I met a very nice Apple fanboy the other day when I went to pick up my MacBook Pro. (We exchanged business cards, so hopefully he’s reading this.) His name was Scott, and Scott was a photographer.
I try to be careful when telling someone what I do for work, because it often leads to a long discussion. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about my work. It’s just that before jumping in, I try to make sure that it will be a fruitful discussion, that I won’t be defending my unconventional career choices.
This was a good one though. And suddenly, we’d stopped talking about my computer’s 500GB Hard drive, and transitioned to marketing for artists.
“I have trouble marketing my stuff,” he said,
“I like creating art for me. I don’t like the idea of having to appeal to a commercial audience.”
“I understand,” I replied.
“But creativity and marketing don’t need to be two separate things. The key is finding a motivation or theme behind your work– something that is both personal for you, and resonates with other people. Then you express that theme and allow your work to stand as an example of it.”
He nodded, allowing this sink in.
A Common Myth
I wanted to share this conversation with you because I think it represents a really commonly held belief held by artists: that art and marketing need to be separate and distinct, and that art is this creative and beautiful activity, while marketing is about selling or changing your vision to be more commercially appealing.
This idea may have been true in the past, but the face of marketing has changed radically in the last five years.
Connect Your Work to a Bigger Theme
The reality is that the audience (your right audience) cares about the same Truths that you care about– the Truths that you express so beautifully through your work. However, your audience is not in your head. They don’t necessarily understand the themes behind your work simply by experiencing that work.
When you connect your work back to a larger idea, you will attract people for whom this idea resonates. You’ll create more than a billboard for yourself (the old role of marketing). You’ll build a community of devoted fans and customers.
I buy nearly everything that Dallas Clayton creates, not just because I love his work, but because I associate deeply with what I believe to be his overarching theme: imagination and dreaming big. Dreaming big isn’t just the theme he thought would appeal most to his audience, it’s his own personal philosophy too.
Marketing is less about altering your vision, and more about fully expressing it
It’s important not to see marketing as an altering or dumbing down your vision. Instead, see it as an opportunity to better communicate the meaning of your work and touch more people.
What does your work stand for? What do you stand for?
I go into these ideas in depth and walk you through a number of exercises to help you find your overarching theme in Renaissance Business. Check it out if you’d like some hand-holding as you go through the process.