This is a guest post from Kent Youngstrom.
“Yeah. I want to sell my stuff.
I see all these artist’s work on sites like One Kings Lane & Gilt and so on and so forth. How do they get their work on there?”
Generally they sit around, drink coffee, and decide to do some work around noon & take a break after an hour or two to contemplate what their art really means. Then they discuss their theories via social media to other artists until it’s time to think about dinner and the evening’s activities.
Or maybe they work at getting their work to sell.
I am constantly asked by other artists how I’m able to make art a full time gig.
Generally my answer is not taken well. It is not pretty & it’s not easy. I didn’t start with a business plan, a studio, fancy business cards, or an art blog.
I don’t really know when I started. But it was slow. I have a family so I couldn’t just jump ship and announce that I was an artist. I looked for clients during the day, took phone orders for unfortunate pleated khakis by evening, and if I could stay awake I would paint a little after that – then do it all over again the next day. Honestly, not the peak of my artistic career, but it was part of the journey.
If I had only known then…
Actually – you do.
You know it now & you can feel it – so do it.
Do what you love – now. Do it at night. Wake up two hours early. Make it your second job. Replace your television schedule with a making stuff schedule. Whatever you have to do. Do it. Now.
Don’t figure it out – because you won’t. I still haven’t; no one has. Don’t wait for clients, don’t wait to be debt free, don’t wait for the right situation, for things to settle down, for your kids to go to school or leave the house or get out of diapers. Don’t wait for less hours at work, don’t wait for summer, don’t wait for winter, don’t wait to settle down. Don’t wait.
Everyday you wait is a day you won’t get back.
And for goodness sake – don’t be an artist.
Artists are notoriously hard to work with. They don’t make deadlines, are late to meetings, change their minds, and don’t communicate. Artists wear ripped jeans and have paint on all their clothes. (Because they are so cool and different from anyone else. Ever notice that if you put them all in a room no one really stands out?)
So surprise someone! Show up on time. Get your head out of the clouds, use real words, put on something clean and ironed… and deliver what you said you would deliver, when you said you would deliver it. Surprise someone!
But really – how do I get cool publicity like you do?
Alluring images of your work will go miles past a quick phone pic or a low light fuzzy submission. Be creative. Show your work in a setting it belongs in. Keep in mind that your audience may not be as creative as you are. They want to see what it would look like hanging on their wall.
– trade photography for art
– take photos yourself with a macro lens
– use a lot of daylight!
– take lifestyle photos
Find who to contact on LinkedIn. Or do your research by clicking “become a vendor” at the bottom of a site you think your work would sell well at. Follow their instructions! Remember – don’t be an artist here.
GET YOURSELF OUT THERE
Try some speed dating… I contact these people/places/and things humbly, with brevity, and graciously.
Or try something like this: (thanks Alexandra Franzen)
“I’m writing today to send an avalanche of appreciation in your direction (warning: gushing praise, straight ahead). I LOVE what you’re up to, and I’ve been reveling in your inspiring work for quite some time now. All of your recent posts hit a hell-YEAH! chord for me, and prompted me to swing into your inbox with an ever-so-slightly-forward request. I want to work with you. On something. Anything.
Much like peanut butter & chocolate, gin & tonic (or bacon & anything), I think ‘our stuff would be better together.'”
(You can borrow the top – just not my peanut butter & chocolate.)
Sign off with a link to your best image.
You might get something back like this I received just last week.
“First off – that was probably one of the best emails I’ve ever received. You are hilarious and so clever! Of course, I would love to be a part of your challenge. Just send me more details and let me know what I need to do!”
Follow up. Send more images or a link to images. (Find out which is best for them.) Be responsive and concise to their questions.
Be easy like a Sunday morning to work with.
And perhaps most importantly – take my dad’s advice he doled out when I first started to notice the girls in skirts… always leave them wanting more. Because:
Brevity is sexy. (That’s another Alexandra Franzen quote.)
Kent Youngstrom is an artist, but not the tortured kind. He’s on a mission to make the walls of your home, office, or secret lair as memorable as you are. He’s also a teacher of creativity and wants you to check out Parachute, his one-day workshop for artists who want to make it a full time gig.