Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket, mixed media collage, 5.5 x 6 inches
“I’m aiming for the emotional honesty of Van Gogh and the promotional skills of Coca-Cola!”
Almost four years ago, I finally had the chance I’d always wished for – I was able to devote myself to art full-time. This was both a great blessing and a curse. Making art was something I’d always done, but only peripherally to my “real job”. It was something that got squeezed into those tiny in-between spaces: part of a weekend, a few weeks in the summer, between taking kids to sports practice and going back to college and grocery shopping.
The afore-mentioned ‘curse’ part of this stroke of luck was that without a paying job, I really needed to sell some art. But how? During those years of fitting it in whenever I could, a little thing called the internet was born (along with a lot of other things.) It seemed like a possibility, a low-cost way to get the work in front of the most people. So I began to research how to sell art online.
Our Lady of the Harbor, mixed media collage, 4.5 x 6 inches
This post on my old blog gives you a glimpse into the depth and breadth of this monumental (for me) task. The more I learned, the more confused I became about the ins and outs of online art marketing. There was one part in particular that really had me stumped. Recently, I happened to run across a great post on the art business blog Designing an MBA that addresses exactly what I’m talking about.
High at Home, hand cut collage, 4 x 6 inches
It never gets easier to hear this, but at the end of the day, people don’t want or care about what you sell. All they care about are that their problems are solved, and your products or services are simply a means to an end.
(Why Problem Solving is the Golden Ticket For Your Marketing Efforts, by John Jantsch)
I’m Looking Through You, mixed media collage, 10.5 x 6
This was where my ‘marketing strategy’ fell completely apart. What problem did my art solve? Naked walls? Drab rooms? Was I supposed to tell potential customers their homes were unattractive? It just made no sense.
I also agreed with Auman’s assertion that this kind of thinking devalues what artists do. It causes artists to feel ashamed of selling their work. How do you sell something that has no value?
Several years ago, I got pulled into this vortex of shame to the exent that I actually stopped making art for a while. I convinced myself it was a waste of time, because it didn’t help anyone. It took me a long time to realize the true value of art.
What’s the Problem?
Ironically, the problem is that there is no problem. OK, let me back up just a tiny bit. When I started to study online marketing, I kept running into something called “problem solving marketing.” Megan Auman describes it like this:
“1. Figure out what problem your product solves.
2. Find people who have that problem.
3. Remind them that they have this problem and why your product is the solution.”
Java Girl, mixed media collage
“Most people could describe something they would like in their house, certain colors or a certain subject. But they usually buy a piece of art that speaks to them emotionally – a scene that reminds them of a special place, or a painting that just makes them happy.
Why We Buy Art
I practically cheered as I read this statement in Auman’s article:
“Art…exists to do more than solve problems. It exists to stir our emotions and give us a jolt of beauty or meaning or feeling. And the desire to own a piece of art may be about nothing more than wanting to experience those emotions again and again in our everyday lives.”
Yes! It’s all about how a piece of art makes us feel, the message it conveys, the joy it brings! Art is so much more than a decoration for our walls. But that, too, is important. It beautifies the spaces we live in, helping to create the mood of a room.
When we choose art for our homes or work spaces, we, ourselves, become art makers. We are designing space, which is a creative act in itself.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but I thought I’d share a recent art purchase I made for my own home. It’s a vintage Murano hand blown art glass vase/decantor. It does not solve any of my problems. I’m not suffering from a lack of pretty things to display on my mantle or buffet. But every time I look at it, it makes me feel happy. I enjoy its beauty. That’s it.
If you’d like to learn alternative ways to sell art, I highly recommend Auman’s companion article, How to Sell Your Art Without Resorting to Problem Solving Marketing.