Why Every Artist Needs to Give to Gain

By Aletta de Wal in Art Business Advice > A-Z Art Marketing Guide

Welcome back to “The ABC’s of Art Marketing”—an alphabet guide to marketing your art, from A to Z.

In today’s article I’ll be focusing on the letter “G,” and explaining how marketing your art often requires you to give something in order to gain something.

Giving is often the first step to creating value

As an artist, you know you’ve got to give 100% to create something amazing. . . when you do, creativity flows, and you get into the zone. You gain skill and confidence. You produce art you are proud to show. Life is good.

In the same way, if you want to make a living from your art you must give your time, energy and money to market yourself and gain something of value now or in the future. That something could be tangible or intangible. You could gain fame, followers, fortune or even the faith to keep going.

Sometimes the giving and the getting is immediate, and directly understood.

For example, when you make your art to sell:

• You give money to the art supply shop. You get materials to create your work.
• You give your time and creative energy in the studio. You produce works of art.
• You give money to the framer to finish your work. You get art that is ready to display.

But many times, giving has no guarantees

Often you may feel like you’re giving a LOT, for invisible results that don’t feed your bank account. For example when you market your art:

• You give information about your work and career in person, in print and on the web.
• You give samples of your art to viewers in exhibits, postcards and your website.
• You invest time, energy and money to frame and exhibit your paintings.

You can do all these things and still not get noticed, talked about, appreciated, or collected. If you persist, however, it DOES get easier.

• Collectors may begin to give you attention, appreciation and money for your art.
• Gallery dealers may give you their knowledge and access to their client base.
• Arts writers and bloggers may give you a platform for exposure of your art and career.

It takes persistence, and the willingness to keep on giving, for this to happen. It may NOT happen. But without working hard and giving your all, it certainly won’t.

One of the best ways to give is to help others

As a successful or emerging artist, you may decide to “work for free” because it feels good to contribute to the society and community where you live.

• You might volunteer at the local co-op gallery to support your local art scene and feel connected to your artist community.
• You may donate art to causes you believe in, to grow the society you want.
• You may give your time and energy to volunteer in arts programs for underserved schools to build a future audience for art.

In the end, no matter HOW you give, it’s important to understand how giving affects everyone involved. Ask yourself the following questions, as often as possible:

• What skill or gift can I contribute to this deserving person, organization, action, occasion, event or cause?
• What would I get directly from doing that? What would others get?
• What are the intangible benefits that my contribution will bring?
• Are these benefits immediate, long term, or both?
• Is there a way that my contribution could result in a positive benefit (of money, goodwill, or awareness) for every party involved?

When there is a healthy balance between your concern for others and a reasonable self-interest, everyone benefits and feels good.

In the words of William James: “The greatest use of a life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.”

What are YOU willing to give. . . and what will you leave behind?

Follow the links below to read more articles in “The ABC’s of Art Marketing”—an alphabet guide to marketing your art, from A to Z:

A – Appreciating your Audience

B – Building your Business Base

C – Communicating Clearly, Consistently and Cleverly

D – Diversifying Your Delivery

E – Educate, Entertain, Engage, Enrich, and Evolve

F – Fostering Friendly Familiarity

G – Give to Gain (current article)

H – Hiring Help

I – The 5 “I’s” of Art Marketing

J – Joining Juried Shows

K – Creating Good Karma

L – Listening and Learning

M – Mastering your Marketing Messages

N – Negotiating 101

O – Turning Obstacles into Opportunities

P – Procrastination & Perfection

Q – Quality & Quantity: Creating Art that Sells

R – 8 Rules to Improve Your Artist/Collector Relationships

S – S is for Sales

T – 30 Ways to Say “Thank You”

U – Switching from “I” to “Us”

V – Volunteering in the Art World

W – Write, Write, Write!

Y – Just Say Yes

Z – Zen, Zoom, ZigZag & Zowie


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