Posted by: MtnWoman Silver | December 2, 2009

Artist as Marketer

     I have been spending so much time learning about blogging and social networking, I have been neglecting the production of art. I am trying to understand why I have gotten into this new time-consuming activity.

     I am reminded of what happened to my husband during the late 1980s. Prior to the advent of personal computers in the work-place, managers had support people—secretaries, receptionists, assistants. When a manager was given his very own desktop computer, he was suddenly expected to compose on it (no more need to dictate) and that composing required typing (no more typists). It did not matter that this highly-paid executive had never learned touch typing. He was expected to hunt and peck his way through a proposal or report while still completing all the work he was hired for.

     Now, my husband types 28 wpm. I know because in 1992, we bought our first personal home computer and I got a book and program to teach him to touch type. He worked at night for six weeks trying to retrain his fingers to touch type rather than hunt and peck with his forefingers. At the end of six weeks, I tested him and he typed by touch 28 wpm. He typed 29 wpm hunting and pecking. Touch typing made him a nervous wreck and his typing was filled with mistakes. He gave up and to this day continues to hunt and peck at 28-29 wpm. He also does his own filing. So, instead of paying a typist $9-10 per hour to type, they pay my husband a manager’s salary to hunt and peck and do other clerical work. 

     So now, I’ll get back to myself. In 1989, I began working full time as a painter. Having no gallery affiliation, I knew I would need to market myself. I took an expensive, week-long marketing workshop with Sue Viders. We received a huge notebook of handouts with lots of instruction and samples of every form an artist would need to do business. We were told to research what was selling, In 1989, the top selling art was landscape. We should follow home fashions and what color schemes were popular and add those to our palette. The main advice I remember was that an artist must determine how many hours a week she had to devote to her business (making art and marketing art) and then spend equal amounts of time on each. If you had 40 hours, you would spend 20 making art and 20 marketing art. If you had 4 hours, you would spend 2 hours on each. You get the picture.

     I have tried very hard over the years to be creative in marketing. I have sold through my studio and at fairs. I have been represented in a traditional gallery and in co-op galleries. I have donated art to good causes and done demos to get my name out there.  Now, I have migrated into online marketing using an art-hosting site, facebook, twitter, and blogging. Still, I feel a bit like my husband. I keep thinking that all this time I spend doing something I am not great at (marketing) takes me away from what I should be doing (confronting my easel in the studio and producing something fine).

     I know I am not alone in this pining for the time when artists produced art and galleries took care of the business of selling that art. I realize that only a few artists today have such an arrangement with galleries. I am just glad I live in a time when people all over the world can click a button and see my latest output and every so often, I am notified that someone loved a piece enough to purchase it.

      So, I’m off to begin a new project.

© MountainWoman Silver and MountainWoman Silver Speaks, 2009


  1. I understand. I am supposed to be working on two books but life and blogging keep intruding!!!!

    • How long have you been blogging, Kay? How do you fit blogging in with all the other demands on your time? The best time for me is at night after a day of painting or quilting, but that is the time I’ve set aside to be with my husband. My pc is in the studio, so now I am taking an hour or so a day away from my husband to go over and check things and write. I wonder how others manage.

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