Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Van Gogh on Twitter and an Art Marketing Workshop - Flower Paintings by Nancy Medina

Ruby Tango Peonies
by Nancy Medina
Oil on Gallery Wrap Canvas

Don't you wish they had taught just one course on art marketing in College? Wouldn't it have been nice if the professor who taught color theory 101 had mentioned in passing one day, oh by the way, when you finally get your own Web site, be sure it's user friendly enough that you can update it yourself. The truth is, no one was selling art 20 years ago, the way art is sold now. Some of us were still pretty excited about email back then. Imagine what art would be like today, if Van Gogh had posted his paintings on Facebook, if Monet had his own Youtube channel, and if Picasso was on Twitter 24/7.

@Braque - Sold another #staircaselady 2day! 
Betcha can't top that @Pablo!
I lived in the resort community of Santa Barbara, California, when I first began selling my watercolor paintings. I traded some for rent, some for furniture (a particularly hideous oak shelving unit comes to mind). I had my first art show with a class that met in a little building just off State Street next to the rug cleaner's. Our group was led by an exceptional teacher who started each lesson by informing my classmate, Jonathan Winters, of his promise not to disrupt her lesson with any jokes or facial gestures. This was 22 years ago.

Being able to support yourself with your art is possible, but it requires determination and no small amount of effort. Three years ago I spent about 15% of my time on marketing. Today I spend 70% of my time marketing. (This is the part where painting quickly pays off.) Marketing to me is nurturing and cultivating client interaction. Marketing effectively is about building strong relationships. Tomorrow this entire dynamic could be turned on its head, once again, but today, we have a battery of free tools at our disposal to help us be our own best art agent. I used to sell to pay for my supplies. Today I sell to build a brand.

One year ago, I quit my job as the director of a national magazine to pursue my art and teaching full time. Now, I work 60 hours a week, sometimes more, I travel more, and I spend more time on budgets, taxes, and contracts than I ever spent as an editorial director. I sell over 150 paintings a year and teach at least two workshops a month. My digital lessons are about to launch, and my first two European workshops are scheduled for 2015.  

How hard are you willing to work to improve your art. Once you are ready to begin selling, how badly do you want to succeed? At the end of the day, you get to make the executive decisions. To succeed or not to succeed is your call. Being able to pay the bills is the least of these achievements. The real reward is the freedom to pursue your art journey. How many people get to work in a field where what they create gives joy? What a rare and incredible gift it is to be an artist. 

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