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Art Marketing: When Selling Art Predictable Is Popular

Updated on November 26, 2014

The Importance Of Voice and How To Deal With Marketing Multiple Styles In A World That Prefers You Have Only One.

This lens is about the importance of finding your voice as an artist and how having that unique quality makes you more marketable. On the flip side of that. . . What if you are known for one thing and want to start marketing some of your art that is completely different. Then what do you do?

This lens was created to offer information garnered from a lifetime in the art business. As always I am not telling you what you should or shouldn't do. I am simply providing information for you to make more informed decisions regarding your art and the marketing of it.

copyright protected by copyscape
copyright protected by copyscape

All copyrights are retained by the artist,

Mona Majorowicz of Wild Faces Gallery.

The artwork or content in this lens may not be used or reproduced, either

in part or in whole, without the express written consent from the artist.

Finding Your Artistic Voice

Why It's Important To Be Yourself.

One of the great challenges any new artist can face is to find their own voice. What that means is to develop a style, subject matter and usually medium that allows the viewer to automatically know who the artist is just by viewing the art. Monet, Van Gogh and Remington have a unique voice. Or to be more contemporary Terry Redlin, Bev Doolittle or Thomas Kinkade.

You hear their names and most of you can picture their art in your minds eye. That is Voice.

Finding your own Voice (style) can be laborious. My best advice is paint (or sculpt, photograph etc.) what you know and love. Trying to create what's "IN" is impossible as it changes every few years. Also, buyers are a savvy group. They will know it if your hearts not in it. Generally this means trying all sorts of subjects and mediums until you hit on that Aha! moment. Once you find your joy, throw yourself into it and leave much of the rest behind you.

Deviant Behavior - Creating work outside of your "usual"

Big Bluff Painting
Big Bluff Painting

The Above Painting Big Bluff is one of my Oil Pastel Pieces that is completely out of my Niche.' Anyone who is familiar with my work would never have guessed this is mine, despite the technique being every bit the same as I do on my horse or wildlife art.

Though the painting hangs in my gallery you will not find it on my website or any of the other places I market my work.

Anyone casually looking over my website, gallery, blog or artfair booth, can pretty well conclude that I am a critter artist. I can be easily pigeon holed. This just sort of happened for me with little conscious thought on my part (as did creating my style.)

But if you look closer you can see that I really have two different subject matter (horses and exotic wildlife) and they are done in two distinct mediums (oil pastel and water soluble pencil) with distinctive styles (hyper-realism and expressionism.) Still they are close enough that they fit well together when mixed.

I do (however rarely) create art that is outside of this box. I have been known to do a flower or two, and on extremely rare occasion I may even do a fruit or vegetable. Whenever I am drawn to these types of subjects, it has more to do with colors or pattern than because I am feeling passionate about hot peppers. I allow myself to explore it, and then go back to what I love best.

Generally I don't show these at the art events I do. And I definitely don't include them in any application or jury process's. They are done for my enjoyment and I don't feel the need to promote them.

To Niche' or not to Niche'

Why Predictability is Popular

I personally think you should continue to create whatever gives you joy. But from a marketing standpoint the more predictable you are the better.

This benefits of predictability:

* Galleries & Publishers like it. *If you paint a specific genre' and it sells, they know that if you continue to paint the same stuff, it probably will also sell.

* Patrons like it. *They are buying your work because they like your medium, subject matter and/or style. They expect to see more of the same so they can add to their collections.

* Art Fairs & Juried Shows like it. *Their job is to provide a diversified event and if all you do is oil paintings of flowers it makes their job so much the easier.

It is generally a bad plan to show a great variety of work believing they will think you have range. As an artist range is a good thing, but unfortunately all to often the above listed groups will simply think you lack focus.

My story

Every time you change your subject matter, you will lose momentum. Several years back I "tried" oil pastels. I was so burned out on watercolor pencils I had no inclination to create anything. I needed something that was quick and fun.

Straight out of the box, oil pastels were a joy. I stared glassy eyed at all the pretty colors. I waxed poetic about them to my artist friends, (or anyone else who would listen.) I literally started one piece as soon as I had completed the last one. I needed this refreshing break from what I had been doing for the last decade. It invigorated me and kept the passion alive.

My subject matter stayed the same, but the technique changed with the medium. As a result I lost some of my patrons. Of course I gained new ones and a few didn't seem to care or notice the difference.

Most recently oil pastels had started to lose their allure so then I tried working on handmade paper as well as trying watercolor pencils on suede. Both of the opened up a whole new world of possibilities and creativity.

I guess what I'm saying is you need to balance your needs as a creative individual with that of your collector base.

1946 Chevy Light duty (a painting of my truck)
1946 Chevy Light duty (a painting of my truck)

So What To Do If You Are Multi-Faceted Or Simply Enjoying Artistic Experimentation?

A possible solution.

Shown here is another painting done outside my niche. This was an interpretation of our 1946 Chevy Light Duty truck. In this painting I truly embraced my inner illustrator.

So just because you are an artist with more than one skill set and desire to create in more than way one or style, does that means you have to choose one way exclusively? The answer is a resounding . . . No.

As previously mentioned while having range is a good thing as an artist, it is a less than a likable trait for collectors and patrons. How does one handle this dilemma?

The Solution . . . Market it differently than your current work

You can do this by:

Creating and marketing it under another name or alter ego.

Market it in new areas and/or galleries where your work is not previously known.

Market it in a different way than your previous work. For instance test market the new work on-line if you normally sell through galleries.

This strategy is particularly good when your just trying out something and want to test your market. Because it hasn't been introduced to your mainstream market it can succeed or fail without affecting the regular business.

About The Author of This Art Marketing Lens

Mona Majorowicz of Wild Faces Gallery

My name is Mona Majorowicz I am a professional artist who has been making my living selling my work for some time now. I am an animal artist, (meaning I paint critters) who works primarily in Oil Pastel or Water Soluble Pencil.

I own and operate Wild Faces Gallery with my husband Mike in a small rural town in Iowa. There we sell my original artwork and prints, as well as do quality custom framing and offer Giclee printing for other artists as well as for ourselves. I have over 20 years experience in the art and framing industry, both as a business owner and as a working artist.

I maintain a blog called Fur In The Paint, as well as write a regular column for the equestrian magazine Apples 'N Oats about painting horses.

Animals are my passion and art is how I chose to express it.

I would love to hear your thoughts - Art Marketing Guestbook

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    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

      It was interesting to read your insights into creative experimentation vs. what your customers have come to expect. Having a focus clearly matters in art marketing. Never leaving a niche would become stifling after a while, though, so at the end of the day like so much it comes down to balance. Thanks for sharing your considerable experience on this topic, Mona!

    • beckyf profile image

      beckyf 6 years ago

      Another excellent lens! I especially liked the discussion about finding our artistic voice. I learned some new things here.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      Gosh, my dear ... seriously! I have one sister who was a commercial artist and VP in an ad firm -- she left them many a year ago to pursue her freelancing art career. She is quite talented, but I can't get her to come-around to the power of the internet for marketing her art. What seriously to do-do? Merry Christmas! Best to you in the New Year.

    • gypsyman27 lm profile image

      gypsyman27 lm 7 years ago

      Great lens, very helpful to me, see you around the galaxy...

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 7 years ago from Iowa

      @WhiteOak50: Sp very true. I think the work you do that comes from the spirit is the work that connects best with people.

    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 7 years ago

      I love this lens! Being an Artist myself often it is hard to find your own voice. I have been an artist most of my life and have sold pieces here and there but it wasn't until a few years ago that I decided to take art to a different level. Than I got interested in photography and now it seems every fiber of my creativity feels fulfilled with that form of art. Although I still do other forms of art, when a picture calls for me to create it.

      Finding your voice is very important, I was made aware of that fact a couple of years ago from doing a telephone interview for a magazine. I stayed true to what I represent, but I also felt the interviewer stumbling a lot with my answers. Since I fully believe that art is a self expression of our deeper inner self, that is exactly how my answers reflected to her questions. Sorry for rambling, but bottom line is, you have to stay true to yourself when you are trying to find your own voice.

    • NateOwens profile image

      NateOwens 7 years ago

      I think I've spent too many years as an illustrator, and have learned to love not only a variety of subjects but also styles. Sometimes the diversity is good as I've done tech 3d illustration for some clients, realistic painting for others.

      My most popular and widely published work has been goofy cowboys, horses and country folk and critters on Leanin' Tree Cards since 1980.

      I suppose I could just do that, but I don't think galleries or many collectors have any sense of humor. I overheard a couple looking at one painting of cowboys playing poker in a barn with a horse kibitzing ("The Expert") - they said "It just sorta makes you feel good, doesn't it." Don't know how that translates into sales, but as cards they still work.

      My other favorite subject is Rockwellish paintings of boys, dogs, fishing flying kites, cats, etc. I suppose I'm a hopeless romantic with no business sense at all. I'm looking for a cure, but not sure I could handle it. If y'all want to look at this stuff I'm blabbering about drop by and take the tour.

      Thanks for your very sound advice.

    • LorrieM profile image

      LorrieM 7 years ago

      I'm so happy you came by my newest Squidoo Lens and commented. I've been wrestling with "style" as I know it's important. I'm very happy to have read this lens of yours. I'll now have a new thought to focus on and go forward. You have clearly told me how to proceed. I hope I can. Meanwhile, I've lensrolled this lens, joined your fan club! Your artwork is lovely, Mona! Best wishes to you! Lorrie Morrison

    • profile image

      editionh 7 years ago

      These are sound and genuine insights !

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 8 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Great marketing tips. You are right...your individual pieces are quite unique. Your chevy truck is amazing. I love the colors. I dabble in photography but nothing on a professional basis. Best Wishes with your Squidooing and artwork. :)

    • KarenTBTEN profile image

      KarenTBTEN 8 years ago

      I like how you mixed you own art samples with anecdotes and advice about marketing art.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 8 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Excellent advice for artists and art marketing and really interesting insights into your own artistic endeavors. My daughter and son-in-law are both artists and marketing is an area they do not excel in. Am sending this link to them.

      I agree with you about creating with what you 'know and love'. I'm a crochet crafter who loves to make cute 'critters' for kids, so I'm beginning to become known for my little plush animals. It helps the creative process - no matter what medium you work in - if you have a particular 'passion' for it. Well done.

    • LoKackl profile image

      LoKackl 8 years ago

      Good information from an experienced artist and marketer. Thanks.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 8 years ago from Iowa

      Thank you Linda! Very kind.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Sound and reliable advice as always. Having been a reader of your blog for some time now, I would definitely recommend your lenses to new readers.