Annie Strack is a professional maritime artist and master watercolorist. In this article she explains how to ‘create a niche market for your art in a sea of artists.
I hope you enjoy learning how Annie found a unique audience for her beautiful art and how you can too.
Create a Niche Market for Your Art in a Sea of Artists
Niche marketing, I had an early start at it. When I was a teenager showing horses, I would sit on the tailgate of my mom’s station wagon between classes, sketching the horses in pen and ink and selling them to the other riders in the show for five dollars a piece. My goals were simple back then; I just wanted to earn enough money to pay my entry fees at the horse shows.
A few years have passed since those early days, and although I have had many careers in the interim, my life has circled around and I once again find myself painting for money. This time, however, I planned my artistic career with specific goals in mind and developed a business strategy to achieve those goals.
When I first took the leap from amateur artist to being a full time professional, I started with a very diverse portfolio of different subjects in numerous mediums. I didn’t have a particular style or trademark that was recognizable of being my own, and although I was getting some acceptances to galleries and shows, I could see that my lack of working in a cohesive style was limiting my art career advancement.
If you look at the work of any of the top artists in the world, you will notice that each has a recognizable style.
It might be the subjects they paint, the artistic style, their palette, or any combination of things that makes their work recognizable. This recognition adds importance and value to the art, as collectors want art that is reflective of an artist’s body of work, and galleries prefer to exhibit a range of diverse artists, rather than a diverse range by one artist.
Unlike many artists, I had some prior career experience in business management. That experience taught me to think beyond the studio, and gave me a distinct advantage when I started my art career. There are many corporate business concepts that apply to the business of art and among them are the elements of this simple marketing formula that I will share with you here. I was able to improve the results of my sales and marketing efforts by using these three building blocks.
Three Basic Building Blocks of Business Marketing:
1. Identify an Underserved Market.
- I began my market research by looking around at the other artists and galleries in my regional area. I wanted to see what types of art were currently available, and to see what types of art collectors were searching for.
- I discovered that several artists were painting the local landscapes of mountains, vineyards, and historic missions, and although the sales of those pieces were not stagnant, there was more supply than demand for those subjects. The result was increasingly limited sales and more competition for gallery representation for artists.
- Rather than try different subjects, many artists were duplicating the subjects and creating themes that were similar to other artists. They were inadvertently creating a very competitive market for sales of those paintings, and were limiting their career advancement.
- I was surprised to find that no one in my region was painting the seascapes and maritime subjects of the nearby pacific coast.
2. Develop a Product to Serve that Market.
- Recognizing the potential of an untapped niche market, I began to specialize in seascapes and maritime paintings. My subjects range from seascapes and tropical scenes, yachts, boats, ships, lighthouses, sea birds, and anything else maritime related. Of course, it helped that I also like painting maritime themes, and I had knowledge and experience with the subjects I chose.
- There are always plenty of underdeveloped niches in any market, but I went with the one that I knew I could do well and would enjoy.
- I would not have lasted long if I had chosen a field that I had no knowledge or experience in.
- Although I specialize, it does not limit me as an artist, and I find plenty of opportunities to also continue to paint other subjects and work in a variety of mediums.
3. Make that Product Available and Desirable to that Market.
- Next, I changed my marketing strategy to target potential clients in that field.
- I reach my targeted market audience by displaying and selling my work at art festivals, markets, and galleries in coastal areas, and also at boat festivals and maritime museums.
- The paintings, prints, and posters I display at these venues are also useful as samples for selling commissioned paintings, and I receive enough requests for custom ordered paintings at these venues to keep my commission schedule fully booked up to a year in advance. In addition, I shoot my own reference photographs for my paintings, and over the years I have amassed an extensive collection of maritime related photos.
- This provides me with an additional source of income, as occasionally I sell photos to publications as illustrations to accompany articles.
- My client list has grown to encompass federal agencies including the US Coast Guard and US Navy, corporate buyers such as shipping firms, maritime insurance agencies, maritime museums, boat builders, and also private collectors like boat owners, captains, and owners of homes in coastal areas.
- Many of my maritime paintings are commissioned for use as gifts. They are particularly attractive to wives looking for unique gifts for their husbands, and as corporate gifts among business people in the maritime industries.
When people ask me what I do, I do not reply that I am an artist; I tell them that I am a maritime artist. This type of specific answer is always greeted with interest, and leads to more questions about my art. It allows me to explain the type of art I do, and gives me the opportunity to talk about my creative processes.
The advantages of niche marketing are:
- That it allows you to specialize in a particular subject or media.
- It allows you to concentrate your efforts on enhancing your skills within that area.
- As your skills develop, your work will become more uniquely recognizable, and thus improve your artistic reputation.
- By concentrating your marketing efforts to more effectively reach a specific audience for your work, you can increase your sales while gaining recognition as an expert within that field. That recognition brings more opportunities for exhibits, commissions, workshops, publications, and more.
Guest Artist/Author: Annie Strack is a professional artist specializing in seascapes and maritime paintings, Annie Strack is a Signature Member of five international and national artist societies and is an Official Authorized Artist for the USCG. She draws from her experiences in her previous career in corporate management to build her successful art career and shares her knowledge of business and marketing through her articles for Art Calendar magazine. Visit her at http://ArtCalendar.com or her website http://AnnieStrackArt.com. The above boat paintings are the copyright of Annie Strack.
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