This past weekend at Paganicon in Minneapolis, MN, I gave workshops on Witchcraft, Ritual Movement, and Art. The latter especially focused on my own path as an artist and where it intersects with my Witchcraft. Alas, 90 minutes wasn't quite enough time to get it all in, so I figured I'd write up 6 key points here for y'all.
In my lecture, I talked about how art schools rarely give artists the tools they need to really succeed. Sure, we can learn the craft of being artists from a technical standpoint and refine the use of our media - but when it comes to promotion and being professional, those areas are sorely lacking in formal art education. Which means finding your way through a lot of trial and error.
So how do you get your work out there as an artist?
1) Have a presence on the internet: a facebook page for your work, Instagram account, your own website, or being on a portfolio website (deviantart, behance, etc), etc. This requires also getting good photos and/or scans of your artwork, as well as crafting a short biography, artist statement, and build a resume of shows/events/awards/education. Watermark your art!
2) Have a physical presence in the real world: invest in business cards, postcards, etc - that you pass out with your work and online presence on them. Network with other artists, check out local groups, galleries, and other events. Does your local town/city have an artwalk? Check out the spaces, see what the art is like.
3) Craft a plan for each year, setting goals for what you want to accomplish. Goals can be along the lines of: doing a series of 10 paintings on X theme, participate in 3 group shows, get a solo show, do 1 outdoor festival, etc. It all depends on your media and where you want to go with your artwork.
4) Keep your word and be realistic. This seems like a common sense thing, but unfortunately there is often a lot of substance behind the idea of the "flakey artists." I can't tell you how many times I've filled in at events for artists who have flaked at the last minute because they didn't get work done for the show. However, shit does happen, so if you suspect you're not able to do an event or make a deadline, give the host/organizer PLENTY of time, so they can adjust accordingly. Saying yes and falling through again and again damages your reputation, no matter how good your work may be.
5) Presentation and Products! Consider the ways you can show and replicate your artwork so that you can get it out there and make money off of it. Is your work easy to frame? What size works best? How durable is it? How much will it cost to hang it properly? Be creative! Prints, notecards, calendars, magnets, t-shirts, etc - can be really awesome - or a money pit. Go to events and see what similar artists (subject, media, etc) are doing, and consider what can be your own take. Look to create a variety of pricepoints as well. For example, I have notecards that are $4, prints from $20-$30, higher end prints from $45-$150, and then original art - so art for a variety of budgets.
6) Make art. No really, make it. Don't just think about it or talk about it, or plan it. MAKE IT. The only way to expand as an artist is to keep making art, keep producing it, keep developing and trying out ideas.
Now there's a lot more that can be done, but these 6 points I believe are at the root of developing your brand and growing as an artist. "Overnight success" is the result of years of hard work that most people never see.