A Surprising Conclusion

If everything has a beginning, middle part and an end, why should a blog be an exception and run forever? Recently, I’ve been actually living by my being fearless paradigm. I’ve worked through quite some things throughout the recent blog entries,tackled some new challenges as an artist and generally faced life. And I cannot blame one specific issue, encounter or blog entry for it, but I have become a different person. I spend my day talking with a lot of people now, without fear and with a lot of outcomes. Suddenly, there is a lot of blessings to count but little to no time to do so. I need to act, I need to do more and I have the drive for it. And the time has come to leave this blog behind. My future actions shall document what I do. That’s it and that has been the secret all along. Love what you do, always have fun, but put in all the work to become excellent at what you are doing. If you excuse me now, I have to draw a lot to get there.

The Audience Does Not Exist

Connecting with one’s audience is an issue for every creative. I’m not claiming I just solved this issue for everyone and in all cases ever. But I think I just found something that works for me.

In the last blog entry I deducted that the audience does not exist. Does this mean, my audience is the void? There is nobody? Not in the slightest! I was just caught up imagining „the audience“ I have in mind when doing my work as an abstract, shapeless entity, an unnamed number of people who somehow have the same tastes and needs. That doesn’t make much sense. You can have two people in a room and they couldn’t agree on anything. Maybe I’m still influenced by the book „The world beyond your head“ by Matthew B. Crawford who makes a similar point with „the public“. That one doesn’t exist either, only imaginings of it and wild tries to conform.

Now what do we do with this bit of knowledge? Oh, it opens a lot of doors! So if your abstract dream audience isn’t there yet and likely will not materialize with a vacuum plop sound you have your head free for more important matters. You have people in your life already, real, actual people. Some of them might even take an interest in your work already. If you cater to them, you can only win. You make them happy and get feedback that you have accomplished something and you have an infinitely higher chance that other people might find these works interesting, too, as they come from a place with and aimed at actual people. If you start at literally zero with not a single soul paying attention to your creations you can always find an offline or online community or several of which you can be part of. And every community has characteristics and tastes and needs, problems a creative can solve. Or you can start out by catering to yourself. Be human. No matter what happens, you have to live with your creations closer and longer than anyone else so you better love what you are doing.

I’m going back to an early square of the playing field, but not completely zero. And I’m more excited than ever to create and to get to know the real people around me better. I guess if you get popular (and I never was popular in my life) you are just known by more people than you can actively interact with even if you wanted to. That is it. No abstract audience entity. No numbers crunching. So all is well, nothing is wrong with you for not having „an audience“ yet.

Creating a marketable body of work (part 5)

Notes on a talk by fine artists and art coaches Meagan and Michael Blessing, interviewed by art director Grant Roberts, 15.01. 2022 on the Art Work House Discord

Their socials:

https://www.meaganabrablessing.com/

https://www.michaelblessingart.com/

https://www.artstation.com/grantroberts

Disclaimer:

These notes are filtered through my perspective and interpretation, what I personally took away as a listener. I do not claim to cover the complete talk. Also, my views are not necessarily the views of the speakers.

(continuation from part 5)

Pricing

Most artists struggle with their cashflow. It is not a sign of failure, it’s just in the nature of being a self-employed artist. It can be unpredictable when the next sales and money are coming in. You can mitigate that by keeping track of your sales, trying to see any patterns of what is clearly working out and what isn’t and what art pieces of yours get the most attention. Aim to have an opportunity to sell at least once a month. Even if you don’t make a lot, your brain might appreciate the illusion of consistency.

For most artists, the following model of pricing or a variation of it works very well:

The wholesale price results from:

  • overhead costs – fixed costs you always have such as renting a studio, electricity, etc.
  • your labor and materials – your time is money and your raw materials need to be covered too, oftentimes also tied to the canvas size of work you are creating
  • profit – you need to make a profit, even if it just is a thin one. Just breaking even on your costs is not a success and does not justify going through all of this. So decide how much profit you want to make or can ask for and actually ask for it.
  • take the sum of 1,2 and 3 and then double it.

Why?

For once, you will pay taxes, if applicable pay business partners and agents, pay for advertising, save up for bad days and need some breathing room in case you have some unexpected additional expenses or have to wait for the next money for a while. So the question is why you haven’t doubled your prices so far.

Get paid while still being unknown

The immediate counter to this is that most people will not want to pay a lot of money for your art, especially if they don’t know you. While this is true, you will still run into some collectors who will want to pay and see you thrive. And for everyone else who isn’t ready for a big commitment yet, have entry level low priced things they can buy and collect from you, for example an coffee cup with a print of a piece of yours. Let your creativity run wild what you can offer here.

Stay consistent

With pricing it’s like with the rest – whatever you do, stay consistent. If you offer your services on several platforms, make sure your prices match. If you have a gallery or other form of representation, do not undercut your business partners by making deals behind their back saving the customer the part of the price that would go to the representative. Eventually, your business partners will find out and drop you. And a word about discounts – You are absolutely free to give discounts, but remember that someone who was given a discount once will want more discounts in the future. Give discounts with care and consideration and remember that you still have to make a profit with your business.

Seven income sources

Aim for seven income sources. This number is just a rule of thumb, but shows you that there’s a lot of things one single artist can do and that there’s a lot of ways to make money as an artist in general. Examples: selling originals, selling prints, designing and selling t-shirts, tabling at conventions, taking part in exhibitions, teaching, selling books, selling artbooks, making and selling comics, commissions, freelance work, selling game assets, stream on Twitch, make Youtube art videos and the list goes on.

Creating a marketable body of work (part 4)

Notes on a talk by fine artists and art coaches Meagan and Michael Blessing, interviewed by art director Grant Roberts, 15.01. 2022 on the Art Work House Discord

Their socials:

https://www.meaganabrablessing.com/

https://www.michaelblessingart.com/

https://www.artstation.com/grantroberts

Disclaimer:

These notes are filtered through my perspective and interpretation, what I personally took away as a listener. I do not claim to cover the complete talk. Also, my views are not necessarily the views of the speakers.

(continuation of part 3)

Square Five

You have the permission to be as niche as you can, doing what you love and are strongest in. There is a market for everything, sometimes your market just needs a while to find you. If you are really as weird and outlandish as you think you are people should have no trouble remembering you.

Keeping an audience

By this point, you most likely have a fanbase to cater to. Do not just leave older collectors and fans behind when you switch styles or subjects. You are absolutely allowed to grow and change, but don’t just cut people off. Try to find connections between the new and the old in your work, bring your contradicting interests together even and integrate them into what you are already known for. This way you can keep your work fresh and interesting, while still being consistent. For some artists splitting up into two pen names can be necessary but it should rather be the exception. Most people are strongest when they can focus on one thing.

(to be continued in part 5)

Creating a marketable body of work (part 3)

Notes on a talk by fine artists and art coaches Meagan and Michael Blessing, interviewed by art director Grant Roberts, 15.01. 2022 on the Art Work House Discord

Their socials:

https://www.meaganabrablessing.com/

https://www.michaelblessingart.com/

https://www.artstation.com/grantroberts

Disclaimer:

These notes are filtered through my perspective and interpretation, what I personally took away as a listener. I do not claim to cover the complete talk. Also, my views are not necessarily the views of the speakers.

(continuation of part 2)

Square Four

You are your art. Questions about being authentic and convenient personas come up.

So, finally, you curate your pieces towards the story you want to share about yourself and why you are doing what you are doing.

A strong and fun to follow story has the power to completely outshine your actual craftsmanship and quality of your art. Make of this what you will.

How do you discover your story? Remember, it is there already, but maybe you haven’t looked at it in a way that you can put in words before. Some questions to get started: Why am I doing this? Where am I from? What shaped me? How do people see my art? What in my art reminds people of me?

Building an audience

Whatever you do, be consistent.

If you can only post once a week on social media, then you can only post once a week on social media, but do it. And mind the language and tags the culture(s) and communities you’re in are using.

Taking breaks is natural though, too, so if you do it, don’t apologize upon your return. Most likely, people will not even notice you were away in the first place.

It also becomes interesting to keep an audience engaged at this point. Note that people must see your art at least seven times before they actually start paying attention. That is a lot of repetition, so you absolutely are allowed to recycle and repeat your older content on social media to get those repetitions in. Also, not everyone sees every new piece of art the first time you posted it, so that is another use to it!

And remember the power of your personal story. Make it easy to learn about your story and fun and engaging to follow it. Your personal artist statement can help with that. Have a long version, but also a really short one of about 25 words for someone who has no time, but a spark of interest.

(to be continued in part 4)