Don't be confused by the title; we're not talking about “the Art of Marketing” today. We're talking about the marketing of art.
Last week I wrote to you about ritual, one of the languages in Symbolic thought. Shape, color, surface and emblem are languages in Symbolic thought as well, as is the language of juxtaposition, the foundation of the art of Feng Shui. Likewise, pitch, key, contour, rhythm, tempo and interval are but sublanguages of music, another powerful language in Symbolic thought. I'll hold my comments about the language of numbers, because today I'm constricting my focus to encompass only the Symbolic languages of the eye – the visual arts: drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, photography and graphics.
Have you ever noticed that highly paid artists are often no more talented than those struggling at the edges of the spotlight? (If you said, “No, I've never noticed that,” you are an art connoisseur. But if your heart leapt in your chest and a voice within you shouted “Yes!” then you, my friend, are a frustrated artist.)
The good news is that I'm going to help you.
The bad news is that it's going to hurt.
|Q:||Why do some artists make a wonderful living from their art, while others – equally talented – spend their whole lives waiting to be discovered?|
|A:||Those fortunate enough to be skilled in a visual language rarely have the word-skills to market what they have made. They expect their art to “speak for itself.” Ask them. They will tell you that they don't want to “diminish their art” by having to explain it. Sadly, the only people who can fully appreciate their art without the help of words are usually other artists. The visual artists who succeed are the ones who have an agent, a gallery owner or an art critic as a surrogate voice.|
But it doesn't have to be that way. You can learn, if you're willing, how to speak for yourself.
When you created that piece of art, you were feeling something. What was it? Where were you? Why did you do it? How did you feel when it was done? What does it now say to you, the artist? Answers to questions like these will often move a person that critical inch from “I like your work” to “I'll take it.”
Are too many people liking your work and too few of them taking it?
Before you say, “Sorry, but you just don't understand the art business,” I'll let you in on a secret: Seventeen years ago – when Pennie and I were first launching our company – I kept the wolf away from the door by selling the art of a young friend who had never had an art lesson or sold a single piece of art. Over the next few years I made a few hundred thousand dollars for myself and twice as much for him; and art galleries and museums were among our payingcustomers. So go back and read again what I told you. I've been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt. Paid the taxes.
Art is created when inspiration germinates, grows and finds an outlet. And like every other infant, it sometimes needs its mother or its father to speak on its behalf. Gustave Flaubert may have had visual artists in mind when he said, “The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.”
I know this was painful for all you visual artists to hear. But I did it only because I care about your success.
Now, for the sake of your art, go say what needs to be said.
Roy H. Williams