I wrote this article when Art Marketing 101 had first come out. Since then, there have been updates. I highly recommend this book to any artist serious about making a hobby into a living. Here’s the older article I wrote about one of the first editions.
Art Marketing 101: A Review
By Sara Zimmerman, copyright 2005
The greatest aspect of being an artist is having a passion in life that is tangible. Many people are blessed with this gift and choose to create art as a hobby. The difficulty arises when some of these talented artists choose to fulfill their dream of becoming a professional artist and cannot find the means to do so. Often they have the zest to promote themselves, but find the tasks to becoming a professional artist confusing, creating obstacles. Fortunately, there are many wonderful guides that help set the stage for artists wishing to take this leap, such as Constance Smith’s Art Marketing 101: A Handbook for the Fine Artist.
Art Marketing 101: A Handbook for the Fine Artist is a wonderful handbook that breaks the barrier of art marketing in a step-by-step program. In Art Marketing 101: A Handbook for the Fine Artist, Smith touches on everything from goal setting, to artist legalities, to portfolio creation, to art reps. She lays out each subject with a brief overview, a breakdown of tasks, and a reference for more information. Included are several anecdotes about her clients and other successful artists that provide appreciated insight.
One of my favorite segments in Art Marketing 101: A Handbook for the Fine Artist is the pricing segment, which I have found to be very helpful. Smith integrates your time and overhead costs (studio rent, utilities, organization fees, supplies, etc.) with the market value. She explains the formula in great detail and notes what area to add or subtract from. By creating this formula, Smith helps us to see how to appropriately assign a price to our work (and commissions) without the guesswork. (I am very grateful for this formula because it gives me a solid answer when asked how I decide to price my work).
Other wonderful segments included in Art Marketing 101: A Handbook for the Fine Artist are Changing Your Vision, Navigating the Art market, and the Print Market. In her Changing Your Vision section, Smith talks about how one must embrace calling oneself as an artist if that is their dream: “Once you start calling yourself an artist, you’ll be surprised at how many other people will start referring to you as an artist, too. Hearing others call you artist creates an inner image that reinforces your aim,” (Smith p. 21). She continues by “setting the stage” in her Navigating the Art Market portion with a “Making Sure You’re Ready” checklist. This checklist has asks all the appropriate questions including: “Do you have a body of work ready to sell? Are you able to produce artwork of a consistent quality and style? Are there any legal considerations in selling your product?” (p 154) These are fairly obvious questions that are easily overlooked when swamped with marketing tasks and the urge to create art. Lastly, in Smith’s Print Market piece, she relays the pros and cons as well as the ease of reproducing your works. Some artists do not want to promote themselves to galleries and feel more at ease at fairs and other events. Selling inexpensive reproductions such as greeting cards and small prints can help alleviate booth and entry fees as well as provide a supplemental income.
Since being a working artist requires so much thought in business and marketing, having a clear-cut guide takes the frustration out of it (I know I find this book extremely helpful when I feel like I’m in over my head!). If you feel like you want to take the next step to becoming a professional artist, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Constance Smith’s Art Marketing 101: A Handbook for the Fine Artist from your local bookseller for under $25. Good luck and happy artwork!