I had a really interesting conversation recently with a couple of people, both artists, about the impact on an artist of taking a commercial stance to their work. The question of whether to sell or not, and what happens to artistic integrity if we begin to take a commercial approach to our work.
I have a background in marketing and as well as being a part time artist I am a psychotherapist and this dilemma reminds me of similar one when I first began to market myself as a therapist in private practice. How to maintain my integrity as a therapist and be effective in selling and marketing what I do. The basic principles of marketing are about finding out what your customers or clients want and then providing it. But I think this becomes a difficult proposition when it comes to something as deeply personal as art, which for me is about a creative expression of my experience of an aspect of the world.
As a therapist I resolved this dilemma by deciding what was most important was, that I was true to myself and what I thought about therapy, regardless of any need to “sell” myself. So, for me, the role of marketing in therapy was to find a way to be as transparent as possible. I use a website, Twitter, Facebook and I blog, these are the marketing tools I use to let people know about my approach and who I am, so that they can decide if they wanted to meet me and possibly work with me.
So, how does this relate to being an artist? I think it is possible to retain our integrity and be commercial in our approach as well. I think the commercialism is about what we do with the work once we have created it. What then becomes very important is knowing about our potential markets – the people who may be interested in what we have to say creatively and making effective use of the various means that are available to communicate what we do to those people who may be interested.
What do you think? I’d be interested in hearing experiences of the impact of how selling your work has impacted on you.