

      Other things you need to know about identifying your Who folks, is that people globally,  tend to be attracted to things, causes,, issues etc. based primarily on how much they identify with those things, causes or issues. This is generally not a problem, because you are also likely to be drawn to those folks who closely identify with the things important to you. You may not have a complete match and, there will likely be some overlap, which will go along way to building trust. Additionally, you build trust by sharing terminology and language characteristics that help you hear what the folks making up your Who are saying.

      Finally, the very act of naming the group of folks who identify most with you and your stuff makes a bazillion times easier for them to identify with you because they see that you authentically represent them.

      Then there’s the What

      sunburn3Now you know and can name the group of folks who most identify with your work and what it represents. Now you  need to take a look at exactly what the what is!!!!  Contrary to popular wisdom you don’t just make orange pots, or purty paintings…somewhere in the zapping neurons of your brain you have a fundamental driving concept, or thing you want those orange pots or purty paintings to do. Unbeknownst to you consciously you are making those things in response to some problem you see, some issue that is important to you.

      The what is all about getting down and defining that problem or issue your work is aimed at resolving. This is important, because, as we have learned earlier, people care most about finding solutions. So knowing the problems and issues faced by those who want your work helps you make your solution more visible. And it goes even further, because when you recognize their problems you are also telling them they and their needs are important.

      The problem is more important than the solution because potential buyers will pretty much always see you in relation to their problems and how close you come to being the one who solves their problem. Because only when they see that you are the answer to solving their problem will they stop window shopping and move into buying mode.

      The Lesson and the point

      Let’s look at both now in terms of how they help you and your business.

      The most important thing to take from this is that when folks are out hunting for solutions to their problem of the day, the only thing they are focused on is the problem and its solution. Everything they see is, seen in relation to that problem. So they don’t have time or patience to translate your wood fired technique into their solution nor can they translate your solution, as in “I make the best wood fired pots in the universe”, unless that solution obviously solves their particular problem.

      On the other hand  you will stand out to them because you know their problem intimately, and they know you can easily solve their problem because you understand it.

      The other point of learning here, is that your Who and What helps folks who are already true believers in your ability to solve their problems have a way to let others with similar problems know you are The One who can successfully solve their problem. So unless someone is expressly looking for the best wood fired pots in the universe they won’t see you as a solution. However, if that person is looking for unique table ware and particularly cream & sugar serving pieces and you offer just such items, which happen to be wood fired, you will be far more visible to her.

      In the end your Who and What may be like one of these:

      • I help young couples who want unique locally handmade tableware that will help make their entertaining and dining experience fun.
      • I help people who want unique locally handmade tableware that will help make their entertaining and dining experience fun.


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      Christy DeKoning on vision, sales and advice


      Featured interview artist logo

      tryptichWhat is your vision for your art?

      To create something uniquely beautiful that captures a moment in a person’s life.

      What do you see your working doing for those who buy it?

      It makes the buyers very happy to see their loved ones presented in a way that is entirely different than what they might expect from an oil artist or a photographer. To keep it simple, it makes people smile.

      What has been the reaction to  making your work available in non-traditional ways, like mugs, jewelry etc?

      I haven’t committed a lot of time to novelty items, but the feedback I’ve received about my glass tile pendants has been very positive.

      Where do most of your sales come from?

      Etsy, followed by ArtFire and Boundless Gallery, then local (I’m a member of an Artist cooperative gallery called ARTspace in Chatham)

      What are the most important lessons you have learned about being an artist and selling your work?

      Be confident in yourself and your work, and don’t underestimate the value of your time, effort, specific skillset and knowledge.


      What advice would you give to other artists?

      Never stop learning, and never miss an opportunity. If an opportunity is presented to you, take it, learn from it, and use it to grow. Then try to “give back” whenever possible – join user groups, forums, share your work through demonstrations, critique other’s work if you have the knowledge to be helpful, and above all, try to remain open to rejection. It happens to all of us, and we learn from it. That’s the hardest part – don’t give up if someone says no.



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      ArtWorks Featured

      Christy DeKoning on Marketing Art


      Featured interview artist logo

      Tell us about your marketing journey… How did you start? When did you discover that you needed to market?

      It’s funny, but marketing seems to have come naturally to me. I used to work in offices as a marketing/creative assistant, so when I decided that I was ready to work at portraits on a full-time basis, it seemed logical to start talking to people online about it. I joined Etsy and that really got the ball rolling. My work tends to market itself, because people love to show off paintings of their family members to their friends, which in turn leads to more business for me – marketing is almost secondary to “word-of-mouth” advertising, which is my number one source of commissions.

      Do you have a marketing plan,strategy if so please summarize?

      No. I just wake up in the morning and decide if I’m going to paint first, blog first, or “twitter” away my morning.

      Do you use Social media online alone or do you combine it with off-line efforts?

      I have very little off-line marketing – 90% of my clients are international, which all comes from online marketing. I try to stay involved with my community as much as possible, so a certain amount of time is spent at local art shows, but I rely on social media for most of my connections.


      One of the things Christy has in common with the other artists to be featured here is her willingness to offer non-traditional ways for her clients to enjoy her work. She tastefully incorporates her work into post cards, jewelry, greeting cards and other accessories.  In doing so she and the other artists show an understanding of the client/customer courtship process I have talked about. These low cost alternatives give her buyers a chance to experience how she treats buyers and in the process increase their trust which in the end may lead to larger purchases. Additionally, she can offer the accesserories as upsells or as complimentary gift to big ticket buyers or collectors.

      Another example of both trust building and understanding the client courtship model is Christy’s willingness to share her process. Scattered through out her blog are numerous examples of mini-tutorials demonstrating her creative process. Some may worry that doing such a thing is tantamount to giving away state secrets but research has shown just the opposite. Artists, like Christy know the difference between style and technique, they know that no amount of “secrets” can give another person the ability to copy her style, her work will always be identifiable. More than sharing techniques her tutorials ofer a window into her creative journey and in the process build trust and adds another layer of uniqueness for her potential clients.

      tutorialTo see the marketing styles mentioned above check out Christy’s Blog, Artfire store and Etsy Store just click the links below:



      Original Paintings

      Main Shop













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      ArtWorks Featured

      Marketing Monday: 8 Ways to Turn Fans Into Missionaries


      So people have said they luv your work and they know a lot of folks who would luv it also but your studio doors aren’t coming unhinged by hoards of adoring fans from “what’s her name”. What’s that all about? “What’s her name” said she was going to send her neighbor your way but that was last year and nobody showed up saying “what’s her name” sent them.

      143_ask_show071208-copy1You have now arrived at your goal of gathering raving fans, buyers all gaga over your work and leave happy as clams after they bought something from you. The truth is times are tough now and you need more raving fans. That ’s what this level is all about basically, getting and keeping raving fans. But you know what? Not all of those folks dancing away with your stuff are really going to remember saying “I’ve gotta tell my neighbor to get over here”. That’s the part no one tells you, because the sales process really doesn’t stop here, this stage is all about helping those folks bring some more folks like them who will being more and more.


      Everything you have done so far not only counts, but also is what got you to this point in the first place, so you can use it to help your buyers help you.

      If we go back to the studio doors not coming unhinged, there are some key things you need to look at to determine why and to help you make sure those doors do come unhinged. You set yourself up by getting your Who & What down pat ( at least for now) so that when you do see that special potential raving fan buyer, you can recognize her and you know what you need to do to court her on the way to this point. So here are some key things help you:

      1. But they said they would they would send some of their kindred spirits my way.

      Well take it easy, take a deep breath before you get all panicy. Here’s the deal… Life happens, people today have a lot on their plate we all have places to go and things to do and the list just keeps getting longer by the day, so cut them some slack.

      Besides just life happening these days they may also be a little dazed and confused, see you might not be making it very clear as to the who, what, where and how to send their neighbors your way. The whole process is clear as mud to them so they throw up their hands and give up or…

      They don’t know you as well as you think and your customer courtship process was not really all that clear so they  feel just a little reluctant  to send their BFF (best friend foreverrr)  your way. What if you bombard that BFF with e-mails, pitches and all the other yuk things that she thinks you might do? If that happens her BFF won’t be so BFF and her BFF is more important to her than you.

      2. But I gave her your name and info…

      Ok…let’s turn things upside down and look at it from the BFF’s point of view, because it’s pretty much the same as your fan’s. The full plate syndrome still applies here so that BFF may just never get around to showing up.

      Then there’s the totally confused state of figuring out whether she (the BFF) really will like your stuff, and she doesn’t have a chance of finding out, because her friend (your fan) didn’t have anything to give her to help her find you.  Your fan had no cards, no brochure, nothing to help remember you and she wasn’t asked for her info either…so her BFF is left to hope she’ll run across you sometime somewhere and we know how likely that is….right?

      Finally there’s the same scary part of what you might do if she decides to hunt you down and actually buy something. She really only wants to buy one thing right now if at all until she sees if you are going to stalk her like that car sales person did…you  never know! So what to do????? When in doubt don’t panic just….

      3. Go back to your W&W

      319_ask_show071208-copyNeedless to say, if you have done all the work needed in the earlier levels you’d be sitting pretty good right now. You’ll have a really good picture in your mind as to who that perfect raving fan is and what makes them tick. You’ll also know what you have that can not only make their lives better and easier but you’ll also have a really, really good idea as to what it is about your stuff that can help them live happy as clams.

      If you haven’t done this or only done it partly, spend some time here its important and it will help keep you from changing your address to a card board box…yes its that important!!

      4. Keep fillin’ the holes

      Well…sorta. Not all of your raving fans are going to be interested in raving about you for the reasons  mentioned above and many more. The good news is, those who do hang on, are doing so because they really, really like you and your stuff so much they want to be your missionaries. Oh…there is a catch, some of those wanna be missionaries may not have ever bought anything from you, they may have seen it, or heard about it from one of their friends and they just knew and your challenge is to find them!!!

      After everything shakes out you’ll have a bunch of tightly knit raving fans who own and know how your stuff makes their lives run oh so smoothly. But they aren’t enough… you’ll need to go back and take a look at that group of folks you think might go nuts over your stuff (your target market) and look again at where theyhang out and who they hang out with, along with what they do and the problems they might have. Then, you need to start letting these folks know you’ve got stuff that will make their lives better than they ever imagined…you need to keep filling the holes so you can make up for those folks who luv your stuff but may only buy something once a decade.

      6. Focus and sharpen

      Remember earlier, when we talked about confusion and uncertainty and systems and processes that weren’t exactly clear? Well now is when you get to make the necessary adjustments, so those folks you’ve been losing stop falling through the cracks. Again, if you have really dialed in your Who and What, this stage will be a lot easier, because you freed “what’s her name” to tell her BFF all about you without worrying about you being a jerk or forgetting who exactly you were and what exactly you did that she luved so much. See, “what’s her name” knows how you work, and she knew all along the way what the next step was, that is after all why she is now your missionary. She also is on your list and gets regular e-mails, which seem like you are talking directly to her. She also has the cool card you gave her, that had all your info on it and purty pitchure of your stuff.

      Wait a minute, remember,  you’ll need to keep developing new fans if you want to keep making your stuff. So you need to make sure that the path you took “what’s her name” along is out there for all those other potential fans to see. So go ahead and describe it on your web site, put it on a brochure, turn it into a tag line and put it on you biz card, and talk to the folks hovering over your work, about it. Also, as you are bring folks along keep them informed as to what to expect. Focusing should include:

      • Describing how you work with customers,
      • How they can find you
      • The steps they will experience along the way to buying your stuff.

      Now, its not necessary to give everyone a step by step, blow by blow description of what and how they just want to know you won’t be a jerk.

      7. Make it easypeasy

      If you want to keep making your stuff and not have to move into your parent’s  basement, your potential fans need to know how important it is to you that they tell their neighbors, friends, and family just how great your stuff is. And they have to know HOW to tell them to. There are a couple of very important things to keep in mind when doing this:

      • Don’t spring it on them 2 years after they bought something and well before you learned all this important stuff. They just might not like that… since you never mentioned it before.
      • Set up a good and easy system to help them help you. Think of it as a guide to helping them see through your eyes, so they can very easily recognize your perfect buyers. Make this “guide” reflect you, so if you’re really creative dream up a format that they will really enjoy and maybe give to folks they think would like your stuff. Above all…don’t be dull and boring! Include the guide in your newsletter, put it on your web site, include it with all your sales, most importantly make it easy to use and make your perfect buyer profile really, really, really clear. Eliminate all the worry and confusion that would be there without it.

      129_ask_show071208-copy8. Knock their socks off

      Most people have learned to have very low expectations of most businesses since the ’50s, when everything was made smooth and efficient and impersonal. And most businesses live up to those expectations. So besides all the other stuff suggested one of the best and easiest ways to get raving fans is to impress the $#@* out of them with your thoughtfulness. We’re not talking about giving the farm away here, just the little things that show you appreciate them. So you can knock their socks off by:

      • Sending them a hand written thank you card
      • Remembering their birthday ( you’ll obviously have to ask them first);
      • Featuring them in one of your newsletter or blog posts;
      • Holding their hand as you guide them along the path to buying your stuff;
      • Remembering that they are there and they want to know you care about them, keep up with you;


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      ArtWorks Featured

      “Peoplewatch” your way to your perfect buyer


      So the show season is almost in full swing and you are beginning to shlep your stuff hither and yon to all corners of this country. If you are a gallery shower you might be shlepping or you may just be busy cold calling local galleries. Either way now is the time to start thinking about some very important stuff…like where is this artsyfartsy biz of yours going and how can you not starve.


      Now is the perfect time to start paying attention to those mysterious folks who buy that stuff you make. While you are on the road start to look closely at who these people really are? We call that, getting to know your target market, demographic or audience, but for now we’ll just refer to them as those nice people who buy your stuff and keep you from starving.

      So what has to happen to get the ball rolling so we don’t end up in a card board home? Well, those nice folks

      • Have to find us
      • They have to like us
      • They have to have some dough to hand to us

      Getting to know them…

      But that’s just the beginning… so get up and talk to some of those folks milling around your stuff. Treat’em like long lost friends especially the ones who have some of your stuff in there hands. Talk to them about their day, their lives, their families, where they live. When they are gone write some notes about them… what do they have in common.

      • Are they moms or grannies?
      • Are they mostly looking for gifts?
      • Are they young couples looking for handmade wedding gifts

      This is the best excuse to people watch! My favorite way to do this is to try to guess people’s stories and try to figure how that story helps them decide what they buy, or where they go etc. When I was doing the art fair circuit I often myself doing this when someone entered my booth. An important key to this working is to pay attention to your intuition, most of us can feel the energy from people and can often Know if we have something in common. So…

      • What is that lady with the sun hat and water bottle slung across her neck likely to buy or not?
      • What’s up with that mom all tangled up in kids … is she looking to pamper herself?
      • Do you think that bored guy with his wife is going to buy anything that doesn’t have horsepower as a key feature?Or is he secretly looking for her birthday present?

      What’s their story?

      Now, after you have spent the second day observing and taking copious notes try to summarize what you have learned, are there any trends?

      • Where do the people live, in the city, the country or…?
      • What do they tend to do for a living and how much green do they bring in?
      • Are they parents with young kids?
      • Are they childless couples?

      These are the things you need to know to get a feel for who your ideal customer might be. Knowing this helps you know what is important to them, how they think, and what they might need of yours so you can spend your time in your studio focused on making the stuff that they are most likely to buy. And having stuff that the right people can’t resist will be one step closer to not starving.

      Finally, once you have a good collection of characteristics, peronality, values etc. give this collection an form…name her. After you have named her then write a story about her, what does her life look like, what does she do with her time, what does she think, who are her friends, where does she hang out? Giving her form helps you visualize her so you can easily see her when she walks into your booth, gallery or shows up on your web site.


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