The Artist Directory and New Art Sale Opportunities

THE ARTISTS DIRECTORY
 
 In my last post I wrote about how artists should engage more with their Facebook business pages. Pages are a great opportunity often missed and a little ignored on Facebook, yet so many artists have them set up.

the artist directory on Facebook now Live 

 
Many of us are guilty of ignoring the business page preferring to post on our personal timelines instead, but we are missing out on the biggest opportunity which is the ‘shop now’ button which can be added to a Facebook business page.
 
The problem for many, and I include me in this, is that the organic reach doesn’t really draw in the numbers we would hope for. Very often even popular artists will be lucky if more than a dozen or so people see the post, and even when they have hundreds of followers.
 
Organic reach is the total number of people who will see the page appear in their own timelines without the artist having to pay for advertising. Sure we would all love to run a huge advertising campaign that would showcase our art and get it out in front of millions of Facebook users, but without many sales, advertising budgets for artists isn’t a choice.
 
If artists work collaboratively together and supporting each other by sharing each other’s business pages, the organic reach will increase. The more likes, shares, and comments a post gets, the more significant it appears to the Facebook algorithm.
 
As soon as I posted my last blog I started to get messages from all over the world following up on my suggestion that we set up a group specifically for the sharing of our artist business pages, and so I immediately set up the new group!
 
The Artists Directory can be found here!
 
Any visual artist with a Facebook business page can join the group and share their business page. Other artists in the group will like your page which builds up your likes and therefore your organic reach, and in turn you do the same for them.
 
This has many benefits to artists. Firstly you will have something related to the arts to share on your business page, letting people know that it’s not all about you and that you also support other artists too, and secondly it becomes a really useful directory of artists business pages for art buyers and collectors.
 
Given that both of my other groups grew considerably in their first year and now have around 8000 members between them, I am hoping that the Artists Directory springboards into a successful group too and becomes a relevant source of information for art lovers.
 
Once we have some more members I will be adding another new page to this site listing the Facebook pages of other artists and creating an online directory. Hopefully that will help to generate some visits to artists who are producing some exceptional work and who yet for the most part remain undiscovered on Facebook, a social-media platform which by the fourth quarter of 2016 had 1.86 billion monthly active users!  That is a huge market for artists and especially those who like me are independent.
 
As a community, it is important to support local artists because, without that support, the art they make would cease to make the impact it could make. Art brings together people from all walks of life and by supporting local and independent artists you are also supporting the production of new art which can be admired in the local community and around the world.

I have written about the benefits of supporting local and independent artists many times and it is a cause I am passionate about.
 
There are so many benefits, many of which have been deeply researched and documented. The arts support the improvement of academic performance regardless of socio-economic status, they strengthen the economy, drive tourism, and provide export opportunities for countries. There is also strong research which indicates that the arts not only have a huge social impact, but that the arts support and improve healthcare.
 
WHY FACEBOOK PAGES
 
Much has been said about Facebook Pages for businesses with some predicting a decline in reach for business owners. But whilst the algorithms might mean a decline it is vital for any small business to have a presence on social media.
 
One of the biggest challenges for local and independent artists is to not only keep up with consumers but to remain ahead of the game. Customers demand more from business and brands than they ever did before the dawn of the internet.
 
Art buyers like to connect with artists and it is vital that artists communicate. With so many opportunities to buy art from box stores and chains, local and independent artists can easily sink under the radar of potential new buyers and those buyers will miss out on some exceptional art.

Artists need to connect with the digital generation and Facebook with its many users is a fantastic way to build up online and offline relationships.
 
Many local and independent artists really do struggle to get their work seen, and until it is seen, the art they are producing goes unrecognised. Yet much of the art created by these particular artists is beyond exceptional and wouldn’t look out of place in high-end galleries around the world.
 
Facebook itself is still the most popular social-networking site and continues to drive the largest share if social-media referral traffic and offers a unique opportunity for businesses who master the art of engaging content.
 
ART IN SPRING

artist opportunities in Spring 
Spring is a great time to start looking at new markets for your artwork. There are lots of opportunities around at this time of year. Art fairs start becoming more frequent, the weather warms up enough that people actually start wanting to go outside, and we start to see colour appearing in the garden.
 
Spring is the time of year when there are lots of public holidays all close together and already I have seen adverts from the home improvement stores reminding me that all of those home improvement jobs halted by winter need to be completed. Best of all many of the home improvement stores are about to run spring offers giving discounts on everything you might need to give your home a fresh coat of paint.
 
People take time off during spring break and Easter and many of those people will be refreshing and improving their homes and whenever they do this, it is also an opportunity for them to acquire some new art. Freshly decorated spaces are often crying out for quality artwork to be hung on them.
 
As the days start to get longer and brighter and the garden starts to flourish, people start thinking ahead to long summer evenings, and getting those home improvements done before summer so that they can enjoy their time off and homes in the warmer months.
 
People start planning ahead in the spring and it is one of the most popular times when they start to look for new homes and especially families where they want to move in and get settled before school starts up after the long summer holidays.
 
So this week I am going to give you a few ideas around finding and making the best of the new markets and opportunities which are not always obvious.
 
WALLS NOT JUST HOMES
 
Whilst your art deserves to have a home, it is a wall within the home that is important. This is why it is important to sell your work in a range of sizes, both small and large and everything in between.
 
Some people love to hang oversize prints in their main living areas but they also like smaller pieces either on gallery walls or just dotted around the house.  Decorating is expensive, when I purchased some paint last week I couldn’t believe just how much it all cost when I got to the checkout, so we should factor in home improvement budgets at this time of year too.
 
Making artwork which is affordable is a great way to make sure that you have a wider customer base, some of those people might then go on to investing in your larger pieces down the line. By selling smaller works as well as your usual larger pieces you are widening the market.
 
THE NEW BUILD
 
Whilst walls are important, the market you really need to look at is the new homes market. This is why I love hearing the news about new housing developments. Think of all of those brand new clean walls that are just crying out to have some work hung on them.
 
The new homes market provides you with so many walls! If we look at an average two-bedroom home, it could have around twenty walls including the internal walls. Many developers create show homes each of which will generate foot traffic. So why not consider asking the developers if they would like to display some of the art you have created and not yet sold. You should also leave details about where people can contact you or buy your work from, or offer the developer a small commission on every piece sold.
 
Some developers sign up to developer programs offered through print on demand companies such as Fine Art America, and whilst you will earn slightly less commission through these developer programs, it is worth signing up to them. With the housing market particularly in larger urban areas seeing a sudden boom in development it is a market that could prove fruitful in the spring.
 
Particular styles that people enjoy when looking at new homes are abstracts, geometric designs, colourful pieces that look great when set against the neutral tones, and modern contemporary pieces.
 
Imagine suddenly having a gallery type presence on every new housing estate, and if the developer sees that people are interested in your work, chances are that they will come back to you on their next development if your work is adding some additional interest to their homes.
 
CONSIDER OTHER PRODUCTS
 
Many artists only sell originals and this is fine if you only want to do that, but if you sell prints and you are only selling on canvas or other mediums then you might want to consider making your art available on a wider range of non-traditional products too.

I sell a number of my artworks as prints on Tee-Shirts and clothing and home decor items such as cushions, towels, and duvet covers. If people can see the link between your art and the work they are doing either moving into a new home or refreshing their current homes, again it can widen your market opportunities.
 
Home developers are always on the lookout for art that creates an attractive feature in their show homes. Get in touch with local property developers before they start work on new residential areas and you might just be surprised at the possibilities available for displaying and hopefully selling your art.
 
OTHER MARKETS
 
artist opportunities to make sales 
There are other markets too which have proven to be a good source of income in between major art sales for me at this time of year.
 
I was asked if I would like to create a design for a corporate event back in January of this year. The ask was simple, create a design which would identify the corporate event with details of the date and location.
 
Once I had submitted the design I was asked if there was any way of getting T-Shirts printed with the main part of the logo embroidered on to each of the shirts. Having a few contacts in this area helped and this small piece of work led to an order for 100 t-shirts with the design on.
 
It doesn’t seem like an awful lot of work but from that work I managed to get another two orders to do the same thing for corporate events and to also create a new company logo which is one of the staples of the work I do outside of my day job. All from diversifying a little!
 
Another market I picked up on a few years ago was producing bespoke items. Wedding fairs are popular in the winter but Valentine’s Day back in February always sees a few marriage proposals taking place. This leads to another market and one that is especially suited to selling wedding invitations.
 
Wedding invitations and favours are popular at bridal and wedding events, so if you have a range of these available through print on demand you can actually take orders on the day. If you are a portrait painter, then take a few portraits along too and you might become a commissioned artist for a newly married couple.
 
You can easily offer the invitations directly rather than going through print on demand. I work with a local printing company occasionally but have invested in an embossing tool and Circuit die cutting machine which produces some excellent results and can be used for lots of other art projects too.
 
Whilst you are at the wedding or bridal fair, consider that many brides want a hen night and might want a quality alternative to cheaply designed and printed Tee-Shirts that the bride (or groom) can wear on a night out with their friends prior to the wedding. Whilst these are not necessarily huge revenue streams, they certainly fund trips to the art store in between producing major works.
 
Crufts is the annual Dog show in the UK and is watched by millions of dog lovers around the world. These events often have exhibitor space and these are the spaces where you can target an audience who are not only having an enjoyable day out, but who also want souvenirs of their own pets. If you produce work depicting many breeds of dogs and cats you will be able to focus your love of creating pet and animal artwork and put in in front of a targeted audience.
 
Phone cases, home wares including cushions and tote bags always seem to do well, and if you take a few original works along too, you might also get a few people signing up for commissions of their pets.
 
The exhibition space itself is also a prime opportunity to display art without being an exhibitor. I love exhibition centres, the problem is that for the most part the only art on the walls is advertising space.
 
There are a few exceptions, usually near to the food and beverage areas where art serves the environment better than an advert. So why not approach an exhibition centre and ask if they have any areas where they would like art to be displayed, and offer them a few pieces. A great exhibition can see tremendous footfall for the entirety of the event.
 
As many people travel to these events and stay overnight they will often seek out local accommodation to stay over in. I have previously had some success at selling my work to hotels. I would offer a piece or two to display in the hotel lobby and in some cases the hotelier has taken more of the works to display in each of the rooms.
 
Semi-abstract and abstract works tend to do well, but local hotels may prefer local scenes. In some cases they might even sell the artwork at the front-desk or in one of the small shops that are often within the largest hotels. Independent hotels work much better for this because the owner can more often than not make an immediate decision.
 
With coffee shops, exhibition centres and hotels, it is important that you make sure the work is displayed prominently, and that it is for actually for sale is not hidden. Some hoteliers, retailers, will give you promises of free exposure, but make sure that you are not taken advantage of. You most certainly need a return on your outlay.
 
Make sure you have a simple contract in place which outlines how and where the art is displayed, for how long, and how sales will be processed and any fees payable in commission. It needn’t be overly complex and there are a few online templates available across the internet. If you are unsure, get someone qualified in contract law to go through it and make sure it will hold up if ever needed.
 
The Doctors waiting room is another missed opportunity. I have spent too many hours waiting to see a doctor recently what with my frozen shoulder, Crohn’s and kidney stones, and no matter which hospital I have had the misfortune to visit, or which doctors or dental surgery, their waiting areas are bland.
 
This my friends is a space which holds a captive audience. Offer a few small pieces for them to hang on condition that you can supply business cards for people to pick up. Set a length of time to keep the art in the same place, before moving it on to the next waiting area. You could even offer a small commission to go towards buying new equipment for the hospital.
 
Showing your work in a café, exhibition space, or a hotel is not going to ruin your career and neither is showing at any of the events outlined above. It is essential that you get your name (because you are your brand) out there, and that means everywhere. Think of these spaces as alternatives to art galleries.
 
Be bold and experiment with new markets because relying on one market puts you in to competition with millions of other artists all vying for attention and sales. But find a community who become inspired by you and your art, and one that not many other artists have joined, or are even aware of, will pay dividends if the people like your work. Your name will become the first thing people remember when they want a piece of art.
 
You might want to also consider getting together with other artists and hiring a space for a pop-up event. Local town councils might even be able to offer you a great deal on empty shop space for a limited time. They would much rather a shop be open in a town or city-centre than have it empty for months putting off potential future customers and businesses.
 
So hopefully you will have become a little more inspired to seek out alternative selling opportunities. It can be hard work and you’ll need to get used to hearing no a lot, but if you don’t ask then you just won’t know and you will regret not making the connections at least.
 
LET PEOPLE KNOW
 
Perhaps one of the biggest things I failed to do in the past was to let colleagues know that I create art. Once I did l started to engage in conversations and discovered that some of my colleagues were just as guilty of not letting work colleagues know what they did outside of the day job.
 
Since people have found out I have received commissions for everything from family portraits to logo designs, wedding invitations, greetings cards, and I discovered that other colleagues were quietly creating art too, and two of them had written best-selling books!
 
Initially I expected that colleagues would want free art but this isn’t the case. I was paid for each of the commissions I did last year, and when I was asked to put a quotation together for the logo, I still got the work. I offer a small discount occasionally, but this was an excellent opportunity to discover more about my colleagues and to keep at least a little income flowing in between major art sales.
 
Because I don’t have the same overhead as the big design houses I can keep my work competitive and still manage to stay busy. For too long I had been bumbling about in between sales, but doing what I love most and doing it a little differently has certainly helped in those slower months.
 
So make sure that you join the artist’s directory and let’s see if we can generate as much interest in these groups as there has been in the Artist Hangout and the Artists Exchange. I hope that it will provide a useful resource and will also gain you more followers for your Facebook business/fan page.
 
I am considering another new group which will focus purely on connecting artists to art buyers and those looking for artists to work on commissions. I will have more details soon.
 
My idea around setting up a ‘print on demand’ service especially for artists and photographers is still very much in the works, and I have been having various meetings with organisations and companies who are very keen on the idea of a service which links artists, printers, and photographers to the hospitality industry. I will be giving out more details as soon as I can formalise the arrangements but it looks especially promising and importantly puts the artist front and centre.  
 
ABOUT M.A
 
Mark A. Taylor is a UK based artist who specialises in digital art but who also uses traditional mediums too. His work is sold in more than 150 retail locations across the USA and Canada, and online here
 
You can follow Mark on Facebook here  He is the man your librarian warned you against, and carries out scientific research with a sample size of one. If you want to read a couple of useless tweets, please follow @beechhouseart on Twitter. 


 

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