The life of an artist has changed dramatically even in the last couple of decades. Once, this career path would have been relatively limited to gallery exhibitions, patronage, and private commissions. Alternatively, it would be largely focused on more commercial endeavors, such as advertising images or book illustrations. Today, being an artist can open you up to more varied experiences. You’re able to carve out a path that may straddle the purely creative and the commercial. Indeed, the digital landscape can be the perfect conduit to connect you to these opportunities.
This isn’t to say that your artistic career is necessarily going to be easy. After all, there is still a huge amount of competition in the online environment vying for many of the same opportunities and audiences as you. Without a solid strategy for your route forward, you can find yourself not making any headway. This can both disrupt your career goals and derail your motivation to create. A key part of this strategy that can genuinely influence your success is creating and building your unique artistic brand.
Many contemporary artists struggle with this aspect of the online art marketplace, but it’s far from insurmountable. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of building your brand as an artist alongside some practical steps you can take to do so.
Branding yourself can seem in some ways at odds with an artistic career. The idea of a brand is so heavily entwined with the actions of corporations and purely capitalist enterprises. Nevertheless, it is actually this connection to the business world that highlights how branding can inform your successful career as an artist.
With competition at an all-time high due to better accessibility to markets, a strong brand can help businesses to stand out from the crowd. Brand awareness doesn’t just relate to an eye-catching logo, though this can be a useful tool for both companies and artists. It’s also about emphasizing how your core values are reflected in your working practices and the products you make. Building a brand also revolves around a better understanding of what you do differently from everyone else and leaning into these unique offerings.
These are elements that already likely fit into many of your activities as an artist. The difference here is you’re placing additional focus on communicating the message of your artistic principles to the digital marketplace. You’re crystallizing the ideas that drive what you do into a simple and understandable message you can send out into the world. This is vital in an environment in which people’s attention spans don’t always extend to consuming convoluted artists’ statements. Indeed, one of the reasons building a brand can be so important to you as an artist is it doesn’t just clarify what kind of creator you are to the market. It can also help you to learn more about what is important to you and your practice, empowering you to develop further in those directions.
How To Strike a Balance
It’s not unusual to feel a little hesitation about building your brand as an artist. One of the most important traits of an artist is sincerity. It can feel as though branding yourself is tantamount to selling out. This doesn’t need to be the case, though. Building your brand as a business entity and staying true to your artistic principles are not mutually exclusive concepts. Rather, it’s vital to maintain a good balance between these elements.
The first aspect that influences the balance is being honest in your approach. You don’t have to produce slick corporate visuals if this doesn’t reflect who you are and what you do. In fact, if you’re insincere here you are more likely to attract clients who’ll want you to create the kind of work you find unfulfilling. An effective brand should be an extension of the positive elements of your personality and services. Don’t approach the matter by thinking about what the industry might want you to be. That way lies madness and misery.
Nevertheless, part of being true to yourself is also being open about your ambitions. You want to make a living doing what you love and gain access to enriching opportunities. This isn’t anything to be embarrassed about. By knowing what you want from your career, you’ll generally find it easier to balance your artistic principles with utilizing branding tools to help get you closer to your goals. It also helps you to create a brand that is more relevant to meeting your needs.
Developing as an artist takes dedication to consistent practice and improvement. Building a brand is no different. Small marketing efforts applied frequently can see you make headway with your target audience. If you have a limited budget for marketing, it can feel as though it’s more important to focus on investing in the aspects of running your business you’re passionate about. The good news is that there are low-cost and free marketing tools you can use to keep your brand developing. Creating search engine optimized (SEO) content for your website can draw potential clients to your portfolio. Regularly posting on your social media channels using automated scheduling platforms keeps audiences aware of your activities.
Another marketing effort you must apply consistently is contacting current and former customers. If people or businesses have commissioned work from you, follow up with them about how it’s affected them or any questions they have about maintaining it. Wherever possible, cultivate these consumer connections into meaningful relationships. This not only helps to cement your artist brand as one dedicated to care and consideration — but these clients will often also be your best cheerleaders and spread your brand among friends, colleagues, and the wider creative industry.
This consistent contact should extend to your social media channels, too. Don’t just utilize these platforms as a way to post content. Take the time to regularly interact with your audience. Reply to their comments and have discussions with them about the art they love. Indeed, it’s worth encouraging them to share user-generated content on their relationships with your artwork. This can be instrumental in highlighting that your brand is not another faceless company designed to sell your art online. Rather, your brand is the hallmark of an approachable artist — even in digital spaces.
There are various perks to building your brand as an artist, including how it helps you stand out in a crowded field. It’s also important to recognize you can build a brand that is both consistent with your artistic principles and can help you reach your career goals. When you apply solid marketing tools consistently, you have the potential to raise awareness of your work and solidify your reputation as a creative professional. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that branding is a purely corporate exercise. It can genuinely help you to make your mark on the online artistic landscape.