This post is by Clint Watson, former art gallery owner and founder of BoldBrush, known for FASO Artist Websites, the leading provider of professional artist websites, the $38,000+ BoldBrush Painting Competition and the free daily art marketing newsletter, FineArtViews. As a self-proclaimed "art fanatic", Clint delights that BoldBrush's downtown San Antonio, Texas office is full of original art, as is his home office which he shares with his two feline assistants Kiara and Lilly. You can connect with Clint on Twitter, Facebook or his personal blog at clintavo.com
While we're all sequestered in our homes, we're all facing the potential for lost or wasted time. So let's ask ourselves: How can we use this time to get better? How can we be of service and use? I know, without a doubt that great art is being created around the world at this very moment. Perhaps by you! Our entire team is focused 100% on whatever we can do to help you market and sell more art. With that in mind, we're focusing FineArtViews on sales and marketing ideas more than ever before. The following article was selected from our archives as it seems quite timely in the current situation and provides ideas we think you can use to improve your own art marketing.
Do you know the name of the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic ocean?
Sure you do, it was Charles Lindberg.
Do you know the name of the second person?
You may not think you know, but actually, you do.
It was Amelia Earhart.
But you know her from another category: The first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.
The Law of the Category
Owning a category is an important marketing concept for you to understand. Being the second person to fly across the Atlantic isn't memorable. But being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic is.
There is a theory in marketing, originally put forward by Jack Ries in his seminal book, Positioning, that the most successful companies or brands succeed primarily due to becoming the dominant brand in a particular category of product.
What do you think of when I say the word "Cola".
My bet is Coca-Cola.
And what about "Internet Search?"
I'm 100% sure you thought of Google.
What about "Tablet?"
I'd guess that you thought of "iPad".
Owning a Category of Art
The more I ponder this idea, the more I conclude that it's even more important for visual artists than "regular" brands.
So let's play the category game again with an artful twist:
Who do you think of when I say "Impressionist"?
Most likely Monet.
How about, "Abstract Expressionist?"
You probably though of Jackson Pollock.
Who comes to mind why I say, "Blue Dog Painter."
You can probably picture his paintings. His name is George Rodrigue.
Who is a "World Famous Controversial Anonymous Artist?"
Banksy, of course!
Let's try another illustration from the art world:
Who comes to mind when I say, "Plein Air Painter?"
Probably dozens to hundreds of people.
What about, "California Plein Air Painter?"
Ummm, well, there are too many to name...
What about, "Landscape oil painter?
Are you kidding me? Almost all oil painters do landscapes of some kind.
The Art Marketing Triangle
You see, there are three pillars upon which you can build a strong art brand and art marketing program.
1. Mastery - the quality of your artwork
2. Marketing - the effectiveness and consistency of your marketing efforts
3. Category - the category that you "own" (which is what we've been talking about)
It is possible, but much more difficult, to succeed without owning a category if you are very, very strong in the other two pillars. For example, if you produce exceptional art and follow a strong and consistent marketing program, you can certainly be successful. Certainly, we can all point to plenty of "landscape painters" who are successful.
However, if you can develop your own style and own your own category, it will make everything, everything related to your marketing much easier.
For example, one of the primary pillars of the BoldBrush Art Marketing Playbook revolves around developing and consistently telling a strong story about you and your art.
Developing and telling that story becomes exponentially easier if you own a category. Because the category itself becomes a strong component of your story.
As an example, let's compare your "average" Plein Air painter's story to George Rodrigue's (The "Blue Dog" painter).
Your "Average" Plein Air Painter's Story
Your "average" plein air painter's story is something like this:
"I love to paint, and I love to be outside. Here's my art, which stems from combining those two loves."
Yawn. There are thousands of people with that same exact story. So, to build a strong reputation in that space, you will need to have exceptional marketing, and above-average painting quality or, preferably, both. In fact, did you know that Thomas Kinkade was a decent plein air painter? Probably not. Because, even he, with his huge budget couldn't compete in that croweded category. But he dominated his "Painter of Light" category.
The Blue Dog Painter's Story
Now, let's look at the "Blue Dog" painter's story:
From the New York Times:
"George Rodrigue’s career as an artist started with dark and lush landscapes of his native Louisiana bayou. But it shifted abruptly, and profitably, when he began a series of portraits of a single subject: a melancholy mutt that came to be known as Blue Dog ... Mr. Rodrigue found his model in his studio: a photograph of his dog, Tiffany, who had died. She was black and white in reality but became blue in his imagination, with yellow eyes. She was also a she, but she could become a he — or, for that matter, whatever else a viewer was prepared to see .... "The yellow eyes are really the soul of the dog," Mr. Rodrigue told The New York Times in 1998. "He has this piercing stare. People say the dog keeps talking to them with the eyes, always saying something different." (emphasis added)
Categories are Compelling
Which story is more compelling?
Which story draws the viewer in?
Which story led to the artist becoming wealthy and famous (not that that is necessarily the goal)?
Do you see how developing a category and owning it can put a tailwind behind everything you do?
If you're worried that owning a category will "typecast" you - don't. You do want to own a category but that doesn't have to reflect everything you do.
Mr. Rodrigue is the one and only blue dog painter, but blue dogs weren't the only thing he painted. And Picasso went through his famous "periods" and each one was a different category he owed.
I highly encourage you to think through this concept and develop your own style, story, subject matter, medium, or combination thereof that you can develop into your own category and your own compelling story.
Until next time, please remember that Fortune Favors the Bold Brush.
For my latest thoughts on art marketing, art sales ideas, and insider announcements about new FASO features we are working on and releasing, you should Follow me on Twitter, that's where I publish ideas and opportunities in real time. Be the first to know.
BoldBrush/FASO Founder & Art Fanatic
PS - The Art Marketing Triangle and the Law of the Category are just two of the ideas in our action-packed Art Marketing Playbook that is accessible to every FASO Customer. If you'd like to give FASO a try, signup here.
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