Creating art is a “right brain” activity. For those of you not familiar with the theory of two sides to the brain, right brain is considered the intuitive, holistic part of our thinking process. It is the “ah-ha” moment where the solution comes all at once and seems to be unconscious. “Left brain” activities tend to be logically thought out step by step. In reality, we use all parts of our brains all of the time but creative efforts tend to emphasis the intuitive way of thinking. However, artists need to also cultivate the “left brain” if they are to be successful.
This article is about the left brain activities that need to be incorporated into the time you spend on your art. I have previously stated that art is meant to be shared. An artist creates, but until that artist has an audience to view the art, the process is not complete. That audience can come through art shows, galleries, outdoor displays, or sales to art buyers. In order to get the art to the marketplace, there are several activities that an artist must engage in. It has been said that 30% of an artist’s time should be spent marketing his or her work. I will take you step by step through the processes that are important to implement in order to sell or show your work.
- Photograph each work as soon as it is completed.
You can pay a photographer to snap a photo of each piece, but it is less expensive to invest in a good digital camera and photograph your art yourself. Your camera should have at least 12 megapixels and the ability to time your shots. It is also helpful to have a tripod and a light source that keeps the integrity of the color. Fortunately, the cameras get better and less expensive all of the time. There are several good brands on the market. I have a Nikon Coolpix that I am quite happy with.
- Create a gallery of your work on your computer.
You need to have access to jpegs of your work to enter shows. An Artwork file with sub files of subject matter should be kept on your computer and backed up to show every piece you have created. I also suggest another “show submissions” file to copy pictures from your main artwork file into. The pictures in the main file should never be altered in any way but when you enter shows, you often need to alter the size of the jpeg or the name of the file. Having a “show submissions” file allows you to do that without changing the original image.
- Keep an inventory of your work.
Create a spreadsheet on your computer that includes a numbering system, the title, medium, size, price and a column to write awards received or sale of the item. The numbering system can be your own but I suggest including the month and year of creation within the number given to the individual piece. For example, a piece created this month would be 392-May-12. (The 392 is the actual consecutive number of the artwork from the first piece numbered 1 when I started my inventory.) Each piece has its own unique number that remains the same for eternity. This way, if you become an internationally known famous artist, the curators will be able to easily place one of your pieces in your body of work!
- Create a spread sheet of shows entered or work in a gallery.
As you begin to show your work, you will be entering shows that have starting and ending dates. It is important that you keep track of these dates so that you do not commit the same work to more than one place at the same time. At one time, I entered a painting in two shows that overlapped showing time by several days. If I had been accepted at both shows, I would have had to remove my work from one of them. It is unprofessional to remove an accepted art piece as the shows select the exact number of works that they want to display and count on artists to produce the selected pieces. For the first time, I was actually happy that my work was rejected from one of these two shows! Since then, I have been careful to note the date that the work needs to be sent to the show and the date that it will be returned to me.
You probably have realized by now that the above tasks are “right brain” activities. As an artist, you probably are not excited about spending time doing these activities, but they are ones that are necessary to success as an artist. We need to use our entire brains to move forward with our creativity!