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How A Self Representing Artist Competes With Corporate Brands

How Does A Self Representing Artist Market Art?

This question has plagued many artists of history. Where can you find the right answers and bypass the bad art marketing advice?

Marketing art as a self representing artist can be doubly frustrating due to competition from corporate brands. Allow me to step you through a few hurdles to get you started on the right path.

Know that no single article can fully answer this question. Throughout this page other linked resources will be given to expand on some thoughts.

Struggles Self Representing Artists Will Face Marketing Artwork

The greatest struggle every artist will face marketing artwork is visibility. Gaining this visibility against “craft makers” and corporate brands will seem impossible.

This is ironic considering that technology today offers global visibility through media.

A key issue comes from those who control the platforms and the systems constructed around them. These systems are either weighted by authority and quality of information, or they are built around popularity.

No matter the path you choose to take, as you begin to market your art it does not take long to see how corporate brands will be favored.

Why is this the case? These brands have the credibility to have the authority and can mass produce information. Additionally they have vast resources in money to spend on advertisement.

It is not a conspiracy, it simply is a lot of leverage.

As a self representing artist it is impossible to overcome these disadvantages directly. Allow me to elaborate further.

Why Spending On Advertising Can Be A Waste For Independent Artists

If you have the ability to target a niche market, and have enough money to make advertisement effective, then this avenue can be an advantage. If not, it is a waste.

A problem when marketing creatives can be found when facing cheap home decor products. Indeed these are not art, yet it does not matter.

The corporations behind these products use terms for marketing that do not apply. Things are called art or artsy that then dilute the relevance to online searching.

This impacts paid advertisement and also organic results. The problem is further compounded by the “Etsy maker” crowd.

The volume of noise created behind keywords that should be reserved for genuine artists becomes deafening.

A complication surfaces for the self representing artist.

Now an artist must compete against art terminology and keywords corporations hijacked, and also stand out from them as genuine artists.

In short, the requirements for achieving such a feat can be overwhelming especially in terms of costs. Few if any individuals could afford a campaign to brand themselves effectively against this.

Art Marketing In Person With Public Relations

The most tried and true method for a self representing artist to market artwork is still in person. Feet on the ground public relations in art within your community will yield the fastest results.

Here you can compete with corporate brands at the street level far more effectively than their deep pockets in advertising. Your art should rule downtown.

Historically this has always been true no matter what era or period you research. Networking with locally owned shops or stores and other artists is invaluable.

The problem for some artists is their location. This issue applies to me and where I live so I understand its challenges as an artist.

Small towns with an average lower income per household compared to national standards is not easy to overcome. Alternative types of art or styles will be needed to find commissions and clients.

You will be forced to create something that is cost effective to make and sell while being within local price expectations.

Here is where different lines of art within your brand will play a role. The less expensive line aids in circulating your brand and bringing in some kind of income.

It acts as a promotional tool as you hope to sell your better line of artwork.

Working with other artists to create a local guild can also be a huge benefit. The purpose is to work with local businesses to host art showings.

This kind of effort can help the artist and also create foot traffic for the local businesses on the street. Networking is critical and essential.

Avoiding Pitfalls Of Marketing Art Online

I have built a large portion of my infrastructure around marketing art online. It is an ever evolving process that never ends and you never really “arrive” at the destination.

It would be better for me to share what pitfalls to avoid rather than trying to tell you what to do. Each person can be different in their talents, skills, and personality in how they approach this.

Do not over invest within social media. It would do well to know the dangers social media brings to an artist.

In recent research data social media brought 16% of traffic to websites. Organic search brought 17%. The next highest was email marketing at 14%, then advertisements of different kinds and referrals.

The problem for a self representing artist is time. You simply do not have enough time to live life, work a job, create art, then also focus on all these art marketing avenues.

Added to this is a lack of budget. It is impossible to spend as much money as these corporations.

What then is the best way to market art online? You need evergreen methods of marketing. Here is where you will succeed, but it takes time.

What is evergreen art marketing? A blog, website, or online art gallery that you own is considered evergreen.

What is not evergreen art marketing? Social media, using e galleries, or online shops like Etsy. Third party art websites can at times be an in between but should not be considered evergreen.

What Is The Goal Of Evergreen Art Marketing?

The goal behind evergreen art marketing is to allow any content you create online to always be accessible. It is required that it grow in authority and work for you while you sleep.

A key advantage to an evergreen marketing system is that it gets better with age. As time passes it does not disappear into the unknown.

This is why a blog or website wins over social media. A social media post may have a lifespan of hours or a few days. A blog post has a lifespan of 3 to 5 years if not updated, and if updated regularly it will grow forever.

The problem with artists today is perception, patience, and a lack of knowledge within art marketing. There is a difference between popularity and vain metrics as compared to authority and real influence.

Online art marketing is the most difficult platform to cultivate. It requires a lot of time up front. What do I mean by a lot of time?

Time is defined here as creating content no less than weekly for at least 5 years. This time frame can be slightly shrunk down to 3 years with more up front art content, yet this is situational.

Corporations Recognize Evergreen Online Marketing

Corporations have taken every point they can to push their brands. Evergreen online marketing is no different.

When they have the vast resources that they do, then why do they also try to take this path? The reason is that it costs very little and has the longest lifespan.

As a self representing artist you cannot compete with the volume of art content. Nevertheless you can compete on all other fronts within the evergreen marketing platform.

The benefit to marketing your artwork on this kind of system is that it will work for you while you sleep. It will eventually give you more freedom to focus on your artwork and less on branding your name.

Choose An Online Art Platform

I will assume that you are doing what you can within your local town to market your artwork. My previously linked article on public relations can help you there, but it is a tailored situation you must adapt to.

When it comes to other aspects of strategy, allow me to focus on the online platforms for a moment.


Developing an art marketing strategy is about time management and less about money. For a few hundred bucks you can have an evergreen online art platform that you own.

The greatest thing holding artists back today is a lack in technical capability. With systems like wordpress being able to be hosted directly on your website the technical hindrance is becoming less of a problem.

At the end of the day the real problem is time management. What is better? Trying to get a hundred new followers or posting new blog content?

To me the answer is simple. New blog content wins every time. Thus why my number of followers in social media is horribly low compared to so many others.

Which will give greater penetration into the art marketspace? A blog will win every time in terms of real conversions.

You must at some point decide what is the most effective vehicle for you to use. Having said this allow me to backtrack one thing.

If you hate writing then an art blog may not be for you. Your personality may best fit with a social media platform. I totally get it.

No single platform is best for everyone. You must adapt yourself to what works for you. Nevertheless my statements stand for statistical effectiveness across time.

Combine Your Online Strategy With In Person Art Marketing

The two worlds of what you are doing through public relations in your local area and also your online world should meet. How does this work?

Your online blog and gallery serve to validate your authenticity. The gallery can serve as an on the spot art portfolio. The blog can show your experience and expertise.

These also give avenues for collaboration and further networking with local businesses by creating partners for key systems. Events, shows, or other avenues of collaboration give you a chance to display partners brands.

These two worlds of art marketing should not be kept separate from one another. One should support the other in the efforts you pursue.

There are oddities which do occur. My world of wood art is one of those oddities. The art I create is a traditional art that has resided within an older world mentality.

Most self representing artists I encounter have no online art platform at all. The most common platform I find the artist has is Facebook… thats it. This means they have nothing.

There will be cases where generational differences create issues. The leap in technology from one generation to the next as new artists begin to grow can take time to come full circle.

All you must do to discover this is to look at your social media feed. How many artists have blogs or online galleries as compared to only having social media or an Etsy?

Too few explore evergreen platforms.

How Does This Work For The Artist To Compete Against Corporate Brands?

Most critically you are creating brand and authority behind that brand. It is a trust factor that is validated by time and also quality of content.

As you grow through on the street art networking, your other platforms of outreach will also begin to reflect this. Trust is built through more than just an algorithm.

Ultimately through patience and persistence the needed period of time will pass as you refine your skills for you to gain online authority. Here overlapping strategies work together to create a real art marketing platform.

When you cannot compete by volume, money, or numbers, we must use the resources that we do have. This is why proper time management is so critical to your cause.

Allow your efforts to be placed where they will be of the greatest benefit to your life and artwork.

What If You Do Not Have Time For In Person Art Marketing?

Life happens, I get it. I have been a business owner that was non art related. I have a family and all the needs that go with that.

At the end of the day there were times when quite simply there was no time left. Hitting the pavement by foot to promote my artwork just wasn’t possible then.

Add to this complication the horrible local market conditions I live within it made local marketing even less appealing. Nevertheless there are ways to still achieve impact.

Here is where Facebook actually shines. The design of their system is based upon friends and family. It is a digital representation of your local footprint.

By leveraging this you can make use of what little time you have to create local impact. In turn you can begin to network locally for your art via the platform.

How much you decide to invest into this is up to you. Alternatively you may decide it is best to rather focus on long term goals within the art blog or online art gallery.

With all of these choices, ultimately the choice must also be made to create time for what you truly wish to do.