Art Marketing as a Spiritual Practice?

I was sweeping up my studio a couple of days ago and to be honest, not in the greatest frame of mind about it. Thoughts like, “I’ve told him so many times to take off his shoes before coming in.” Or, “If it weren’t for this I’d already be painting right now.”

Those thoughts were not helping the situation or getting the chores done any faster. In fact, they were making me feel, bad. It wasn’t the sweeping up or the tasks at hand that had me down but my thoughts about them. This scenario was not reflecting well on my supposed evolved level of maturity. “Cleaning up my family’s messes brings out the worst in me,” I thought.

It occurred to me to play a little game. Instead of thinking “this brings out the worst in me”, I changed the thought to: “this brings out the best in me.” After changing that thought, I could see how the new thought was also true. The best was coming out of me.  I was able to notice how the frustration coming from my ego (needing things to be a certain way) was not serving me. My body relaxed, a smile came through, and I put on some old records. I proceeded to enjoy the music and the act of cleaning and organizing. I didn’t paint until much later but I did paint and the studio felt better than ever.

I realize I’ve had a similar block with art marketing. There is something so anti-art about it for me. I’m a peace-loving person but there is also a rebel side to me.  At times I find the self-promotional aspect of social media so lame. Yet, independent artists and small businesses use it to survive. I'm sure my conditioning conjures up what “real” artists are like. You now the ones. They are starving in the east village in a rent controlled apartment.  Or living on an exotic island in some distant land and not using social media!

Seriously. It is staggering the sheer number of posts made by mega successful artists on Instagram. In a recent NYT article (thanks for sharing with me Kayte VanScoy). An Instagram executive reached out to a popular, young Instagram artist. He recommended the following to increase her audience:

~ 4-7 reels a week.

~ 3 photos or videos a week.

~ 8-10 stories a week (preferably twice a day).

~ 1-3 longer videos to Instagram TV a week.

*And he said, “consistency is key.”

There is absolutely no way I will be churning out that kind of presence on Instagram. But I am willing to be more present with myself when resistance to sharing arises.

So, let’s say I try to turn around my thinking about Instagram marketing in particular. Take away the dread. If my previous thoughts were, “Art marketing is so lame and narcissistic. How will I be able to dedicate myself to painting AND make time to promote the art?”

Change: “Art marketing can be an extension of my art and sharing art spreads joy to others. I can dedicate myself to painting AND find a way to market the work that inspires me.” 

And the truth is, I know I can do it. I know, because when I changed my thinking the dread turned to challenge. And then the challenge turned to enthusiasm. This is not an overnight transformation, of course. And there is no way I will post what the executive recommended. But, I can use social media as a tool for both business and personal transformation. Always, noticing what causes discomfort and then try to transform it.  And if something still doesn't feel right?  I won't do it. 

Art marketing as a spiritual practice. Who knew?!

~ Kim

1 comment

  • Kim, Kim, Kim…you are really onto something. Your first three paragraphs can be of note to any of us—-artist or not. We are all navigating really difficult times right now—-pandemic, separation from family and friends, inability to travel, and, the unknown. You advised and recommended an attitude change which is really the only way forward. That is our truth. Thank you for that. The only real meds that work right now!!!

    As to the dreaded self-marketing…you are your own best rep, like it or not…know it or not. I was stiffed by multiple galleries in my gallery days, so if you can make a case for yourself as an artist—-and you can!!!—-go for it. I think most people would prefer a commentary by the artist rather than hearing a second-hand statement via the gallery. My opinion.

    Your site/blog is a wonderful way to illustrate to other artists how they might market themselves, and in fact, I think I will join you in that endeavor. Though I am burdened right not with other “stuff”…I will be back!! Count on it!

    Kim…keep doing what you are doing. You are an inspiration!

    BB Milward

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published