Are you a full-time artist?
I consider myself a full-time artist and have the luxury of painting as much as I desire. I sometimes paint for 24 hours straight and other times a couple hours each day. However, I am very lucky to have a pension to sustain my life and art which many artists do not. My second loves are fly fishing and gardening. (Don’t take that wrong, my husband is first above everything)
At what point did you make the decision to sell your watercolor paintings?
I made a decision to resume painting after a very long vacation of 30 years from college until retirement. It took me 2 years of getting back to fundamentals and workshops to feel confident enough to possibly sell something and feel good about the product I was selling.
My first sale was a result of attempting to promote myself with a show at a local library and senior center. I knew if the reaction to my art was not positive with this type of entry level show then I would have to work another year or two before trying promoting another show. I sold 4 paintings at that show but I felt it was not enough to justify another promotion until I improved. My buyers were young and looking for something for inexpensive decorations to match their furniture rather than collectors of art.
What is the bestseller in your collection? Do you know why this is your best selling piece?
The best selling paintings for me have been watercolors in general and nature related paintings such as hummingbirds, garden florals and abstract flowers. These paintings are also the ones that buyers ask if I have giclee prints available once the original has been sold. Even though this is not what I would have thought would sell, it has always been surprising to me that the paintings I love are the last ones to sell. (Shows what I know about art)
What do you think are the characteristics any successful artist should have?
I believe the characteristics needed to be a successful artist are determination, humility, willingness to take advice, great work ethic and ability to pick oneself up from defeat and keep trying again and again. These characteristics are the same ones I value with my friends and well known artists I admire. Many think raw talent is the most important trait and I beg to differ because I have seen genius go by the wayside while the less than natural talented individual that worked hard and never gave up, made it to the top with time.
What tools are you using to market your work?
I must say that my marketing is my weakest link and I am working hard to get that at a higher level. Some of the marketing steps I have taken are:
- Asking local offices, businesses and resorts to allow me to show my work
- Apply for artist-in-residence opportunities
- Paint in competitions that allow everyone to enter
- Enter competitions in high profile trade magazines and shows
- Contact local galleries
- Ask for free press releases when I have won an prize or award
- Joined groups or organizations that promote each other’s work
- Display and sell my work on-line with Daily painters sites and others such as Etsy
- Spending 15% of my sales on advertising in national artists’ magazines and business postcards
In the near future I will be more active with Facebook and other social media to get my work out there to more individuals. I am also changing my website to be more professional and easy to use.
Do you track how your customers are finding you?
Tracking buyers and their buying habits is critical to being successful. My web site tracks all hits and information regarding those hits. I also try if possible to see what other pieces of artwork my buyers purchase just to make sure I can work with them or at least keep them informed regarding my career and new paintings. Most of my collectors are repeat buyers and find me by word of mouth when they see a painting either on-line or at someone’s business or home. An astute artist should know that of equal importance to the actual sale is making a connection with the buyer on an emotional level so that they remember you and you know why they bought the painting. An artist needs to know what connection drew that buyer to your painting or product. If you do that, then most likely they will consider returning to purchase another painting.
What are your goals and ambitions for the future?
My goals and ambitions are driven by my desire to improve and reach a new level of personal and professional success. In the next five years I want to be juried into 5 national competitions, sell at least 100 paintings at 5 times the price I am selling them for now and strive for improved acknowledgment by my peers in relation to my painting skills. In 10 years my dream is to win in 3 out of 5 of those competitions. Those are very lofty goals but there is no harm in setting high goals only in not setting any at all.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Since I consider myself aspiring, I can identify with every struggling artist. I always tell those individuals just starting out that you will be your own worst enemy. If you want this to be a career and not just a hobby and have your family and friends take you seriously, then you need to be very stern about the fact that this is a “JOB” and must be treated as such. You must set high standards for yourself and don’t back off when others want to discourage you. Stop all the free paintings for relatives and only accept what you feel you deserve. It will take years to achieve many of your goals and it doesn’t come at the pace we all hope for, but it will come. Every time someone buys a painting and tells you the story behind why they bought it, is your reward. The money is secondary to the thrill of having someone love something you created.