Art Marketing, The MARK Method Introduction

Kolberg Studio

I know it sounds corny, and even more so when I speak to artists, but the first 4 letters of marketing spell, yeah that’s right, MARK.

So when I tell you that we are going to look at art marketing, we are really combing the efforts of creativity with the ideas of business.

Now let’s use the MARK idea and create an Artist’s Marketing Plan.

M Make a commitment

A Apply yourself to the business side of art

R Remember you are an ARTIST

K Know that the best thing you can do is just DO SOMETHING

So here’s our introduction to Art Marketing.

Make a commitment.

I don’t mean make a commitment to art, you already do that every day you create. I mean take the time to make a commitment to the business of art. And to do that you will need to do a few things that are simple and rewarding.

1.     Define yourself as an artist. You’ve joined an art’s organization, you may have had a show and maybe you’ve even sold a piece of art, but have you introduced yourself as an artist. When I first started out in art I felt like people were always testing me to see if I was really an artist. They would always ask “Are you working full time as an artist?”

I would answer them, “YES I am, BUT I’m working a job 60 hours a week PART TIME to support the art.”  Now all those hours are all devoted to creating art.

2.     Build your Identity through Social Media. You need to join Facebook, Twitter, a Blog, online galleries and I know this one is the most daunting; you are invisible if you do not have a web site.

I will cover the how-to for these in other lessons. They’re not as difficult to create as they may seem.

3.     Decide where you’re heading. How will you measure your success as an artist, by income, by fame or just by the respect of your peers for the art you create? Few artists start a project without some idea of where they would like to end up. Jackson Pollack had an idea of what he was deconstructing when he started his drip paintings. Andrew Wyeth was meticulous about ever stroke he put to paper. So what is it you want?

Do you want to see your painting hanging in a museum. Would having your sculpture in a major gallery show be enough. Is your goal to have the sale of your watercolors pay for your mortgage or does it only need to be enough to cover the cost of art supplies. Or maybe you would like to know how it would feel to have one of your pieces of art published in a book?

There is no right or wrong answer to setting goals. It’s only a mistake not to set them, and remember they can be changed.

Apply yourself to the business side of art.

Artists need to merge the business concepts of art with the creation of art.

Here are a few basic things you will need to do

1.     Make a list of your art. This can be done in any spreadsheet software. I have included a link here to one I created and that you are free to use. . If you have a bit more computer knowledge you should create a database.

In either case, things to include are;

The title; I would also write this on the stretcher bars or back of the piece.

What medium was used; Oil, Acrylic etc.

Price; once this is set doesn’t change it. I’ll discuss this in a later lesson.

The date it was completed; Again I would write on the stretcher bars or back of the piece.

The size; Here I would include inches and cm. You would be surprised at how many galleries ask for cm’s

The discipline; this can be Painting, Sculpture, Drawing, Mixed Media, etc.

Location; This is important, where is my art right now. I used to lose track of where my art was. Now I know where it is when I need it for a show or when someone contacts me to purchase a piece!

Optional categories include Theme and style of art.

2.     Create a contact list. If you are sending emails, you already have one of the most powerful marketing tools ever created.

Email features are pretty much the same across any variety of software programs. Go to contacts on your email program and click, add new contact. What should come up is a form that allows you to enter the contacts name, address, phone, email, website and even a space for additional notes! This information will help you keep track of who you meet, what type of art they like, if they’ve been to one of your shows, how to reach them with announcements of your new artwork, are you starting to get it? This can work as the foundation for your business success and it’s already setup for you. Just remember one VERY important rule.

Don’t put people on your list without their permission!

3.     Learn how to use your contact list. Once you have a list, and if you don’t, stop here and start one right now! I’ll wait…

Ok, once you have a list there are a number of things you can do with it;

Email; It seems that we have become so reactive to the flood of emails we get on a daily basis that sometimes important ones get lost in the shuffle. Artists need to learn how to successfully communicate information in emails so they don’t get ignored.

One way is to make sure the subject line in an email is used effectively. Don’t say Hi or Hey. Tell people what’s in the mail so they know it’s important. I say things like NEW Artwork, please take a look or I’m in a show, please come.

Snail mail; It’s amazing how special it is to get something in the mail nowadays. Take the time to write thank you cards and send people a compliment in writing for a service they did even if it was one you paid for. If it was done well they should know. By doing this they will remember you.

Create Business Cards; Minimally cards should have your name, email, website and the title, Artist on them. I also include a picture of my work and a phone number on my cards. This will be the way people introduce you to others, especially when you’re not around. I recently met someone and when I told them my name they said, “Oh yeah, a friend of mine showed me your business card. I love the picture.”

Create a Brochure; If you haven’t created a brochure or flyer about your work it’s time to look at doing one. There are enough free easy to use programs out there to make this easy. That is if you have pictures of your work! This will bring us to R in the MARK introduction

Remember you are an Artist and want to be known as an Artist

Take Pictures. People will want to see your work. So you need shots of your art and you should also have pictures of you working at your art. I have yet to meet someone that doesn’t have or have access to, a digital camera, a computer and at least basic software to edit photos.  You don’t have to be a pro, just get it done.

Join online galleries. Once you have some pictures you will need to upload them to an online gallery. They are mostly free and are rarely exclusive, meaning you can have work at a number of them. I have created a free gallery online that you are welcome to join and use to upload photos. It can be found at And don’t forget to tell people that you have pictures of your art online.

Know that the best advice anyone can give you is, JUST DO SOMETHING

This one is simple. Don’t worry about doing everything you think you need to do, it’s a lot. Just start doing something. Make a list of your art, take a picture or just email me and tell me what you think.

This introduction is just that, a way to start. New chapters will cover a lot of this in depth.

Remember you are already more of an Artist now than you were a minute ago.

Donald Kolberg can be reached at or at

He  publishes an online International Free Art Newsletter at  ARTCORE

To reach his Fan Page click HERE

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Donald Kolberg graduated with a Fine Arts Degree from California State University, Los Angeles. He taught at the Los Angeles School of Art and co-founded Art Core, an organization dedicated to the open dialogue and display of the work of emerging artists. He continued his Master studies at Otis Art Institute. While at Otis Art Institute his teacher and main influence was internationally recognized painter Arnold Mesches. In Artcore he worked under the guidance of Lydia Takashita. With their teaching Donald learned the value of depth, texture and form in images and surface. He incorporated this into his concept of Life Forms, the portrayal of the human figure as a landscape of life and a celebration of form through Sculpture and Painting.

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