3 Ways to Identify the Best Target Audience for Your Art

By Carrie Lewis in Art Business Advice > Art Marketing Tips

If you dream of making a living from your art, you probably share one thing in common with every other artist who is also trying to “make it.”

You’re always looking for the right audience.

And how do you find that audience? Here are three suggestions that might help:

1. Identify your niche interest

The first step in finding your target market is usually identifying your particular interests.

I knew from an early age that I wanted to paint horses and that I wanted to make them look as life-like as possible. That knowledge directed everything I did from determining whether or not I went to college, the artists whose methods I studied and emulated, and the skills and tools I added to my artist’s toolbox.

This step is easy if you’ve known from early in your creative life what and how you wanted to paint. If, however, your interests are broader in scope, you may find yourself taking longer to find a niche interest.

That’s OK . . Engage the artistic process long enough, though, and it’s likely your particular interest will find you.

2. Identify your favorite subject

For most artists, this is also a simple matter. If you’ve been painting for a while, just look at the paintings you’ve completed. Just as you’ve probably gravitated toward a specific medium, you’ve also gravitated toward a subject.

You might be wondering how your favorite subject differs from your niche interest. In many cases, it may not. The two may be so closely interwoven, that it’s impossible to separate them.

But not always!

Your niche interest might be the Old West, for example, and your favorite subject the horses of the Old West.

Or your niche interest might be cars and your favorite subject commercial style illustrations or NASCAR or clunkers. It will probably be easier to define your favorite subject. All you have to do, after all, is look at your finished artwork.

A niche interest could be more difficult, but as mentioned in the previous section, it is well worth your time to identify.

3. Identify your style

This is usually a matter of simply painting until your style emerges. You can try to manufacture a style, but it’s usually better to just paint your favorite subjects in your favorite methods and let your style develop organically.

What is style? Your artistic style will be determined by:

• The colors you use most often, and the way you use them
• The tools you use (brushes, palette knife, etc)
• The way you paint (abstract, representational, impressionist, realist)
• The subjects you paint and how you depict them
• The medium you prefer (oils, colored pencil, acrylic, etc.)
• The size of your work

All of the decisions you make in the course of creating artwork contribute to the creation of that particular art piece. Making the same basic decisions over and over contributes to the development of your style.

So who is your target audience?

Simply put, your target audience is the group of people that prefers the type of artwork you create.

You will find the people most likely to buy your paintings or drawings are the people who answer the questions above the same way you answer them. The more closely their answers match yours, the more likely you are to make a sale.

Does that mean guaranteed sales? No.

Does that mean you can’t market to other people? Not at all.

But for every question a potential buyer answers differently than you, the less likely a sale becomes.

For example, here’s how I answered those questions:

• What’s my niche interest? Horse paintings.
• What’s my subject? Portraits of horses and paintings of horses at liberty.
• What’s my style? Representational with a high degree of detail.

The people in my target audience like horse paintings, prefer portraits of their horses or paintings of horses running free, and like representational artwork with a high degree of detail.

People who like horse paintings of any kind and who like representational art are also likely buyers. So are people who like horse portraits or pictures of horses at liberty in a representational style.

People who like landscapes with animals might buy my work and people who like animals in any style might also buy my work. But the further they get from my target in these three main areas, the less likely they are to buy one of my paintings or drawings.

That’s not bad news. That’s good news because it allows me to know who I should market to. Quite often, it also tells me how I should market.

For example, a gallery that caters to abstract art will not be a good fit for my type of art because my most likely buyers probably won’t frequent that gallery.

The bottom line is this: You’ll go a long way on the road to successful marketing if you take the time to identify your target market. You shouldn’t automatically rule everyone else out, but don’t make them your focus.

So ask yourself. . . do you know who your target audience is?

If not, maybe it’s time to look inside, answer those three questions above, and figure it out. It just might be the best thing you could do for your business.


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