Q+A Call In Show— Pros and Cons for artists working in multiple styles or media

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Steve Taylor emailed in the following question for a call in show:

How do you brand/market yourself if your work crosses multiple styles within the same medium? I figure you must have some idea how to do it successfully, given that bottlecap mosiacs and steel fire pits are on different parts of the artistic spectrum, even if they are both are made of metal. I ask, because as I'm coming up with new designs for pieces of furniture, I find that they all don't fit into a single style. Is that something I need to be careful of until I'm "recognized" in my medium or should I "damn the torpedos" - build/sell whatever I come up with? — Steve

The tradional advice for artists is to create a recognizable style and stick to it, to promote the artwork rather than the artist. This made sense when the primary sales outlet for art was galleries and when promoting artwork required print advertising, mailings, and expensive catalogs of shows. A consistent portfolio does make it easier to market an artist— you wouldn't mistake a Henry Moore or a Dali for another artist's work. There are exceptions in the traditional fine art market— Picasso worked in nearly every medium and had a broad range of styles over the course of his career (although that didn't make his work any less easy to recognize).

Most artists, I think, experiment with multiple styles and media. Many limit themselves to promoting just the core work so as to avoid confusing their audience and to focus the cost of promotion on the work that sells best. But I believe this is a model we can let go of, now that the web has made it so cheap and easy to promote a variety of art. There are strategies that help manage a broader portfolio— effective design and navigation, niche content, multiple sales platforms, the long tail of search, strong copy writing skills coupled with keywords. You can make more art and more sales by understanding proper management of multiple styles and media.

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Keep clients involved and excited by using a mailing list right, a conversation with Alyson B. Stanfield

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Alyson Stanfield Alyson B. Stanfield is an artist-marketing consultant, but you can call her an art biz coach. That’s because since 2002 Alyson has built successful online artist communities at ArtBizCoach.com and ArtBizBlog.com, which help artists of all kinds strengthen their own businesses through online classes, live workshops, and the weekly Art Marketing Action newsletter.

Alyson, a former museum curator and educator, has witnessed the good, the bad, and the downright ugly attempts artists have made at self-promotion. She knows what works. She put what she knows into her book, I’d Rather Be in the Studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion, which is now in it’s third printing.

Alyson is really big on building and maintaining relationships—noting that it’s much easier to make friends than to speak in “sales talk.” Our conversation will cover the following:

  • The Do’s and Don’ts of building a mailing list
  • Email secrets (Alyson doesn’t think they’re secret, but apparently they are because so many artists are ignoring them!)
  • How to use your mailing list most effectively

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Q+A Call In Show— Opportunity is the most dangerous distraction you'll ever face

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Every artist knows the feeling of looking at a blank page and freezing like a deer in the headlights. When you can do whatever you want, sometimes it's damn hard to choose what to do. Starting a new work of art is always exciting, but sometimes constraints are your best friend when comes to moving forward with assurance. Focus not only makes it easier to move forward, it often allows you to do so more quickly, with greater poise and balance.

Opportunities have a lot in common with the blank page. When choosing between options— whether career direction, personal development, or wild things that come out of the blue— it's easy to cease forward motion altogether. A great opportunity can be a trap if it causes you to lose focus on the work you're invested in, the direction you've chosen. Especially when the opportunity sounds like it may support your goals if only you divide your time. Freelancing, commissions, starting a side business and similar opportunities can tempt you into believing that with some additional income, you'll have more time to work on your art. More often they just add reasons not to get out in the studio.

More than anything else, doing what you want to do comes from not quitting until it takes off. Success only looks instant later. As an artist, you always need the creative challenge of doing new things, but don't allow yourself to be distracted from your art by the temptations of opportunities that don't match your long term goals.

How to design effective artist websites that get results, a conversation with Reese Spykerman

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Reesepony-medium

I hate to say it, but some of the worst websites I've ever seen belong to artists. Often they are confusing, hard to navigate and search, difficult to interact with, hard to read. A website can be creative or artistic, but an effective site requires good design.

The web is an amazing tool for artists to sell their work, build their reputation and reach new customers, but your results are only as effective as the experience your site provides for your audience. In this episode, Reese and I will discuss the most important ways you can use design to improve your sales, exposure and opportunities. We'll also talk about how to work with designers to get the best results.

Reese Spykerman tells stories through design. A self-taught designer, Reese creates websites, ebooks, and other branding materials for people like Chris Guillebeau, and companies like Whos' Talkin. She believes that good design is clear, easy to understand, and creates a delightful, memorable experience for audiences. You can read more about Reese in salon.com and entrepreneur.com.

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The self-made art star— How to produce blockbusters by discovering yourself

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Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art. — Andy Warhol

There's a lot of talk about the similarity of artists and entrepreneurs lately, and how each can learn from the other. Seth Godin's new book, Linchpin, even appropriates the term "artist" to describe the person in any profession who "changes the game, that elevates each interaction and that takes enormous emotional and professional risk with their work." There are some definite parallels between artists and entrepreneurs, but only handfuls of either become successful on a grand scale.

The real question is: what do the artists and entrepreneurs who achieve rockstar status have in common? It's not just great product, or hard work, or time put in… those qualities apply to plenty of people you've never heard of. If you wanna know how to be a rockstar, maybe the people to look at are, well, rockstars.

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Creativity and the future of thought, a conversation with Clive Thompson

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Clive-thompson Clive Thompson is a writer who covers science and technology. He's a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and Wired, and has published the blog CollisionDetection.net for eight years. His journalism has been widely anthologized, and he's received several awards for his writing, including an Overseas Press Council award and two Mirror Awards. Clive has been a performing musician for 25 years, and is currently working on a book about the future of thought.

Clive and I have had some great discussions over the years about the science behind thought and creativity, attention deficit as an evolutionary adaptation to a complex world, improvisation, and the DIY movement in art.

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Q+A Call In Show— What are the most important ways you can invest in your arts career?

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You've been told all your life that you have to "spend money to make money" and it's no less true for artists. But how do you know which investments in your career will pay off and which will just suck your bank account dry? On some levels, this varies for every individual, but there are some areas where investing in your art as a business will almost always pay off.

Equally important to understand is when to spend money… if you spend money on a full page ad in a magazine before you've shot professional photos of your work, for instance, you could do yourself more harm than good. In this show, I'll talk about education, tools, materials, space, assistants, professional services such as lawyers, accountants and web development, advertising online and in print, merchant accounts, and more. I'll present some ideas about how to assess the value of each, which ones are most likely to help increase your income and at which stage of your career you should plan to implement them.

I hope you'll call in to share your experiences as well.

The future of selling art online, a conversation with Matt Trifiro CEO of 1000markets.com

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Matt Profile - wide Matthew G. Trifiro is a co-founder and CEO of 1,000 Markets, Inc., a Seattle-based technology company that builds e-commerce platforms for "very small" businesses. 1,000 Markets' mission is to provide community-driven retailing opportunities to artisanal businesses and a unique shopping experience for consumers. Their Public Market Platform™ provides a marketplace construction kit where specialty merchants open branded shops and then self-organize into thematic marketplaces.

When I first discovered 1000markets.com I was totally blown away by their design and implementation of an online marketplace… 1KM is beautiful, functional and focused.

Of all the sites I've tried for selling my work online, 1000 Markets has the simplest, fastest and most powerful user interface for creating listings. I love it. I also love the fact that as good as it is, when I made a few suggestions to CEO Matt Trifiro early in the development of 1KM, he saw the value of the ideas and was able to implement them nearly instantly on the system.

This led to a great friendship and some very interesting conversations about how to implement the best possible e-commerce platform for artists and entrepreneurs. The integration of blogs and e-commerce is a subject I've studied exhaustively (see my post on TypePad Hacks: Blogs as Stores: A Comprehensive Overview of Ecommerce Solutions for Bloggers). After years of testing, consulting and advocacy in this field, Matt is probably the smartest and most effective person I've worked with.

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Q+A Call In Show— How to talk about your art to buyers at shows

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There's nothing quite so exciting as opening night at a show you've worked hard to create new art for… but at the same time, quite a few artists are nervous when it comes to talking about their work. Working the crowd at a gallery opening or art fair is equal parts stage show, social function, classroom and business meeting. Here are a few of the questions I've been asked about how to put your best foot forward at an art event.

  1. At a group show, how do you tell who is a buyer and who is another artist?
  2. If you invite friends to your opening, how do you balance time with them and time with potential clients?
  3. At gallery openings, how do you break the ice? How do you just go up to someone and start talking about your art (especially if they didn't approach you first)?
  4. Should you have a prepared statement ready about the pieces you are showing, or just talk informally about your work? How do you avoid coming off as arrogant, pushy or self-centered?
  5. How do you find ways to engage people personally so that they take an interest in the ideas or methods used in your art?
  6. How long should you spend talking to people? Is it better to spend more time with a couple people who are really interested or should you spend shorter periods with more people?
  7. How should you dress for an opening? Is formal dress required, or are jeans okay?
  8. What if people tell you they don't like your art? Do you ask questions to find out why or do you just say thanks and exit gracefully?
  9. What's the best way to follow up with potential buyers you meet at an opening?
  10. Is drinking at an opening an okay way to take the edge off any anxiety you may feel?
Please call in with your own questions about representing yourself and your work at shows or ask me on twitter.

How to be a famous artist without quitting your day job, a conversation with Lisa Call

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LisaCal1_BW_600px

For most artists, quitting the day job and making art full time is the dream… and it often feels like the only way to make a serious name for yourself in the art world. But renowned textile artist Lisa Call has built an extremely successful arts career while keeping the job, raising children and finding time to share her knowledge with other artists. We'll talk about why she's chosen to keep her job, how she balances her art career with work and family life, how getting organized helps her create and how she sets prices for her work. We'll also take a look at her plans for MakeBigArt – a website and blog to empower artists to think big about their art, their marketing and their lives.

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Statement + Bio | Curriculum Vitae | Bibliography

I'm best known as an artist and designer. Relaxing makes me tense, so I tend to put in a lot of hours on diverse projects.

On the way to a successful art career I've been a poet and writer, a tech geek, a print and web designer, illustrator, industrial designer, musician, teacher, actor, set designer and even a paid guru once.

It's all the same thing in the end— I wake up most days thinking about how I want to change, fix or improve some aspect of the world. And after a couple cups of coffee I get started on it.

My specialty is impossibility remediation: if it can't be done, I'm on it.

Mobile: 231.584.2710 (9 to 5 PST only) | Email me
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