Finding a way to connect with your audience is one of the most effective tools to grow your business. Many artists focus their branding on the artwork they produce, rather than their role as an artist. However, as the art industry has shown time and time again, successful artists tell a compelling tale.
Take Banksy for example, their work, ‘Girl with Balloon’ sold for almost $1.4 million. After shredding itself, art critics predict it is now worth double. The painting itself is not what makes it expensive, but the story itself is. When people buy Banksy’s artwork, they are not buying the work itself, but the label of the artist. Banksy’s story is so seductive to collectors because it is so clear cut. Whoever Banksy is, individual artist or collective, they are anonymous, they rebel against the traditional art industry, and work as a political activist. By shredding the artwork, the piece conforms to Banksy’s branding.
To charm your fans, you need to tell your story. What is it that makes your artwork so unique they choose to buy a painting from you instead of IKEA? Your story is your personal marketing tool. Good marketing is the story you can sell, this is called a ‘sales hook’. It is a short and snippy, but compelling tale that sets you out from the crowd.
There will be many opportunities to tell your story. It might be when you apply for a grant, write a blog, create an artist’s statement, or even when you write your social media bio. Your story is your personal branding. It will help you to connect with your audience and make your brand clearer.
For both storytelling and sales hooks, there is a pretty universal structure. Stories begin with the identity of the hero, the problem they need to overcome, how they overcome the problem, and the happy ending. This article will show you how to use this simple structure to market yourself and make your business more compelling.
1. The Protagonist
Your first step is to identify yourself as the hero. You are the main character of this story. Many buyers are interested in your identity as an artist. Your drive is what interests many buyers, they want to know what inspires you to create art. What is it that forces you to get out of bed and create a masterpiece every single day?
If you’re struggling to put your finger on your origin story, here are some good ways to get you thinking:
- Do you remember the first time you chose to pursue art?
- What do you like to talk about with your art?
- Is your art political?
- Do you use your art as an escape?
- Did you study art in school? How does your current relationship with art compare?
- What made you choose the medium you use?
This is an important step so don’t rush it! Take the time to sit down and reflect on what brought you here. What might not seem important to you is important to your fans. Your story is what they can relate to, it can also help them understand the meaning of your art.
2. The Villain
The next step to your story is introducing the villain. This is the key problem you have had to overcome in your career. Discussing your struggles is a common tool in many sales pitches. Sales hooks often examine a problem and then offer the solution. A similar tactic is used to discuss your career as an artist.
Have there been any life changes that have affected your career? Health issues or family problems that have changed your outlook? Did you struggle in school? Could you afford to fund for your practice/studies? Did you have a different career before pursuing art?
It could also be useful to talk about your struggle with your practice itself. Did you become your own villain? Have you ever let yourself be overcome by low self-esteem? Do you compare yourself to others? Did you previously let your fears guide you?
Every tale worth telling has an obstacle the main character must overcome, whether that be a physical villain or a mindset. This step is vital to your story. Do not miss it out. Your struggles are what make you relatable.
3. The Victory
Finally, talk about how you overcame these issues and how your life as changed for the better. Every interesting story has a compelling ending. In this step you must focus on the end result.
Many sales pitches focus on Identity, Problem, Solution, Result. Your personal victory will depend on the struggle you faced. Is your victory featured in an exhibition? Winning an award? Increasing your sales? Gaining a bigger fan base?
You don’t need to go over the top with your victories. Any small result is still important. Remember, the story is centred around you. So, if all you have achieved is getting out of your artist’s block, that’s still an incredible achievement you should boast about.
This could also be a good time to tell your audience your future goals. You have come this far, so what’s next? Does your story have a sequel?
Before you go out and start telling the world about your story there’s a few things to keep in mind.
- If you are telling your story in person, make sure your body language is confident, open and friendly.
- When your story is in writing, check for punctuation and grammar errors. If you are using autocorrect or a similar program, make sure that the settings are appropriate for the country you are in. You don’t want American spellings in your writing if you are based in England.
- Keep your story short and sweet. Did you know it takes the average viewer 63 seconds to look at a piece of art? That means you should be used to capturing someone’s attention quickly, so use those skills!
- Make sure you engage with people and give them room to question you. Your fans want to know more about you, so be ready to answer their questions.