Questions and Answers with Leah Michelle
Everyone has heard the starving artist story so many times they could probably repeat it en mass without any trouble. I think though that contemporary life is so full of possibilities and supportive networks that there is no reason to be a starving artist in this digital day and age; we can just as easily be artrepreneurs (artists who are also entrepreneurs), a phrase coined by one of the Sussex Art Fairs Co-Founders Oliver Norris. Technology and the advent of art fairs for independent artists and galleries, along with the more mainstream ways to market, have allowed artists more control over how, when and where they market and sell their artwork.
For decades, big companies have used marketing strategies to create their corporate brands and now is a great time for artists and gallerists to use the same branding opportunities to promote and hopefully sell their unique style of artwork, whilst also remaining true to their inner creative. I’ve answered a mix of questions with my top tips on how to create a brand for an art business that is recognisable for art buyers and lovers alike.
What is Branding in Terms of the Art World?
Branding is the creation of a visual identity for a company. In this blog, I am specifically referring to how galleries and artists can create this visual identity to provide their customers (art buyers) with a framework of what kind of product they will be seeing and buying should they visit their shop either online, or in person at an art fair or gallery space. A good brand gives buyers a sense of ease knowing they are buying a quality product from a reputable seller.
What are the steps in creating a Brand for an Art Business?
- I think the first thing an artist or gallery needs to come up with is one sentence that describes what their business is about, their mission statement if you will. Here is an example: Leah Michelle Art creates bespoke acrylic abstract and floral drip paintings that bring beauty and happiness into the home.
- Design a logo. For artists, I suggest digitising their signature and overlaying their artist name on it. For galleries, using a nice handwritten font with the word gallery as well, will help potential clients know exactly what kind of business you are running. Canva.com is a great online tool to use for graphic designs or by using a website like fiver.com, one can find a local graphic designer near by.
- Come up with a Slogan or Catchphrase. I know this may sound cheesy, but it doesn’t have to be! It could be anything about why you make a certain type of art or what kind of artwork you’ve chosen to sell in your gallery. Mine is ‘Creating Colourful Paintings that Inspire Love’ and I’ve even included this on the landing page (or home page) of my website.
- Come up with a colour scheme for your business that supports your logo. I suggest sticking to 3 colours or less that compliment each other with one or two of being neutrals like black, white or grey. Pantone is a great resource to start looking for complimentary colour schemes and even paint companies like Farrow and Ball create great mood boards of colours that work well together, and artists and gallery owners alike can use as inspiration to create their brand identity.
- Maintain a consistent online presence in each social media platform. For example, make sure you use the same logo and colour scheme on your website, Facebook Page and Instagram and anywhere else you advertise online.
- Create consistent product packaging. For artists, this means making sure you are signing your work always in the same place, using similar sized canvases and framing techniques. For both artists and galleries, it means presenting the artwork with branded paperwork such as certificates of authenticity, invoices, receipts, business cards, printed booklets for fairs and any other printed marketing materials!
How to Use your Brand to get Your Business Noticed?
If you’re thinking, ah this makes sense then you’re ready for the next step which is preparing to be in it for the long haul. Success takes time and effort and can be measured in many different ways, not just in profit!
To create a successful art business, you need to start with a great attitude in order to make professional and positive connections and then maintain this positivity within your physical products and in your dealings with your clients (this includes anyone who helps exhibit or promote your work as well as the buyers!).
Then you need to get your artwork out there as much as possible. Start exhibiting at art fairs, exhibitions, posting regularly on social media platforms, creating online promotions and advertising, editorials and ads in printed publications and any other opportunities that may arise.
The art world is full of ways to connect and make contacts, both in person and online, and by keeping true to your method statement that you created in step 1, you will help your art business stay on brand and bring your clients back for more.