by Chris Guillebeau and Zoë Westhof
E-Book Review by TET
Less than two percent of Bachelor of Arts Graduates in Australia will actually go on to become established artists. At least that's the figure according to an article I recently read in The Adelaide Review by Peter Drew titled, Poor Odds for Arts.
That article is very relevant to this review as it highlights the emergence of Artist Run Initiatives (ARIs). Particularly the idea of young artists not waiting for their big break with a major mainstream gallery but instead, actually getting out there, finding their own audience and making their own success.
Many artists are turning to new media, such as the Internet, to promote and sell their work directly to collectors. Unfortunately this process can be trial and error to find what works.
This is where The Unconventional Guide to Art + Money ebook by Chris Guillebeau and Zoë Westhof steps in by delving into the real world experience of several successful artists, marketing their work online. Showing you what is working for them and giving you some practical advice for how you can get started marketing and selling your own work in similar fashion.
It is NOT a get rich quick by selling your art online product. This ebook is clearly targeted at serious artists who understand that success takes a lot of hard work plus time.
When I bought this product I found the ebook clearly set out and easy to read. With 55 pages and 54 headings (on the contents page) it attempts to cover a lot of ground - some more successfully than others. The whole book is broken into four parts.
The Introduction sets the frame work for why you might take the new media approach with a compelling story about the Twin Myths of Art i.e. the starving artist and the discovered artist who is instantly shot to fame and fortune overnight.
It then goes on to make the case for marketing your art online using the experiences of real artists who were interviewed as part of the research for this book. All of the artists are very credible sources of information who are succeeding with their online endeavors including; Hazel Dooney (Australia), Michael Nobbs (Wales), Leah Piken Kolidas (USA), Sandra Miller (USA), Joseph Szymanski (USA), Dan Duhrkoop (USA) as well as a few others.
Their experiences are referred back to in all sections of the book through quotes from each artist serving to reinforce the books ideas with real world experience.
The second section of the book talks about Strategy and how to envision your online 'studio'. This covers things such as planning your goals, finding your market (or 'people' as it refers to them), creating an action plan, pricing your art and more.
It also describes an 'anti-marketing' approach that is pretty much Chris' own signature marketing strategy and, interestingly enough, one that many of the interviewed artists use as well (though as something they just naturally gravitated and evolved towards rather than a learned technique).
The third section, Tactics, gets down to the nuts and bolts of actually putting yourself and your work on line. It includes a very useful chart that will let you quickly compare a number of popular art related web sites to see which may be right for you. It then goes on to look at each site in just a little more detail explaining the pros and cons of each and suggesting an action plan for how to get started if that site sounds a good match for you.
There's a more detailed look at pricing your art as well as starting your own web site, blog and the benefits of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Finally in the last section called, Putting it All Together, helps you develop a schedule for your work, looks at approaches to getting your work seen and discusses the importance of maintaining an email list.
It also touches on Product launches, Payment gateways and how you could expand you practice once you start seeing some success.
One of the bonus features of Art + Money is that several of the interviews conducted were recorded and are included as MP3 Downloads. There are two versions of the product with the difference being the number of MP3 downloads.
The Starving Artist version will give you the ebook with three interviews whilst the Picasso Version will give you all the interviews as well as a discussion between Chris and Zoë focusing on the eight most important things they learnt.
Personally I went straight for the Picasso version because hearing real, successful artists talk about the business side of their art practice is not only invaluable but inspiring too.
The Unconventional Guide to Art + Money is like a crash course in online art marketing. The ebook is short enough to read in an afternoon which may leave you feeling a little cheated (considering the price) but if online arts marketing is new to you then you'll probably find yourself re-reading much of it again and again.
If this stuff isn't new to you and you've been attempting to market your work online for a while with limited success then you may find more value in the interviews than the ebook - though there is still plenty in the ebook that you may find of interest.
As a product I'd say it does deliver the information you need to make some informed decisions about marketing your art online. Fast tracking your research so you can get on with the actual business of selling your art.
In some areas I felt it could have been more in depth (such as how to maintain your relationships with your 'people' once you've found them) whilst in others it seemed to be a little repetitive (Action Plans for the various web sites).
Like any product of this kind the real value will ultimately be in whether you make use of the information or you store it on your computer somewhere and forget about it.
Personally I've listened to the interviews several times because that's the main reason I bought the product but, since I'm familiar with just about every site mentioned in the ebook and have a presence on many of them, I'm still deciding on how valuable the ebook has been to me.
One thing I do know is that new media has been relatively successful for me already. I've been selling my work online for longer than new media pioneer, Hazel Dooney (I'm just not as driven as she is or as knowledgeable about the art world). In fact I started selling online accidentally, through message board forums. I'd post my work just to show and people would ask if the work was for sale!
Since then the landscape has changed with sites like Myspace, Facebook and Twitter. It's a whole new way of marketing and The Unconventional Guide to Art + Money shows you how.
Read more information and purchase
The Unconventional Guide to Art + Money
Other Unconventional Guides:
- Frequent Flyer Master
- How to Become Your Own Travel Ninja
- The Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself
- The Unconventional Guide to the Social Web
* Disclaimer: Please note that I am an affiliate seller of all the Unconventional Guides. Whilst I have tried to remain objective I did become an affiliate because I was impressed with the Art + Money Guide as a product that doesn't overstate its claims.