Blog / 2016 / Marketing Your Art and Sucking Up

August 25, 2016

When someone says a harsh thing about what you’re doing, the comment can either destroy you or energize you. Whenever possible, I choose the latter, and, with this blog post, I’m doing just that after a friend described something I was doing to market my art as sucking up.

The comparison stung, but it also made me want to understand marketing and sucking up better. So I defined them:

MARKETING is any action you take to connect what you do with the audience you do it for.

SUCKING UP is any action you take to connect with someone you’re having trouble connecting with.

Based on these definitions, I can see where a person might confuse the two, but they are different. Marketing only becomes sucking up if you don’t know who your audience is, which actually explains a lot about how artists view marketing. Many creatives have no idea who likes their art; no wonder they hate marketing so much!

The truth is that, unless you’re independently wealthy or have some other way of supporting yourself, you’re going to need to connect with others in order to keep making your art. So the question becomes: how are you going to connect in a genuine manner?

For me, real connection comes only if there’s no sucking up. It’s a natural process of presenting my work, noting who responds, and then engaging with the people who enjoy what I do. In other words, marketing is like saying “hello” and starting a conversation.

digital drawing by Gwenn Seemel
digital drawing by Gwenn Seemel from 2016

And sometimes it’s like saying “goodbye.”

Through this exchange I realized that my friend—the one who thought I was sucking up—was just my friend and not a member of my audience. Recognizing this is very useful. It stops me from trying to suck up to them by changing how I market my art.

For more about determining who is a part of your audience, check out this 25 minute talk about making money with your art or hire me as your art guide!

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