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.


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.