Switching from “I” to “Us” when Marketing Your Art

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 “U” for Us.

Do you crave the isolation of your studio to make art? I know I do.

But when it comes to marketing what you create, there’s no way around the fact that you need to join with many people to grow an art business.

In short, if you want to sell your art, it’s going to get crowded. . . you’ll need to go from “I” to “us” as you create relationships somewhat out of the blue.

Here are a few ways to get ready for that:

1. Be open to “us” moments, no matter what.

The best art marketing is often simply a series of conversations designed to build a bridge between you, your art and your audience. That bridge is where each individualthe artist, viewer, buyer or agent—start to interact. After many moments of interacting, you and I becomes “we” and “us.” A relationship begins.

Of course, at any given show or exhibit, you have no way of knowing who just came to look, and who came to buy. But by being alert to what is going on with everyone you meet, you increase the chances that “you” and “I” become “us.”

I would say that the most important “us” is made up of you and whomever you are with at the time. A viewer can become a buyer, and a buyer can always walk away. Your conversations and ability to connect (with everyone!) will always play a part in that decision.

Here’s a perfect example.

An artist in Santa Fe told me about being at an art fair at the end of the weekend. Traffic was light so many artists had begun packing up 30 minutes before the official close. She’d had enough of the heat and the questions. Maybe she should join them?

A scruffily dressed man came up to her booth and carefully studied her work. She wondered what he might know about art or if he even had any money to buy some. The man told her that her work was good and that she should go to the main gallery in town for her kind of work. She thanked him and packed up for the day.

Next day she decided to go to the gallery. After all, what did she have to lose?

The director of this esteemed gallery was expecting her. She had a solo show six months later. The scruffily dressed man turned out to be the owner who had rushed to the fair after a day of gardening.

2. Look for “us” opportunities in the everyday.

Finding an “us” moment can happen anywhere, even somewhere as non-art-related as riding the bus to work each day. But only if we let it.

If we are preoccupied, we may not realize we’re missing an opportunity as we go from point A to point B. We stop registering other people’s faces, moods, or notice what they’re wearing.

But ride that same bus with a mindset of “us” and you will get to know the driver and other passengers. Strangers will become familiar.

One day you might even start sketching on the bus and those people you’ve come to know will look over your shoulder. You see where this is going?

Looking for “us” moments requires intentionality. Once you shift to that mindset, you’ll find opportunities at every corner.

3. Your business runs on “us” too.

Think of all the invisible business partners you have.

These are the people who sell you art supplies, offer business services, manage your website, assist you in the day-to-day, make prints, flyers, or business cards. . . even the people who deliver your packages, or the government officials you see every few years to renew your business license.

Don’t forget about these people as people. What do they need? How is their business going? How’s life for them?

No business is an island (to paraphrase a famous quote). Every business, your business, relies on others. Those people make great marketing partners, friends, supporters, and yes, sometimes they even become collectors or clients.

Find the “us” moments in life. They won’t always announce themselves, but trust me, it’s those relationships that make the artist’s life MOST satisfying and fulfilling.

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

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” (current article)

V – Volunteering in the Art World

W – Write, Write, Write!

Y – Just Say Yes

Z – Zen, Zoom, ZigZag & Zowie


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