the business of art?

i’ve needed to step back a bit from my art to begin working on my branding and website. i hate the term “branding” in the context of an individual versus a business or corporation. i think there’s a negative connotation associated with “branding” because representation/marketing so often crosses the line into manipulation.

there is a careful balance between presenting your best self, targeting the market you want to be a part of, and misrepresentation. audiences have been lied to so often that we are now demanding full transparency. any omissions are deemed nefarious or being “disingenuous”, when that is not always the case, yet it always appears to be the fixation that captivates an audience. Unfortunately, so many capitalize on this and tailor their marketing with mal-intent in order to tap into virality. this constant misuse of branding envokes suspicion of all branding, enough to prompt audiences to dig and openly cast doubt and their assumptions.

when i hear the term “branding”, it stirs up the cynical mind. it plays on the dichotomy of the individual versus the brand. nevertheless, i recognize that branding is essential if i want to step forward and earn an income from art.

[create sketch for the featured image]

the research:

i thought it might be helpful to share the inspiration behind why i’ve shifted my focus to work on this now.

i feel like the content i’m putting out there on Youtube, isn’t fully representative of my work. i’ve been using the channel to document what i’m currently producing. thus far, there has been no finished works. i’ve mostly been focused on exploration, and practice. while youtube is a great tool to connect with the art community, it is not the be all end all of what i want to do.

i took to youtube to see what other artists are doing and to gather information on how to best push this career path forward. i have learned a lot from one channel in particular: Very Private Gallery ( Mo Li has a very impressive resumé/cv which is evident in each of the videos they present on youtube. no lies, i binged watched this channel.

galleries versus online.

in one of the videos [i need to find and link here still], Mo mentions that there is a divide in the art world: Gallery artists versus online artists. artists who sell primarily through social media/online are less likely to be accepted into galleries. most galleries contractually obligate the artist to exclusively sell their work through the gallery. elite clients who purchase through galleries expect to be a part of the provenance associated with the work. while i personally have difficulty understanding why a strong social media presence devalues that, i also take issue with my art being monopolized under someone else’s control.

so, while the prospect of seeing my art hung up on the walls of a gallery who will sell it for me is alluring, it’s not the path that i want to follow. i wanted to highlight this information, specifically for artists who are just starting out, to be aware that what they are putting out there online could affect future gallery prospects.

understanding that social media should be used as a tool to feed your own website.

fundamentally, i need to funnel my social media audience into my website. not that i have a huge audience by any means, but offering an audience more insight than what they see on social media is going to keep them interested in what i’m producing. my own website is the only true metric of my own audience. rather than losing retention to the competitiveness of others on the platform, i want to keep their eyes on me.

As of right now, my website is weak. slightly embarrassing, considering this is the field i work in 9 to 5 and it is time to rectify that. rather than focusing my efforts solely on youtube, i want to put this effort into my website. Very Private Gallery has several videos addressing artists websites and what should be included, how to structure them, what tools to use etc.

I am a wordpress developer, so that is and will remain the CMS (content management system) i work with. this is open source, free for anyone to use and my plan is to provide walk throughs of how i build. this may not appeal to all, but i still want to provide documentation on all my processes and resources. Before i can begin any development though, i need to consider the design which means i need to address branding first.

there are two levels i need to consider with branding:

the artist (/company)

who am i as an artist? i don’t know. that is the most honest answer i can give. i feel like that is not something that i can formulate an answer to, i feel like that is up to the audience to decide. but stating that also feels like a cop out. i’m not going to stress about answering this question right now… my hope is that the more work i produce, the more evident this will become.

the other thing to consider is how much of my personal life is tied into the work that i produce. whether or not my personal experience should be defined? … i don’t know, there seems to be a fine line. i have to be careful because i don’t want to feel so attached to my work that the rejection of a piece translates into feeling rejected as an individual.

in considering my own branding, i have to be mindful of how critique will affect me. yes, i hear you…. i’m overthinking it.

the campaign (/product)

the dreaded niche. i don’t feel like i’ve found my niche yet. considering everything i’ve researched, this will likely be a detriment to my progress in this field. this also poses a challenge when working on my campaign branding because it’s difficult to judge whether the branding is working for or against my intent.

i have thought about the initial campaign, which is composed of two stages.

the first phase i’m working on now, this “in progress” stage where i’m exploring. i’m practising sketching, using different tools/products, experimenting with filming, researching other artists, etc. it’s unstructured preparation work with the intention of discovering what i want to do.

the second phase is “flow”. it’s in this phase that i hope to produce a series of finished works. while i’m entering this with the idea of creating art that i could sell as prints, that end goal may change depending on how it progresses. in this, i hope to establish routines, habits, schedules that enable the work to flow out of my fingertips. my hope is that a niche will begin to emerge where i can better define future campaigns/series.

getting started

[create video]

  • review current site
  • begin building the theme
  • begin adding content
  • consider branding
  • consider structure
  • create art [featured image]

leave your thoughts or questions here...