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Posts Tagged ‘marketing strategy’

In most endeavors, it helps to have a plan and a destination. That discipline is hard to come by for the flighty, creative thinker. I read the blogs I follow in the morning, and the mental curiosity can divert from the task at hand.

When I started entering shows, being admitted to juried organizations and exhibits, getting gallery representation was difficult. The owners and exhibit staffs wanted a body of work staying in the same style for at least 2 years. My work was too experimental and varied to interest them.

I got very good advice from other artists. Most I failed to try. Buy your glass and frames all one size. You can get the glass by the box and save money. Even when I started watercolors on the same size of paper, I was tempted to trim for the best results. And for style? My friend suggested I was a group show all by myself. When did the discipline begin?

The first main series of women started when I decided to stop  teaching and took a course. I wanted to do whatever I wanted to leave as a statement. The large format (square) paintings led to the women who helped desegregate transportation. There are ten paintings, some of them posted.

The current and most ambitious series is coming to a close. At least that is my plan.  A few years ago, in a new studio, I was intrigued with the story of Deborah Sampson. She was a MA woman who fought in the Revolutionary War. I did not know her story after living near Boston for 10 years!

And so I started a new series of similar women through history. There are many and each has a story to be told. I have selected a variety of women, countries, stories based on how interesting they were. The list could go on far beyond my telling.

I have decided to finish this series at 31. One has been sold (Rosa Bonheur). This would leave an exhibit of thirty. They are smaller that the transportation series (16 x 20) and acrylic rather than oil.

Note:

Whether a visual artist or a writer, a time comes when you have to attend to the business end. If you do not sell your work, it is important to decide on storage and whatever documentation you want to leave with your work. Toni Morrison had her manuscripts and revisions in her home when it burned down. Duplicates, cd’s etc. should be carefully preserved. Leave your work to a relative or friend who will be pleased to have it. Perhaps, they will publish some of your work. Many times the local library will accept your work.

Painters have a bigger problem. This series is smaller because my studio is smaller. Before you frame work, be certain to sign, photograph and document everything. For insurance purposes, place a value on your work whether you intend to sell or not.

Who knew?

A story I heard  about a painting and its value happened when the owner told her friend of its value. She cautioned her not to let it get away when settling her estate.

The day of the funeral the gaudily framed work of art was put under the bed in case the house was robbed. The painting was as ugly as  the frame. But it was taken to be evaluated. The dealer took the frame off and carefully looked at both parts. The painting is worthless, he said. It is a print on cheap cardboard. So disappointed was the new owner until the dealer explained. The value was in the lumpy, gaudy, dark frame. Each hump and bump was a rough gem or precious metal found on the many travels the owner had made. Uncut and unpolished, the value was most generous. So your smallest drawing might , if not already, draw a generous sale price.

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English: The logo for Apple Computer, now Appl...

English: The logo for Apple Computer, now Apple Inc.. The design of the logo started in 1977 designed by Rob Janoff with the rainbow color theme used until 1999 when Apple stopped using the rainbow color theme and used a few different color themes for the same design. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Update!

There is something to be said for serendipity or mental telepathy. As soon as the post was proofread, I pushed publish as the phone was ringing.

You guessed it! My favorite Mac store called to say my new computer was ready to be picked up. Now the real work begins. Am I excited, yes. Do I still think it would have been nice to have my purchase a month or more ago, yes.  Would I have cancelled the order in favor of another brand, never.

For all consumers here and now, please have the inventory for quick delivery. We are impatient people.

An apple a day

Mashable.com reports on the advertising app Apple is making for iPads and I am only thinking, “Why?”

Judith (booksbyjudith.wordpress.com) reports that her self-publishing efforts with the new iMAC has given her problems. And I am thinking, “Wonder if I would have the same problems.”

I am asking myself, “Why did Apple make the new, beautiful, thin MACs so difficult to upgrade?”

We, the Apple loyalists

Decisions on what to purchase, even by dedicated Apple-users, are made carefully. We are influenced by more than the ‘pretty face.’

Once we are ready to add to the annual toys, we are READY. It would be nice to walk out of the store with the box. It need not be gift wrapped. We know we may need help getting the new computer from the car to the house. The route and needed assist are as well-thought out as getting the nursery ready for the new addition. We are READY.

Never before have we had to wait, wait and wait for our purchase. Never before have we asked and received the blank stare. Like where is the computer? Like when will it arrive? These questions should not be too difficult to answer. And especially since the bill has been paid and we are READY.

Then, adding to the frustration, the old computer with the dancing screen, seems to know its best days are over. One day, it does its best. The next it seems in a slump of resignation. Reluctantly, it is as READY as we are to move on. A divorce is on the way. A  faster version may get here while still young and pretty or it may have aged in its travels. It may have battle scars and be as needy as the five-year old on my desk. Who knows?

Apple, Apple, we love you. We have worn out a museum full of every version you have made. Our toys include the iPADs and a few iPHONEs.  We have no complaints. We and they have served you well. We do not begrudge your need to promote your growing inventory, but please, ship the invisible iMAC soon.

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Joanna Penn

Joanna Penn (Photo credit: TheCreativePenn)

Marketing or Promotion?

Definitions:

marketing: a more comprehensive process of getting a product sold. It involves creating the interest, identifying a target group, setting goals for the product and the campaign, advertising using various media, etc.

promotion: one part of a marketing campaign using various techniques including personal contacts to sell a product.

Writers need that extra step of validation and sales. Today it  more important to add the business end to the creative process. So many times writers explain that the work of writing is difficult and lonely. And some get no joy from the final shaping of a publishable article or book.

Add to this, a marketing strategy must be devised and followed aggressively. There is an industry of people who specialize in providing the products and skills needed to put your work on the market. A balance is needed between what you can do well, have the time for and the money left for a profit. Don’t be your own customer.

If you are new to  traditional publishing or self-publishing, how do you avoid pitfalls? You learn as much as you can and sort out advice from others. I find it helpful to be personally involved in each step of a project. That way you will know what to expect when you have the money to hire help. I recently went to a lecture billed “How to Write Your Family Story.”

In fact, it was a retiree, a minister, who had taken on publishing as a second career. He was selling taking your story to print. The samples he showed were glossy books with little content. They were extremely expensive. At these prices, they could not be sold outside of a small interest group.

The most telling part of the presentation came when he talked about his writing services “to help you shape your story.” He offered for you to tell him what you wanted to say and he would write it. Also, if you have written your story and collected the supportive materials, he would act as editor. I found spelling and grammatical errors in his slide presentation. Several in the group asked questions before it was clear: his services were in addition to the printing costs!

To be fair, he had the contact with a printer and the books were attractive. He did nothing about research or sales. Would we know enough about the steps from cover to cover before parting with  our money?

Who knew?

A. J. Race (The Daily Racewood.wordpress) shares his experiences from working alone to hiring some help in publishing a trilogy. A recent find in blogs is advice by Bill Mayer. His use of Slideshare to promote his books is an innovative use of online tools. His post was reblogged by Joanna Penn, a consultant.

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The  decision to go public

Wordsmiths and artists of all disciplines reach a point where they want to share their work beyond family and friends. For each, the reasons are personal and varied. Finding the right venue to meet your goals is one step. But not the first.

Any route you take requires a body of work. Roger Curtis, famous for his seascapes, told his students not to enter classwork in exhibitions. He would embarrass anyone caught doing  it. He would ask a student before demonstrating on her painting. Thus it was not completely your work.

Presentation is the key.

Do you have your painting properly framed for exhIbition. Works on paper require mats and glass. Now wider stretcher bars allow Work on canvas to be unframed. Still the edges must be painted. Is the subject matter suitable for a general audience?

Online  galleries

You may have a full gallery on a website or just a few paintings.  Use the best images to showcase your work. If you are not a good photographer, ask someone to do it. Today digital images are most desired.

Review your submissions with a critical eye.  Others will judge you and compare your art to others.  Now that you are sharing your art and writing with the world, are you satisfied with  the presentation?

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Bicentennial Park HDRI

Bicentennial Park HDRI (Photo credit: HD_Vision)

English: "Wade in the Water." Postca...

English: “Wade in the Water.” Postcard of a river baptism in New Bern, North Carolina near the turn of the 20th century. 日本語: 黒人教会の浸礼 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has been a burning few weeks. The National-New York TV weathermen announced with a sad face, that on the day summer arrived, so did the first heat wave.

Huh? We have measured heat and waves very differently. And we stopped counting. Once the  brain refuses to count, it has been another hot one. And so what is there to do? Walk slowly. Watch children in the water fountains of Bicentennial park or what ever is on your TV news. Drink plenty of water.

Another channel is literally praying for rain. For our yards. Please do not get your prayers answered too generously. We had a fill of water in the flood. Fire in some states and flooding in others. If we can find the God-particle, why can’t we take water to the fires?

Update on Blog University -1

Yesterday’s post was a ‘featured post’ on Black Art in America (www.blackartinamerica.com). This website serves artists, collectors, and those interested in African-American culture. It was quite an honor to have my blog recognised so prominently. Check it out for news about events around the country.

Empathy

It is heart-breaking to see the ravages of fire, and the loss of power. Someone once asked,”Why don’t you just go somewhere else?” Why, indeed. Where?

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Green Hat with Embellishments

Hat Lady Series

Sink or Swim

Sometimes it takes a friend to sing your praises to make you get into the water. I do it for others and now it has happened to me.

Do you drive looking at the yellow line?

That is a good way to avoid accidents, but you also can miss the businesses along the way. Yesterday I delivered cards to a wonderful store a few blocks from my studio. A friend had been singing my praises there. It was time to make the contact and introduce myself. Now I have stepped up to make a place to show my paintings and cards that no one will see tucked into my studio.

The hat ladies were a commission. Each is an original. Once I got started I wanted to become a hat designer. Whoa, Nellie.

But I will continue making these images for awhile. They will be in this nearby shop (which I can promote) and on my fineartamerica website. Tomorrow I will show some of the miniature hats I made a few years ago. Best I stick to painting!

English: Stepping Stones Stepping stones over ...

English: Stepping Stones Stepping stones over the River Doe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who knew?

The proprietor and I had both worked for the Girl Scouts! Even if you feel shy about approaching someone for a business deal, there can be a common denominator to make both people feel comfortable.

What do you say to your friend who encourages you? Thanks and maybe lunch?

It is not necessary or even safe to go leaping into situations. Study the pros and cons, and take a chance with baby steps. Share your knowledge with others and they will be tempted to sing your praises,too. (Thanks, Toni.)

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Acrylic on yupo paper

Private Collection

Good Business

Recently I joined Fine Art America as a participating artist. It was a lucky find online for exhibiting, marketing and sharing my years of work. People will ask what kind of painting do you do. I once knew a man who only painted lighthouses…the same lighthouse! He had hundreds of paintings. He would have an easy time answering this question and meeting the sales demands of many galleries. Lighthouses by (fill in the blank.)

But I have walked to a different drummer.  I am a group show all by myself. And so I have looked for an online opportunity that allowed for my versatility. Ask me now and I can refer you to my websites:

http://bettye-harwell.artistwebsites.com/

http://bettye-harwell.fineartamerica.com/

I have been fortunate enough to get professional photographs as I went along. Those first got me into the card business. I was accepted as an artist for the Constance Kaye Company.   At the time they were offering no black images. I hand mounted these photographs for several years, learning as I did so. It seems like ancient history because there were so few products to help. No  Martha Stewart glues and circle cutters. I had help of a friend who also designed jewelry with me.

At some point I started painting cards. These hit a more general audience, but challenged a not so precise painter to make hundreds of duplicates. So far so good. And then Disney opened its Times Square store. I was selected to provide original cards of Minnie and Mickey Mouse, a thousand at a time! That’s when I hired staff.

I worked for this card company for about 7 years. But now with this new affiliation, people I know only through WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and the general public can see my work, buy the originals if available, or order reproductions. Over 600 times the site has been viewed. I HAVE MADE SOME SALES! The prints on paper, canvas or acrylic as well as notecards are all handled beautifully by the company.

The Birches (above) sold recently to a private collector. My studio is located in a framing gallery and so we were able to provide that service also for original work.

Who knew?

I think every question deserves an answer. I also want to share my good finds with others. I have encouraged others who have also joined this company. Professional artists and online experts learn to evaluate what works for them. It may not work for everybody. You need excellent photographs and tags to bring interested people to your website.

And we are finding that we must remember to be cautious in evaluating public response. I like the comments people leave. It shows they were engaged even when criticizing. I like the give and take with real people. But there are questionable people online.

I feel terrible when my suggestions do not work for someone else, but I should not. I only can say that there are discussions within the company where questions can be asked and help given. And wish the collectors and artists well with their businesses.

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