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Building an Audience Online: An Interview with Mixed Media Artist Chrysti Hydeck

ChrystiHydeck

Chrysti Hydeck calls herself a Creatologist—an artist who combines various forms of artistic techniques under one roof. Online, she is best known for her “Artography” series, while her collectors know her for her mixed media.

As a toddler, Chrysti was a natural born mixed media artist, ripping apart her books and creating masterpieces on her bedroom walls with anything and everything she could get her hands on.

When diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome, Chrysti used her love of creating to help calm her ticks. Later on, she discovered art to be a viable career choice, and in only seven short years, Chrysti has gone from unknown to well-known.

Today, she has generously offered to answer questions about how she uses the internet for marketing and social networking, and how her efforts online have impacted her art career.

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Alyice: Since the day you decided to become a full-time artist, you’ve immersed yourself in the task of building a target audience. What was the toughest part about putting yourself out there and how did you overcome it?

Chrysti: Putting myself out there was the easy part because I know that whatever I produce will inevitably have one of three reactions: someone will love it, someone will hate it, and someone else will care less. Knowing and accepting these reactions before making myself available takes the pressure off.

If, however, I had to pick one obstacle, I would say it is maintaining a presence and finding balance. I tend to be stretched a little thin, since I am so involved in several mediums, and keeping up appearances can be overwhelming.

This past year has been a time of growth and organization for me. Beginning new routines and ditching things that just weren’t working—which has made getting a handle on things a tad simpler!

Organization is key. I knew that years ago but didn’t make it a priority, and my business has suffered as a result. Lesson learned!

Alyice: How did you go about finding who your target audience was and what they wanted?

Chrysti: It isn’t the best business decision, but my audience found me.

Early on I joined several artist communities that fit what I was interested in and what I created. Exposing myself in that way allowed those who enjoy what I offer to come to me.

Doing fine art shows has allowed me the privilege of building collectors and a mailing list of people who love what I create.

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Alyice: How has this affected the type of art you create?

Chrysti: It hasn’t! I found when I tried to “force” my work to be what I thought people wanted, business dropped. Expressing myself authentically has proved to be the most profitable.

Alyice: What’s been your biggest success in keeping your audience informed of new works and sales?

Chrysti: My blog and my mailing list. When I don’t spend the time on those two things I see a huge drop in business.

I believe the best blogs and mailing lists have less to do about the person behind them and more about the person reading them. Simply put, I decide what it is I have to offer that day—a technique, a piece of advice, something I find inspirational—and make sure it’s about the reader. . . not me. Sticking to that always yields the best results.

Alyice: Whether an artist is new to selling, or has been at it awhile, navigating the online realm can seem quite daunting—yet you seem to have a good handle on it. What’s your secret?

Chrysti: The iPhone! It has been a lifesaver for me! It saves me so much time with social networking. If I have just 3 minutes when I am nowhere near my computer I can easily touch base with my sites and/or networks.

Another thing I do is set a timer when browsing blogs. That way I don’t get too lost in all of the fabulous sites creative people host. Then I focus in on just a few areas I feel are most worth my time, knowing that I have to be willing to adapt to the ones that show stability.

Also, I leave forums that I feel don’t offer me any exposure or a way to connect with people.

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Alyice: One mistake that many artists make, when first joining social networking sites, like Twitter or Facebook—or forums like Ning—is forgetting to actually socialize. How do you balance the delicate line between selling and networking?

Chrysti: What an excellent question! Selling is my second priority. Nobody likes the insurance salesman who is constantly turning up on your doorstep, ringing your phone, and invading your space. It shows a total lack of respect for the person on the receiving end. And why would anyone want to do business with someone they don’t respect?

It really goes back to what I mentioned earlier, it has less to do about you and your work AND more to do with what you can offer your followers. People want to know you are human; show that side!

There are plenty of folks who offer no conversation, no amusing anecdotes, and don’t share information. All they post are links to a new listing or product. I am not at all vested in those relationships, and am not prone to purchase. Give us something to relate to. As an artist, you are your brand.

By sharing pieces of both yourself and your knowledge you also become memorable to people. So when Jane’s cousin is turning 40, Jane remembers I sell these beautiful prints that would look perfect on her cousin’s wall. She is vested in me, feels good spending her money with me and she is also more prone to become a collector.

Alyice: Another mistake that can be made is forgetting that there is a world offline. You’ve been published in several magazines and books. How has this helped your career as an artist?

Chrysti: Exposure is crucial as an artist. You could be the next Monet, but if nobody knows about your work it can never be shared.

Publications help me gain additional exposure, respect from my peers, and some credibility. Besides, I love being a part of anything that encourages folks to embrace their creativity!

Alyice: Aside from reading the publisher’s submissions guidelines, and taking the time to familiarize yourself with the publication itself, is there anything particular you’ve learned about getting accepted that you can share with our readers?

Chrysti: Never give up.

Not every article you pitch will be received well, not every article you write will make the cut, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have what it takes. It means that particular piece wasn’t what they were looking for at the time. The “why” could be any number of reasons, and I think many have little to do with your talent.

To learn more about Chrysti’s “Artography” or to see her mixed media canvases, please visit her website, ChristyHydeck.com.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

Alexandra Sheldon has been creating visual art since she was just a child. At the age of fourteen, several adults in her community even volunteered to mentor her by sharing their crafts, including silk screening, weaving, print making,. . . read more

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