Tuesday, April 27, 2010

art making + marketing :: an interview with brandi strickland

:: intertidal . 12 x 12" mixed media on board 2009

i am beyond excited to post this art making + marketing interview with brandi strickland ~ one of the first artists i hearted on etsy {way back at the start of 2008!}.
i hope you love it.

does marketing your work come naturally to you, or do you find it to be a task that is always lives dangerously at the top of your to-do list?
Marketing is not my game. But I definitely like sharing my work. Participating in the flickr/facebook/twitter communities, blogging, and sending out monthly newsletters are things that feel good and come naturally. I think of these outlets as fun show 'n tell activities, not ways to make a buck. I'm naturally excited about my work, so I want to share it in ways that keep me enthusiastic instead of dragging me down. Anything I dread never gets done anyway, so if I'm doing it you can bet I'm having fun. Mostly I just want to share my work on my own terms, and enjoy whatever audience or success that it brings. My coffee cup has a great quote, one I try to keep in mind: "If it doesn't absorb you, if it isn't any fun, don't do it." - D.H. Lawrence

:: secret password . 12 x 12" mixed media on board 2007

does knowing that you will be marketing affect the way you work?
Knowing that I'll be sharing my work, that it will be seen, has an extremely positive effect . . . I certainly don't function well in a vacuum. The communities I've come to be a part of over the last several years are inspiring, encouraging, outright helpful and kind. Slowly gaining an audience of friends, fellow artists, and people who enjoy my work pushes me to do my personal best every day.
Paper Whistle itself is a huge motivator. Having a great outlet for my creativity challenges me to keep steady making work that I'm truly excited about. It's a perfect platform to share and sell my artwork on my own terms and it also allows me to be fully involved with the process. Everything is 100% hands on and created with so much love!
Marketing always has the potential to poison a good thing. I see some artists who find a style of work that is highly marketable and then seem to stick to it unflinchingly because it has mass appeal. I don't ever want to feel afraid to grow and change. If something sells well, great. If it doesn't, that's fine too. I am absolutely intent on making work that I love and am proud of, regardless of it's marketability. I never want to create artwork that feels stale or hurts my eyes to look at, just to make a buck.
Neil Young, Ani Difranco and 'Lil Wayne are huge inspirations because they share this notion of 'always do what you want to do the way you want to do it'. Not what you're expected to do, not what's most marketable, but what you really feel and love. I think if more people shared this idealism the whole world would be a better, more authentic place.

:: mountain house . 12 x 12" mixed media on board 2010

i love your new{ish} website {and shop front/logo} that you and robert have set up. has your working partnership helped your confidence in terms of marketing your work?
Definitely. Robert is very creative, but he also has the marketing, technical, and analytical skills that I struggle with. We overlap where it's important and also have really helpful, balancing differences. He's way more easy-going! I've learned so much from him over the last four years, and I think we make a good team. We try to keep it pushing--always surprising, challenging and inspiring each other . . . I know he brings out the best in me. We've had lots of challenges over the years and have overcome all of them together.

:: nine billion names of god . 12 x 12" mixed media on board 2009

has exhibiting your work taken any pressure off self-promotion?
It hasn't taken the pressure off, it's just a different kind of pressure. I think if I had really strong or exclusive gallery representation, or if I showed more often, it might be different. Right now I'm walking the middle path between self-representation and gallery representation. I have a DIY spirit and want to be involved in the process of sharing and selling my own work. But I view galleries as invaluable magical spaces dedicated to putting the physical artwork in front of people's faces, and I hope to move towards showing more in the future.

:: sunken treasure . 12 x 12" mixed media on board 2008

do you have a best selling piece or series? is this piece/series your personal favourite?
Secret Source seems to be the crowd-pleaser and also happens to be a personal favorite. She's probably the most circulated around the internet and is one of my best selling prints. She belongs to the Dark Crystals series, which felt like a pretty big breakthrough in my work.

:: secret source . 12 x 12" mixed media on board 2009

what are your tips for marketing fine art?
Make work that you're excited about, share it in ways that make you feel good, and you'll naturally connect with others who are excited about what you're doing too. People can smell a rat if you do operate only for money, popularity or obligation, so be authentic and use your powers/energy for good not evil! Connect with these like minds and become part of communities that will offer sincere feedback (not just back-patting).

Some practical things, of course:
1. Invest in a D-SLR and learn to take good pictures of your artwork.
2. Keep a solid up-to-date online portfolio of your work, with an easy way for people to get in touch (contact forms are great).
3. Be professional and communicative with customers, clients and people who offer good opportunities.
4. Don't underestimate the power of bloggers and word of mouth.
5. Use social media but don't be skeezy or spammy.
6. Research, learn, seek advice.
7. Do what you want to do how you want to do it :)

thanks so much Brandi for taking part and sharing your thoughts.



Moonangelnay on Etsy said...

very good post! i definitely agree with investing in a DSLR... can't beat a good photo :)

Deb - Two Cheeky Monkeys said...

Thank you for introducing me to a wonderful artist! Your post was such an interesting read and Brandi's work is soooo amazing.

Galit said...

Your post was super interesting to read.
Brandi's art is amazing. Thanks for sharing her art and story.

hollie said...

great interview! i adore brandi's work. ^_^

Little Lovables said...

wow, such an amazing artist!

June rhymes with moon said...

Thanks Brandi and Belinda! This was a great read. I love #7 on the list of practical things - I get tired of people claiming they have the one true answer for how to make it as an artist. I mean, what if my idea of making it is different than theirs? So frustrating.

prettylittlethieves said...

a really great interview with an amazing artist!

LethaColleen said...

Brandi was one of the first artists I blogged about when I started my art blog!I love her work so much...and this was a great interview!

caramela said...

Brilliant interview- I love the fact that Brandi wants to keep growing and doing what she loves and won't allow hereself to get stuck on something that sells only. It's a tough line to find, how much freedom, how much following what puts bread on the table!...thank you both so much!
Annamaria :)

Art Wall Katie said...

I love this series.

Southern Belle said...

Lovely photos & interesting interview

Simone said...

I really liked this interview too. I would of liked to learn more about the marketing aspects of selling ones art, as I am relatively new to it all and I don't know where people discuss, encourage and get feedback...apart from blogs.What communities do people participate in?

ELK said...

what insight here in this interview ..and of course the vivid art ...so nice to see

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this interview! I fell in love with Brandi's work on etsy a couple of years back. She is so talented and it is great to read more about her. :)

Mike said...

I wish I was a quarter as talented as you as a artist. Your art is amazing in both creativity and skill.


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