Looking Like a Pro

No matter how good your art is, a professional image will augment your position in the art world and increase your sales. Creating this professional image requires time and a continuous effort, but with a plan you can incorporate this into your professional life. Get started with these nine tips:

1. Treat your art like a business. In addition to the creative side of art, you need to include a regimen of running a business. At a minimum you should spend one to three hours every day on the business aspects of being an artist. Or select an entire day each week to work on accounting, promotion and marketing matters; finding and submitting to shows; finding suppliers of artist’s materials; or taking care of other factors unique to your art. If you don’t have the skills, hire a bookkeeper, a writer or others who can perform these tasks for you. Spending money for this at the beginning will pay off in the long run.

2. Act like a professional. Match your demeanor and dress to your professional image and to your art. Talk like a professional artist, even if your art career is part-time. For example, when someone asks if they can visit your studio, don’t say, “I paint in my kitchen when my husband and kids are away.” Instead, say, “My studio is a small, working studio that doesn’t accommodate visitors, but I can bring a selection of my work to your home for a private viewing.” One another note, don’t use grocery store bags and boxes to pack your art. Go to an office supply store and buy plastic bags and boxes. Make every effort possible to look like a professional. The little things are important.

3. Get business cards. Spend the money to have business cards printed professionally. This isn’t the time for do-it-yourself, no matter how good your printer is. Make your cards standard size (2×3-1/2). Include all your contact information and use large print so reading your card is easy. Whether to use a sample of your art is a difficult decision. On one hand, some people may decide after seeing it that they don’t want to see more. On the other, business cards with photos show people at a glance, and in a fairly inexpensive way, your unique style.

4. Create a Web site. This is the ultimate portfolio. Make it fast to download so people don’t have to wait. This typically means using simple backgrounds and small art (but lots of it) because people won’t wait. Include contact and ordering information. Include a notice that you update your site on a regular basis so people will continue to return to your site. Register your site on all the search engines. One easy way to do this is to go to www.submitexpress.com, which will register you at 40 search engines (except for Yahoo!) for free. Remember to use a recognizable name such as www.sallysmithstudio.com so people can find you.

5. Produce a professional show booth. If you plan to sell your art at indoor or outdoor art festivals, be sure to buy a good quality booth. Keep it clean and in good repair. Use background material that enhances your artwork. Add signage, in addition to any provided by the show, to display your name, type of art, your artist’s mission statement, and other information you want to share. Provide space for people to view your art. Set up an attractive sales and wrapping desk.

6. Be a speaker and teach classes. Offer to speak about art at schools, clubs, summer camps and every place you can think of. You can talk on how to get started as an artist, how to buy art, the history of art, or any topic related to art. If you have a particular skill, create a community education class and offer it to your local program. Take your business cards and samples of your art whenever you speak or teach. Teaching and speaking are excellent credentials to have.

7. Write articles. Write articles for local newsletters. You can write on “How art enhances a business environment” for your local chamber or business organization, or “How doing x increased my sales” for your local art club. Submit articles on local shows to your newspaper. Writing for magazines is harder to break in to, but if you take a course on this you may be able to expand your writing. Keep a copy of everything you get published and add this to your resume.

8. Send out press releases. If your local newspaper will write about you as an artist, your professional image will be greatly enhanced. Send a press release about any newsworthy story such as if you win an award or speak at a conference. Make copies of stories about you to send to your client list and display in your booth.

9. Prepare an artist’s resume. Include your contact information, artist’s mission statement, description of the medium your work in, associations you belong to, shows you’ve had, awards you’ve won, courses you’ve taken, events you’ve spoken at and courses you’ve taught, and a list of your published work. Only include items related to your art, even if you’re famous in another endeavor. Print your resume on good quality paper and keep it up-to-date.

If you follow all of these steps, you’ll create and maintain a good professional image that will enhance your standing in your art community and increase your sales.

Loraine Crouch is assistant editor for The Artist’s Magazine.

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