This blog focuses on the joys, challenges and lessons of living the creative life—and make a living doing it!
Author Gayle Mahoney is an arts marketing consultant and has shown and sold her own artwork for over 25 years.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

If you make it (well), they will come

I have spoken with several artists lately who are frustrated by being pigeon-holed into a particular style or medium when trying to market their work. Some of this pressure comes from galleries and retailers who have had success selling the work; if it sells well, keep it coming! Some of it is self-imposed, if something sells why make anything else?

In the commerce of art and craft, in order to match potential buyers with products, those products must be put into categories the buyer will understand, and as an artist expands her work the buyer wants it to be done in a somewhat predictable way. From a marketing perspective this makes sense. 

However, I think there is an inherent conflict between the structure and function of the marketplace and the way most artists are wired. We create work out of the need to explore ourselves and the world around us, but if we want to take our work to the marketplace, this exploration can be stymied as we second-guess ourselves and try to predict if a piece will sell. 

I have seen many successful artists fall into creative crisis because they have lost the connection with why they are artists in the first place. They have traded passion for production, which may be preferable financially but not necessarily emotionally.

I think the work and creative process should always come first. If we create good, thoughtful, technically strong work, it will sell. We may need to find a different market if we change mediums, style or techniques, but that shouldn't dissuade us from allowing ourselves to grow creatively.

What do you think? 
Do you think about your market when you start a new painting? If so, is there anything wrong with that? 
How do you find the balance between considering your marketplace and keeping your work fresh?
How have you found a new market when your way of working changed? 

I would love to hear from you!

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