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September 2013



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Marketing your Art--Focus!

Knowing what I wanted and working toward that goal resulted in my getting to write and illustrate two books for Sierra Club, including The Sierra Club Guide to Painting in Nature as well as my many books for North Light Publications. I won't pretend it happened overnight--it took hard work and knowing what I wanted. I think you can do the same.

For this third installment of "Marketing your Art," we're going to talk about decisions, and how to make the best ones for YOU.

FOCUS–on what you want, on what interests you most, on your skills–and even on the things you don’t want. To really make it, you need to think about these things. To say "I want to make a living as an artist" isn't that helpful. It's too vague. It's too broad. There are too many choices.

Taking time to really stop and think and consider the options and your feelings about them--your gut response to them--can help you make those choices in the best possible way, not only for your happiness and peace of mind, but for the best expectation of success.

Make a list, if you like–writing it down usually helps me to clarify my thoughts and helps to make them concrete. Actually, two lists might be helpful–one of what you can do (and like to, or have a skill or special interest in), and what you really KNOW you don’t like. Keep those things firmly in mind as you plan your direction. (As Alyson Stanfield, Art Biz Coach says, it’s hard to work toward a goal if you don’t know what yours actually is! I’m reading I'd Rather Be in the Studio! now, and find that a lot of Stanfield’s advice parallels my experience over the years! It is a GOOD BOOK.)

I keep lists in my journal, so I don’t lose them...I find it really helpful to go back and read over them, weeks or even years later, to see how far I’ve come, what I’ve accomplished or how I’ve changed...

So ask yourself–what mediums do you prefer? What subjects? Is there a specific aspect that you love that you might focus on? (Children, animals, florals, travel, nature, creativity, spirituality–anything that honestly makes your heart sing. Believe me, that shows in your work.)

Can you zero in on what people like about your work, or what they respond to? Who might be interested in the same things you are? (For instance, if you enjoy painting animals, perhaps the local animal shelter, pet shop, ASPCA, Ducks Unlimited, Audubon Society, nature center, race track, livestock show, veterinarian’s office, pet-sitting service, state fair or other animal-related venue might be a good possibility.) Keep an open mind–all marketing doesn’t happen in a gallery.

Do you like to teach? In person or by the written word? Are you good at communicating? Add that to your list.

Do crowds make you nervous? Do you find art shows fun or boring? Do you enjoy the gallery scene? Are workshops stimulating to you? Those things might go in one column or the other.

Those and any other questions you can think of yourself will help you set a course. Think about what you actually WANT, and what you enjoy.

Identify your goals and begin to think about what could get you from here to there.

But DO keep an open mind, and keep adding to your list...you can do a lot more than you think, and you may find you enjoy it.

There are many ways to do essentially the same thing, so explore more than one option. It’s a wide world out there!

Review these lists often–add to them or delete items as you need to. They’re a growing, changing, organic thing, just like your professional life.

What’s the point of all this thinking and list making? Well, to recap--you are more likely to be able to market your work effectively if you’re doing what you truly love, what makes you happy. Your belief in what you’re doing will SHOW. The joy in your work will shine through everything you do. Joseph Campbell first encouraged us to “Follow your bliss” in The Power of Myth, and it struck a spark that has grown into an entire movement.  It's wise advice. 

In the case of the creative person, be that an artist, a musician, a writer, a poet--that’s especially important.  it offers rewards far beyond the financial.

It gives us courage to persevere...

...and that will be the subject of our next article on this subject--perseverance!



Thank you for this lovely post. It's a concise, creative, and much appreciated shove that I didn't quite realize I needed.
Terrific, Consie! Let me know where it leads you!


I will. Seeing as how one of the things that landed on the list, so far, has been to come to terms with how I feel about "opening up" in a blog, and probably to start sharing my field sketches thataway, you can be sure that if (when?) I set one up, I will let you know...
I love to see someone blossoming! Good for you!


Thank you so much; this has given me a way to begin bringing my artist-self out of foggy definition. Phew!
GREAT! Writing lists has really helped me--somehow makes it more concrete to me.