Sustainability is at the forefront of nearly everyone’s mind these days. You might already be eco-conscious about the things you consume and purchase, but what about your career? While art doesn’t necessarily make people think of waste, pollution, and emissions, there are still things you can do to reduce your environmental footprint that can also enhance your artistic career.
Making sustainable choices, from materials to marketing, can have a positive impact on your creative process and can help to get you noticed for all of the right reasons.
With that in mind, let’s cover a few practical tips that can inspire you, as an artist, to embrace sustainability and make eco-friendly choices to grow your artistry and your career.
The simplest sustainable choice you can make as an artist is to choose which supplies to work with. If you already have your own home art studio, it should be easy to take stock of your inventory, including how many supplies you regularly go through, and how much you might be throwing away.
Today, you can find eco-friendly paintbrushes made from bamboo and non-toxic paints that aren’t harmful to the environment. It’s an easy swap to make that can end up having a positive impact on the planet and your work.
You can also boost the eco-friendliness of your art studio by reusing and recycling as often as possible. Some of the best ways to give new life to used equipment include:
If you know that some of your supplies could still be used but you no longer want or need them, consider selling or donating your obsolete goods instead of just throwing them away. You never know who might be willing to give them a new life and keep them out of a landfill.
You can (and should) also maintain any equipment you might have to improve its efficiency and lifespan. That includes everything from easels to drawing tables. Take care of your supplies, furniture, and other equipment to help reduce waste. If you’re a digital artist, maintaining your computer, printer, and any other machines you use to bring your art to life will not only help to ensure your livelihood keeps moving forward, but that you’re not harming the planet in the process.
As an independent artist, it’s up to you to market yourself and your work, and build your business from the ground up. Because consumers are so interested in sustainability, using it as a marketing point is a great way to get noticed. Of course, you have to be genuine in your efforts. Don’t greenwash your personal brand or make your audience think you’re practicing sustainable habits more than you actually are.
But, if you can practice what you preach, there is value in letting your audience know you take sustainability seriously. It can boost your brand recognition and improve your bottom line. Don’t be afraid to boast about your recycling efforts or how you repurpose old materials into new things. Partner up with an environmental organization and donate a portion of your sales.
You can also open a completely digital online store to sell your artwork instead of shipping actual pieces across the globe. Opening an online store allows you to market every single piece you create, it’s less expensive than selling your work in a gallery, and it allows people to print your pieces at home rather than relying on air or freight to send them where they need to go. That will help to cut down on carbon emissions and get your art in the hands of a buyer much faster.
Sustainability is more than just a trend. But, if you’re willing to make it a priority in your career, you can benefit your business, boost your recognition, and feel good about doing something beneficial for the future of the planet.
A passionate writer, Katie Brenneman writes about a variety of topics including marketing. You can find her on Twitter.
The U.S. art market was valued at 30.2 billion dollars in 2022, outperforming pre-pandemic valuations. The increase in the market’s value shows that art is in demand. And with that demand comes more artists and products.
It also means you’re looking at a level of competition in the art market that wasn’t there before. Learning how to best navigate the competition and stand out with your brand and products is the only pathway to a successful art business.
Market research can provide you with the information you need to create unique art products your customers want and your competition isn’t making. It can also help you establish a personal brand that differentiates you from the many other artists out there.
Canvas prints, framed artwork, digital art, sculptures, coloring books, and original paintings are just the start of the range of art products available to consumers. Add in the hundreds of thousands of artists producing these products, and the catalog gets even more overwhelming.
You have to figure out a way to create products that aren’t like everything else in the industry to catch your customers’ attention and keep it long enough to develop relationships and inspire purchases.
For example, let’s say you create a line of original watercolor paintings with a specialty line of watercolor paints every year. After a review of customer feedback and sales data, you find that these paintings bring in half of your profit.
You could conclude that the way these paintings are created with that specialty line of watercolor paints makes them unique and that this contributes to the high sales volume. You can then tailor your marketing to emphasize these points.
Market research can help you determine how to make your product stand out. For example, the way you make use of your artist brand voice and where and how you display your product in person can all influence whether or not someone will buy your items. Market research can also play a part in helping you understand what customers want.
If you want your art products to sell consistently, you must know your customers inside and out. You need to know who they are first. Then, you need to understand their preferences and demands so that you can accommodate them.
A huge part of market research is compiling demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral data on potential, current, and past customers. For example, knowing your customer preferences and collecting qualitative and quantitative data on how customers respond to different products can help you determine what types of products to offer. You can use what you learn about your customers to inform product and packaging designs and other creative brand elements that help you stand out.
As much as your art is for you, it must be more for your customers to be successful.
You’re obsessed with a certain art product you’ve been creating and want to introduce it to your customers for sale. But is there a space for that product in the art market? In other words, are people looking for this product and buying it?
You could go for it regardless of whether there’s a demand for the product or not. But it will likely be a long time before you see sales rolling in if you see them at all.
Market research helps ensure you’re creating products that are likely to thrive in the market. For example, sculptures, impressionist art, and contemporary art are some of the most popular among consumers.
Even if you don’t create these kinds of art, it’s good to know what’s capturing people’s attention and driving sales. You may be able to incorporate some elements of these styles into your art to position yourself better in the market.
Use market research to understand the demand for your products and what adjustments you should make over time to help your products sell more consistently.
Many artists get buried in the vast, ever-changing art industry. New artists and products are emerging every day, making it seem impossible to establish yourself. But with the help of market research, you can elevate your art products so that they stay in demand, capture your customer’s attention, and keep it.
Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in a variety of topics including marketing. You can find Katie on Twitter.
Your art is more than a way to make a living. Your art is your passion and your purpose. It’s why you are here and it’s what you were meant to do.
But, at the end of the day, you still have to keep food on the table and a roof over your head. And that means that your art is still a business and you are still a business owner as well as an artist. Ensuring that your artistic business grows, thrives, and survives takes time and effort.
It requires you to be not only a creator but also a business strategist, chief marketer, and expert customer service provider. That’s a lot of hats for one person to wear, but there is a way for you to fulfill all the roles your artistic enterprise requires while still taking care of both your customers and yourself.
No matter how gifted an artist you may be, no matter how dedicated you are to your craft, the reality is that your career would not survive without your clients. And that means customer satisfaction must be a top priority.
The good news is you don’t have to compromise your artistic vision to ensure that your clients have an exceptional experience with your business. You can offer your customers the white glove treatment through the provision of perks and benefits that the general public isn’t privy to.
The key to understanding what will engage and pleasure your best clients lies in the effort to build rapport with your customers, in taking the time to get to know them, what they expect, what they need, and what they want. Once you understand what drives your clients, you can tailor your service strategies accordingly.
For example, if you have a V.I.P. collector who enjoys networking with other collectors, then you might offer a private viewing of a new work exclusively for a handful of your best customers, affording them the opportunity to meet and engage with one another. On the other hand, if you have a patron who is a bit more introverted and eschews public gatherings, you might offer a private viewing of your latest work at the client’s own home.
Ensuring that you’re offering your best customers the white glove treatment helps you build those lucrative and long-lasting relationships on which your business depends. But that’s only half the battle. You also need to focus on continuously expanding your market reach in order to maintain a steady flow of new customers and prospects.
The good news, though, is that it’s easier than ever for an artist to raise their brand awareness and connect with prospective clients all around the world. Marketing your brand successfully takes time, effort, and strategy, however. It’s best, for example, to focus on a range of media, including blogs, podcasts, and social media platforms. This way, you can engage with an entire global community of art lovers and prospective buyers, showcasing your wares through online portfolios, social media posts, and podcast promotions.
Ideally, a strong digital presence will enable your prospective clients to connect with you more easily, and the more you are able to connect with them, the more you will care about and for them!
When you’re a creative professional running your own business, it can be easy to forget about taking care of yourself because you are so busy taking care of your customers and your art. However, if you aren’t able to maintain your health in body, mind, and spirit, not only will your art suffer but so will your business–and your relationships with your customers.
At the very least, taking the time each day for physical exercise, such as taking a daily walk through a local park or around the neighborhood, is a great way to boost your immune system, build muscle strength and agility, and support cardiovascular functioning. Best of all, when you get your blood flowing and your body moving, you’re going to reduce your stress, clear your mind, and spark your creativity.
Being both an artist and an entrepreneur isn’t easy. However, with a bit of effort and commitment, it is possible to grow your business and care for your customers while also taking care of yourself!
Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn't writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.