Starting Monday, a New Series: Marketing Mondays

Hitting the nail on the head once again: eageageag
What a difference a crash makes. Just when careers were poised to move to the next level, opportunities evaporated and we find ourselves pushing the boulder back up the hill. Maybe you were within reach of representation, or your recent solo show didn't too too well, or funding for a project just got cut. You're not alone. The art world landscape has changed drastically overnight. And within that landscape are not only artists but dealers, critics and curators, too. If an artist has seen gallery interest wane, it may be bcause the gallery's business is waning. And if critical response isn't forthcoming, it may well be because the critic's edtorial space has been cut back, or worse, cut altogether. Curators are supported by institutions that are typically supported by the largesse of personal and corporate donations; and when the money dwindles, so do the projects.

This is the impetus for Marketing Mondays. Each Monday, starting on the 26th, I’ll address a topic or post a question that relates to the career issues we deal with as artists--from an artist's point of view. My expertise: I’ve been "in the life" for 30 years, gradually getting to the point where I've become a self-supporting studio artist (knocking wood for 2009). I even teach a career course to art students about to make the leap into the art world.

Over the years I’ve learned that making a career is very different from making art. Every part-time and full-time job has taught me something: how to organize my time, how to write about my work, how to make a presentation, how to negotiate for what I want. Here's what I learned while working for the largest women's magazine in the country, for instance: the importance of marketing and promotion. If a brand that's on the tip of 10 million tongues feels it needs to get out there and promote, promote, promote, who am I to think that my puny-ass career shouldn't get a nudge?

With every dealer I’ve worked with, I’m reminded that clarity of intent, decent manners, good record keeping and mutual respect do wonders to keep a business relationship flourishing—sometimes even growing into friendship. With artists, I’ve learned many things, chief among them that community is not optional; it’s as essential as air.

Following that last thought: We’re all in this together, whether we make art, sell it, curate it or write about it. I hope everyone reading will contribute to the Marketing Monday colloquy. I’m open any and all topic suggestions. If the weekly format gets to be too much to handle, I’ll take it monthly. But I will keep it going.

Monday's topic: Rejection. Get Over It. (Because if you can't get over it, you can't move on in your career.)

In the meantime, I've culled some recent and not-so-recent posts from JMAB that deal with the issues of getting your work out into the world:

. The Benefit of Your Wisdom
. What are You Doing About Prices?
. Where’s the Bailout for the Arts
. What Jobs Have You Had?


Matthew Beall said...

Hello Joanne,

New to your blog. I am looking forward to reading Marketing Mondays. Great idea and one that is needed.


Tina Mammoser said...

Joanne I'm greatly looking forward to this. I've always enjoyed your reviews and insights and this seems a great addition to your blog topics. Will be sure to Twitter it on to others too. :)

Cheryl Clinton said...

I just received a link to your blog from my good friend Catherine Carter. I am so glad I clicked over! I love your work and your writing. I will be sure to tune in on a regular basis and will forward the link to other artists I know. Thank you for sharing your wit and wisdom.

Casey Klahn said...

Good idea, Joanne.

We sit at your feet. I have a feeling your series will be not the regular fare, but from a personal experience source.

I'll let you know if I have ideas, too.

Joanne Mattera said...

Hey, thanks, everyone.

Well of course I'll pull from my experience. But I'll be hounding--er, politely requesting--input from dealers, critics and curators.
And I'm depending on you to tell me what topics you want to see covered.

So,shoot: What you you want to see discussed?

Anonymous said...

What if you are middle aged, have never exhibited your work, but have amassed a large body of work.

lisa said...

Great idea, Joanne! Thanks.

Rejection: Keep letters and emails in a folder so that every once in while you can look at them and see what you have accomplished. (rejection or not they still represent your efforts)

Joanne Mattera said...

Anonymous asks:
What if you are middle aged, have never exhibited your work, but have amassed a large body of work?

Thanks, Anon.This is a great question, and I am going to put it in the queue of issues to address. In the meantime, check out the links in this post. An "emerging" artist might be newly hatched, or s/he may be fully formed but just now emerging into the world.

Oly said...

Let me tell you a story about this afternoon. We had an artist come in to the gallery and want to show us his portfolio, to which we politely stated for him to please email his resume, statement and provide us with 6-10 images and we'll get back to him within the stated timeframe. The artist kept pushing, and ended up saying "I want a show here next year."
We politely responded again that we will get back to him if his work is indeed deemed appropriate.
He then asked us "Well, what is your gallery name?"
True story.
He then asks if our owner is a man or a woman.
I don't need to expound further, but if an artist has the audacity to go into a gallery without even knowing its name, nor its owner, and then at hearing and seeing the owner's name in print on the business card given him make a statement as to whether it's a man or a woman-- then bugoff.

So let's put my cents in at this is the kind of thing we deal with on a VERY regular basis.


Joanne Mattera said...

Well, Olympia, you have given me another topic: How Not to Approach a Gallery.

I'm going to save yours for it.

Eva said...

Here's something I would like help with: how to get my work to curators across the country. It seems easier to get your work out there when you are on the east coast or LA. But I'm in Portland...

Joanne Mattera said...

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll put it on the list.

Anonymous said...

Also, did you really make a post about not donating to auctions? The line doesn't link to a post by that name. Anyway I am over the auctions here and so are many artists. We've been taken for granted a long time.

Donna Dodson said...

I was wondering about self-promotion and promotion through a gallery- how does these things work together or conflict? what are the boundaries? expectations? do's and dont's?

How to evaluate opportunities on the internet both in terms of the legitimacy and value to your reputation but also in terms of ROI and leads to real-life opportunities. Is anyone searching on the internet to find artists or is it merely another tool for self promotion?

Related but slightly different question: how to evaluate professional memberships and arts organizations including juried shows, publications and online exhibition opportunities?

Thanks Joanne!

Oly said...

Oh, Joanne... he's only one of many!!!

We had an artist mail us his actual ARTWORK last week as a submission!!!! At least there was a SASE along with it.

I.E., the said artwork were drawings on paper, but still... wow. It almost took our alltime clueless submitter award until the guy on Saturday.


Oly said...

Oh, two more quick faves of mine, Joanne--

1. The guy who says "I am still alive, but I might be dead soon. Please act soon, because I may not be able to do this much longer," in his submission letter. So sad...

2. Artist with the penises popping out of walls submitter. After we politely told him his work is not appropriate for display in the gallery, he kept sending more penis photos on a bi-weekly basis for almost two months!
Persistence pays off sometimes, but in this case, it was a tad bit harrowing for us! heh... :)

Joanne Mattera said...

Anonymous 11:46,

Thanks for the heads up. "No, I Will Not Donate to Your Auction" how workis.

And thanks, everyone, for the great ideas. I see I have my work cutr out for me.

Scott Moore said...

Good topic for a blog. I do fine art reproduction (giclee printing) and fine art capture (see www.bellevuefineart.com). Almost every artist that comes through my door asks this question. How should I market myself?

The short answer of course is "yes, market yourself". I also tell artists to look at any corporation that designs and makes products. You'll find that more effort goes into sales and marketing than R&D. So, paint, promote, promote, promote, then paint, promote, promote, promote...

pam farrell said...

My rejection stories are numerous, but I'll share one that especially reflects the roller-coaster-bipolar-up-and-downness of the business of art. Some months ago, I was contacted by a gallery in a major city in a southern state.

The director admired my work and wanted to know if I was interested in working with them. I checked out the gallery's website, and thought sure. I let them know I was interested, had a couple of phone conversations with the owner during which we discussed my work. The owner indicated that she was specifically interested in the "lighter and brighter" works. We both said we were looking forward to working together.

Shortly after that, I received a packet of material including consignment forms and a note saying how excited they were about my work. I promptly sent off jpegs of new paintings as she had requested, making sure to send my lightest and brightest, and then...nothing. Email from me to make sure they had received the images. Yes, they had. Period. Then nothing. A call from me, leaving a message, saying I was glad they had received the jpegs and was looking forward to hearing from them. And then, nothing. I assume my paintings were not light and bright enough. Oh well, their loss.

And that's the actual thought I had. But not too long ago, this would have devastated me. I'm sure I would have immersed myself in doubt and criticism. I guess I've learned to develop a thicker skin--as an artist, this is a necessity, as a psychotherapist (my other career) it can be a liability. Balance is the key for me. And in this case, I didn't allow it to feel personal.

Thanks, Joanne for this Marketing Monday Blog. Great idea!

Kadira said...

What a great idea Joanne. I like the way you suggest that we are all in it together, artists, galleries etc. I believe that if we could all see ourselves more in this light it would help break down the traditional barriers that seem to exist between galleries and artists. Art is a partnership in more ways than one and the sooner and more often we all recognize this the more beneficial for all our careers.