With the deadline for the Marketing Grant for NSW coming up, and some recent discussions on other arts websites about the importance of marketing, i thought it would be a good time to talk about it.
"But you're the Communications Co-ordinator, it's your job to think about marketing"
Yes, you're right. I do take home a small amount of money to think about how to market this organisation. But I'm also an artist and I've been involved in artist-run-spaces and i have seen how artists with the ingenuity to market themselves well can create opportunities for themselves.
Promoting your artwork, practice, project or publication doesn't have to be a huge affair. The important thing is that when you do it, you affirm that your work is worthwhile promoting and you do it in a way that is authentic to who you want to attract to your work.
And having said all that, nothing will replace a good quality body of work as an excellent marketing tool. But having an eye for promotion is an excellent companion to great work.
If you don't feel comfortable marketing yourself, you can start off small. Perhaps get a business card printed with your name, email and phone number on it. That way, when you're talking to people at an opening or those who may be interested in your work, you can give them a card so they can contact you again when they realise that they HAVE to have one of your works.
Or perhaps you're not great at talking to people face-to-face, so you set up a website, that you have a link to at the bottom of all your emails (yes, even the emails to Great-Aunt Mabel who will probably buy your work long before anyone else does). You only have to spend a couple of hours a month making sure it's updated, that people are visiting it and that you have links in the right places (like on your NAVA artists' profile, the art life, flickr and maybe your myspace page, if you're into that kind of thing). Once you start seeing that people are looking at your work online, it will inspire you to keep making work and to have more people look at it.
Once marketing is working, it becomes addictive, trust me.
And say both of these simple ideas scare you. There are still a tonne of other ways in which you can promote, market, tell people about yourself. Or if you still can't cope with the marketing idea, think of it as audience development.
Making a point of speaking to the people you've invited to your opening is a form of promotion. Inviting the kinds of people you would like to see your work is a way to market yourself. And both of these develop your audience. It's easy!
And while having a solid audience for your work can pay off financially, it isn't the only reason why it's important for artists and the visual arts sector to consider. Having a wide audience contributes to the response and dynamic of your work, addresses your ideas to those outside your 3 friends and your Great-Aunt Mabel, and generates discussion between more areas of society. Communication.
See how great it can be?
If you've had some success in marketing your practice, boast about it to us, as we always appreciate feedback from the sector.
If you've had some disasters in marketing your practice and need some guidance, the publication Getting Art There: An Artist's Marketing Manual is available from NAVA.