Branding is important for artists

Branding is important for artists

Creating a brand for your art is important, its not just about creating a logo and having a marketing campaign either. Not only can a brand define ownership rights by associating you with your work, but it validates your endorsement of a piece of art. This has been the focus of many art galleries in attracting consumers knowing what type and style of art they promote. By understanding a gallery's "brand", the consumer understands what genre of art they will find when they visit. For example, Aesthete Gallery here in Hamilton is known for high end and estate art while Soul Gallery deals in quirky whimsical art and Thornton is better known for its classic type artworks as in scenery and  décor and is more middle level than high end or beginner.

For a visual artist you need to create a signature painting style as this is what makes an artist stand out from the crowd. This can bring the artist more sales, a following and maybe even fame. Funnily enough most artists have a signature painting style and aren’t even aware of it. The key is to uncover it and use it to bring in sales and notoriety for the artist.

Uncovering the unique qualities of an artist’s abilities can lead to creating your brand. In short branding is creating a product that people can easily identify. If an artist can figure out what makes their artwork special and consciously implements it into every piece they do, then people will be able to identify that artist’s painting without looking at the signature. Collectors will want more paintings because they know they will be getting a consistent type of artwork from the artist. Examples of good branding in painting style is Monet with his water-lillies, or Picasso with his bright coloured cubist style, Hirst with his spin paintings, Smither’s stones and strange looking people. Gordon Walters contemporary Maori designs and McCahon with his writing on his paintings.

Try brain-storming sessions with friends and family etc to see what they think your style is or should be, they may see something you don’t or can see a direction that would work for you that you may have missed. It doesn’t always have to be themes, it can be certain colour groupings that seem unique to you or how you paint, like van Gogh used rough quick strokes or Monet used ‘blobs’ of colour for his artwork, you may be someone who uses circular motions when painting that’s unique or perhaps a very controlled style with tiny tiny brushes.  The application of the paint is often overlooked because the artist’s subjects might define their signature style. Also instead of choosing a subject that everyone is doing, try choosing an unusual subject that will catch the viewer’s attention. Being unusual can leave an impression that is vital to creating a brand that sells paintings and brings a sense of notoriety to your art.

When curating shows, I encourage artists to have some sort of theme running through their work and market it accordingly. Not all artists like to have a body of wok that is the same sort of thing but your brand will help to make it cohesive and work better as a unit. Think of it this way, you go to a show where every painting is so diverse from the others you are not even sure if it is the same artist, tying it all together with the same frame, size of work and marketing material would at least make you realise they’re all by the same artist, of course that then makes the frame or whatever more your brand but Im sure you are starting to get the idea.

Your brand allows you to be uniquely you. If you simply promote a common brand without much forethought, you will be subject to what’s called brand dilution. Consumers and patrons alike need individuality to associate with you. They need to relate and understand what your art represents from your inner being all the way to the gallery or event where you show your work. For example, suppose an artist's brand is in a genre of portrait art but there is little expansion on that theme. Their work will be lost in a sea of other portrait art brands that suffer the same lack of uniqueness. There is nothing special that allows an art buyer to relate to that artist other than the work itself. On the other hand, an artist who routinely portrayed portraits that question the boundaries between religion and cultural views of the people being portrayed would attract a specific consumer that was intrigued by the art and by the underlying issues this particular artist raised.

In essence, branding is important because it allows your art, your lifestyle, and your passions to be displayed as a uniform strategy. The key to creating a good brand is to make sure you don’t narrow your focus too much so that you don’t limit your buying public. A classic example I saw of this was an artist who painted women with a religious theme that turned out to be more and more anti female to the point his work became scary and unappealing to most people. Although a narrow focus in your brand creates a smaller group of interested people, its consistency should allow a larger outreach which would then broaden the scope for a larger audience. In the end, if you have stayed true to your passion you would have touched larger numbers of people who share those passions with you.

As you contemplate your artist brand, write down a list of passions that drive your art, your person, and your soul. Combine these with your beliefs and opinions. Then, create the brand you want to represent you and your art.

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Posted: Thursday 24 June 2010


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