Expand Your Art Brand with Integrity

Jason Wu designerRight now, I am blogging from 30,000 feet in the air while flying home from Los Angeles. I have been traveling a lot lately and I finally have a moment to reflect…and blog.

Brand building with integrity has been foremost on my mind, and a hot topic among my fellow artists. By using social media and other online sites like eBay, many artists are exploring the idea of broadening their brand, and collector base. Some highly recognizable and respected artists have even begun to sell small works at very affordable prices, but does this hurt the integrity of his or her brand?

Ironically, I just read in Sky Magazine about a young artist, Jason Wu who at 29 is fashioning one of America’s hottest brands with integrity…but more about that in a minute.

Last week, I attended the phenomenal Plein Air Painting Convention where nearly 800 professional and international landscape artists gathered to learn, paint and network in Las Vegas. The convention was the mastermind of marketing maverick Eric Rhoads, publisher of Plein Air Magazine and Fine Art Connoisseur.

Eric, along with the legendary  editor Steve Doherty, and their team orchestrated a phenomenal event.

Up at 6:30 am each morning, we all attended ‘Marketing Bootcamp’ where Eric reiterated the importance of brand building. The topic of ‘branding’ is right up my alley, as I am a big believer in building a strong brand.

Social media via Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Google Plus, and Pinterest are just a few ways in which artists can build their brand and market their art for virtually free. Building an art brand with integrity is key.

Nevertheless, with this new marketing/branding medium comes temptation – temptation to mass-produce what sells, temptation to copy, temptation to drastically reduce prices, and even temptation to settle.

The lateThomas Kinkade, The Painter of Light, was the most profitable artist of all time. Beloved by the masses, yet sadly Kinkade did not have the respect of his artistic peers. Why, was it jealousy? Maybe by some, but more importantly it was because many artists believe that Kinkade expanded his brand without integrity.

Thomas Kinkade

A marketing genius, Kinkade chose to be driven by the market rather than by his talent. Although Kinkade donated to charities and received many awards for his art, in the end Kinkade is also remembered for his public relation problems that eventually lead to bankruptcy.  Much like Tiger Woods, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Thomas Kinkade trademark and brand will be forever tarnished in the minds of many.

jason wu sketch An uplifting example of expanding one’s brand with integrity is the inspiring story of young artist, Jason Wu. Jason, is a Taiwanese-born designer who became a fast phenom when he created First Lady Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown.

Since then, Jason has skyrocketed to international fame and is completely surprised by it all – but not unprepared. Jason is a rare creative who also enjoys the business side of his art. Jason is known for his high-end couture dresses, and now he is selling through Target at seriously affordable prices (less than $60). His recent collection for Target practically sold out before his commercial aired.

 Yet, Jason is not skimping on his signature simplicity. With brand integrity, Jason has chosen to design a new collection for the everyday-woman, one that has his aesthetic touch, and is unique without translating literally.

Jason is an shinning example of brilliant branding for the fine artist who wants to translate this strategy into their own art business. His sought-after couture line of sweet stripes, striking colors, and ladylike shapes still retains its original integrity, while his affordable Target line is attainable. Now he has clients who buy $10,000 dollar dresses, and clients who buy $60.

jason wu for target

I’m not suggesting that you lower your small painting prices to $60 dollars. However, for artists who want to reach a larger audience, why not consider creating a line that is affordable to an ‘entry-level’ collector?

Just like with home building, brand building takes hard work, and it doesn’t usually happen overnight. Build your brand with integrity, and don’t sacrifice quality. If you build it that way, they will come.

Do you have any thoughts or suggestions on this subject?

PS. Let’s meet on Twitterand on Google Plus, Pinterestand join in the fun at Fine Art Tips Facebook Fan Page! Please checkout my art too LoriMcNee.com, or find me on Instagram lorimcneeartist. ~Lori

For more information about selling art online, you might like this guide below >

Complete Guide To Selling Your Art Online Digital Download
Complete Guide To Selling Your Art Online Digital Download
$10.00
A strong online presence is absolutely necessary for today’s artists. This compilation of five articles from The Artist’s…[Read More]
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 and another helpful book…

Blogging for Creatives
Blogging for Creatives
$19.99
In a time when clients will inevitably Google designers before hiring them, it is imperative for all good designers…[Read More]
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About Lori McNee

Lori McNee is a professional artist who specializes in still life, and landscape oil paintings. She is an exhibiting member of Oil Painters of America, Plein Air Painters of Idaho, serves on the Plein Air Mag Board of Advisors, and is an Artist Ambassador to Arches/Canson/Royal Talens. As the owner of FineArtTips.com, Lori blogs about fine art tips, marketing, and social media advice for the aspiring and professional artist. As a social media influencer, Lori ranks as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women on Twitter, has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and named a #TwitterPowerhouse by The Huffington Post. She is a keynote speaker, has been a talk show host for Plum TV, writes for F+W Media publications including Artist’s Magazine, Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market, Photographer’s Market. Also, Zero to 100,000: Social Media Tips & Tricks for Small Businesses. Lori is also a member of the CBS Entertainment Tonight & The Insider Tweet Team.

Comments

  1. hi Lori-
    yes~ agree, it is essential to have integrity + vision. My experience is that many people begin with a smaller commission or more affordable art piece and then almost always invest again, usually at a higher price point. A pricing tier is a good way for many people to get to know You & your ‘brand’, and offers many levels of entry. Art for all People.
    thank You*

  2. Thanks you for a very thought provoking article!

    You are totally right when you say that artists / designers / makers need integrity and vision today and a savvie way to build trust in your work and your brand is to produce some products that are more accessible cost wise. These often ultimately lead to return business.

    I personally think that today, as long as you continue to produce work of a high quality people will respect that.
    Heather

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