Sunday, December 13, 2009

Art as Business: Networking II

Before getting into how you might think when networking I would really like to point out that I believe in the devise give and you shall receive.

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:
  1. 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)
  2. Network with people to reach gallery owners through non-artists (important clients and collectors, Institutions, other galleries, the gallery owner's friends! (= cynical))
  3. 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!

If you want to make a living as an artist it is only natural to try to get incomes. The market is a broad field: it can be anything from selling your art to friends or online - to getting incomes from exhibiting at art fairs and commercial galleries. But getting commercial success is not the same as making great art. Now I’m not saying that every artist has to strive for ending up in the art history books - No, I just mean you should be aware of the difference in acknowledgement. The market is more easily duped by press attention, current trends, immediate visual impact, successful appearance etc. A big part of the market for art is also conservative, only trusting other’s judgements - and not willing to take risks. Everyone having commercial success will not be remembered by history. So maybe you should network to reach the institutions or other artists instead?

Join me next weekend for Networking part 3!


Christine Clemmensen said...

Endnu en skøn post i denne serie. Tak. Og jeg er simpelthen så imponeret over din vedholdenhed.

Superfed idé til undervisning på galleriet. Jeg er glad for det gik godt (og at dine mareridt forblev i drømmeland :-)

Esti said...

It's so complicated. Thanks for all the links. I'm sure it's going to be a good read. Bot so sure if I want to think this hard though :)

●• Thereza said...

give and you shall receive sounds perfect...
it's a huge subject to explore, just as well you're splitting it into parts... great!

nathalie et cetera said...

"getting commercial success is not the same as making great art": so true!
great post again.

marie-louise said...

Åh, vad jag tycker att du är bra och modig och generös som jobbar på med detta projektet!

Anairam said...

Networking - SO important! And I am very, very bad at it. But in any area (mine is freelance proofreading) it is key. I get what you say about research being important, and knowing who your target is. I'll work on that this holiday - and hope that next year will be a great one for all of us - with lots of new clients and projects!

gracia said...

Great images throughout, A... and mighty sound advice too.

Veja cecilia said...

Du skriver så bra (som alltid) och så intressant!
men usch vad krasst det är därute!

Kitty Kilian said...

Hey Alexandra, I love your illustrations as usual! The last one is just perfect!

JamesDillehay said...

I like your thoughts on the value of social networking. It seems easy to get lost on big sites like Facebook. Artists may have a better chance of connecting with similar people and interested buyers on a social network for artists/craft artisans like <a href=">Craftsu</a>