Factor 2 in Selling Art

Factor 2: Branding

Any marketing expert will tell you that branding is very important when selling a product.
Some people think that branding is only for large companies to brainwash people into buying their product. But what exactly is branding?

“The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other product” (http://www.entrepreneur.com)

Your brand as an artist is what you want people to “feel or perceive” when they encounter your art. This feeling will drive all the decisions you make when creating marketing materials and this feeling comes directly from your art. You can also use your brand as inspiration to create new art.

Let’s say for example you are a book illustrator and your style is colorful and whimsical. Those two adjectives should describe everything potential clients see from you. Your font should be whimsical, your layouts for postcards and brochures should be colorful and whimsical, your business card should be whimsical. Even your signature should be whimsical. In short, if I encounter you at a book authors convention, the first thing that people should think when they look at your booth is “This artist is very whimsical!”.

So the first step in branding yourself is to find that word or phrase that describes you and your art.
If you are a still life painter, you may be “sophisticated”. If you are a plein air artist you may be “earthy”. Maybe you love architecture and your art is very “technical”. Some artists take many years to find what their brand is. When you find someone who knows their brand, it is unmistakable and memorable. Lets think of some artists that make you recall their style and feel – just from hearing their name…. Jackson Pollock “Splatters!” Mondrian “Red yellow blue and black squares and rectangles” Heck, Picasso and others had their own word! Cubism. Whether you like their art or not, you cannot deny that their brands will forever live in your memory.

The next step in creating your brand is to begin collecting images, colors, patterns fonts and designs that define your art. All of the elements you use for your brand will be used for a long time so choose carefully and make sure once they all come together, they define you and your art as a whole. This is probably easier for some than others but it is all about finding the unique quality that separates you from other artists. Use these elements to design your marketing materials and communicate with the world.

Once you define your brand, you will have a much better understanding of who you are and where you are going. I am no expert on this but if you find yourself wanting to change your brand, you probably haven’t found your brand yet, (or you may not like who you are?). Some will never find their brand and will probably not be successful at selling their art for a living. Others may find their brand only to realize the hard truth; the market for their brand is too small to make a living. Selling art is not for all artists just like our personalities are not compatible with everyone. Personality, as I have seen many times, can help an artists brand – or hurt it. An artists brand, in some cases, is a very personal thing. It’s like wearing your heart on your sleeve, only your sleeve is your canvas.

In the case of many famous artists, their brand is not only defined by their design, but by how they lived their life. Since these factors usually only surface far after the artist has died, I can’t give much advice on that!

So the first two important factors in selling your art deal with visual aspects. The last is something that has nothing to do with looks!

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