Writing about your work, whether it is art, photography or craft, is the single most important element in your marketing.
For years I resisted writing a narrative about my art and I felt creating the art was enough. Viewers should be able to look at my paintings and understand my intention; if I am a visual artist then I should only have to communicate visually. No matter how obvious or cryptic the image, I felt it was the responsibility of the viewer to take away what it meant to them. If they didn’t get it so be it.
I had ignored advice, time after time, from people telling me to write about what I was creating and why; I finally gave in. I came to the work of writing about my art kicking and screaming and then finally I did muster the energy and effort it takes. I had no idea where to begin or what to say. My first attempts of writing about my work were very sophomoric and not very informative.
Artists and writer friends reviewed my first few attempts at writing about my work. The reviews were honest and discouraging; as they ranged from poor to “are you kidding”. Their advice was to write clearly and honestly about the work and what motivates me to create it.
After many years of creating art and exploring different paths and ideas for my art I have seen the power of communicating verbally and in writing about what I am creating and the process of that creation. It goes without saying that art has to stand on its own, however sometimes we need to expand others knowledge about the artist and their process in art. I needed to understand the simple honest truth about my work, what its intention was and how I go about creating it and why.
Finally when I found the right words to explain my art and allowed people to read what I wrote, I saw how powerful writing about my art was. It became the most effective way to reach and keep people connected to my art. It also allowed me to think about my art, its genesis and the process. It has a wonderful marketing effect as it allows viewers to engage the work with an understanding of my life as an artist and why I create what I create. The real art marketing magic for me is that it allows viewers to become very knowledgeable about my work and it helps them communicate about the work to others.
At gallery openings of my paintings I have observed other people explaining very effectively and authoritatively what my art is about. For me this is wonderful and comes from a clear, well written narrative about my art. This is a powerful thing when people you don’t know will take the time and energy to become a spokesperson for your work.
What has become clear to me is that providing an audience with a written document helps them formulate their thoughts about your art. In many cases they become an advocate for your art and help in marketing you and your art to others.
I think the most important part of writing anything about your art, whether it is your statement or about a body of work, is to be honest with yourself and the reader. It is also important to make it easy to understand and not try to build its worth with esoteric, pretentious art terms, leave that to the reviewers and critics.
The organizing and verbalizing of the elements that underlie the creating of art is not an easy task. At least for me, the creative process was both internal and largely unconscious and did not come with a top of mind set of concepts that could be easily jotted down. To arrive at these concepts is very personal and there are no how-to guides that will serve every person.