Monday, November 23, 2009

art making + marketing :: an interview with jess gonacha swift

'art making + marketing' is a new interview feature for my blog!
the lovely and talented jess gonacha swift is the first artist/maker interviewee.

:::: working as a successful indie artist/maker is becoming easier for lots of us, thanks to the option of selling work online. in most cases, it's the behind-the-scenes tasks like marketing that contribute to success {or at least turn a hobby into a business!}. this series of interviews with artists and makers will hopefully shine a little light on stepping in and out of the varied roles required to make a living, creatively ::::

does marketing your work come naturally to you, or do you find it to be a task that is always lives dangersously at the top of your to-do list?
Marketing my work is both hard and easy at the same time. A lot of the things I do to market my work have become second nature-- updating my etsy shop regularly, adding images to my flickr page, writing about what I'm doing on my blog, etc. But advertising on other blogs/sites, participating in marketplaces, submitting new work to bloggers... I always procrastinate on these types of things. I know marketing is important, but it's definitely not my favorite part of what I do, so it's always a bit of a struggle, something I could be doing more of, better, etc. Another thing that I know is fantastic marketing is having gorgeous photographs, and this might be the biggest challenge for me. I'm not a natural photographer, so it's very difficult for me to want to style my work and spend a lot of time photographing it.

does knowing that you will be marketing affect the way you work?
I think it does affect my work somewhat. Sometimes I'll be thinking "will I be able to sell this?" right at the beginning of a piece, which is a sure-fire inspiration killer! I find I need to strike a balance between doing my work for myself while I'm creating it, but also thinking about how I can present it in an appealing way after I'm finished. It's hard to not get caught up in the selling aspect of it, but it's so important not to! Because ultimately I want to be making things that make ME happy, first and foremost.

do you have a best selling piece or series? is this piece/series your personal favourite? if not, how do you balance with working for your 'market' and holding onto your creative freedom?
I have a few pieces that have sold well over the past couple of years-- and yes, strangely enough, the ones that do well are often my favorite pieces. Or pieces that I feel more of a connection with than others. I think that energy is infused in a piece of artwork and people can feel it when they're looking at it. I just can't think of another way to explain it!
** {see pics included }

i admire your ability to work on lots of concurrent projects and to apply your work to the development of various products ~ while keeping your unique style and fingerprint. do you find it tricky to single out one piece to represent your shop/work as a whole?
Oh my goodness, Yes. I feel like I have several different styles going on and lots of different products/projects, so it's hard to see for me to see how it all fits together. I like having a lot of different things happening, because it keeps it interesting for me, but I definitely struggle with how to best represent myself. What I'm discovering within myself, though, is that there's no "right way" to do things. There's only MY way. And THAT'S what I should be focused on-- making sure I'm being true to what I want to do and how I want to put myself out there in the world. If that means changing how I represent myself regularly, then that's ok with me! I don't think there's any way that one image could represent all the things that I do, so I think I try to go for an overall FEELING. I want my work to make people happy, so if I'm conveying that, then I think it's cohesive.

what are your tips for marketing fine art?
Take good photographs (arghhhhh), connect with bloggers who write about the type of thing that you do, update your blog regularly (and if you don't have a blog, start one!!), update your shop/flickr page/other sites where you have your work as often as you can, comment on other people's blogs (with useful, thoughtful comments!)... those are the things that have worked for me so far. Having my work written about on blogs has really been the best marketing for me up to this point-- I think just being in as many places as you can be is a great way to market your work. Oh! And twitter, too-- twitter is a very powerful tool that I highly recommend. It's easy to build a community of people, get news out quickly and efficiently, and connect with people instantaneously. I love twitter.

thanks so much for sharing jess :)
:: shop
:: blog


Katie Stephenson said...

What a great interview. I'm excited to read this series. Keep tweeting each time you post them. :)

Kylie said...

Great idea Belinda. It's interesting to read these thoughts. I must admit though it makes me feel uncomfortable that someone might be leaving comments on blogs just to get themselves better known. I guess I'm very naive but I prefer to think of us as a community and that the marketplace is "out there" somewhere else! ;) But yes, I do understand that it's how word gets out there. Looking forward to reading more of these. Thanks :) K

soulflower said...

Wow what a great interview...I love how all the patterns give such visual texture...beautiful!

tractorgirl said...

thank you so much for this thoughtful interview. I do agree that some kind of energy is infused into a piece that you love, although I too have always struggled with the "will this sell"/do what you love dichotomy. Sometimes it's hard not to when you've got the harsh realities of mortgage and bills breathing down your neck. But I try to be true to me, and I think that's essential.

caroline / oh chalet said...

this was very inspiring - and jess does beautiful work. nice addition to your blog!, :)

Annamaria said...

Thank you for putting this interview together Belinda- It is always fascinating to read how different artists organise their work-marketing-inspiration-productivity...and Jess does lovely, beautiful art-

Cathy {tinniegirl} said...

I really enjoyed the interview. It's particular interesting to read about how people approach marketing, as it can be such a challenge for creative people (well I find it challenging). Jessica's work is fantastic.


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