Know Your Collectors and Patrons

Notes From My Office

I got a message today from an artist just starting out. She wanted to know if I thought it was a good idea to market her art the way I do? 

I think it is important to know what you really expect and desire from your career before you make decisions on how to promote it. I am an established artist. I spent a number of years going the traditional route of doing juried shows and exhibits, working on my resume and my artist statement, and trying to build a relationship with the artistic community and the art elite. 

I figured out at about 50 that this was really not what would sustain and support me. I wish I had put my ego aside long ago and figured out what I really wanted and desired. It was simple once I figured out that what I wanted was not fame, but instead to be the best painter I was capable of and to sell enough paintings to survive and remain a full time painter with no other job. I wanted to have a good relationship with the people who love nature and who treasure the landscape of the South, particularly Florida. I wanted to develop friendships with the people I find to be very interesting and who have the same love of the wild places that I do. 

I then set about spending most of my time in front of the easel and most of my marketing time talking and communicating with people who love the natural world, from all walks of life. Though I enjoy knowing artists and spending time with them, most of my friends are not artists. They are professors, farmers and ranchers, lawyers,teachers,biologists, medicical,conservationists,hunters,fishermen and from other careers. These are the people I most enjoy spending time with, because I learn about the world from them. I cherish these relationships. They give me a better balance in my life than I had when all of my friends were in the arts. 

My collectors put food on my table, not the arts community. My collectors mean everything to me and I spend a fair amount of time trying to please them. 

I can't tell anyone else how to promote their career because they probably don't have the same goals I do. I no longer need the ego boost of competing for prizes. I paint what I love and that is what is really important to me, not whether a jurist thinks I can paint. There is nothing wrong with competitive painting if that is what feeds your confidence, but I no longer need that. One of the great things about being 62 years old is that I don't have anything to prove.

Happy Thanksgiving friends!!


David King said...

This is a very interesting post to me Linda. I'm still very early in my art "career", an intermediate student at best, haven't really even bother to try selling yet. I have been a member of a local artist's society for several years and put paintings in a couple of their exhibitions, won awards in both of them but they were quite small shows. With those experiences and what I read I can't imagine ever really fitting into the traditional art world. I have a couple artist friends but that's really only because they have been my instructors, I haven't really been able to relate to anybody else. So, to final bring this long comment to a close, I wonder how you were able to become successful without shows and galleries, how did you reach your market? I'm sure I'd rather reach the kind of people you sell to rather than those in the eclectic art collecting community as well.

Linda Blondheim said...

I found my collectors by shared interests and by showing them my work. I market constantly through my blogs, my web site and my five day a week newsletter. I have a retail studio as well, where people can come and see my work. I meet lots of people through my residencies and occasional paint outs. Marketing is a full time
Job and painting is a full time job. I do around 300 paintings a year. An art career is a business just like any other. Not many are well suited for it. It takes real discipline to succeed and one way is not good for everyone.

Best of luck.

Linda Blondheim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David King said...

Thanks for the reply Linda. Your answer is pretty much what I expected. Hard to find the time/energy/ambition to get into the art business when you already have a full time job I'm afraid.

Linda Blondheim said...

It might be netter to enjoy the process of painting instead David. It can be a lot more fun.

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