Networking: To reach the market
Networking is about exchange of information, support and favors. But you have to network at the right place. You have to know what is your goal – to be able to target! Except for the market that you create yourself through your normal social contacts (friends, family, neighbours, acquaintances etc = “normal people”) – the market for art consist of different levels. How to network depends on where you are aiming to get. You need to channel your efforts in the right direction!
FIRST: Ask yourself this question: What market do you want to reach?
1. Just people in general to make a living out of your art
2. The serious art market
First case: People in general
- The market from your direct social network - or - marketing your art to everybody. There's a lot written about this. See for example the post networking for designers in design sponge's biz-ladies series (I would say it goes for networking in general). At the artbizblog there is also a lot about this kind of networking
- Internet see for example the bakery about social networking online, design sponge's biz-ladies selling promoting art online.
- Galleries showing art targeting the general audience - which I'll get more into
1. Galleries showing art targeting the general audience (there’s a wide range within)
These galleries tend to showcase easy to understand, not offensive/provocative art and they exist in most bigger towns. If your aim is to exhibit regularly and sell your art to “normal people” – nothing more ambitious than these galleries might be your target. Cold calling might work here, but even better is to reach the galleries thanks to networking. But I’ll get back to this after sorting out “the serious art market”.
Second case: The serious art market
(this is like a ladder)
2. Good galleries
These galleries are harder to get to than the galleries mentioned before. They will get at least on artist per day cold calling and even more in the mail/post. Networking is your best shot – or to be visible in a context where they can “discover you”.
[there are some in Gothenburg where I live]
The one running the gallery will probably not be working in the gallery – or at least behind a door. Networking is your best shot – or to be visible in a context where they can “discover you”.
[None in Gothenburg where I live, but some in Stockholm]
4. Really good GALLERIES
[mostly in real Metropolis. None in Sweden]
5. “Cutting edge” Frieze Art Fair – Sotheby’s Contemporary Art – the world’s top galleries that run the market.
RESEARCH, RESEARCH – AND … RESEARCH (and being cynical)
To be able to network in the right way you will have to RESEARCH. You will need to find out how the galleries you are aiming for find their artists and see if you can be in the right spot. The gallery’s artists could be a good source of information here – either through personal connections (get them - and then ask!) – or through scrutinizing their CV:s (being Sherlock Holmes) to find some common traits. To find out how the market “work and think” you can check information directed at them. For example the art market blog: social networking for art collectors and where to find emerging artists. Seven Days in the Art world by Sarah Thornton sounds like an interesting book in the art market context.
So - in order to reach the market you can target three groups:
- Networking with other artists: to be seen in the right context and get more information, to get recommendations to open doors. Artists do promote their friends. (I’ll be back to networking with other artists in another post about networking)
- Network with people to reach gallery owners through non-artists (important clients and collectors, Institutions, other galleries, the gallery owner's friends! (= cynical))
- Network to be VISIBLE in media (lifestyle or interior design – galleries 1 and 2), (specialized art magazines 3 and 4). Regular media coverage in the news is great!
Join me next weekend for Networking part 3!