Your Niche: TMNK and Selling Your Art on the Street
Perhaps you think that this approach won’t work for you, because your work isn’t like Ryan’s. Well, there are plenty more artists I could give as examples, like the graffiti artist who goes by the acronym TMNK, which stands for The Me Nobody Knows. He also sells work on eBay and operates as a free agent for himself, and he has a very different presentation from Abbey Ryan. As a so-called “street artist,” he has created a certain persona for himself by calling himself “nobody.” However, if you take a look at his website and blog, you can see that his efforts are getting quite sophisticated, and his style of presenting himself as a nobody is increasingly fine-tuned. In an interview, I asked him about how he began his career, and his beginnings are similar to Abbey Ryan’s but with a few key differences. He had worked as a graphic designer for ad agencies and decided to quit his job and begin selling his art on the street. He was living in New York at the time, so he was selling his art there. The laws differ from state to state and country to country, but usually you have to get a sales permit, which is fairly easy, and find out what the laws are for artists selling work on the street. In New York almost anyone can sell their work on the street in Soho and in front of museums and many other places, getting some of the best real estate in New York for nothing! Normally, when I mention this to artists, they don’t accept the challenge, but it can be incredibly lucrative.
TMNK sold his work on the street and still does, but he also began selling it on eBay. Like Ryan, he posted things regularly and sent out emails to everyone telling them what he was doing. Over the course of a few years of promoting and selling his art with only the street and email as his show space, he built a career as successful as Ryan’s. The difference between TMNK and Abbey Ryan is that his art is graffiti-based and he used the streets as a way of building a fan base and driving sales. If you search for him on the web, you’ll find his work, just like his fans do; you could say that that’s his main studio, because that’s where most people find him. I am often asked if artists can sell work online. The answer is yes, but it de- pends on how they do it. TMNK puts his artwork on eBay all the time and its value is in- creasing. But it’s also a marketing tool. A lot of people see items listed on eBay. The value of his work continues to grow and as a result he has begun to move away from eBay, as Abbey Ryan has done as well.
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