Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Who are Your Customers? - For Artists!

Remember the first time you saw a piece of art that stopped you in your tracks? Something so unbelievably cool that you had to own it, right then and there (or at least, wished you could take it home and put it in your living room)?

The question is often asked: How does one go about finding a core audience as an artist, and especially as a fine artist? Books and the internet seem to be full of ideas for marketing a certain product to people, but less common is a guideline for promoting creative works which may not solve a problem as products usually do, but instead served as an outlet for the artist doing the creating.

Even most marketers today would agree that demographics are boring and things like age, gender, and location do very little to tell you who your true customer is, and that's just fine because you're an artist -- You shouldn't necessarily be thinking in terms of measurable statistics when seeking buyers. Too, and also quite unlike marketing, art is about creation first, moving product second - don't cheat yourself trying to create in a manner that's 'in' with a certain crowd. Try the following:

1. Look at your art, honestly. Whose wall could you see it on? Is it an office or a home setting? Perhaps both? Is it a specific business? It may help to also identify where your work definitely would not be shown. This is one of the bigger steps in understanding your audience, and it pays to not only know who they are, but who they're likely not to be.

2. Does another artist influence your own work? Whose work most closely resembles yours? Who buys from them? Where do they sell? How did they get started in showing their work? It's usually a fun research project to dig into the past of artists who inspire you. You're almost certain to find similarities between you which could serve as inspiration in pursuing your craft.

3. Does it serve a practical purpose? Would it be more at home in a craft, decor or specialty showroom than a fine art gallery? Don't knock it if so - crafts are big business and craftsmen/women are highly sought-out for their skills and the work they do.

Final question - Once you have determined answers for the other three: Where do the people who are most likely to buy your art hang out? Will they be at a trendy gallery, an antique mall or an online shop? This step works best if you get even more creative with your answer! What about a university cafe, bowling alley or even a music festival?

Remember: Identifying your target audience should always be taken as an experiment. If you don't fare well in one place, there's nothing stopping you from trying another. Too, the more creative you get with your final answer, the more chance of payoff you tend to have! Happy selling!

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