Written by Frank Juarez
For the past few years I have noticed that my interest in the business side of art has increased, which led to facilitating professional practices for artist training workshop across the state. My interest stemmed from my own studio practice to running my gallery as well as multiple conversations over the years with artists via social media.
One area of interest is living in the digital age. How can we use online platforms and resources to our advantage? For most artists, Instagram has been a medium of choice, but is that enough to communicate to others about what we do as artists? What is it that we want to share?
Since 2015 I created an art e-newsletter called FRANK & CO, which is committed to promoting the visual arts in Wisconsin. Back then this e-newsletter was shared monthly. I begin to think if that was too much time in between to share information? Would I be able to keep track of submissions and content worth sharing in chronological order? What would I use to store all of this and images? Then I started to assess and think if what I was putting out there was being looked at by my subscribers and of value? How would I be able to continue to engage my subscribers? My thought was what if I sent out a weekly e-newsletter? This would mean more work on my end and exactly how committed would I be? Is it even worth entertaining this idea? Time is our most valuable asset and do we want to spend it on something that may show no favorable results? Most likely not. We have other things to take care of that demand more of our time than putting together something that only a few will even open it. Today, FRANK & CO comes out every Sunday at 7pm (CST) with an open rate of 43% (24% is the industry average for an arts e-newsletter).
How do we know if what we are doing to self-promote is effective? Do we focus on one way to share information or do we include other ways? Are we willing to dedicate precious time for something like this? I find it that when we communicate in 3’s, we tend to reach more of our diverse audience, which some our audience follows us on multiple platforms.
An art e-newsletter is just one way to keep your audience engaged. Perhaps your audience aren’t artists and that is okay. Perhaps you share a link to your e-newsletter to an arts consultant, buyer, or collector (with permission, of course), include it in your email signature, or on your website. Organizations use them. Art centers use them. Galleries use them. If they are using them, why not more artists? How are they increasing their audience base? What are they communicating?
I reached out to a few artists who do put together an artist e-newsletter and asked them several questions. I asked them, “Why do you have an e-newsletter? In what ways has it impacted your career as an artist? What is one challenge of maintaining it and how do you address it? How often does it come out? What is one thing you like about it”? Their responses are written in the order of the aforementioned questions.
Ana Perez Ventura (France) writes, “I have an e-newsletter to keep in touch with people who have shown interest in my work and to maintain them informed about what’s going on in my art and career. Well, it has, for example, lead to some sales. I remember a collector who came to my first solo show and signed up in my newsletter list (paper). I didn’t know about it, but he kept following my work through my e-newsletter and several years later he bought 3 pieces.
The challenge is that is time consuming, as well as keeping up social media profiles and the website. I try to concentrate the news and send a newsletter with several different articles instead of one newsletter every time that I have something to say. I also have to deal with different languages. I primary send it in French but I try to translate it to English too and when there is big news I translate it and send it too to my contacts in Spain. It allows people who are not keen of social media to follow my work. I like reading those of my fellow artists too”.
To connect with Ana click here.
Anita Burgermeister (Wisconsin) writes, “To keep clients, friends and family updated on recent projects and to support and share my enthusiasm for the arts. I do get jobs and repeat work from engaging people on my mailing list. I often get positive feedback, which warms my heart and is great encouragement some months. The blog is my main form of promotion – I share it across all my social media in addition to my mailing list. I always have updates to share, often reigning it in so the blog is not too long is a problem. I have several charity events and shows, etc. that repeat annually. Sometimes I worry about being redundant so I just try to be aware of not repeating myself.
I have sent my newsletter out monthly since January 2010. I’ve come precariously close to the end of the month, actually only missing the deadline once by posting after midnight. I enjoy the writing process and my open ended concept. My tagline is: “A.R.T. (assorted random topics) by Anita – Sharing news about creative people & events in art, music, magic, dance, dining, film, writing, architecture, inventions, life & other stuff.” So, for me – and hopefully the reader! – it never gets boring. I’m lucky that I have so many creative and interesting friends for inspiration”.
Anita Burgermeister, Brady Street Rooftops,Digital art layered with maps (and often painted abstract or textured backgrounds) printed on aluminum, 2 x 3 feet
To connect with Anita click here.
Raeleen Kao (Illinois) writes, “I started an e-newsletter when I began doing art full time, prior to teaching at Evanston Art Center. For years, buyers, curators, and gallerists asked me if I had one and I put off putting one together because I was uncomfortable about seeming boastful about my work and doubted my ability to maintain a recurring e-newsletter. When I set up my print studio and started doing art full time, there were a lot of people who supported me financially and it was a way to share with them that I was constantly working and that their support had been a good investment. Because my print based work is so process heavy, it’s extremely helpful for my audience of non-printmakers or non-artists to see and read explanations of every step of the process. Frequently, it’s this explanation of my process and writing about my thoughts and inspirations that draws collectors in. I do a significant amount of travelling to art fairs and shows outside of Chicago, and it has been especially helpful with connecting with potential clients that way. While it’s easy to share my studio updates and new print releases with the community in Chicago, having an e-newsletter is an occasional reminder of my work to those outside of this city. A buyer may become a returning collector if they receive updates on an artist’s new work or an individual who may not have followed through on a purchase at the time may come back if they are given occasional reminders of the artist’s work”.
“I have a very strong aversion to technology. I have to schedule in my calendar that I will write my newsletter on a set date and then go set up shop in a coffee shop somewhere. I have to physically remove myself from my studio/apartment otherwise I will find every excuse in the world to draw, print, read, etc over sitting at a computer. I try to send one out monthly, but let’s be real, the second year I did it, I only sent out two the entire year. (I am getting better!) Having a newsletter helps me keep track of what I have done each month. I do a lot of research and writing in many of my pieces/series and writing it forces me to organize my thoughts”.
Raeleen Kao, Lagan and Derelict, Woodcut on Mulberry paper, 27 x 108 inches
To connect with Raeleen click here.
Mychaelyn Michalec (Ohio) writes, “There are lots of reasons I started an e-newsletter. I had a booth at an art fair last year and I collected a lot of contacts as part of that. So it started it as a way to connect to the people that I met at that. All artists want people to see their work, so we have websites and most everyone does some form of social media. But I also found that not everyone uses social media and we don’t control the algorithms of social media so people who are interested in your work may not even be seeing it. But I have complete control with an e-newsletter. I don’t know if it’s possible to ascertain the impact of the e-newsletter versus other forms of promotion like social media. But I found a surprising number of people responded to my last one. It was great to have direct feedback”.
“I think it would be challenging to have a set schedule of content to produce. That’s not how most careers are. So I try to create an e-newsletter only when I have a few interesting bits to share with my audience. Sometimes it’s every two months and sometimes it’s 4-5 months. I also think the length is a challenge. If it can’t be read in three minutes, people aren’t going to invest their time. After all, people have a whole inbox of items that are piling up behind yours. So I usually try to show 3-4 interesting items with some great images and lots of links. If they want to read more they can always click. It varies depending on what I have to share. I don’t feel a need to have a set schedule. I’d rather have it be less frequent and more interesting than more frequent and lacking content.
“I think it is great to focus on the successes we have had as artists. I think an e-newsletter helps to highlight that”.
Mychaelyn Michalec, Then I decided I would never be able to think of the things about me that bothered him, Acrylic on canvas, 31 x 32 inches
To connect with Mychaelyn click here.
Angela Pierro (Wisconsin) writes, “I have an e-newsletter in order to stay connected with collectors and/or potential collectors that may not use social media. It is a great way to inform readers about upcoming shows and career successes. From my experience, sending an e-newsletter has allowed me to build a better relationship with my collectors and potential collectors. Keeping my audience informed has allowed them to see how invested I am in my work, which has ultimately lead to sales and commissioned pieces”.
“It isn’t easy writing about myself so to overcome that I start by writing as though I am helping to promote someone else. My goal is to send my e-newsletter out a minimum of twice a year and maximum of four times a year. However, if there is a big event scheduled like a solo show, which I recently had, then I send one before the event and one afterwards. It’s a great way to say thank you to those that attended while keeping others informed”.
Angela Pierro, Close up of “Repose”, Oil on canvas, 5′ x 7″
To connect with Angela click here.
All images courtesy of the artists.
About Frank Juarez
Frank Juarez is a gallery director, art educator, artist, author, advocate, and community arts leader living and teaching in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Organizing local and regional art exhibitions, community art events, facilitating presentations, supporting artists through professional development workshops, use of social media and networking has placed him in the forefront of advancing and promoting local artists and attracting regional and national artists to collaborate, network and exhibit in Wisconsin.