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Launching Your Art Career the Right Way

Don’t you love to hear about artists achieving recognition and success? We can all learn so much from their journeys, which is why I’d like to share a true story with you this week. A good friend of mine—we’ll call her Miranda—has been steadily working toward the launch of her art career for about three years now, and suddenly it seems like everything is happening for her. But in reality, it’s not sudden and it’s not random luck. Her progress is the result of careful planning and concentrated effort, involving the following steps:

Networking. Miranda’s background as an entrepreneur is a real advantage to her, especially because she understands the value of networking. She routinely attends professional and community meetings where she focuses on gathering new contacts, and she’s adept at making new friends in the course of her everyday life, too. In the past year, she has been more open with long-time acquaintances and friends about her passion for painting, and all the people who show a strong interest in her work get added to her e-mail and/or snail mail mailing lists. To her delight, she tells me, she’s discovered that many people are fascinated by her new direction and are excited to support her.

In addition to these face-to-face networking efforts, Miranda has devoted time each day to networking and nurturing relationships in the online world, especially through Instagram and Facebook. For instance, she’s been making short videos of her painting process to share online, and earlier this year she completed one of those hundred-day challenges because it gave her so many chances to post daily content on social media. Her consistent participation in online communities is helping her attract new fans and steadily grow her following. “Posting every day was not that difficult, and it also gave me an opportunity to test multiple hashtags to see which have a higher response rate,” she says, adding, “I increased followers by 150%.”

Finding opportunities to exhibit her work. About a year ago, Miranda felt that she had built up a cohesive body of work that she would be really proud to show. With this in mind, she started looking for more places and ways to exhibit besides just juried group exhibitions. Once again, she networked with others in her local arts community, and soon made contact with a photographer who has a beautiful gallery space in one of their city’s more prominent, high-end, contemporary art centers. When he suggested they partner on a two-person show that would coincide with several other shows opening at the center on the same night, she jumped at the chance. She created even more work in a wide array of sizes and price points so that she could appeal to a broad range of collectors.

Miranda developed a promotional campaign for the exhibit and used every means possible (postcard mailers, email invites, social media) to get the word out about their exhibition. Oh, baby, did she work those mailing lists! More than 150 people attended the opening, and their exhibit was the talk of the art center on opening night. They worked very hard to create an inviting, party-like atmosphere with great food, good wine, and fun music that would keep people in the gallery longer. It’s really not surprising that Miranda sold three paintings during the opening to acquaintances she’d known and nurtured over time. “During the opening of the exhibit, I quickly learned that people want to know and connect with the artist, the stories, and the process behind the paintings,” she notes.

Leveraging the experience into representation. Having generated a little buzz among local collectors, Miranda decided to capitalize on her success. Within days she put together a promotional packet, including a small portfolio of paintings, and took it to a local gallery that she had researched and identified as the best match for her work. She deliberately dropped it off in person early in the morning, just after the gallery opened, and asked to speak to the gallery’s manager, who showed a lot of enthusiasm for Miranda’s work. So, of course, Miranda invited the woman to come see the show while it was still up. As soon as the gallerist saw the exhibit, she immediately offered to represent her work! We think it’s partly due to the quality of Miranda’s paintings but also partly because the gallerist can see that Miranda is willing to put in a lot of effort to promote herself.

I am so excited for my friend! I know that this is only the beginning of an exciting new art career that’s going to be a huge success, mainly because Miranda is dedicated to marketing her work effectively. Networking and creating opportunities are key!

What takeaways did you get from Miranda’s story? What do you think she should do next? Let’s connect!


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