Gaining recognition as an artist requires exposure. The persistent artist with a flair for self-promotion will have the best chance to prevail.
Those without gallery representation need not despair, because the Internet has greatly increased the opportunity to show ones work and hopefully sell it in the process. For the Web-challenged, participating in exhibitions, art festivals and competitions are good options but almost always necessitate meeting some jurors preferences. Whatever venue an artist chooses, there is no guarantee the art will sell, but theres no chance at all if the work doesnt get seen.
Artist Kristen Smith has shown at a variety of places including FLC, local restaurants, group shows and like many artists in Durango, the Arts Center. She enters up to five shows per year, has a blog and exhibits in Detroit. However, Smith said, I find that I make most of my sales in person, at receptions and one night shows where I get to meet and mingle with patrons.
Open Studio Tour founder, jeweler and contemporary artist, Crystal Hartman, exhibits nationally and in countries as diverse as Bulgaria, Lithuania, Spain and Thailand.
I look for shows where the theme is relevant to my work, shows I really, really want to be a part of, she said. Juried shows tend to have greater cohesion than open calls, helping to give credibility to your work. Awards get you press.
As for websites, Hartman said, Selling online increases your audience; anyone in the world could be your client.
Designer and illustrator Cindy Coleman often shows at the DAC and had solo shows in Monte Vista and Dolores last year. She participates in McCarson Jones guerilla shows and, along with Elizabeth Kinahan, Miki Harder, Heather Leavitt Martinez and Amy Vaclev-Felker, started the highly successful one-day exhibition/sale, the Super Amazing Show.
Coleman enters up to 10 shows per year.
Im not a fan of nonjuried shows, she said, mainly because Ive been appalled at some of the work that gets into those.
Amy Vaclev-Felker has a unique style and consequently a specialized audience.
I always know that you get out what you put in; the harder you work at it, the better youll do. Ive shown my work in countless juried and nonjuried shows and invitationals. I usually enter around 10 to 12 shows a year.
Vaclev-Felker also garners yearly commissions through her website: Its a great way to have all of your art in one place to refer your collectors or potential collectors to, a modern portfolio.
Heather Leavitt Martinez sums it up by saying, I have found there is more to marketing artwork than simply placing it on a wall. That is only part of the equation. Research, good practices, brand development and where and how to show up is a big part. It is also the most nebulous, custom, personal, indefinable part where most artists get stuck.
Ready to expose yourself? Check out the artists mentioned in this column: www.heather leavitt.com; www.kristensmith art.com; www.amyfelker.com; www.crystalhartman.com; www.duckgirlart.com (Cindy Coleman).
Stew Mosberg is a freelance writer and has written about art regionally and nationally. Reach him at email@example.com.