Tighten Your Sales Strategy, Then Refuse to Compromise

The Thriving Artist

Mar 12 2019 • 1 hr 1 min

Donna is a painter based in Beaufort, North Carolina; she’s a graduate Fellow of CHF’s Art-Business Accelerator Program, and an Emeritus Advisor for the 2019 group of Fellows. Her work is representational, and explores the nautical and coastal themes of her home. Her sales strategy involves partnering with cause-based organizations to amplify their messages through the use of fine art. Recent projects include a resident artist position with Friends of the NC Maritime Museum and a collaboration with The Kit Jones Project.

CHF’s Accelerator Program Results

  • “Being able to define what I want and where I want to go with my career has helped me immensely in so many different ways.”
  • “When you decide what you want to do, you become more intentional about what you choose to do.”
  • “People who get residencies, get more residencies. I went to [North Carolina Maritime Museum] and I said: ‘hey, I would really like a residency.’ This is what that would entail. Here’s what I want from you. Here’s what you’ll get from me. And with that intention, after defining myself and redefining what I want, I can actually move with a little more skill and a little more focus in order to get where I want to go.”

Blueprinting Your Career—Work Ethic, Brand Narrative & Sales Strategies

  • “I made the decision that I was going to be a professional artist, and took away all the safety nets that I had….That ‘I’m inspired today, or I’m not’— that’s not me. I get up [and say] here’s what I have to do today. This is my list. So to me, it’s that blue-collar work ethic that is applied to fine art.”
  • “You’re better off making a sale as you.”
  • “It’s kind of a throwback to back in the day when you had patrons, and artists worked almost as craftspeople. And they had their guilds and they were actually working for people. It’s a very similar type of relationship. So in that respect, being a blue-collar or a working artist is more valuable because they say: ‘Oh a working artist. That means you’re actually finishing and doing a job.’ And they’re very happy with that and it does help.”
  • “Are you an artist because you call yourself one, or should you wait until someone calls you an artist? So rather than saying whether I’m an artist or not I just go, ‘I paint!’ And I leave it at that. ‘I’m a painter. I paint pictures.’ ”
  • “I’m in a niche market of maritime art right now. And I also live in a very tourist community. [So I’m constantly asked]: ‘Can you donate this? Can you donate that?’ and I’m like, ‘No. I cannot.’ So I figured, how am I going to leverage what’s coming my way which is ‘Can you donate this?’ with: what of mine needs to be marketed?”
  • “…I don’t donate anything. They pay me. They pay for my materials. They pay for the framing. They pay for the advertising. And so I have it set up where I may be donating my time, but I’m not out any money.”
  • “So if you’re serious about buying a piece from me, if you have bought a piece, or you’ve come up to one of my events, you get a special newsletter that is exclusive. And I tell them it’s exclusive. I give them options and opportunities, that once I put the stuff in a gallery or online, those opportunities are gone. So it gives them a time frame in which they actually have to do something. My open rate is between 80 and 100% for those special newsletters.”

The Work

  • “I love hearing what other people have to say about my work. I really do. It’s very interesting. And I like that it’s adventurous…I’m trying to catch more of an emotion or an atmosphere more so than a representation of: ‘Here is the scene, enjoy it’.”
  • “I’m going to do what I want to do, because I like doing it. And if I make a change, like I did in June— I made a change with how I actually put the paint on the board… and if my...

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