We find that many of the artists and photographers that we work with do not treat their career as a business. Applying business models to your strategies as a career artist or photographer can strengthen your image. Consider yourself as a brand because branding is key when selling products of any kind. If you are an artist or photographer that is already successful, and you have not considered yourself as a brand or reflected on yourself as a business, you may have room for improved success.
“You must have the very best digital image to have the best quality fine art prints, you must have the best image as a brand to be the most successful in business.”-Pat McMahon
Qualities of successful brands include but are not limited to being confident, memorable, reliable, authentic, and accountable. Now, how can we translate this to artists and photographers?
Be Confident: One of the most important factors that separates our most successful clients from our least successful clients and the most successful businesses from the least, is confidence. You must be confident in yourself and what you are selling. If you are confident it will naturally come through in your writing or when you discuss your work. Lack of confidence could hinder your success.
If you are an artist or photographer, then chances are what you find attractive others will find attractive as well. I say this with the assumption that the artist or photographer has some training to understand composition, tonality, and all the other factors that make attractive imagery. For a select few this just comes naturally and for most it comes with training. I learned early from my direct experience working with artists and photographers, that if the artist likes their own work others will too. Be confident in what you find attractive and it will draw others that have the same views.
Confidence building could come from entering juried shows and exhibitions or joining a local art/photography association where you can surround yourself with others doing what you do. Get out and practice talking about your work and your inspirations. Confidence takes practice for some and comes naturally for others.
Be Memorable: There are several ways to be memorable aside from your imagery. We all hope that our work is memorable on its own, but this may not always be enough. Because there are so many talented artists and photographers to compete with in the market you need to be more memorable than the last. Strengthening this aspect of your brand can help insure your future sales.
It is important to create a strong bio and artist’s statement to create a professional presentation as the face of your brand. Professional presentation of your work shows your experience and gives your clients confidence investing in your work. Nurture your client relationships. Client relationship building and maintaining creates a more memorable experience for your clients and gives you more of a chance to have return customers. Maybe start a blog or consider quarterly newsletters to keep your collectors up to date…..
You might consider creating work in an effort to promote a social issue like world peace or childhood hunger or even in an effort to draw attention to an organization for the greater good.
Be Reliable: Reliability can be related to quality of work, consistency from one work to the next or simply that you reliably hit deadlines and always follow through with your word. Whether you are an artist or photographer it is very best when someone can hire you for a commission or a photo shoot and they can depend on you holding up your end of the bargain. Galleries and art dealers will prefer to work with you if you meet all deadlines and provide them exactly what was promised. The professional presentation of your physical work can also help this aspect of your brand.
It also helps when you can look at your work and know it’s yours because of how your work consistently looks. It doesn’t mean photographing the same subject or paint the same theme over and over like some. I am specifically referring to your perspective and style.
Be Authentic: I believe that people buying art want a unique perspective that they couldn’t fathom having on their own, and this is why they invest in it. If you have an authentic style with a unique perspective it will bleed out into your work naturally. Let’s say the are others who have similar work to yours; consider taking steps to strengthen your brand. This should separate you from those other artists. I think being authentic and completely unique is an aspect that all artists and photographers including myself struggle with. It’s the ones that tackle this aspect the best that find more success than the rest.
Be Accountable: Accountability “is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies.”-wikipedia. I think this topic relates best to ethical practices. If you are selling work created without archival materials you are not holding yourself accountable for what your clients are buying. An artist’s reputation can be tarnished over time if your work begins to fade or crack. You will have NO returning customers or customer loyalty. There is not one successful brand that operates with no returning customers. You are also not being fair to your market. If you have limited editions or create prints of your work it is essential to be fully forthcoming and hold true to your edition numbers and what is or isn’t original art. Make sure you are available for your clients to reach out to you to ask questions after they take your artwork home. The long and short of this is: be available for communication, and be honest about what you are selling.
Other areas that will help you strengthen your brand and help insure success is to know your audience or market and price your work appropriately in that market. If you are selling in the wrong market or pricing your work inappropriately, like any other business, you will not find as much success as if you had put the time into figuring this out. Be smart about selling your art. Manage your time and priorities and constantly work on relationship building.
If you would like to discuss how to look at yourself as a business with a brand, schedule your free consult today…….