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.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lead balloons

I used to play the trumpet in a swing band. We played a number of venues around New York City just as swing music was making a resurgence in the late 1990s. There were some great musicians in the band, and we practiced a lot, both on our own and as a group. What amazed me was that we could give the same quality of performance to several audiences, but the reaction could be completely different. There were a few times where something magical happened and the connection we felt with the audience exceeded a musical performance and lifted us, collectively, into a place of transcendence and deep communion.

As an artist, achieving that "place" of transcendent connection with my audience is an ever-present goal for me. It is a transitory place and rarely encountered. But having been there, I like how it feels to have someone have a new experience as a reaction to my work. Even if it is something as simple as liking a pair of earrings that I made, if someone responds or "gets it" I feel that I have done my job.

I have shown my sculpture enough times that I know the range of engagement people will have, some will connect with it very deeply right away, some people are inquisitive but some effort is required to engage, some people understand it but just plain don't like it. And sometimes the work goes over like a lead balloon. I recently had a show opening where few people engaged at all. Ironically it was the strongest body of work I have put up in a long time, so the self-doubt I would normally feel in such a situation was kept at bay. The show looked great in the space. But it was the wrong audience for my work and I suppose was expecting too much from them.

Marketing is the process of using all the skills we have to create the conduit for our work that will allow the transcendent connection we strive for as artists. It is the process of finding and priming our audience so that they are as receptive as possible to our ideas and creations. It is an open-ended experiment, and sometimes we completely miss the mark.

Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug, sometimes you're the squeegee that has to scrape the bug off the windshield and figure out a better way to go about it next time around.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

3 Random Tips and a Little Inspiration

Here are three tips and a little inspiration for you:

Affordable rubber stamps from your own designs
If you work in clay any kind, papercrafts, collage, scrap booking or any other art form where you use textures or rubber stamps, there is a business associated with United Cerebral Palsy in San Diego that makes custom rubber stamps at amazingly affordable prices. The company will make a 9" x 7" sheet from your design for $32.00 plus $5 shipping per sheet. If you have ever bought rubber stamps you know this is a steal! Plus the company supports the independence of disabled people through training and employment. 
Here is the company:
Here is a related site that explains in great detail what to send and how the stamps may be used in clay applications:

A little bird told me there is a new article up on wikiHelp about how to market your jewelry biz via the web. Who knew? Well, I did since I wrote the article… please feel free to add your own hints and tips to the article. If you are not familiar with wikiHow, it functions just like Wikipedia only it has step-by-step instructions about how to do just about anything. 
my article:
If you use iGoogle as your web browser home page, you can add wikiHow's "how-to" of the day… Today's entries were "How to Wash Makeup Brushes" and "How to Make Chewing Gum from Scratch."

Groups and more groups…
If you have surrendered to social media and are on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. you can set up your own "Group" to promote your work. I haven't set up a group on LinkedIn, but have joined several that are related to the arts and arts marketing. I get weekly email updates that list conversations in the thread. Just by reading these emails I learned about podcasts that give step by step instructions about how to optimize a web page so it gets more hits, advice about pricing work, and discussions about every aspect of art theory and practice. I am enjoying the exploration right now… but by joining these groups I have expanded my connections with very little effort and in very little time. On Facebook, I created my own "Fan Page" or group- I post updates about shows, events and sales, post pictures and other info. It's free, and my group members are growing- I have 28 members woo woo! I definitely need to build on that… but it's a totally free way to let people know what I am up to. Let me know if you have any social media tips to share.

Now a little inspiration...
If you live within a day's drive of NYC, or ever come here for the weekend, you MUST make a trip to see the Tim Burton exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (up through April 26). There were loads of models, props, costumes, storyboards, etc. from his movies- those were all great. But what I loved the most was seeing pages and pages and pages of his sketchbooks, where I witnessed his development as a create genius from his childhood on. The exhibition screams in silence to every artist who passes through- DRAW dammit! It was amazing to see how much work he accomplished through his goofy drawings...
Let me know if you are coming, I am a member at MOMA and can get you in for $5.
If you can't come see it in person, here are some links: