Finding An Audience
I am tired of looking at the dvd backup “tombstones” of my work lining the selves in my basement. Or looking at the archived boxes of “test prints” over the years taking up space in the filing cabinets in my studio. Certainly, making art for art’s sake and never sharing it may be satisfaction enough for some. But I feel that art is meant to be shared, discussed, argued about and explored rather than merely glanced at by the jaded eyes of the average mobile phone snappers. That’s not, however, to belittle the many truly amazing photos captured on sites like 500px , etc.
There is nothing I would like more than to have my viewer experience my attempt at creative expression without having to read some background statement about the work. If I was only trying to entice other artists who usually “get” the viewer partnership that is expected when one looks at a piece of what is being termed as “art”, then the experience of the work itself may be all that is needed. One danger here is that art often becomes an easy target to over-intellectualize and get lost in what I call “analysis paralysis”. This can become a fatal trap that can cause an artistic work to fail, a trap I have often been guilty of and with which I constantly struggle. The simple emotional response is often the highest form of honest compliment a viewer can make for the artist.
The problem is, I’d also like to challenge the casual art-goer with the dare to take a chance on something new, to reach down as it were and awaken the inner child within all of us. For any variety of reasons the viewers who may want to “get” the message, need a little help with this. I am not saying that the artist statement is the only or best method to achieve this, but at least it is a start.
In this day and age of trying to make your work stand out a bit from all of the others, there becomes this burning desire to be perceived as “different” and innovative. If you look like everybody else, how do you get noticed for what you do?
At some point along your artistic journey, you will feel the need to reach out to a larger audience of viewers with which to share your work. There are so many books, tutorials, experts, workshops entirely devoted to this topic. Where do you begin to seek answers and strategies to increase viewership?
The answer is that you have to just pick one trusted source to start with, and see if the discussions presented make sense to you at this point in your artistic journey.
Several years ago, I bought Alain Briot’s book, Marketing Fine Art Photography . This was a wonderful book and got me started with thinking about the process of viewership. Alain speaks from years of fine art photographic marketing which began for him during his many years of selling at the Grand Canyon as an exclusive artist. He covers all the most basic sales topics, philosophies, pricing, markets, etc. My favorite takeaways were his many observations and conclusions about his average customer and viewer purchasing tendencies that accounted for his many best sellers over the years. He covered such topics as, according to him, subjects that sell best, colors that sell best, photographic formats that sell best, etc. The book is loaded with specific examples and pictures.
During my early artistic years, specifically 2004, I discovered the informative library of the Brooks Jensen photography podcasts . There have been and still are so many publications devoted to equipment and technique that it was refreshing for me to listen to brief discussions about the philosophical approaches to photography and composition. Having remembered my satisfaction with these discussions, as well as having been a long-time subscriber to LensWork magazine, I found that Brooks also has a dvd workshop available called Finding An Audience For Your Work . I immediately purchased the workshop and have been impressed ever since for the reasons which follow.
This dvd workshop is loaded with practical, no-nonsense information about how to begin or nurture this process of building viewership. You don’t have to buy into everything he says, but most of what he says just makes common sense. For example, one of our goals as artists is to increase exposure of our work so that the widest viewership possible can share some artistic vision we are attempting to explore. However, not everyone who wants to experience your art is willing to pay formal gallery prices for your work for any number of reasons. Brooks believes that since all people are different that there should also be varying methods of allowing that person to explore and experience your work, therefore providing for different levels of viewer involvement. The great thing about this approach is that it also allows for growing levels of involvement. Some people may only want to visit your website. For others, it may be just reading some article you wrote. For others still, maybe buy a book or ebook of yours. Gone are the days when all a person had to do to experience art was to attend a gallery or museum opening or read one of only a handful of printed publications. The artistic industry has now become quite fractured and fragmented, and is now composed of a seemingly infinite tangle of niche-filled ways accessed by the 24/7 predominance of the world wide web. By providing for specific levels of viewer involvement, it may make it possible for the viewer to progress from one level to the next, or even all levels. The choice is still theirs.
In another example, Brooks suggests that most photographer websites all look the same, and are mostly structured the same with the prerequisite galleries of thumbnail/larger image lists. His contention is, how can you possibly stand above the crowd and show something unique and different with a formula like this? He offers several suggestions/alternatives that certainly creates food for thought. Some suggestions are to include various levels of viewership involvement, rather than only the thumbnail/larger image involvement. The biggest suggestion is that the website should revolve around content rather than a mere catalogue of work with stagnant information.
For that reason, I have decided to revolve my site around my projects, my series, my stories, since this is how I prefer to present my art. As Brooks says, this becomes a method of delivering content about my projects or bodies of work. So what you look at now on my Home page is JerryGrasso 4.0.