Inspiration: Where to Find It
Thoughts from Elisha-Rio Apilado is a Chicago based graphic designer/illustrator and studio artist whose paintings and drawings have been featured in various exhibitions. Elisha studied studio art in Dallas, TX and moved back to Chicago where she obtained a B.F.A. in Visual Communications at the IL Institute of Art. She is currently diving into the career world of design while taking on freelance gigs and volunteer work.
Having the ability to draw, paint, and turn our imagination/ideas into reality in a variety of media is an amazing gift. You’re able to put out into the world what you visualize. The execution of making an idea an actual object/drawing has a variety of processes — and sometimes even getting to the point of formulating an idea to later convert into art can have its difficulties.
We’re artists, but we’re also human beings; living in the real world with events, emotions, work/school and, at times, can get distracted. We’ve all been there — You have your paper and pencil set in front of you but everything is blank. You have an idea, but you’re having trouble translating that concept into colors, typography, brush strokes, etc.
Inspiration is the fuel for an artist/design; it’s what gets our creative juices flowing. It’s natural for that imagination to have its slow days and fizzle out, it doesn’t mean that you’re losing your talent, it just means you need some new material, a new set of eyes, or just to look at another’s artwork. Ideas form from other ideas and experimentation. Nothing is quite original and there’s always a story of inspiration behind every artwork. Anything can inspire the artist.
So what is it that you do when you can’t seem to find that calling? You’ve got to take action and find inspiration on your own! So where do you even begin? Look around you. You’ve got inspiration everywhere. Indoors, outside, on the web, in literature, music, film — everywhere!
Inspiration is everywhere.
— Gayle Miller, SoBA President
Society of Bluffton Artists Treasurer
Thoughts and Facts from George Weber
- Did you know that SOBA spends more money on Marketing annually than all the dues collected from Exhibiting Members?
- SoBA provides art education opportunities to everyone regardless of age or skill level.
- SoBA through the CCA provided over 350 hours of professional art education in 2016/17.
- That the CCA is available for rent to groups, organizations, clubs etc.
- Most galleries charge an artist 50% of gross sales as a commission.
- On a monthly average your exhibited art is exposed to over 1,600 Potential clients.
Carolyn Edlund | ArtsyShark
Why do people buy art, and why will they buy from you?
The truth is that in order for people to be motivated to make a purchase, there has to be a connection between your work and something that they need, love or want. That connection can take many forms, but an artist who is a smart businessperson will know this and use it to plan their work, market their work and sell their work.
You’ve put in tons of studio time, developed a signature style, created a body of work and are serious about selling your art or crafts and building your business. Even if you’re an experienced pro, are you doing everything you can to market yourself and create opportunities for sales every day?
Here are 25 ways to spread the word, spur interest in yourself and your work, and grow a base of dedicated customers:
1. Diversify your efforts
If you are currently working in one medium, how many other ways can your images be sold — as t-shirts, mugs, mouse pads, notecards, etc. Use online resources such as Café Press and Zazzle to sell your creations in multiple formats. Many well-known artists do this.
2. Sell Retail and Wholesale. Are you currently selling only to the public?
You may be giving up a huge market — wholesale buyers. Crunch the numbers and see if you can sell your products to the wholesale market. This involves making items in mass-production (such as prints, pottery, etc.) not strictly originals.
3. Sell your Work through Online Outlets
Etsy and other sites let you upload images and sell through their venue. Take advantage of these popular websites not only to sell but to create recognition and publicity.
4. Show Your Work in Alternative Spaces
In this economy, there are empty storefronts, window space on busy streets and other non-traditional places to show and sell your work. Pop-up galleries have become a trend, and can be placed in homes for sale, restaurants and available real-estate for next to nothing.
5. License Your Work
Many artists license their designs to manufacturers and get paid well for their work, giving them a steady stream of income. Use this as a primary or secondary way of creating income.
6. Apply to Exhibitions
Keep sending in applications to shows that suit your work. Show up personally to shows you get in to and to speak with visitors. This will lead to sales and commissions.
7. Write About Yourself
Write an article about yourself and your work, or have an article written about you. Does your work involve anything unusual or complex? Explain your techniques, using lots of photos. Post your article on ezines, your blog, or use them in press releases.
8. Regularly Send out Press Releases
Any time you have news, whether it is a show you are participating in, a new body of work you have created, or if you just want to publicize your work, you can send out press releases, by email and on paper. Send them to trade publications, local newspapers, large newspapers, blogs and news organizations. Photos of yourself and your work are essential. Most importantly, tell your story. The press is always looking for interesting stories for their readers. And face it, you’re interesting!
9. Cultivate Referrals
Word-of-mouth referrals are like gold and you want to encourage them whenever possible. So, how to get referrals? Ask for them! When you send out an email newsletter to your existing customer list, ask them to refer any friends who may be interested in your work. You may want to offer a discount or a gift card for these referrals. And be sure to thank anyone who gives you one!
10. Respond to Requests from the Press
The flip side of press releases is to respond to reporters looking for interviews, such as HARO. Also consider writing articles for publication on popular sites such as Fine Art Views who solicit them. Drive readers to your website by providing a link and then when they get there . . .
11. Make Your Website into an E-commerce Site
You spent a lot of time and money on your website. So, where’s the shopping cart? Getting online visitors is challenging enough, but when they do visit and can’t make a purchase, you lose the sale.
12. Exhibit at Trade Shows
It can be expensive to do a trade show, so make sure you have done your homework first and target the right ones. Participating in a trade show gets your work in front of many buyers and can be extremely profitable.
13. Sell at Home Shows
Do you have clients or patrons who would be willing to open their homes and invite their friends to come and see your work? Partner up with other artists if you wish and create a great experience by setting up in-home displays and sell to a private audience. Give the hostess some free work or other gift to thank them. This is a proven method I’ve used personally to make thousands of dollars in sales.
14. Do a Trunk show for a Retail Store
Boutiques, galleries and department stores have a “meet the designer” event and you show up, bringing new work with you that isn’t available in the store’s inventory. You split the sales with the store and it’s a win-win. The store owner should provide their customer list for a promotional postcard mailing and you can advertise in the local paper and online.
15. Hire Sales Reps
This is a powerful way to multiply your presence and exposure to wholesale buyers. Working with reps (if you have a mass-produced production line of products) can add a huge dimension to your marketing and your sales.
16. Cultivate Buyers in Your Niche
Get involved with people who enjoy and support your chosen niche. Is your work animal-related? Attend ASPCA and charity events for animal rescue. Do you create nautical art? Participate in waterfront, sailing events and clean water causes. Donate some work to help raise money and awareness. Get to know the people who run events, and participate in groups for your cause. Subscribe to publications and websites that support your niche.
This may be in a newspaper, magazine, on related websites or even Google AdSense ads. Use compelling images of your work. If necessary, get professional help from freelance writers or marketing consultants.
Help out at a local art event or sale. Get to know the people who support the arts and enjoy participating. They can often introduce you to many others in that community who can help spread the word about you. Plus, you get the satisfaction of being a volunteer and helping others.
19. Participate at a Decorator Show House Event
Many areas around the country have seasonal decorator shows where a large house is transformed by many interior designers and they are well-attended. Vendors at these homes usually get exposed to a crowd of affluent buyers and can make lots of money in sales.
20. List your Business in Directories
Is your studio listed on YellowPages.com? It’s free. Add your listing to Google search and other business directories to get the attention of local buyers. List your website address in online directories of artists and craftspeople, providing a way for potential customers to find you.
21. Print Postcards of Your Work
Choose several professionally-taken photos of your work and have a selection of postcards printed. Use these in mailings to your customer list, to hand out at shows, or as leave-behinds for business contacts.
22. Seek out Corporate Markets
Is your artwork appropriate for hanging in hotels, offices and other business environments? Submit your portfolio to corporate art advisers, or get in touch with buyers for hotel chains and make a presentation of your work for consideration. Sometimes framers work with these clients and you may be able to make a strategic partnership with a framer to help promote your work.
23. Open Your Studio
Does your city or community offer any “open studio” events where artists invite the public to see their work space and purchase their art? Participate in these, or have your own open studio by choosing dates, sending postcards, advertising and sending out press releases well in advance. This can coincide with the holidays, when certain towns invite the public to view homes decorated for a “holiday tour.” Open your studio and let your guests view your work for possible gift ideas.
24. Get involved with Public Art
A relatively new phenomenon, public art allows artists to get exposure they ordinarily would not receive.
25. Constantly Seek Opportunities.
SoBA’s August Featured Artist
Exhibit August 7-September 3
Opening Reception at 5 p.m. Friday, August 11 at the gallery
Nicholas Di Mona creates unusual wood sculptures from dead and fallen trees. The beauty and elegance of the knots, inclusions, grain and natural imperfections make the final product a one-of-a-king piece of art. His unique work will be on display from August 7-September 3 at the Society of Bluffton Artists (SoBA) gallery, located at 6 Church Street. Come meet the artist in person at the opening reception at 5 p.m. Friday, August 11 at the gallery.
“When turning a project, I am the mechanic, but God is the designer,” Di Mona said. “I rarely have a predetermined vision of the final product.”
Di Mona began carving when he was 10 years old, making objects from his grandfather’s wine grape boxes. His creations included realistic birds, animals and wood spirits from Basswood.
Di Mona’s passion included a stint as a president of the Nature Coast Carving Club of Inverness, Fla. and the Hands On WoodTurners Club of Beverly Hills, Fla. Additionally, he has shared his craft with more than 200 students and demonstrated at the prestigious Florida Woodturning Symposium a number of times.