Doing Business: Targeting Your Market

There is a difference between a viewer who is casually looking at your art and a viewer who is head over heals in love with your art. That is the viewer that will become your buyer and ultimately a collector. Do you know who that viewer is? What do they like to do? What makes them tick? If you want to be successful it’s important to find out and focus your marketing efforts to the viewers (audience) who matter most. This is called Niche or Target Marketing.

You might think that this investment of time is not necessary but I can tell you that it will ultimately save you a lot of time and result in sales. Whether that’s selling prints online or pursuing a gallery, the kind of gallery that carries and sells your art. It’s important to know.

A word about galleries – do your research! I once met the owner of a gallery that carried Primitive and African art. She showed us a stack of slides that she had recently received from artists. It was a waste of her time and a waste of the artists time and money. You can guess where those slides went. That’s right, in the trash. The artists didn’t take the time to find out where their art belonged.

Back to target marketing, in order to find out who the audience is that loves your work you must do some research. Research is so easy with the advent of online media. You can create surveys with websites like Survey Monkey or Constant Contact and send them to your existing audience. A much easier and free way is to interact on Social Media. Notice what your audience is posting? What are they saying? What groups do they participate in? What are their political views? Take the time to view a few profiles and you will see.

Typically businesses that are targeting their markets will try to discern certain qualities about their prospective customers. The first is demographics – quantifiable statistics about a given population. The other is psychographics – personality, values and interests. Here are some things to consider when you are trying to figure this out. Some may sound invasive but remember that much of this can be done anonymously on your part. If you are asking direct questions, through a survey for example, your audience will be answering voluntarily.


• What is the primary age of your audience?
• Where do they live?
• Are they male or female?
• What is their income level?
• What is their highest level of education?
• Are they married or single?
• What do they do for a living?
• What is their ethnic background?

Remember, that in most cases, the sale of your original work will be for a luxury market – a buyer who has a large amount of disposable income. However, you may want to find a secondary or third market online by offering prints or products-on-demand. Another term for this is expanding your revenue streams.

Where they live and how old your audience is will help you figure out where you should market your art. If it appeals to a demographic of 40-50 year olds, for example, you will want to look for the places where you can specifically market to them.


• Personality
• Attitudes
• Values
• Interests and Hobbies
• Lifestyle
• Behavior – in terms of what inspires them to purchase a work of art.

Another question that fits into a unique marketing category is where does your audience find your art? Is it in a gallery, a publication or online? This will tell you even more about where to market your work.

Another way to figure out your target market lies right in your studio. It’s your art, your message. Take a good look at your art and think about who you would like to reach with it. Is there a message that you want to get out into the world? Which part of the world is that?

Remember that it is very important to do this for your success. As a small business, it is important to make sales, especially if you want to make art full time.

Doing Business: Branding

What is the first thing you think of when I mention Van Gogh? Is it Starry Starry Night? Even though he didn’t consciously make this his brand it’s what I believe most people think of when his name is mentioned.

Branding is, for artists, the image or symbol that viewers think of first when they think of the artist and their art. This is what will set you apart.

I have had comments from artists that marketing is too crass or something that artists shouldn’t have to engage in. Think of marketing as letting people know that you exist. After you let them know that you exist you will want them to remember you and a strong “brand” will help you do this.

Here are a few principles of branding and something called Brand Management to help you get started….

  1. Remember that if you are making art there is a reason. You have a message to share with the world. You have a voice. It is your responsibility to make sure that message is heard, again and again.
  1. Branding helps you deliver your message clearly and consistently. Consistency is key to good brand development and management.
  1. It connects with your Target Market (or your niche) emotionally. Remember that art usually illicits an emotional response to begin with. Research your target market to find out what that is (if you are not aware already) and use it to market your work.
  1. It motivates viewers into becoming buyers. That emotional response may make them want to live with your work. Not just view it in a gallery or on the internet but have it in a place where they can see it daily, in their home or office.
  1. It concretes buyer loyalty. The people who have already bought your work will become collectors and possibly life long collectors.

A brand for artists should be a work of art or a logo that defines you and your art. A color palate that is strong or a strong sculptural shape are good examples. You can also use your signature, type or a symbol that relates to your work. Any of these are the equivalent of a logo.

Just to share a bit of information relating to the art world and logos…. Open a copy of ArtNews or another well respected art magazine. You will see that most of the galleries are using type based logos. I suspect that it is because they don’t want to interfere with they are presenting.

Consistency and persistence are key to the success of your brand. You need to imprint that message again and again in the minds of your viewers and keeping that message clear and concise will help as well. Always use your logo or an image with your posts on social media and on your print materials. It goes without saying that you should also use images on your website but there should be something in the banner that makes an impression as well.

Another key part of branding is connecting with your viewers emotionally. Viewers respond to art emotionally to begin with. It’s just a matter of doing some research to find out how they connect with your art and pushing that envelope in your branding.

Here are some things to consider when you are researching what makes your viewer respond the most.

  • Do you give them peace of mind?
  • Does your art illicit a response every day, whether that is to give your viewers pleasure or to make them think about your message.
  • Do you inspire them? (Preferably every day).
  • Do you give them a deeper sense of satisfaction? That Ahhh! or Ah Ha! moment when they look at your art?
  • Do you make them feel that you are easily approachable?

Remember that you can’t please all people all of the time. You will have to find your niche. Your Target Market. I will give you some tips on finding your Target Market in the next post.

Doing Business: Return on Investment

Before I delve into Social Media I think we should discuss basic business principles, in terms that you can understand of course…. Many times I am asked “Will I make money with Social Media?” The answer is yes but not directly. What you will get by engaging in Social Media is a huge Return on Investment (ROI). This is a business term that is often used to mean a return on time, effort and money and should be used in everything you do for the business side of your career. Unless you hire someone to manage your Social Media accounts for you, the investment you will make is time. So basically there is no cost and the return is tremendous and sometimes priceless.

If you want to get your work seen and develop an amazing reputation Social Media is essential. It’s time to get started!

Here are some of the ROI’s you will get from Social Media….

The first thing every artist should know is that the key to a successful career is an excellent reputation. There is no better place to develop your reputation than the online tools available to you. So it is essential to have a professional looking website and to get a clear and consistent message out there through Social Media and Selling Online. If you do this your reputation will grow exponentially and it will motivate you with the positive feedback you will receive.

You can see any complaints, threats to your reputation and news about you and your work immediately and address them. You can create alerts in something called Google Alerts, for example. In addition to entering your name and any items that are relevant to you and your art business, you can be alerted about news items you are interested in. Here is a link: Remember to respond immediately to anything negative you will see unless you suspect it’s a Troll. (A Troll is someone who is commenting negatively usually for sport but it can be for other purposes as well. The best way to handle a Troll is to ignore them.)

Constant and consistent communication with your audience will give them more information about you and your work. Artists are fascinating and people want to know more about them. How is the work made? How do they get themselves out there? How do they live their lives? You will connect and communicate with your audience directly. No more mysterious buyer out there in the world somewhere. (The buyer who purchases your work and you never hear from them again.) You will find new people, talk about new things and keep them coming back for more. A side benefit – but a very important one – is that relationships will deepen.

You will deepen relationships, research, share your message. develop your “brand” as an artist in ways that may seem incremental but are profound. You will be able to do this in a miniscule amount of time, compared with doing it off line. You can also research in minutes. Compare using Google Search (for example) to going to a library. The time you will save is amazing!

You should rely on the information you get from Social Media to constantly hone your message, how you market your art and who your audience is. It will help you make better marketing decisions and perhaps even inspire your next great work of art. You can even post works in progress and get feedback almost immediately.

Another type of art intelligence you will get is inspiration.  I have learned so much about artists I know already and new artists whose work I’ve never seen on Pinterest.  You can read about them on Wikipedia or their own websites.  You can find Facebook and Twitter pages about them. You can go on StumbleUpon or Tumblr and search for web pages about them. It’s amazing what you will find.

This is especially important for artists. You are unique and it’s important to remember to push that when marketing yourself. Be proud of that uniqueness! Tell the world how you are different and how you are better. The key to this is how you communicate, how you present yourself and your art, and who you present it to. Making uniqueness a key part of your marketing efforts is essential. Social Media will help you find new ways to present yourself. It will also put you in close touch with what your audience is looking for.

Think of your art as your “brand.” It may be hard to do this because art making is such a personal and intimate thing. The first thing I tell artists is to separate your art from your personal life. You art is your job. Yes, the creation of it comes from your heart and your soul but at the end of the day you go home and settle into the things you enjoy doing – watching TV, spending time with your family, etc. If you are able to separate your art from the rest of your life you will be successful. It will become your dream job.

You will also begin to look at your work objectively and begin to develop that brand. A brand is unique to each artist. It is associated with your style and the message you are trying to convey. Yes art is visual but there is something you are trying to say. Even if it’s not immediately clear to you. Developing your artist statement will help you get in touch with that message.

When you do get in touch with that message it’s time to strategize how to market your work and who the right audience is for your work. More on branding in the next post.