Art Marketing Tips for Aspiring Artists

Although the world is in a challenging time, the future of the young artist is hopeful. 

In the Spring of 2009, I gave a lecture to students at the prestigious College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan. I shared with the students some advice about commissions and contracts, marketing and promotion, and spoke to them about what gallery directors look for in artists and their work.

Morris Shapiro, College for Creative Studies
At the College for Creative Studies, Spring 2009. Photo credit: Barbara Jacobs

Following are my 5 key tips for aspiring artists:

1. The distinction that you are either a “commercial” artist or a “fine artist” is a thing of the past.  Today, fine artists need to know commerce; commercial artists need to keep their artistic “flame” alive to keep their work up to par. You can achieve any success for which you strive with no limiting “labels.”

2. The art world today is hungry again for aesthetic beauty and for the artist to point the way to the beauty, mystery, and miraculous in life. The world is tired of dead animals in glass boxes, ashtrays full of cigarette butts, and starving dogs tied up to leashes that are all called “art.”

3. Art was the “spearhead” of culture and throughout history a narrative was created, with one generation of artists building upon the last. Now is the time for young artists to pick up the thread of aesthetic beauty that was cast aside by the conceptualists, and re-engage the narrative.

4. Work is the key – your art is not “precious.” It’s all about the hard work, determination and perseverance. There are no shortcuts to excellence. Look at Pablo Picasso, arguably the greatest ever – the amount of work he created is nearly incomprehensible. The Zervos catalogs of Picasso’s paintings and drawings consists of 34 volumes.

5. Know art history. All of the great ones were heavily steeped in the important art that came before them. They sublimated it and then it came through them in their own new incarnation. It’s now the young artists’ responsibility to reach back into time, to bring the history of art into this time, and move it forward.

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