Sunday, February 10, 2013

Successful? Depends on Your Definition

2 x 3 in. watercolor
Stephanie Allison
When I "retired" a month ago (has it really been that long?), the plan was to devote myself to developing and promoting my art business, because yes, art is my business.  For a long time I waffled between treating art as a hobby, along with gardening, writing, reading--well, you get the drift, and making a real go at it. That means marketing, promoting, developing contacts--as well as painting. When I talked with other artists, and read articles on the subject of running an art business, I scoffed at the idea that I would be spending at least 50% of my time on the marketing aspect of art. IF I want to succeed.

So that got me wondering what my definition of success as an artist really is.  Do I want to be famous?  Have my art hanging in high end museums, like MOMA and the Smithsonian?  Or will I be content to get a commission here and there and sell a few paintings now and then?  Well...I've been giving it a LOT of thought, and, for me, success is creating beautiful portraits that make people happy.  And sometimes their happiness means I make them cry.

I learned that over the holidays.  I had several portrait commissions--some portraying people, most depicting beloved pets.  And although the money was nice, what really mattered to me was capturing not just a likeness on the canvas, but getting the spirit and personality right, too.  So when I handed those commissions over to the clients, I gauged my success by their reaction. A big smile, a hug--and frequently tears.  Not that I wanted them to cry--but the fact that my work evoked such emotion validated what I'd hoped to accomplish.  Translation:  success.

Having said all that, don't get me wrong: I like making money too.  Which is why I've spent the last several days, make that weeks, scouring the Internet, checking out other artists' websites, Facebook pages, and blogs to see what they're doing to promote themselves. And it's a LOT of work.  So many tiny details to think of:  linking to your other pages, linking to other artists' pages, getting your blogs and sites noticed by all the big search engines.  My eyes blur and my head aches.  But I'm slogging through it.  So over the next couple of weeks, if anyone is actually reading this and visiting my Facebook page, you might see some changes.  And I'll probably screw things up too, since I'm not the most tech savvy person when it comes to all this. But it's worth a shot, and if it helps me get more clients, that's great, because it means I'll also get to know you and your loved ones--two and four-legged, and that's what really matters.

Meanwhile, if you're interested in learning more about promoting yourself as an artist, or want to learn more about the various things you can do with Facebook, here are a couple of links I found helpful:

ArtBizCoach: Lots of helpful information on running a successful art business from Alyson B.Stanfield.  I visit this site quite often.

Pagemodo. This site will help you create a new cover photo for your Facebook fan page.  It has a "free" option, which was sufficient for me, but if you want to go crazy, you can sign up for a paid account.  You can also create new tabs, but I had trouble with that--I may have to go back and take another look at that option.

So here's to success--however you define it!


No comments: