This post is by Luann Udell, regular contributing author for FineArtViews. She’s blogged since 2002 about the business side–and the spiritual inside–of art. She says, “I share my experiences so you won’t have to make ALL the same mistakes I did….” For ten years, Luann also wrote a column (“Craft Matters”) for The Crafts Report magazine (a monthly business resource for the crafts professional) where she explored the funnier side of her life in craft. She’s a double-juried member of the prestigious League of New Hampshire Craftsmen (fiber & art jewelry). Her work has appeared in books, magazines, and newspapers across the country and she is a published writer.
Start with the EASIEST news first!
I’m giving you a break from finding your creation story this week. I don’t mean I’m done poking you yet, though. So keep trying the tips and exercises. In the meantime, we’ll explore what you can write about in your email newsletters.
The easiest topic is, share your work.
Remember the days when it was impossible to add an image to an email? And when we finally could, too big a pic, or too many, could crash someone else’s email software. (Ask me how I know.)
Now it’s so easy to send multiple images. Layout and design have gotten easier. FASO’s email newsletter templates have a learning curve, but so do all email newsletter services. It’s the extra features FASO provides that make their program so useful and efficient. For example, when you upload a new work of art onto your website, an automatic email goes out to your designated addresses. (I’m still learning about this feature, so I’m not sure how to ‘tell more’ about that work, as I would in a regular email newsletter created by me.)
People who are interested in us, and our work, are happy to see what we’re up to, especially the ones who actually collect our work.
Things we can share about our work:
What we’re working on now. A painter friend in New Hampshire shares the latest wildlife images they’re working on, and the direction and backstory of their newest series.
Brief updates that share our progress on a piece. Another friend shares the steps that go into creating their work, showing the work at varying stages of progress, and notes about what they were striving to achieve at each step.
Work being submitted to a gallery or an event. This is especially exciting if it’s a venue that we’re excited about: That highly-reputable gallery we’ve gotten into, a prestigious exhibit, a solo show, etc. (It’s also a subtle way of sharing our latest ‘credentials’, i.e., our work was ‘good enough’ to be accepted.)
A new direction we’re taking in our process, subject matter, etc. A new color palette. New interest in other subjects. A new technique we’re working on.
One caveat here: Remember that not all followers know ‘art jargon’, or will understand the challenges of using, say, watercolor, or the quirks and outcomes of using different substrates in your paintings.
I mean, don’t assume people are stupid. But if you’re sharing in a way ONLY another artist in your field would understand, you’re doing it wrong. A noted speaker/consultant who gave a presentation on how to talk to customers said that most customers don’t care whether your clay is porcelain or stoneware, nor that it was fired with a cone 10 glaze. But they DO want to know if the glaze is lead-free, and if that bowl is safe to put in the microwave.
Recently Clint Watson mentioned something interesting in one of his Fine Art View columns. Details are shaky (and now I can’t find that article!!) but short story, “room views” are not that effective in marketing our artwork. Which surprised me, but Clint knows the numbers.
In which case, what about taking a pic of your work on an easel? Or another in situ shot, from your studio? Or a pic of you at work on that painting at your easel?
When I was exploring high-end fine craft shows on the East Coast, trying to figure if they were a good fit for my work, I remember a large poster/framed photographed image in one booth featuring a enlarged image of a group of carved figural wood sculptures, brightly painted.
It pulled me right in from the aisle. It was a great way of showing the variety of the work. Consider try mixing it up if your work is ceramic, jewelry, etc., anything that is made in multiples even if they are not identical. One of my most-commented on images was staged this way—informal, up close, a variety of styles and colors.
Now here’s the tiny piece that will get you a good response. Ask what people think. But don’t just say, “What do you think?” Be more specific. Recently, I updated a box shrine I made a few years ago, adding more artifacts and elements, swapping some out, etc. I shared a before-and-after image. I said which one I liked better, and why. I asked people to choose their favorite, and share why.
I got some very thoughtful responses, and more than I usually get when I send out an email newsletter. And speaking of engagement, the insights were huge! The preferences for both versions were split right down the middle. Some people actually preferred the “less finished” shadow box, because it would allow them to add their own artifacts. Interesting! Which also goes to show, there’s no ‘wrong way’ to decide when something is finished, except how it feels to us.
Do you already share new work with your customers? What has the response been? I hope this article has inspired you to encourage engagement in a stronger way, and if so, share how that went!
Stay tuned for more suggestions next week, and ways to mix it up to keep your newsletters interesting!
This assortment drew a lot more comments than a single item, something to consider if your artwork lends itself to this.