Van Gogh sold one painting in his lifetime. Of course, in those days there were no galleries to feature his works or potential buyers to visit and make purchases.
Along came galleries and other art retail establishments. Finally, artists were able to get their pieces in front of the eyes of interested buyers. Little placards provided (and still do) brief descriptions of the works.
The best of all worlds? To get a showing featuring many pieces all in one place. The task becomes one of sending out invitations, marketing the event, and then being present to further describe the works to interested buyers. This remains a major venue for artists to showcase their work and ultimately make sales. But things have also changed in recent decades – changed radically, in fact.
Enter the Internet
Every sector of the economy has been transformed by the Internet. And nothing has been more transformed than the strategies and methods used to market products and services. People can Google search anything; Amazon is a consumer’s “wonderland;” social media has become a place for people to share their recommendations and opinions about anything from beauty products, to clothing, to cars, and far beyond.
And the world of art has been transformed by the Internet too. Artists have websites featuring their works; they can drive people to their websites by marketing themselves in key places on the web. And once those visitors are there, they can stay as long as they want and view everything those artists offer for sale. They can decide to purchase an original oil, a watercolor, or a print that has been re-produced by a stellar agency.
But here is what they will also find – much lengthier descriptions of those pieces, descriptions which bring them to life.
And herein lies one of the best marketing tools – those descriptions. Jim Collins, chief of web-based copywriting services for Studicus, puts it this way: “Product descriptions have become a mainstay of marketing in today’s crowded marketplace. In fact, they can make the difference between capturing a buyer or boring them to the point they move on to ‘greener pastures.’ Captivating descriptions provide additional value that makes viewers stop and take notice.”
Writing Those Descriptions – The First Steps
Now that you have the mindset that your descriptions are marketing tools, you need to understand some fundamental concepts for the 21st century:
- It’s all about the consumer, not the seller. And today’s consumer wants a “relationship” with the businesses he patronizes. Of course, in terms of art, he has preferences for types, but he still wants to know who you are and what inspires you to create what you do.
- SEO (search engine optimization) is real. People search for everything, including art. This means that you have to choose keywords in your descriptions that potential customers may use to search for your type of art. This will require some research on your part, but there are tools you can use to find those popular words and phrases.
- Engaging with creative/intriguing words. Journalists understand this. Their headline and first sentences pull the reader in and make them want to go on. Your piece titles have to engage in the same way. And your descriptions must trigger emotions and inspiration. You are creative by nature if you are an artist. But are you also creative with words? If this is a challenge, then tap into other creatives for help. You can find such writers at places like Trust My Paper, Freelancer, GrabMyEssay, and Upwork. For headlines, you can use any number of tools, such as CoSchedule or TheAdsy.
The “Meat” of Your Descriptions
The one great thing about having a website with your portfolio is that you have so much more “room” for your piece descriptions. And that room allows you to do a lot more than a short placard at a gallery showing. Here are all of the things you can do:
- Tell the Story. How did you come to create this piece? What inspired you? What do you want the piece to say to the viewer/purchaser?
- Speak to the process of creation. How long did it take to produce? What unique materials or sources did you use? Were there challenges?
- What is remarkable about the subject of your piece? If it is a landscape, for example, how were you inspired about visiting this specific place? If it is a reflection of modern society, how did you come to choose this subject?
- What emotions did the subject of this piece invoke in you? Can you express them so that others can relate and experience the same emotions? If, for example, you create a piece that depicts the suffering of poverty, can you describe how poverty makes all of us feel, as we live in relative comfort?
- What experience does your customer want? You need to put yourself in the shoes of your potential customer. What experience do they want from a particular piece you offer? Can you tap into how a potential customer will feel about having this piece in his/her home? How might it improve the life of the buyer when he has it placed in his home?
Here’s the bottom line. You aren’t just selling a piece of art. You are selling the story behind that piece, the inspiration you had to create it, the emotions and inspiration that caused you to create it, and how you believe the purchaser can find an emotional connection with the piece as well. When you do this successfully, you have a far greater chance to sell it to the right buyer – someone who values it as much as you do.
Getting it All Put Together
You may be working on your descriptions for a while. The first attempt is usually not your best, and you will want to reflect on the piece as you modify and polish it up. One thing that helps for future descriptions may be to journal while you create them so that you can look back and reflect on your thoughts during the process.
Every piece of art has a story – a story about the artist and a story about the work itself. If you can produce a description that captures both of these and incorporate the emotional connection that can be made with a potential buyer, you will have the perfect descriptive piece of writing to accompany your work.
About the Author: Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Now she works as a freelance writer at WowGrade and BestEssayEducation, Kristin also does some editing work at SupremeDissertations.