As we all know, making it big as an artist isn't easy. Thankfully, there are so many options available now for artists to print and sell their work individually. Rather than working with an agency or a manufacturer for printing, artists can sign up with Shopify or Etsy or Redbubble, or build an online shop right into their portfolio website. Of course, now the issue is with navigating all these options, and finding which combination is most effective for selling artwork.
But let's not dive too deep into the selling part just yet. If you're new or just starting to think about becoming a professional artist, we wanted to recommend a few books that we have personally found inspirational on our own artistic journey. These books are great for exploring examples of the modern art field, allowing you a glimpse of what paths you could take on your professional art career.
Before we launch our new series Marketing & Selling Your Artwork, we recommend giving these following books at least a skim:
1. The Gift, by Lewis Hyde
The Gift is one of my favorite books. Although academic in parts, it provides a really awesome philosophical view of how much art is "worth". Often artists are torn when assigning a price that both justifies and honors their work, while being marketable and competitive enough to help them keep working. This conflict can often contort an artist's vision, influencing them to sell themselves short, compromise on their views, or produce art that they have no connection with in order to keep the income sustainable. I love Hyde's philosophy of art being a gift instead of a commodity, and the ramifications that term has on an artwork's creation and true value- after reading it, it certainly influenced my approach to my own art, and inspired me to to shift my business expectations accordingly to honor and respect my artistic vision first.
2. Making It! Case Studies of Successful Canadian Visual Artists, by Chris Tyrell
|Photo of Making It, found from Carollyne Yardley's blog|
"I was amazed by the stories of artists, but what truly amazed and moved me was the generosity of everyone with whom I spoke and their willingness to share insights into their experience. Marina Bychkova excels in niche marketing; Ross Penhall, by changing media, dramatically increased his creative efficiency and his income. Richard Tetrault’s career is a perfect exemplar of community involvement and the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards that social interaction can bring to an artist’s career."
- Chris Tyrell,
If you ever want to see real examples of real artists making it and their stories, this is the book for you. While it doesn't go in-depth with the step-by-step process of being successful, Tyrell's interview with various Canadian artists illuminates the many unique possibilities of how to become a successful artist, often found off the beaten path. Each individual story is inspiring and thought-provoking, and almost establishes a connection between the reader and the artist - unlike reading other step-by-step books, the stories almost absorb you into the artist's experience, as if you were living it yourself.
3. The Handmade Marketplace, by Kari Chapin
Now this book is an absolute must-have. Even though it isn't specifically for fine art, Kari Chapin does an excellent job exploring all the steps and possibilities of selling your handmade arts and crafts from your home, and at an introductory, easy-to-digest level. It gives you a broad sweep of everything, from pricing, to online marketplaces and their pros and cons, getting a business licence, etc. My favorite snippet from this book is how Kari even explains how to define success for yourself, and how to plan your business accordingly. My current copy is sitting by my computer every day, bursting with post-it notes and tabs.
And there you have it! Our top 3 recommended books to help you begin navigating your professional artistic journey. Have a recommended book of your own? Let us know in the comments below!
And if you've already read these and are rearing to go, we can sort out all your fine art and archival scanning and printing needs! Just click on our website link to go, or give us a call - we're always happy to help!
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