5 Ways to Market Your Art in Your Community

Selling Art Locally

Going Local: 5 Ways to Market Your Art in Your Community

by: Steff Metal

As artists, we’re told again and again how vital it is for us to market online, to reach an international audience, to establish a profitable niche. And this is very true, but in extending our reach we often neglect a lucrative market that’s right in front of us – our local art community.

People love to support local artists, and there are many opportunities open to you within your hometown that can support a part- or full-time artist. Here are some ideas on how to market your artwork in your local community.

 

Hold Local Exhibits

It may not be the Tate Modern, but your local art galleries enjoy loyal and steady patronage, and they’re a great place to begin building a local following. Exhibiting in your local gallery scene can also be an excellent way to network with important local art folk and increase your profile.

Local galleries have an established network of art fans and collectors who love to support up-and-coming artists. Because local galleries are small, they offer individual artists and exhibitions a lot of hands-on attention, and they focus on bringing interested patrons through the door.

But you don’t have to stick to galleries – cafes, office lobbies, schools, libraries, banks and theatres often host mini exhibitions from local artists. These are an excellent way of getting your art in front of fresh eyes – not everyone in your town visits galleries, but they all do their banking and enjoy coffee and cake.

 

Network with the Local Arts Community

Most cities have a local Art Council, who put on events and manage arts activities across a range of disciplines. These bodies often give out funding and look for artists to undertake community projects and large-scale commissions. You’re competing only against local artists (not the entire international scene) and have a much better chance of being recognized and funded.

In a local scene, it’s all about whom you know – so get out to local arts events and meet people. Always carry business cards and postcards of your work to show interested people.

My local arts community also run a fantastic website that posts regular job opportunities and submission calls, as well as promoting exhibitions and shows. You can find valuable opportunities by staying current with these local channels.

 

Get in Touch With Businesses

As well as getting your name recognized in the arts community, you might find a wealth of contacts and potential collectors in the business community. Businesses love to be seen supporting the arts, and they all have offices that need decorating, gala dinners that need prizes, and websites and products that need evocative images and packaging.

Business of Art

Recently, I joined the BNI (Business Network Institute) as an artist and writer, and have also started attending events put on by the local chamber of commerce.  My BNI chapter meets once a week over breakfast to exchange referrals.  I may know someone who’s looking for a travel agent, so I give the travel agent in the group their contact details to follow up, and the professional photographer might give me a referral for a business friend of his who needs an illustration for one of their products.

“But I’m an artist. Why would I want to spend my time hanging out with business types?”  You might be asking. Well, your art is also your business, and forming a network of other local business people gives you more opportunities to sell your work and make a living.

An artist is always a talking point at a networking event. Take along some business cards and postcards showing your work. You’ll find plenty of people are interested in what you do – many of them will contact you later with exciting projects.

 

Schmooze with the Press

County reporters, community newsletters and local radio stations love to feature profiles of unique characters from the area. As an artist, you’re automatically considered “unique” in most people’s books, so why not see if you can get an article or feature about your artwork?

Whenever your work is featured in a new exhibition, or you’ve won a contest or completed an interesting project, write a little press release and send it out to your local media contacts. What’s that? You don’t have any local media contacts? Well, it is time you started making some, isn’t it?

Send email or letters to radio stations, newspapers and publications, asking whom you need to contact about editorial features. Explain that you’re a local artist who is holding an exhibition and wondered if they’d like some free tickets to the opening? You could also hold a small open studio event and ask the press along. You could also send out a press kit to local media.

You need a belly full of bravery to make contact with the press, but you’ll soon realize they’re not vicious, hard-hitting reporters. They’re just down-to-earth locals keen to support the local community. Don’t ever think you’re not important or famous enough to be featured!

A huge part of marketing is making sure you’re continually in front of customer’s eyes. Features in local media will establish you as a local artist people can trust, and they will recognize your name when they see your work in galleries.

 

Team Up with a Local Charity

Part of being a locally recognized artist is giving back to your community. You can do this by volunteering to teach kids art classes, doing the school holiday program at the library, or by teaming up with a local charity to offer a prize or entertainment for an event.

Charity Artwork

Find a charity whose work you admire and whose core recipients or donors fit with your target market. So, if you’re a pet portrait painter, you want to get in touch with the animal shelter. Nature artists could look for conservation groups. If your art deals with complex social issues, you could contact your local Victim Support or Women’s Refuge.

Once you’ve chosen a charity, contact them and offer to work with them on their next project or event. Perhaps you could donate a prize to their next raffle, or you could paint murals on the walls of their centre.

Most local charities have an established relationship with the media, so by helping them out, not only do you get to do a nice thing for your community, but you’ll probably be written up in the media, too. It’s a win win for everybody.

Going local isn’t something you do at the expense of your online marketing – it offers another way to connect yourself with your community and create a powerful fan base that will buy your work for years to come.

 

How do you promote your artwork locally?

  • What do you do to promote your artwork in your local community?
  • What have you found to be successful?
  • What kind of things have you struggled with the most?

 

Steff Metal is a New Zealand-based marketing copywriter and illustrator with a heavy metal attitude. Steff’s business, Grymm & Epic Copywriting & Illustration is dedicated to helping small creative businesses market themselves successfully on a minuscule budget. You can download her FREE ebook – Unleash the Beast: Releasing Your Inner Creative Monster and get weekly marketing tips sent direct to your inbox.

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Comments

  1. says

    I’ve recently just began going at it as a full-time artist. The first thing I did was submit a piece for a fundraiser auction. I also volunteered during the event. It has been best thing because I’ve met a lot of local artist and started connecting with local artist groups on Facebook.

    I’m also trying to enter as many juried competitions as they come along.

    My plan is to have either solo or be a part of a small group exhibit in the first half of 2013.

    Great advice here!

    • says

      I think you’re right Monica, sometimes the best way to get yourself noticed as an artist is to get involved in the local arts community and either volunteer or donate some of your work to a local charity (or both!). That way you not only get your work and yourself out there, but you also rack up good karma in the process :)

      Thanks again for your kind words Monica and it sounds like you’re having a fantastic year so far!

  2. says

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    • says

      I know what you mean Douglas, selling your artwork and getting your name out there as an artist isn’t easy. It seems like there are so many different things we should be doing and sometimes it can feel like none of them are working. My best advice to you would be to make sure you are finding a way to get your work (and yourself) out there online and in your local community. The more you get involved, often the more opportunities will come your way. I’d like to be able to tell you that there is some magic method, but honestly there isn’t — it’s just a matter of showing up and continuing to put in the work even when you may not be able to see the results right away.

  3. says

    Great article and info Drew.

    “Get in Touch With Businesses” is probably the least one I tackle locally, perhaps ’cause its a small town and I assume they mostly want to nickle and dime for my work, yet I hear it can be about exchanging services too.

    One that could be added is schools. Perhaps this could fall with local charities but more often then not there are plenty of government funding available to schools and artists so as to create projects and or events with students of all ages. Here on the Atlantic side of Canada we have two such major programs going on yearly (for the past 10 years or so)

    For example Artssmarts.ca is one of them which give lots to the local communities across the provinces for example. School programs like these give so much to all IMO and mostly young aspiring artists, you know, the ones with the most active imagination(s). + it pays well the artists, which is a bonus! ;)

    All the best*

    • Kennedy says

      I’ve had great success with Wallspace. http://www.wallspaceexchange.com

      Wallspace Exchange helps facilitate fine art sales throughout the world. Restaurants, Hotels, Bars, Spas, Salons, Retail Stores, Cafes and Airport Terminals allow artists to sell their paintings on their wallspace in return for a commission. The business generates another source of income while the artist gains a larger audience to show their artwork and increase sales. Businesses save on interior design costs and get an updated look while helping the art community.

      The business or artist may want to use an Art Broker from Wallspace Exchange to handle the negotiations, scouting, and logistics for the paintings. An Art Broker may represent a client such as a restaurant or hotel that can bring in certain types of artwork the client is looking for. Also, the Art Broker may represent an artist and help place their artwork on walls of several different types of businesses. In return for the work done by the Art Broker, upon sale of the painting they will receive a commission.

      Artists, Photographers, Sculptors and Charity organizations can join for FREE

  4. says

    As far as Selling prints of your work, there is etsy, cafepress, zazzle, and deviantart. Etsy for me is too much of a hassle b/c I need to actually handle the shipping and printing and everything. Personally I use SMugmug.com as a printer and shipper of my work. they give you a whole gallery option and pricing plans. They have their bare minimum prices, and you keep anything over that amount. Say it costs them $2.30 to print out and ship an 8×10 print. if you price it for $12, you get 10 bucks.

    Here is an example of my smugmug gallery.

    http://obilex.smugmug.com/Art/Obilex-The-Artwork-o

    Also, you want to get all of your social media networks on par with one another, make it easy for people to be connected with you. on my homepage Obilex.com you can see that I have links to all of my different outlets (twitter, facebook, instagram ebay etc.)

    Hope this helps, and keep up the hard work!

    Sam

  5. John Rolling says

    I find that the phone revelution is helping me out. I use it as a virtual gallery, and point out the ones that have sold (“like its something I do out of thin air). This makes me look set up, or legit (not desperate). The phone is a tool in this regard that acts as a vice between a sales man and a potential buyer. I find it works for me because it alows me to have time with a potential buyer to get to know them and get a feel for the their taste. Also, it acts as an opertunity for me to promote myself as an artist.

    I also found that doing art…and/or drawing in a public places helps create the environment where the potential buyer comes to you and you don’t have to go to the buyer. The script gets flipped, and the hustle becomes. Hince, the art sells itself. Ex’s) parks, restaurants, coffee shops, cafeterias, hotel lobbies…where ever…etc. possibilites are endless.

    Second, I don’t listen to people that say I can’t do this! (Especially FAMILY and friends)! They are the closest to us and have the strongest ability to bring us down and hurt our confidence. (ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE NUMBER CRUNCHING EDIOTS THAT CAN’T EVEN DRAW A STICK FIGURE!) WHAT THE HELL DO THESE PEOPLE KNOW THAT YOU DON’T–YOU ARE THE ARTIST, NOT THEM!!! These people are lamenting player haters, that wish they had the qaulities of those they tear down. Funny how a stranger will tell you to follow your dream and they will support you, but those closest to you have a knack for tearing you down, if they don’t support you and your art.

  6. says

    Hi, I’d decided that it was really time to get my act together regarding my photography and really have been at a loss as to how to begin getting myself out there. Up until now finding the courage has played a large part in my procrastination. Just found you in my ‘how to’ search…and am inspired by all I’ve read so far. Thanx all who have been brave and generous enough to share your knowledge & experiences. I think I may have found the support & guidance I’ve been looking for. Up the artistic revolution!! VK

  7. Tunji Owoade (CROWN TJ ART AND CREATIVE DESIGN) says

    Hi, i think the best way to sell your art pieces is through constant advertisement of your self and your artworks until you come with clients that have passion for art. But you have to exercise lot of patience because it might take you a very long time before you will come in contact with potential client (buyer). Make sure that you dont paint or produce any artwork for money, it should be freewill and that is how you will be able to poduce quality artworks that will meet the taste of your clients.

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