Recently, I was asked by Artsy Shark, part of Fine Art Studio Online that’s dedicated to helping artists achieve sales success to write a blog about my own endeavors. This is the article that appeared:
What happens when an artist takes a proven business approach to setting and reaching goals? Painter Tom Blood shares his process and results.
Most artists are probably taking the same approach this year to their sales as they did in the previous one. Create the art. Push it out on social media. Then cross your fingers and hope that someone notices.
For some, that’s a proven path to success. But for most of us, it takes a lot more than that. It takes planning—something that is not always in an artist’s vocabulary. It takes persistence—something that we may have when it comes to creating art but not necessarily in the marketing of it. And it takes determination—systematically putting one foot in front of the other as you march toward your goals.
When businesses go about setting goals and objectives, they often utilize what’s called the SMART goal setting process:
- Your goals need to be Specific
- They need to be Measurable
- They need to be Achievable
- They need to be Relevant
- And they need to be Timebound
Last year, I decided to put that process to work for myself, setting four key goals:
- Double my visibility on social media across a variety of platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as well as a number of websites where my work is available.
- Double my number of painting sales from the previous year.
- Get a solo art show at a gallery near my home in the metro St. Louis area.
- Go from creating one painting a month to two while improving my technique with increased attention to detail.
Each one of those goals is fairly bold. Yet all were within reach. In actuality, they were all interconnected. Each one of those goals had its own action plan—even the part about improving my technique, which is quantifiable in my own eyes. I then broke down what I needed to do on a monthly basis, creating a subset of minor goals designed to keep me focused on the big picture.
In order to double my visibility on social media, I needed to regularly post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. On Facebook, I focus only on finished work, shared on my own art page as well as in several groups. On Instagram, I show work in progress. And on Twitter, I share my art that is posted on many of the various websites where my work appears.
All those postings led to more followers and contacts and ultimately, solicitations from other art-related websites where my work is now available. Though FASO remains the host of my key artist website, my work can now be found on Fine Art America, Artfully Walls, Saatchi Art, Art Sleuth, Singular Art, Turning Art, Tricera, Art Loupe and VIDA.
Goal number one: achieved.
These various sites where my work can be found led to a variety of sales. They include original art, prints and items ranging from iPhone covers to beach towels. Updating work on each of those sites is time consuming. But every time I finish a new painting, I set aside time to upload the new work.
There are a few gallery owners whom I have spoken with who do not share my love of being on all of those websites. They view those sites as direct competition and essentially, they are correct. But for an artist in this day and age to rely solely on the representation of one gallery seems almost foolish. Part of the draw of an artist has as much to do with name recognition as it does with actual talent. If your work has been sold around the world and you have generated thousands of views of your work, you are more marketable to the gallery.
With gallery owners, it’s so important to build a personal relationship. You need to visit their gallery, attend their openings and actively engage with them. Each month it was on my list to attend (or at least reach out) to a few select galleries in my area that seemed to be a good fit for my work. That persistence paid off. It resulted in a solo show this past November that set a record for number of paintings sold for the gallery while significantly boosting my total as well.
Goals two and three: achieved.
What about my last goal of creating not just more work, but better work from an executional standpoint? I knew the goal of doubling the amount of paintings I created was an ambitious one. I didn’t quite reach it as I ended up creating 23 over the course of the year. More important was my focus on truly finishing the painting. I took the extra step, paying close attention to the finer details and brushwork that make my paintings stand out.
Goal number four: almost!
What should your goals be this year?
Go back to the SMART acronym and ask yourself, “How can I, as an artist, move forward in the coming months?” Commit those goals to paper. Hang them somewhere in your studio or workspace where you can see them every day. Then create a subset of goals you’ll perform on a weekly or monthly basis. As you reach those monthly milestones, cross them off, knowing you’re on your way towards achieving your bigger goals.
Maybe you won’t achieve them all. But as famous ad man Leo Burnett once said, “If you reach for the stars, at least you won’t come up with a hand full of mud.”
Tom Blood is a modern day surrealist who paints ideas. His goal is to paint the impossible, or at least, the highly improbable. With Tom’s paintings, you can always tell what’s going on, you just don’t necessarily know why. To see his work, visit his website.