Episode 252 – New Markets for Artists / Do-It-Yourself Fair

Do-It-Yourself Fair

The DIY fair is another approach that can work out well. Essentially a DIY fair is when there is a big art fair near you like Basel Miami Beach, and you rent a space and host your own show. Graffiti artists, among others, have done this very successfully. If you do something interesting and promote your space well and have good art on display, you will be easily noticed, because you will be outside of the main fair area and will be viewed as an independent artist, and thus will be more likely to get better press and reviews.

How TMNK Did It

The artist TMNK makes his living selling his art on the streets of New York, and for a few years, he sold his art on eBay as well. He talks to students in high schools and likes to say, “I am nobody, and if I can do it, then anyone can.” What is different about him is his relentless pursuit, as he says, for what he wants. And one of the things he wanted was to go to Basel in Miami Beach and find a way to show his work. He told me he was thinking of renting a carwash for the day. As he calculated, a carwash couldn’t make more than $1,500 a day, and he was willing to pay that much so he could use the space to exhibit his work. But he never did that because, according to him, once he was in Miami he went around the city and found a better place.

Getting a Space

Eventually he met a developer who rented him a space in the heart of the fair district, right across from a permanent collection of a wealthy family that received an exceptionally high amount of traffic on its own. TMNK was not the first person to have success by renting a space around the fairgrounds, and in fact this method has since become more popular among artists and may be a viable option for you as well. Once you have your own space, you can host parties, openings, and band performances, and you will have a lot more room to experiment with new ideas. In the end, renting a space could (though not necessarily) be cheaper because you will be in control of all the decisions that must be made, but you must do what TMNK did before renting his space— go to the fairgrounds and start checking the neighborhoods for empty storefronts or warehouses. Who knows what you will find? Depending on your art, you may be able to use an outdoor location as well. After finding a suitable location, your next task is to find the realtor who is in control of it.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 251 – New Markets for Artists / Promoting Your Booth

Promoting Your Booth

To promote your booth or room, you can employ traditional as well as nontraditional tactics. Traditional tactics mean advertising, which can range from using your Facebook page to tell friends, to local print and web advertising. If you don’t have a budget for promotion, you can think about performances or other guerilla tactics. If you are sharing the booth with a friend, one of you can go out and promote in person while the other remains inside. Handing out postcards is a good method, but make sure they have an eye-catching design or promotional hook. Have a picture on the front, and invite them to an after party on the back. People will be more likely to come if there is a social element to the event. Try to think of other gimmicks, such as free giveaways to the first 10 people who visit, or adding a performance by a band or well-known artist.

Do a Performance or Hire Someone

Another way to draw a crowd is to have a performer put on a demonstration outside your booth. You know how stores sometimes have people dressed up in silly costumes to draw attention? That can work for you too, but since you are an artist, the performance should be more interesting. Most art fairs have a good amount of traffic anyway, but this is not always the case. I have seen artists invest a lot of money into a booth only to find out that the organizers didn’t promote the fair enough, and by then it is too late. So if you are in a fair that is run by artists, it is wise to find past participants and ask them what they think about the fair in question.

Brand New Fairs

Some independent fairs are run better than others of the same size, and they change from year to year, so be sure to learn a little about their histories by searching on the web and finding people who have been associated with the fairs in the past but are no longer running them. Most fairs have lists of participating artists online, and you can easily write to the artists and ask what their experience at the fairs were. The easiest way to get their email addresses is to look up their art website or Facebook page. I have found that Facebook is the easiest way to contact people you do not know, because unlike regular email, their inboxes are not filled with junk or spam.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 250 – New Markets for Artists / Parties are Good, in Moderation

Parties are Good, in Moderation

By all means, you should go to and enjoy the parties at these fairs, but be careful not to end up talking to people all the time. It is easy to just hang out with fellow artists and get their email addresses, but you also need to be trying to meet the collectors. Talking with collectors is hard for most artists. Probably you are not used to talking to collectors (or other very wealthy people, for that matter); and so you are leaving your comfort zone. Who wouldn’t naturally be reluctant to jump into this situation? But since you are at the fair to meet people who can help you, you have to help yourself by expanding your social circle.

Sales

Let’s assume you have decided to join one of the artist-run fairs to show your work in your own booth (or hotel room). To save on the cost, one option is to split the room with another artist, ideally one you would be comfortable sleeping with so you can share the bed too, but that is up to you. The gamble you take in investing in a booth or hotel room (especially for artists who do not have strong sales records) is that if you don’t make enough sales, you are losing money. Many artists who have booths never worry about sales and instead hang out in their rooms, serving wine or juice and hoping that their art on display will catch the eye of passing buyers.

Sometimes this works, and people do make sales, but this is the exception and not the rule. If you are running your own booth, be friendly when people come in and try to start conversations—you will be more likely to make sales this way. Also, if you have a friend who is an actor or a salesperson, you could ask them to help you in return for a commission on the art they sell or a flat rate that you agree upon in advance. The money you give that person will be well spent, because if they generate more sales than you are able to make on your own, you are in the black. Of course, it helps to have your booth be easily noticeable from the outside. The next step is to think about how you can promote your booth to increase foot traffic.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 249 – New Markets for Artists / The Collector

The Collector

Everyone wants something from the other art fair participants, but the collector has a rather unique position that the dealers and artists do not. While dealers and artists worry about selling as many pieces as possible, collectors can focus on having a good time and seeing what is new and exciting in the art world. If you are a top-level dealer at Basel, you have less pressure in some ways, but more in others. You may not have to prove yourself as much, but you have to be efficient with your time and meet new collectors as well as museum directors and critics who can significantly influence the value of art. As an artist with a booth or a room, you feel you must at least make enough sales to cover the cost of the space you have rented to show your work, so there is some pressure. But collectors, as I said, feel less pressure, though at the highest levels, they are competitive with each other and want to own the trendiest and hottest works of art.

Relationships at Fairs

When making relationships and friendships at these fairs, keep a few things in mind. Collectors will generally be the easiest to talk to because they want to know and understand more about art and artists. The other thing to remember is that you are there to meet people and exchange contact information with them. If you have a room at a fair, be sure to have a guestbook where visitors can leave their emails. If you are just walking around the fair looking to meet people, always ask for a card. If they do not have a card, ask them if they would like to keep in touch, and take down their email however you can. I think the easiest way is to send a text message to yourself, that’s what I do.

Keeping Track of New Relationships

If I am talking to someone who is interesting or well connected, I tell them I would like to keep in touch and ask for their email, which I then text to myself. You could write the email on paper, of course, but by using your phone the information is archived and you’re less likely to lose your phone than a business card or scrap of paper. I have collected business cards over the years, but unless I enter them into a digital database like an email address book or an email-marketing program, the information gets lost or becomes impossible to read. The reason preserving email addresses is so important is because you want to develop your new relationships so that in the future they might bear the fruit of art sales and new exhibition opportunities. Everyone you meet at these fairs can be helpful to you in the future, so this is a chance to promote yourself and advance your career in a big way, just by making new friends.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 248 – New Markets for Artists / Minor but Important Fairs

Minor but Important Fairs

Many other art fairs are different, where people can be much more approachable and relaxed. When big fairs like Basel in Miami or the Armory in New York come to town, there are several small fairs that are usually nearby to take advantage of the huge art-loving crowds that gather. It began with a fair called Scope, originally organized by a director of a gallery, and then others began to pop up. Now there are also artist-run fairs like Pool, which take a funkier approach to fairs, nearby these big events and take place inside hotels. After paying a participation fee and the cost of a hotel room, each artist or gallery representative takes a normal hotel room, turns it into a gallery setting, and remains there to talk with other artists and prospective buyers. This arrangement works nicely, because the artists will also have a place to sleep that night.

Artist-Run Fairs

The artist-run fairs can be a lot of fun because there are other events taking place besides the activities inside and around each booth. There are usually performances and parties and an overall social-party atmosphere, because people are there especially to meet each other and make friends, and they are all artists. If you have been saying that you want more friends in the arts, then artist-run fairs are one place you can make them. The central purpose of these fairs is building relationships with new people rather than solely trying to make sales. The gallery representatives want to meet collectors, and collectors want to be introduced to new artists, and the artists want to find buyers who are as passionate about their work and artistic vision as they are.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 247 – New Markets for Artists / Art Fairs: Small and Large

Chapter 7

Art Fairs: Small and Large

There are only two major art fairs, and they are The Armory Show and Basel. There are, however, small DIY (Do It Yourself, usually run by artists) or small commercial fairs that travel around neighborhoods where major art fairs occur. Art fairs are undergoing big changes. The two big fairs are extremely exclusive. Basel Art Fair, for example, only takes certain galleries in their fair and has VIP openings that cater to wealthy collectors. Generally, fairs like Basel are not a good place for moderately successful artists to promote their work. The reason is that the gallery directors at these fairs only want to talk to collectors and sell the art on display, and are not interested in meeting new artists. In fact, artists tend to get in the way of delicate new meetings between directors and their potential clients.

Meeting Gallerists at Art Fairs

Most gallery owners and directors are present at the fairs, but it is difficult for them to respond to your questions because collectors are hovering around their booths. However, you will have other opportunities. At the biggest fair, Art Basel, which now travels and has an event in Miami as well, you can certainly meet people. All around the fair are some of the wealthiest collectors in the world. The place to meet them is not near the booths themselves, where business takes place, but in the lounges and bars. If you are this adventurous, you will have to buy a pass to get into the fair, or know someone who has one. You will also have to be brave enough to not hesitate to ask someone wearing a power suit what their name is. If you do not have a pass to the fair, you may also be able to meet people in bars and hotels around the fairgrounds. These can be very high-powered encounters, but if you meet people and get their business cards, that in itself is a victory. Be forewarned that there will be a lot of schmoozing going on at these scenes, and if you are not up for that, I wouldn’t go, because that is how the game is played there.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 246 – New Markets for Artists / Instagram

Print-on-Demand  World

Now that people are able to self-publish their own books, and often make more money than they would with traditional publishers because they are doing all the marketing and promotion themselves, the print-on-demand method is changing the publishing world as well.

The up and downside of the print-on-demand process is that you alone must direct customers to your product. In the case of the video that I made, I sent the Amazon link to libraries and schools that might want to buy it, and those became the majority of my DVD sales. In the case of the yoga video my son is making, he has a YouTube channel and a Facebook page with many followers, and he can advertise to this audience for free. The new social media tools are a big help when driving traffic to your on-demand products. An executive once told me that marketing anything is simply telling people over and over what it is that you do, so that one day, when they decide to buy a good that you produce, or a service, your name will be one of the first they think of.

Consultants

In this chapter I have talked about how artists can use Internet resources such as eBay and blogs and on-demand services, but other markets for selling your work are still being created. It seems that every day there is a new social networking site—some are just for artists— that combines many of these services, though it is important to compare prices and read the fine print before signing up so you know how much you will actually get paid for each item sold.

Instagram

New social platforms are not better just because they are new, but because they are effective in a new and clear way. A recent example that is valuable is Instagram, a service much like Twitter, but it is only images that you upload, very simply. The beauty of Instagram is that your news feed of people you are following is all images. So you respond only to images by liking them. For artists and anyone interested in art, it is a place where striking images can be found. Even NPR radio has an Instagram account that they communicate to listeners with; find it, and look at their pictures. Like other platforms, this is one more way to create an awareness of you and your work so that you can sell it. Personally I like Instagram; I use it on my phone, an Android smart phone, and I love looking at the images. It is a resource full of rich inspiration, like a giant picture file from all over the world, as well as a community that can comment or like each others images. It is entirely aesthetic, it is about looking.

Hotel-Motel-Hospital   Collections

The market for selling prints to consultants, who, in turn, sell prints to interior designers or hospitals and hotels directly,  is growing all the time. Some hotels and other facilities now have digital galleries where customers watch a screen that plays a slide show of paintings and art for sale. The dealer can stop the slide show and talk about the work. Once custom- ers decide what they want, and in what size, the dealer sells the print and has a printer make and ship it to the customer’s home. We will talk more about this powerful new form of selling art in chapter 8.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 245 – New Markets for Artists / Printing On Demand

Printing On Demand

The next step is to find a printer who can print the image on demand and even ship it for you. There are many places doing this online, but I think it is best to use a printer near you, so that you can talk to them in case there are any problems. You should ask your local printer if they can print on demand, meaning that as soon as someone orders a print, you tell the printer, and they print it and ship it from a digital file they have of yours. This is a very economical way of working because you don’t have to pay for the printing until the print is sold. Abbey Ryan and TMNK both sell prints, and they are probably using a similar service. There are new printers springing up all the time; it’s an industry that’s growing very fast, so take some time and search locally as well as regionally to find a printer, then call them and ask all the questions you want about getting started.

Video On Demand

There are also great on-demand services for those working with videos. One is called Create Space, and they sell books, CDs, and DVDs through Amazon. This is standard practice for selling independent videos. If you contact their website, there are instructions that will walk you through publishing your video for sale, but this is how it works: First, you make your DVD and burn it onto a blank DVD-R, using your computer. Then they will ask you to upload a design for the cover. They give you a template so it’s not too difficult, though it does help to know a bit about how to use Photoshop. After you upload your video cover, you will need to mail them the physical DVD that you burned on your computer. They will make a copy of your DVD and mail you back a finished sample (at no cost to you as of this writing) so you can see what it looks like. After that, they list your DVD on Amazon so that people can search for and buy it, and Create Space makes and mails the videos when the orders come in. If you are charging $25 for a DVD, you will get a total of about $9 dollars, and if you give Create Space your bank information, that money will be directly transferred into your account.The reason I put a DVD on Amazon is because after I gave a lecture on professional development for artists at a library, the librarian asked if I had my lectures on DVD. I said I could make one from a previous lecture that had been recorded and bring it to her, but she told me the library was more comfortable buying from a third party like Amazon. I went home, figured out how to use Create Space, and I sent her an email with the link to order my DVD. Not only did that library buy it, they also mentioned it in their newsletter, and other libraries began buying it and requesting that  I lecture at their locations! If you want to see the DVD I made just search Amazon or the web for  “Income Strategies For Artists.” My son is now making a yoga video with this method. Online services like Create Space are a very easy way to make your commercial videos available to everyone.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 244 – New Markets for Artists / eBay as a Launching Pad

eBay as a Launching Pad

After at least three years of selling on eBay, and as their fame and fan bases grew, both Ryan and TMNK began to get offers for shows. TMNK got an offer from one gallery in Milan and one in Norway. Both of those shows sold out, and now he’s making work for another one. Selling on eBay and on the street on a regular basis helped him to launch his career. He doesn’t have a big gallery representing him, but he has enough shows now that he no longer needs eBay the way he did. He has gone from what may sound like a modest beginning to driving a Jaguar and living in a half-million dollar home, and he has an assistant in his studio. Abbey Ryan has also pulled her work off eBay, or is at least putting things up for auction much less regularly, as galleries have begun to contact her.

So there you have it: two examples of artists who went from self-promoting on eBay to having galleries selling their work. This is something you can do, too—starting right now!

Online Choices

Your online sales can also extend to other items, such as print-on-demand books, prints, and DVDs. If you are trying to sell video work or prints, this may be a good option for you. With prints—by which I mean high-quality printouts of photographic images of artwork—you have a lot of choices. You can make prints of paintings, drawings, and even sculpture, because the prints are being made from a high-quality digital image. You do not have to make work just for prints; you can photograph anything, as long as it looks good.

That first image that is taken with a camera is crucial, because it must be perfect. That means you shouldn’t do it yourself unless you are a professional photographer with a light kit and umbrellas. The reason for that is when an image is reproduced, not only must it be in crisp focus, but also the colors have to be right, and it has to be perfectly square in the frame or cropped in Photoshop so that the image is squared. I know you have been using your iPhone or camera to repro- duce your art, and that’s ok as well, but if you experiment with hiring a real photographer who reproduces artwork, it will make a huge difference in how your work is perceived online.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 243 – New Markets for Artists / TMNK and Selling Your Art on the Street

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.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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