How to Sell Yourself Without Selling Out

Throughout history, artists have always had a special place in society. It was recognised that their contribution to society went beyond the financial and people were willing to support them so that they would have the space to create their masterpieces. Let’s face it, it made the rich patrons feel good to have an artist around, so they could show all their friends they weren’t just about the money. And if an artist was dirt poor and had no financial support, it didn’t matter – they were an artist.

Unfortunately, or so it seems to me at least, that mentality is now gone. Artists are expected to fit in with society. That means they usually have to do another job with their art to make ends meet. Grants are getting scarcer and scarcer. When an artist finishes a piece of art, they’re is expected to treat their work as a product and promote it. In other words, they have to sell themselves, a concept that fills many of them with curdling resentment.

Shouldn’t an artist’s work speak for itself? Well yes, but only if there are people to listen. The world is increasingly fragmented and people’s attention is getting harder and harder to hold. If you want them to know about your work, you have to tell them about it. That’s the secret to selling work as an artist – selling by telling.

You don’t need a fancy campaign. You don’t need to spend a lot of money. You don’t need to be in people’s faces. You just tell them about your work, the thing you are most passionate about.

When you’re finished your work, the ink or paint is dry, the last note written, the last line learned, have a brainstorm with yourself. Think about what inspired you to create the work, what process you went through to finish it, what message you wanted it to portray. In other words, tell the story of your work.

When you’ve done that, there are some wonderful free tools you can use to tell your story. You’ll be familiar with these already. The social media tools: Facebook, Twitter, blogs. Then the good old traditional media. Your local newspaper or radio station will be your greatest champion. Make sure you accompany your words with good pictures. That’s what’ll really speak to people.

You’ve worked hard to get to this point.  Wouldn’t it be a shame if that work went unrecognised. This is where artists have lessons to learn from the business community. Business people aren’t afraid to put a value on their work. If artists do the same, their status will rise and they will get the following they deserve.



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