I often get asked about how it is that I market my events and artworks so I've decided to write about some practices that I have or that I have heard about. This is a continuation of the blog post I wrote a while back about planning and time management, aimed at my fellow artists.
First, start with some questions and affirmations. Some of this stuff is common sense, but I find it helpful to articulate what I want for myself as a cultural worker that wants to work towards social change. You may or may not agree with what I say here. I realized a while back that as a critical thinker, I had to ask questions about what the traditional art world was telling me about what an artist should be. (like this picture here)
1. My art is my labor. I will not be a starving artist. I'm a worker like others, and my labor should be compensated. Just as consultants, janitors, secretaries, bankers, etc are paid for their work, I should remember that my work is my labor and my sweat, and I should be paid for it.
2. No one is gonna come "discover" me.
3. The notion of the "starving artist" has been designed to justify the exploitation of artists, who are often pitted against each other in a competitive environment where another group of creative "elites" (curators, critics) get to define the market rate at which the artist sells their work. In other words, we as artists have allowed for other people in our sector (who are usually paid) to define our worth.
4. The art world is set up to benefit a tiny few. Institutional gatekeepers get to define who is in and who is out. We empower this institution by playing into their game on their terms. But I ask myself - "Do I really need to wait for them to validate me?" Can I go around them? Or skip them altogether?
5. I don't need intermediaries between me and people who love and support my art practice.
6. There is NOT one right way to obtain financial stability as an artist, there are multiple ways - endless possibilities.
7. Do I need to wait for an artist critic or a gallery or a curator to write about me? No, I can write about myself and my work in my own voice.
Based on this thinking and on experience of having set up a web business back in 2000, Tumis Inc, I learned about how to market my art through trial and error. There are some basic things which I have put together in a PDF you can download here.
What has been most helpful to me is setting up habits in which I regularly get to do things centered around my art.I blog at least once per week. I post tweets about new art pieces at least 3 x per week. I make art at least 15 hrs x week. All the small steps that I've taken helped me get closer to my primary goal of being a full time, financially stable artist that works doing the things I love. Zen Habits wrote about this practice:
It’s kind of like mountain climbing. Mountains look impossible from a distance. But if you come to basecamp and just start putting one foot in front of another, all you see is the path ahead. You can’t help but make progress—and as long as you have a trail, you know you’re going the right way.
One tool I would like to highlight today is HootSuite, built by some rad developers in Vancouver, one of my favorite cities! Below is a great video explaining how HootSuite works. I LOVE that I can schedule my Twitter and Facebook updates. This means I don't have to be in front of a computer all the time, but I can still program out pieces that profile my work or projects I am involved in. Check it out!