Monday, December 14, 2015

How (Not) to Promote Your Art Cheaply

First, take the word "cheaply" put of your vocabulary when it comes to marketing and promoting your art.

header art for article on promoting artwork

Instead, look for "low-cost" or "no-cost" ways of generating awareness about you and the art you create. (Don't forget the value of your time: a promotion is not really "no-cost" if it's a major time-sink and doesn't allow you to make art.)

One way of inexpensively promoting your art is by word of mouth: "creating a buzz." This doesn't happen overnight. Word-of-mouth referrals are based on your reputation: that someone else finds you so trusted and trustworthy that they're willing to put their own reputation on the line to support yours. (Keep in mind that this cuts both ways: social media makes it every easy these days for bad opinions to spread.)

So how do you keep your visibility high (in a good way)? Get out of your studio or out from behind the camera lens. Meet other artists, gallery owners, museum staff, the press, and the general public. They're everywhere! Introduce yourself through receptions, lectures, and exhibitions. (Yes, we know the costs involved in a one-person show, but the don't write off group exhibitions. The participation costs are significantly lower and you get to meet the people the other artists draw in.)

photogrpahof art supplies

We know you'd rather be making art than peddling it, but capably promoting your artworks is an important part of being a successful artist.

Go other places where art is seen and recognized. Attend art workshops, visit museums, and enter competitions. Always, always, always carry two to three times more business cards than you think you'll need and give out multiples. (One for the recipient to keep and at least one for him or her to give to a friend.) Be active on social media: not just to tout your own fabulousness, but to contribute meaningfully to comments boards of "places to be seen."

Next, be generous. If your work's not a match for a prospective buyer but you know an artist the buyer might like, offer to make an introduction. Donate your time to mentoring an art student through an organization you admire. Odds are, the organization will promote your efforts, which comes off as much less self-congratulatory and reaches people outside your circle of followers. Volunteer to guest-author a blog you enjoy. (All the better if you can get paid for it.) Again, this will help you reach outside your own audience. Write great, sincere reviews for good businesses: you both benefit.

Making a reputable name for yourself and getting out into the arts community will help you make more direct sales, as well as attract the interest of galleries, museums, and the media. Effective low-cost promotion is priceless, not "cheap".


Lynne Guimond Sabean has more than 20 years experience marketing a variety of products and services for companies of all sizes. She co-founded Janusian Gallery ( and Think Janusian ( which offers social media marketing services to artists and other businesses.

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