by Lee Down

If you’re an artist, the idea of using data to guide your creative process may send shivers down your spine. After all, art is about self-expression, creativity, and experimentation — all of which are antithetical to data-driven productions.

However, your aversion to data may actually be costing you money and hampering your artistic progress. Data can be used for a plethora of creative and practical purposes that can help you better serve your clientele and improve the quality of your artistic production.

Data can help you nail down the business side of your artistry, too. Business, unlike art, is all about taking calculated risks in order to maximize your return on investment (ROI). Data analytics can help you spot unnecessary costs and streamline your online store. This will free up funds for better-quality materials and may alleviate some of the strain associated with being a “starving artist”.

Data is Empowering

Data analytics has taken the business world by storm. Today, 60% of all businesses use data to reduce costs, make operational decisions, and improve their efficiency. A further 94% say that data analytics is critical to businesses’ digital transformation, while 53% utilize big data in their day-to-day operations.

As an artist, it’s tempting to disregard data as something reserved for office workers and executives. However, data isn’t designed to stifle creativity and turn your artistic process into a formulaic production. Data exists to support your vision and empower you as an artist and a small business owner.

Data analytics is particularly important if you’re looking to appeal to a new generation or demographic. Rather than endlessly experimenting until you strike gold, consider using data to guide your search for current trends in the art market. This kind of market research — a.k.a. descriptive analysis — refines your understanding of the market and gives you a chance to better position yourself compared to competitors.

While data is a powerful tool in your artistic arsenal, it’s important to remember what it cannot do. Analytic software cannot put paint on paper, cannot throw clay, and certainly cannot organize photoshoots. Bearing this in mind will help you retain your agency as an artist and will ensure that you are at the center of all creative decisions.

Unlocking Art Business Success through Data-Driven Artistry

Utilizing Data

Data analytics is a growing trend within the art industry. However, few artists understand how to successfully leverage data. This is understandable, as analytic software can seem imposing to the uninitiated.

Start small, and opt for data analytics that empower you as a business owner. Conduct some market research and try to find a business intelligence program that suits your budget and streamlines your decision-making process.

Make the data analytics process easier by centralizing your reports and insights on a single dashboard. You can use a physical dashboard in your home studio, but will likely find that digital dashboards will serve you better. A digital dashboard gives you a chance to dive straight into live data reports and is designed to help folks who are a little less tech-savvy.

Simply gathering data is a good way to start your journey toward data-driven artistry. A robust data collection program can help you better understand the market and give you an overview of current trends. However, you’ll need to set some data-oriented goals if you want to make maximal use of data analytics. Consider starting with easy-to-track goals like:

  • Reduce operational costs
  • Increase sales volume
  • Improve market share
  • Optimize pricing for a higher ROI
  • Improve customer retention

These business-oriented goals aren’t prescriptive. If you sell niche, expensive artwork then you probably don’t want to increase your sales volume as doing so would undermine your process and dilute your market. However, these goals can get you headed in the right direction as a small business owner.

Goals like “improve market share” are trackable, too. This means you can track your performance over time and see whether or not your operational changes have had the intended effect. Using data in this way takes the guesswork out of the business side of your artistry and gives you more time and energy to focus on producing art that appeals to your consumers.

Market Research to Improve Your Offering

Once you’ve gathered some data, you may be surprised to learn that your offering isn’t performing as well as you’d hoped compared to your competitors. While this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change your approach to artistry, it is a sign that you could benefit from a shift in your approach.

If you’re an artist looking to expand operations while improving your offering, you may benefit from large-scale quantitative testing. Large-scale testing looks beyond the boundaries of your own business and helps you get a better understanding of the market at large. You will use data collection programs and social media metrics to identify key metrics and run experiments related to your artistry.

For example, if you’re currently revising your approach to packaging, you can use large-scale quantitative testing to analyze the impact of new designs and packaging materials on your sales volume. Different packaging styles will, invariably, have an impact on consumers and may encourage increased repeat purchases and brand loyalty. Keep track of consumers who receive new packaging and use data to highlight the difference between old materials and new ones.

Data that Improves Your Online Store

As an artist in the digital age, you probably sell most of your wares through some form of online store. While most online stores come with pre-built analytic tools, it can be hard to know where to start.

Boost your online store by measuring key metrics related to user experience. Start simple, and use inbuilt e-commerce features to identify things like:

  • Bounce rate
  • Average session duration
  • Traffic sources
  • Top exit pages
  • Pages per session

Once you’ve gathered these data points, try making some changes to increase conversion and reduce the bounce rate. For example, if you notice that many users exit on the same page, you may want to redesign the content contained on that part of your website.

This is particularly important on a sales/store page, as many art consumers are easily put off when they see your pricing. Instead, foreground the value of your products while folks scroll down to see the cost of your art productions.

Bolstering Your Marketing

Marketing your artwork can feel laborious. If you’re like most artists, you’d rather spend your creative energy on your art — not social posts and flyers designed to boost your sales. However, if you want to turn your hobby into a business, you’ll need to use data to bolster your marketing efforts.

Start by building a social media presence that authentically represents your brand as an artist. This may feel a little odd at first, but social media is the perfect place to engage prospective clients and build your consumer base.

Social sites like TikTok and Instagram are practically built for small art startups, too. You can easily redirect interested parties to your site and can build a buzz around upcoming releases online. Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok give you the opportunity to sell directly via social shops, too. For example, TikTok Shop is custom-built to serve digital merchants who find consumers online and want to sell their products directly through the app.

You can use social media to track key data points, too. Simply switch over to Meta’s business suite or use TikTok’s Business Center to discover metrics that directly correspond to higher sales volumes and increased consumer interest. Even simple data points — like follower growth and engagement — can be used to help you predict future trends and respond to changes in the art market.

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Identifying Collaborative Opportunities

Finding success in the art world is all about networking and collaborating. Even if you work alone in a studio all day, you still need to reach out to galleries, other artists, and blogs to build exposure and develop your presence in the art world.

Data analytics can help you make the most of collaborative opportunities by streamlining the search for new partners and network opportunities. Start building your “competitor” analysis program by identifying key metrics like other local artists’ pricing, product range, and promotional materials. This will help you decide whether or not a collaboration is a good idea and can help you keep track of the collaboration as it grows.

You can also use social media analytics to find influencers to promote your product online. Influencer marketing is a growing form of digital advertising and is a great way to pitch your art — particularly if you sell anything remotely “crafty” like knitwear.

When partnering with an influencer, ask to see their anonymized data before the partnership begins. Then, when you start sponsoring an influencer, keep a keen eye on metrics like follower growth and sales volume.


Data is central to the success of modern businesses. However, as an artist, you may be reluctant to start using analytic software. Start simple, and focus on easily trackable metrics like bounce rate, sales volume, and consumer behavior. This can guide your future decisions and help you target a new demographic. When you’re ready, consider investing in business intelligence software that can help you track your progress and test new designs, packaging, and marketing strategies.

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