Starving Artist

Are you a writer, a musician, a painter, an actor, a plate spinner, a knife thrower or, God forbid, a magician? Great! I love passionate people. But guess what? You probably suck at marketing. (Hang in there cause I’m about to drop some artist marketing tips on you.)

Look, us artists are pretty miserable at selling ourselves. Why? Part of this is because we’ve been taught to feel dirty about exchanging money for our trade, as if accepting a little cash desecrates the purity of our creative output. Just look at the terminology we use for an artist who takes money for their art: sell out.

Also, despite the fact that we feel we have important messages and means of expression that can positively change the world, we are often self-concious about pushing that message out there. It’s a fear of rejection and judgment that is usually at the root of this, and that’s understandable because your art is like a mind baby and if someone thinks your mind baby is ugly, it’s like they are saying YOU are ugly. (Fact: They are ugly for judging your cute little mind baby, but then again, that’s their right.)

So what is an artist to do to get his or her name out there, build a reputation and begin to transform from starving to pimped out pro (or at least someone who can make a good amount of scratch off their passion)?

I bestow on you 5 artist marketing tips:

  • Get a website: WordPress, Squarspace, GeoCities Blogspot. I don’t care where you source it from, get a website. If you aren’t online, how will the world know you exist? They won’t. You can have all the social media in the world, but if you don’t have a central command center where you can have people find you and learn about you and maybe even view your work, then how can you expect to grow your reputation?
  • Get social: You don’t need to be on every social media platform. Lord knows there are too many to count (InstaFaceSpaceWha?). But for the love of St. Pete, get on something. I recommend Facebook and Twitter for most creatives. LinkedIn is pretty white-collar, so expect to just be perpetually misunderstood. Google+ is pretty important for SEO purposes, but I’m not even going to delve into what the hell that means. Baby steps. 
  • Learn PR: While hiring a PR rep is always a nice thing to do, you probably don’t have the money. And honestly, many artist PR agencies are smoke and mirrors. They will bill you until your eyes bleed. (Pro tip: If you do hire an outside PR provider, vet them like a motherfucker.) Doing PR yourself is not hard, and you can get some great traction out of it. You just need to find a creative way to tell an interesting story. Good thing you’re an artist because creative and interesting are what you do best. Now you just need to know how to track down and approach the appropriate media contacts. (And that’s a whole other blog post.)
  • Network: Look, I’m not talking about schmoozing for the sake of schmoozing. That shit never pans out because everyone can smell a sycophant. I’m talking about getting out from behind your desk or out of your studio and actually engaging with the community. Join artist community groups. Attend professional events. Trust that you will naturally gravitate toward those who are like-minded, which really takes the pressure off of what people traditionally think of as “networking.” 
  • Be amazing: As Steve Martin once said, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” Nothing will serve you better than being fucking amazing. So work on your craft, practice the hell out of it and share it with the world. And, if all goes right, the world will pay attention.

Any burning marketing questions? Do you have some of your own artist marketing tips to share? Drop me a line at or add a comment.



2 Responses to 5 Artist Marketing Tips

  1. Zachary Job says:

    Great tips!! I’m glad to see as I have just started sharing my mind babies for my art/design, I have implemented most of these tips, but good call with artist groups, and I definitely need better PR. Hardest thing is feeling like the humble person I am while talking about myself and my art every second on every outlet.

  2. Keith Ecker says:

    Hi Zach!

    Yes, promoting yourself while appearing to be the humble person you truly are is a tough balance. I think that’s why a lot of people opt for professional publicists and marketers to handle this for them. It helps when a third-party is saying, “Look how good this guy is!” rather than you saying it yourself.

    That said, it’s a matter of cultivating self-worth. Your work is worthy. Your creativity is worthy. YOU are worthy. And if we believe what we produce and who we are truly are significant, then sharing these with the world doesn’t seem so self-serving.

    But yes, easier said than done. Some days I’m there, and some days I’m not.

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