I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why it’s difficult for indie artists to promote their own work.
We know that art enriches people’s lives enormously.
The Australian singer, writer, director, artistic director, and public advocate of the arts, Robyn Archer, asks, “can you ever imagine a day without music, without graphic design, without architecture, without what you see on television?”
Seriously, try to imagine it. It’s impossible, isn’t it?
Art is not only completely integrated with our contemporary society; I would argue that it has always been so. In every culture, in every age, there are documented expressions of art and creativity.
What this means is that your art is indispensible to society. If you don’t create and distribute creative work, then someone else will.
Okay, so we’ve established that your art is worthwhile. So, why is it so difficult to promote your art, yourself? There are three parts to the answer to this question: psychological, structural and organizational.
Most artists have heard the message, consistently, that art is all well and good as a hobby, but it’s not a real job. This doesn’t just come from schools, government, family members and other external sources, we have also internalized the message and hear it from our sub-conscious.
You can combat the internal narrative by explicitly defining success for yourself in a 5-year plan or business plan and by consistently searching out sources of information and inspiration that privilege the value art over other measures of success.
The first stages of establishing a business are all about working out what your product is and whether or not there is a market for that product. Of course, art is different. Most artists follow their creative impulses first and figure out how to sell or distribute that work later. We are focused on the work rather than the business. The structure of an art practice works against self-promotion.
Consider your own art practice. Do you have a business plan? Do you think of your work as product? Who is your ideal customer? What are your unique selling points? Promotion is much easier once you’ve considered some of these questions. These are the questions that businesses answer before they go to market.
By answering these questions yourself you can reverse engineer your art practice to help it fit into a business paradigm. Remember, a business is simply a way of connecting your art with the audience who wants to love it.
For Follow Magazine I interview artists, filmmakers, authors and writers every week about how they promote their wares, what works and what doesn’t. I always ask the creative people I interview to provide images to accompany the magazine article. It’s amazing how many artists don’t have good quality images of their work. This is because we are often so focused on producing the art that we don’t make time for creating promotional material to market the art.
It’s a stereotype that artists aren’t good at admin and organizing their time. Is that you? Take a look at one of my earlier blog posts for tips on time management. However you divide up your day make sure that you allow time for the business side of your art. Do some research and develop easy ways to create promo images. Work out where your audience hangs out online and connect with them there.
Finally, you can put all this together to out-psyche yourself, nail your business structure and learn to adjust focus and organize time to promoting your work.
Get your art to market. The world needs it.