Do you want to grow your art career to the next level? Tori Swanson, Vancouver Intuitive Artist, provided insight on her success and the art of marketing.
For Tori, a successful art business career is not gained by focusing on selling art, but on connection, community and customer service.
“Something that I strive to stay true to is using my social media not for a viewpoint about me, but for them. To give people value and not expect them to buy from me,” Tori says. “I see a lot of people think, ‘Here’s my collection, buy this. Here’s my shirt, buy this.’ But it doesn’t work. We can’t just expect people to buy things if there’s no connection.”
Tori describes the key to building a connection with consumers is to provide value. You show them what they can gain by supporting you because it’s not just about selling art. Your goal as the artist should be to build multi-beneficial relationships.
“That is the first thing that I think of when I am scripting my content, writing or creating a new course. What can I provide that will help my community grow?” Tori says. “It’s easy to set up an account, but you need to sit down and ask, ‘What is the intention and why are you doing this?’ This would be the basis of all the content you are providing.”
“I had to come from the standpoint of not looking to get anything out of it, but to give just for the sake of giving. And that’s where I feel some entrepreneurs trip up because we have this mindset of wanting to convert sales. We have to sell art. But we actually have to nurture leads, nurture our community before we can expect that,” Tori says.
An example Tori provides of giving for the sake of giving was giveaways.
“One thing I did to grow my subscriber list was to give away free art once a month, and you had to follow my profile and be subscribed to my newsletter in order to win. So that was a good way for getting my artwork out into the world.”
By giving for the sake of giving, you are providing value and therefore customer service. You are also showing audiences who you are, what you stand for and what you represent. You are showcasing your brand.
Tori later provided some insight on what she believes artists should avoid when growing their art careers. She advises artists to not post for the sake of posting and expecting things to sell.
“Expecting to be discovered can happen if you truly believe that,” she says, “But there also has to be humility that people don’t know who you are.”
To overcome this mentality, you have to craft your social media so it reflects your own realities. Follow and interact with people who inspire you, galleries you want to collaborate with and fairs you want to attend. Show them who you are. Manifest your dream so it becomes reality. If not, then you are waiting for it to happen on its own.
Tori explains the importance of creating your own platforms as opposed to only working through galleries and festivals.
“I think it’s important for artists to be in control, and with social media, people buy directly from me more often than anywhere else.”
“You as the artist must be able to say what you want. You are the star. [Galleries] want to work with you. Be okay to say no to [people] you do not want to work with.” Tori says, “If you find a symbiotic relationship with a gallery because they can support your career. They usually have a following of people who can buy your artwork and network you for a city or neighbourhood. But you can also achieve this with art fairs.”
On art fairs, Tori advises to follow artists you like and look up their CVs—see what fairs they attended and research the costs to see which fair you would like to attend. From there, you’ll find yourself getting invited back or invited to other fairs or galleries. Beside selling art, fairs are a very good way to network with organizations, sell your brand, grow your community and meet other artists.
“Another big mistake I think artists make is not painting everyday or being creative everyday in some fashion because if we are not coming back to the thing that we want most, something that should be providing us the utmost joy then why are we coming back to it,” Tori says. “We can judge, put pressure on ourselves, but it’s about enjoying ourselves.”
“It’s not all ‘how to’ and ‘do this’ and ‘do that’. We can all get caught up in ‘do this course’, ‘build this community’, but what it comes down to is relationships and investing in your relationships. It’s about how you perceive your why and being willing to see things differently than how you’ve seen them before. Recognizing where you have blockers and be willing to soften them and shift them. That’s mindset coaching, which isn’t often associated with marketing. I would say 80 percent is mindset and 20 percent is social media.”
Tori Swanson is teaching a course on The Wealthy Artist for those wanting to learn more about how to make money off their artwork.
By Marlene Ferhatoglu