What is the number one challenge facing creatives right now and how to get back on track in 2020? I take a broad look at what is working for me and suggest a few things you can try out in the New Year. From creating more art and selling your art. Let's take a close look!
First and Most Importantly
I want express my sincere thanks and appreciation for your support over the past year. For reading this blog, watching my videos, commenting on new paintings - all of it. Thank you very much!
Okay on with the nitty gritty ....
Things coming up in the new year: I'm working on a major course on gouache painting. A medium that has fascinated me for quite some time. I have been focusing on it a lot more during 2019. There's a whole bunch of demonstrations and techniques and how-to information that's going to be included in that new course. So keep in touch or maybe you want to sign up below for news and you'll get in on the launch of that course in early 2020.
1. The Time Thief
The biggest problems artists are facing come down to time and expense. Unfortunately a lot of people are struggling to find time to paint and the whole creative experience has come under a lot of pressure. Time is now one of our rare commodities.
There are so many things trying to buy your time. Subscriptions to TV programs and channels for example. A lot of people are feeling compelled to get involved and watch series TV. That is a major drain on time. It's called entertainment and is supposed to be a reward for your hard work! But is it really?
I see so many artists struggling to get time to paint, yet they feel compelled to spend time watching quite a lot of forgettable junk on TV. That is one major problem that can be solved if you have the will.
2. Expensive Art Materials
The other thing that I hear a lot about is the price of art materials. They are getting more and more expensive. I've thought about that quite a bit and I know there are a few online retailers that are working hard to get cost-effective art materials out there. People like Art Savings Club in South Africa are doing a good job in discounting art materials.
Looking back over the past five years or so you will see the increase of various art materials available today. It is amazing. The fact is you can get almost every art material your heart desires now whether it's online or at a local shop. There is no shortage of art materials.
Yes, costs keep going up. However, there's a lot of pressure to purchase high end art materials. A few years ago I couldn't get my hands on many artists quality materials. There was perhaps one brand that was available locally. Now there's five or six major artists quality brands that I can purchase. But even so, the standard of student grade paint for the most part has improved. In many cases it's hard to tell the difference between artist's quality and good student paints.
I know if you are selling expensive professional paintings then artist quality paint makes sense. But I think for students there is a great choice of student art supplies and at very good prices. The expense issue has actually improved because of competition and choice. In many cases it's simply comes down to motivation and the desire to paint and be creative not the price of materials. See my review of these excellent paints for example.
3. How to Find Time to Create
Cher had a song years ago where she wanted to turn back time. Sorry Cher that is not happening, but maybe you can do something better?
The problem is when you tell somebody that they have the time to create and are simply not getting down to it. It forces people to get defensive about it. They have to defend their statement that they don't have time. The challenge in 2020 to find time is going to get more intense as more demands will be made on our time.
It is time for everyone to say enough! Stop giving your time away to other people and corporations who want your subscription to watch some forgettable stuff on TV. Cut all that out and give your time back to yourself. Take your time back. That is the best present you can give yourself in the New Year. Don't give your time away to someone else.
Giving yourself time to be creative is incredibly important. Creative expression is so important. It's practically a health benefit that nobody else can give you. You can only give it to yourself. You can learn, you can watch lessons and you can take in information, but you've got to get it out again with the art you create. So give yourself time in 2020 and don't let anyone else take it away.
4. Mastering Art is Difficult (Persist)
Another positive growth point is that more and more people are wanting to take up art. You have got to stick with it to get the full benefits though.
The thing is that any art form is not easy. That is the plain truth of it. You have to learn the right things, but you also have to put them into practice. You have to break bad habits and you've got to try new things and take risks. None of those are easy. It is in fact damn hard to really become good at any art form.
It comes down to practice. If you can practice the right things on a regular basis. Even if you devote a half an hour here and there. Maybe on a Saturday and Sunday. That is an hour of focus on your art. It is going to help you. If you do that every week you are going to improve steadily. If you can get in more times than that even better. It is also possible to paint in the evening if you have good lighting. A good strong daylight bulb or two can make it a pleasure to create in the evenings.
You Have the Energy to Create:
Once you start and you spend fifteen to twenty minutes, that can turn into quite a pleasurable time. I always find that I get more energy when I'm being creative. Even if I'm dragging myself around. A few minutes into painting or drawing or something like that, I immediately start feeling better and more energetic. That is the magic of being creative.
In short creating art is difficult. It is really difficult to master any art form, so don't be discouraged by that. In fact this should encourage you, because the more resistance you're experiencing means that you are progressing. Overcoming that hurdle and pushing through. If you don't care about getting better at painting it is easy to just paint, but you will never go any further with it. To do that means pushing through the tough times.
5. Selling through Galleries
I know many artists are struggling tremendously to sell their paintings. I'm speaking about paintings because that's what I know, but it can be any form of art. The idea of putting your paintings into galleries is still around. However it is simply one choice out of many. The idea that it's the be all and end all for an art career is completely gone now. There are very, very few good galleries. But there are many great artists and a lot of great artwork. Not all of it can fit in a good gallery.
There are also many poor galleries. I mean in the sense of not being good businesses. They are not going to help your career. Do not worry about galleries that are not doing the work to promote your art and to sell your paintings.
It is almost guaranteed that you can sell your paintings better than any average gallery out there. So don't be shy about learning the basics of sales and marketing. You probably know a lot of it anyway. If you are passionate about your art, it's almost assured that you'll be a better salesperson for your art.
6. The Best Place to Sell Art?
What to do about marketing your art in 2020? Social media is not the solution. It is a tool at your disposal, but it still is going to come down to you to put in the work and get people to see your paintings. Social media is one avenue. The most effective way to sell paintings in my experience is some form of market where you are present. In between you can keep on selling online on your website and promote on social media. You can put your work in a gallery if that is available.
But for me the biggest focus is to select a few markets. Maybe you live in a big area that has a constant market available for artists? In that case use it. Maybe it's on a weekend or it's all week long. But for most of us art fairs and art markets are for a limited time at certain times of the year. So what I do is to select one or two of those big ones and try and get my art seen by as many people in as short a space of time as possible.
I create paintings with the intention of building up 20 to 30 really nice pieces of art that I will market at these art fairs or art markets during the year. And as I say, I will target one or two, maybe a third. Realistically I can only put in the effort for one or two at most and really go in for the event in a big way.
Markets have got the right people there coming in all the time and you are also there to interact with them. I find that the limited duration of a market encourages people to buy paintings as well.
7. Pricing Your Art
As far as pricing goes, I believe in pricing to sell. I am not in the game of trying to manipulate a price and create a false market. I am pragmatic. There are many other artists with fantastic paintings. I'm competing with them and they are competing with me. Although our work is unique, when you're selling to a collector, you need to connect with that potential collector. They need to connect with your artwork, but they will always consider price.
Where you fix your price depends on what you believe is the right price in the market you are in. Also the stage of your career is a significant factor. It is not too difficult to find a pricing middle line and you can place yourself above it or even below it depending on all of these factors.
I do want my prices to be competitive. I'm not giving things away, but I'm also not trying to create a perception which isn't based on reality.
8. Time Spent on Marketing
When marketing try not to spend too much time on it. Rather give a fairly small amount of time every day. Make it part of your day to think about marketing. It could be putting up a few pictures on social media and it could be writing an article for your blog. An update, any news and so on.
Often you find the recommendations of social media experts are to spend a considerable amount of time creating content. For example stories on Instagram. A very hot topic at the moment.
I read an expert's opinion to post five images every day on Instagram stories. Now I've thought about that. I've also considered how long it takes me to produce pictures of good quality. You can't just post a poor snapshot from a smartphone app. It's going to look bad and will not be a good reflection on you. So you need a decent photo. Five of them a day easily takes up an hour of your time.
You have to think about taking the photos. You have to pause and take time to take the photos. You've got to tweak the photo. You got to think of things to say about it and master the app. So that's an hour of the day if not more. I believe an hour that's really hard to find between everything else. Especially for something that's going to last 24 hours. The problem for me is spending an hour a day for something that's going to be gone in 24 hours. Sounds strange or maybe it is just me who thinks that?
You decide if that works for you or not.
9. Evergreen Marketing is Better
I prefer something that is evergreen and keeps coming back. So for me, things like Pinterest, my blog and YouTube. YouTube is really awesome because of the video, but you can put video on Pinterest now as well. This is working fantastically. I can re-promote that material and it is not lost on a timeline. The content is up there forever and new people are seeing it all the time. That makes sense to me. That's my two cents worth on social media.
10. Why Art is So Important
I want you to have as much creative fun as you can. Creating more art is going to be important, especially with the demands that are going to keep coming at us into the new decade. We are going into exciting times. So remain positive, embrace change and do as much art as you can. Learn as much as you can and just take part. I think that's important. Just take part in this life and give more freedom to yourself. Give more time to yourself to be creative. It will keep you happy and healthy and that benefits everybody.
Have a wonderful New Year!
Start 2020 the Best Way ...