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The Art of Making and Marketing Art


Recently, I attended two workshops in Santa Fe on the art of selling art. From “Master the Art of Marketing Art,” taught by Robbi Firestone, to the Clark Hulings Fund Art Business Institute’s weekend seminar, “Equipping Visual Artists to be Self-Sustaining Entrepreneurs,” I have come to the conclusion that selling the business of selling art to artists is a new business niche. I met the charming Sharon Seifert Varner of Scottsdale at both venues. Her business card introduces her as an “Art Coach Pro” and an “Art Success Specialist.” Just now, I Googled “seminars on selling art” and came up with about 4,100,000 results. On the coveted first page I noted “The Abundant Artist,” “Artists Who Thrive,” “Making Art Making Money,” and the popular Artsy and Artnet. In short, everybody’s doing it.

This niche business, in my opinion, points to the changing face of the traditional gallery as a business model, and to the accessibility that the Internet offers for exposure and sales. Those two factors have combined to make artists the latest targets in the “how-to” world—especially those who are retired from other careers who have an income beyond social security to spend on these seminars, which range in price from free (Firestone’s SCORE-sponsored workshop) to several hundred dollars. A third factor certainly tips the scales in favor of an older baby boomer taking such a class, and that is their discomfort with social media.

These are all valid reasons to investigate such a course; I certainly don’t mean to imply that everyone who offers such a business-of-art class is selling snake oil. Mostly, though, my takeaway was simply the reassurance that you can use the Internet to sell your art—that lots of artists are already doing so and you can too. One of the factors behind the actual need for teaching artists how to sell their work is that art schools don’t teach business. And while galleries used to keep artists’ pristine auras intact from the filth of commercialism, that’s no longer a viable option for most artists, who outnumber brick-and-mortar galleries by about fifty thousand to one—or more. You’re going to have to get out there and sell your art yourself, or risk leaving a studio, house, and garage-ful of objects that your heirs most likely will have to, heartbreakingly, dispose of.

The point here is that, no matter whose advice you seek, which social-media apps you choose, and what prices you assign to your artworks, you need to establish a presence online. This is where ArtBeat Santa Fe can help: Let us create content with one of our interviews and/or blogs, and link you to our accounts. You can take that and post away. Or, if the very thought of handling your own social-media posts fills you with dread, let us be your marketing consultants!

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