HAIFA – When Botticelli painted The Birth of Venus, he would never have imagined that his work would be viewed on social media by viewers all around the world, instantly. 

The emergence of the digital world has changed the way artists and arts organisations communicate with their audiences. Especially now during this pandemic, it is critical for the artists to be online. If you’re not online, how else can people learn about your work or find you? Or how can your supporters talk about or introduce your work to others? So, if you haven’t already, then what are you waiting for? Now is the time to create your online presence. Your website,  your social media channels and your connections. 

Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, Tempra on Canvas, 172.5 x 278.9 cm, 1484-1486, Florence, via wiki.org

Artists are no longer dependent on the galleries and museums. You can use digital marketing platforms on your own as an effective means for reaching out to your target audience to promote and sell artworks, and the good news is, it’s never been easier!

What Is Digital Marketing for Artists?

Say you are a sculptor and your studio is full with beautiful sculptors that you worked so hard on. No one will know about your work, let alone buy it unless you know how to market it. If you only display it in your studio, only people that live in your city might see it, others will not.

By marketing your art online, I don’t mean public relations or explicit and direct advertising methods, but shifting to building meaningful relationships with fans and potential customers.

In short, marketing is getting your work out to an audience, keeping them informed about your practice and inviting them to your exhibitions and other events, building a community of fans and supporters and nurturing these relationships. 

How to start with Digital Marketing?

The foundation of all digital marketing is consistency in sharing and showing your art in the world wide web (consistency in communicating and engaging with people who are interested in your art). From there, you can develop a voice and a niche, which can grow into a large community, build customer relationships,which can bring in more traffic and ultimately reach your goals.

So where should you begin and how? I will give the basic foundations of what artists should do to start marketing their work online:

First: Humanize your creative process

Share with your audience the creative thinking process and the “behind the scenes” work, by whatever means you find comfortable: taking photos, audio, video,  or writing (whatever way suits you) and accordingly choose the platform that most fits it. 

It is important for you to feel comfortable discussing your new project or an art piece that you are working on, an upcoming exhibition, or the inspirations and process behind your work.

Do not forget to enter your “why”, that is, not only how you are doing the work, but why you decided to do it!

For example: If you are working on a sculpture, take a picture of the raw materials and post them on Instagram, or write a few sentences about what made you want to work on this project and post them on Facebook.

In this Instagram post, artist Kara Walker is sharing some of the inspirations that got her to build the katastwof karavan. 

Second: Find out what makes you unique

Learn how to identify what’s unique about your practice and what sets you apart from others.  For every artist there is a unique voice, a unique touch, a niche, so try to find it. This will set the way of how you will communicate with your audience.

When you find your unique voice this will be the guideline of how you engage with your audience. It is the heart and soul of your communications, the tone in which you speak to and engage with your audience.

For example, Yayoi Kusama’s instagram shows her uniqueness and her unique voice, she engages with her followers through her art and her art only, she rarely post photos of herself, and when she does she makes sure that her photo is related to her art, on the other hand Ai Weiwei’s tone of voice in his instagram account is a mixture of his art and his personal life.

Third: Fit the content to the target audience

When deciding what to share and on which platform try to think of the persona or target audience you are trying to communicate with.

Examples of different personas that you want to target in your posts/blogs/website: Art Collectors, Art dealers, Curators, Art lovers, Exhibition Trustees, Gallery owners, Art critics, Interior design engineers, Educators, and more.

Fourth: Be an expert and prove your credibility

Becoming an expert or a thought leader in your niche is important. Most artists strive for it and put all their efforts into becoming one. Why? Because being an expert gets you credibility and trust. Both elements are massively important when trying to expose, promote and sell your art. Investing time into curating valuable and engaging content that benefits your followers is very important. 

Again this content can be an article, a paragraph or a sentence, it can be an image, or an illustration, or even an audio or a video, anything that you are comfortable with.

This is the way to create a word of mouth about your art (when your content is shared), you build up your credibility as an artist, and the emotional connection that your audience will have with your art.

Examples of content curation:

4 tips for choosing materials for sculpting
Why do I use video art as my preferred medium in art?
Do not do these things when you use oil paint

Fifth: Invest in a website

While social media is a great tool for showcasing your work and having a direct dialogue with your audience, it shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for a full-scale online presence of a website. Creating a website for your portfolio is critical if you want to position yourself as a professional and sell your works.

It is a given nowadays that every artist needs to have their own website. This will ensure that your art is taken seriously, to project a trustworthy image, to control your marketing strategy and most importantly it allows you to positively build up your reputation by giving people the opportunity to learn about who you are as an artist online.

In Conclusion, as the digital world grows, you will have to tune in to the digital beat so as to make the whole world your gallery. Expand your mind, be strategic and use the digital tools and platforms to fulfil your dream goals.


About Guest Writer Rana Asali:

Rana Asali, a senior digital marketing specialist, a certified lawyer (L.L.M), and a cultural activist. Asali co founded bananir, a growth and marketing agency that provides professional consultancy and training for numerous SMEs and start up companies in Palestine and abroad. She also supports Palestinian led initiatives focused on arts, advocacy and creative industries among others.