Important Internet Strategies for Marketing Your Artwork

This post about marketing your artwork is from one of two seminars I attended at the Oil Painters of America National Juried Exhibition. In my previous post I wrote about some  great oil painting tips from a couple of well known painters and teachers. This second article in a three part series will deal with the business side of things from an internet point of view…

"Roadside Royalty" Craig Shillam Oil on canvas 16" x 20"

Marketing Your Artwork

The first seminar I attended regarding market your artwork was by Kevin Warr, CEO of a company called Masterpiece Solutions. I believe Kevin said he has owned Masterpiece solutions for 15 years, and that his software is used by 1200 galleries, and by 40,000 artists. That gets my attention right away. Impressive. Now, I had never met Kevin or heard of Masterpiece Solutions before, and I know he is promoting his company, but that many artists and galleries…somethin’s up. 

Kevin Warr made some really good points about marketing your artwork, and really seems like he knows what he is talking about. He had a five point checklist to start everything off:

  1. Automate Your Life (Inventory, Contacts, What Else?)
  2. Less is more (1 Great vs. Many OK…places to find and sell your work)
  3. Internet – Internet – Internet (Your website, Social Media, Listing and Selling Online)
  4. Hope is NOT a strategy (Learn, Implement, Learn Again)
  5. Financial Discipline

“Every time you produce a piece of Art, you need to know where it’s going and how it’s going to get there.” Warr stated. He also said that artists need to manage the big five in an integrated fashion. (Inventory, Contacts, Sales, Internet Presence, Email).

“The advantages of a single solution is that you only have to learn one tool, everything you do is integrated. This saves money and saves time.”

Marketing your Artwork –  15 Billion dollars of Art sold online in 2010

Kevin Warr – “Art is not different than other products. The same buying process is happening when buying art or an ipod. The Internet is the fastest growing segment of the art industry. China is number 1. Through Masterpiece Online there is about $452,000 art sold monthly, at an average sale of about $800.”  

 More Marketing your Artwork 

 At about this point in the presentation, Warr introduced a woman who owns the M Gallery of Fine Art in gallery in Charleston SC.  I didn’t catch her name, but her story was interesting. Her gallery was in Florida and doing well until the recession hit. As I understand it, she decided to move her gallery to Charleston after business dropped next to nothing in Florida. She started fresh, rebuilt her business in a relatively short time frame, and now does a lot of business over the Internet, with the help of Masterpiece Solutions Software.

She stated that she has over 1000 visitors to her blog every month, has about 9000 outbound emails per month, and when those emails go out to clients with new art for sale, she will get a huge amount of page views in the first few hours after that. About 85% of  her sales are repeat customers. She uses Facebook many different ways. Just one example is to post new work and shows, and have links back to the gallery. She also mentioned that if your’e marketing your artwork, blogging is critical.

In wrapping up this seminar, Mr. Warr made a couple of final points:

  1. Database information is by far the best, because your intuition is almost always wrong.
  2. If you don’t know the embedded cost in a piece of art, you will go out of business.

If you want more information on Masterpiece Solutions, go here.

Marketing Your Artwork

This is not a service that I have used personally, yet. Most of us would agree that having an Internet presence is very important. I have been fortunate to have sold both original paintings and prints from my website, with no real strategy in place. I have always felt that marketing your artwork is more than throwing up a website and praying for results, and the idea of the website being a part of one’s marketing and not the whole plan makes a lot of sense.

Here’s what I think you should take away from this article on marketing your artwork:

  • Art being bought and sold on the Internet is not only happening, it’s growing.
  • It’s up to each artist to position themselves as best they can on the Internet to take advantage of this.
  • For most artists, just throwing up a website is not enough. Facebook integration, email marketing, blogging, in addition to what you are already doing is where it’s at to increase your sales on the Internet. 
  • While marketing your artwork does take time away from creating art, only the very few can get by without at least doing some of the above.
  • People who buy art shop and compare on the internet very similar to the way they might buy any other product.  
  • You need to know the actual cost (materials, time, overhead, etc.) of the art you create as part of your overall business health.
  •  Hope is NOT a strategy.

Parting Shot -In my next post, I will present more ideas from a three person panel, with more marketing thoughts that I hope you can use to your advantage. If all this stuff is too much, just take one idea or task that interests you and work on implementing that particular task. Make a plan for your art business. Remember, the Interent is changing and evolving every day, and artists need to be aware of what is going on just as much as anybody else. Marketing your artwork takes some time and effort, but what’s the alternative?   

 

Comments

  1. This information was extremely enlightening as an emerging artist.

  2. Thanks for this post, Craig. I’ve just had my website up and running for a few months now and your suggestions are re-assuring!

  3. Bill Timoney says:

    Can’t argue with most of this generic marketing advice, but Kevin Warr is a newcomer to the art world — he had no art business experience when he bought Masterpiece Solutions as a mature but struggling 12-year-old company three years ago.

    • Thanks for the comment Bill…While he may be a newcomer, he brought a strong testimonial with him, in the owner of the gallery in Charelston, S.C. He provided several examples of artists that are selling with his product, and he deserved to be heard. All the Best….CS

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    Important Internet Strategies for Marketing Your Artwork