My recent launch of Art Quest – The Art Improvement RPG, got me thinking about marketing and promotion for the artist. What are some good practices to market yourself, and get your name and your work out there? Being a successful freelance artist is no easy feat. Starting out in my career I would think to myself, “Not only do I have to Git Gud, but I have to learn how to market, promote, and network as well?”. Speaking from my experience after this long and ever continuous journey, I have some tips for any other artist out there who might be struggling to figure out how to market their art, and market themselves.
Step 1: Know What You’re Good At & Stick With it
This step takes a bit of time as much of it comes with maturity and the “gitting gud” process. I have always naturally created characters and stories, and had always put myself into leadership and self-accountability roles. It made sense for me to transition into a more entrepreneurial position, and to focus heavily on character concept art. I made sure to incorporate as much of my own experiences, interests, and culture into my designs as I could, and through that I’ve achieved a sort of “style” for myself. Doubling down on my strengths and interests has put me on a more clear creative path, and one that I can always turn to if I ever feel lost.
Any skill, trait, quirk, or interest you might have should be explored. Remember, it’s your passion and personality that will shine through your art the most, and focusing on these factors will only make your work more unique! For example, I’ve had a mentee who was born in Nepal, and most of his work incorporates the architectural and cultural aesthetic you would see in that country. This makes his work stand out from the often used European Medieval aesthetic you see in fantasy work.
Step 2: Make Friends
As digital artists, we have a tendency to hide behind our computers and work away. While it is important to make sure you are applying proper time to your technical skill, there is much to be said about getting out there and physically meeting people. Most of my improvement has come from attending events, such as Illuxcon in Pennsylvania, and getting critiqued by artists I admire. Having “Art Friends” to hold your work to a higher standard will push you to get better, and also help you to open up and talk about your art in a more professional way.
The other benefit of getting out there and meeting people is you have a higher chance of getting client work. It’s much easier for someone to hire you when they’ve met you face to face, and you’ve had the opportunity to talk to them about your passion and your work.
If you don’t have the immediate opportunity to go to some sort of convention or event, look for local figure drawing classes or drink and draws. There is most likely something going on in your area that is just a Google search away.
Another way of meeting people is through online platforms such as Discord, ArtStation, and Facebook groups. While I don’t think this is as effective a way of meeting people as in-person meetings, it is still a great resource that really anyone has access to. I have been running a 1000+ member art Discord under my Art broZ brand. Feel free to join us, we are happy to have you!
Step 3: Work on Bettering Your Technical Skill
Now that you’ve got these awesome art friends who will give you a better critique than just saying “It’s good”, it’s time to apply their feedback to your work. It’s no secret that the most successful artists have a very strong grasp of their fundamental skills. This isn’t to say that you should be hesitant to promote your work, but just know that there is a hump you have to cross for your art to be seen as “professional level work”. This just comes with time and smart practice.
The best way to quickly improve your technical skill is to create a schedule to stick to, and to vary your work between studies and imaginative work. This will ensure you are practicing your fundamental skills from analyzing how color and light work in life, and also ensure that you are building up a body of work to promote as your own.
Watch YouTube videos, attend figure drawing lessons, go to a museum, or go outside and get inspired. Partaking in different ways to help you improve is going to be your best bet for continued growth.
Step 4: Create, Promote, Create, Promote
This goes without saying, but is also the most crucial step. If you have no work to show, it will be hard to start making a living with your art, or market it. As I mentioned before, make sure to always focus on creating a schedule for yourself and make sure you stick to it. Having regular content to show online is the best way to guarantee your continued growth, as the people that follow you will feel more of an attachment to you. It’s always fun to see someone grow along their artistic journey, and that’s what you will be giving to your followers by posting frequently.
Obviously posting a piece of art every day will get you the most consistent following, but that’s not always practical. My rule of thumb is to make sure I am getting 1-3 pieces of artwork or content out on my social media platforms each week.
I’d also suggest varying the type of content you post, so that you aren’t just posting art. It’s really nice to see a beautiful Instagram wall full of art, but there are other ways to showcase who you are and what you are passionate about. I am a strong believer in marketing not just your art, but yourself. Sharing video content or vlogs is a great way to do this, and you can also set up a schedule to do this consistently. It doesn’t take that much effort to take a quick video for a Facebook Story or Instagram Story, and video is a type of content you can post daily. It can also be a great way to share works in progress, without having to create an actual post to display.
Step 5: Find An Audience And Engage With Them
Finding an audience takes a bit of skill, and a bit of luck. There could be one piece in your portfolio that just goes viral, and you can double down on that style of painting to attract a similar audience. Because this isn’t always the case, it’s a good idea to try posting your work on all different types of sites and social media platforms, and see what works best for you.
I’ve found that sticking to the basic social media platforms, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, are the best way to find continued growth. What you do need to learn though, is how to properly utilize each platform to its fullest potential. Instagram has been my promotional platform of choice, since it revolves around visual media. Facebook is the best way for me to keep up with art friends, and to also share what projects I’m currently working on. Twitter is a great way for me to promote my work, and keep up with art news. YouTube has been the space for me to share educational video content under my brand Art broZ, and where I’ve begun to cultivate a community.
In terms of non social media platforms, I’ve utilized ArtStation as my primary portfolio site of choice. I believe they have the most professional looking site, and I see the most professional looking work on there as well. It has a clean aesthetic and is easy to post to, and still has some social-media-esque capabilities like following and liking.
I’ve personally seen the best engagement from my Instagram account. I absolutely love the Instagram Story feature, as I can promote work as well as snap some video of my daily life. If you are more open with your life, it’s much easier for someone online to have a conversation with you. People love transparency, and if you can really showcase your passion on your social media of choice, you will have an easier time engaging with the type of audience you want to attract.
Working through these 5 steps takes time and effort, but know that success is attainable if you stick to a schedule, and are open to showcasing your passion. If you have any art or marketing questions feel free to find me on social media and send me a message!
If you are interested in putting yourself in control of your own artistic improvement, and want to do it in a fun and interactive way, head on over to the Art Quest page to learn more information about the game!