What It Takes to Jumpstart an Art Career in 2012

Even in today’s struggling economy, artists and musicians have pathways to success. Many artists take advantage of the wealth of online resources to find funding for and sell their work. Whether searching the classifieds on traditional job banks or marketing themselves on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest, these aspiring artists know that the key is to promote themselves and their work in the best light.

Create a Single Profile

The successful artist creates a single profile to use across platforms; the consistency of the message creates a brand that is recognized by their target audience. The profile includes a biography of the artist and their work, which is tweaked but not fundamentally changed, depending on the outlet. There should also be a single photo that is used as the profile picture for every outlet – either a representative photo of your work, your band logo, or a nice picture of the artist(s).

It is also important to build a high quality, easy to navigate webpage. Art enthusiasts will want a single place to learn about the artist and the work, as well as to (hopefully) make a purchase. This homepage will serve as the foundation for any social marketing program as every tweet, post, pin and photo will link back and give patrons everything they need to support your career.

Major Social Networks

Pinterest is a dream for young artists hoping to promote their work. Artists can easily pin a high-quality photo of a single piece or post their entire collection, and even include pricing information. Savvy self-promoters are sure to include a link to their website, so every time a pin is shared, the entire artist’s profile goes with it.

Many aspiring artists also use Twitter to market their latest offerings. By tweeting frequently with updates on projects, the latest buzz on your work (and others’), artists further create their brand; of course, adding photos and MP3s of recent projects, with links to the homepage, is a must. Most artists who are successful connect their social marketing accounts so that Facebook posts are automatically tweeted.

Online Art Networks

Musicians are finding success promoting themselves on Spotify by taking advantage of the way people search. Some upcoming artists get noticed by covering a popular song that is not yet available on the service; listeners who click on the song thinking they are getting a major artist are often pleasantly surprised by their new find. A similar strategy is to give your song the same title as a popular song in the hopes of obtaining new listeners who stumble upon your song, but are nonetheless impressed with the work.

At Artslant, budding artists post slideshows of their work, have links to their homepage and provide information about where their work is showing. Because it also houses the magazine The Slant, Artslant attracts a wide range of prospective patrons who are looking for the latest reviews and news in the art world.

Other Career Resources

At Americans for the Arts, artists can post resumes, sign up for job alerts and search for artistic jobs nationwide.

ARTSEARCH maintains nationwide listings of jobs available in the fine arts. Job seekers can browse categories or conduct searches by keyword.

The College Art Association hosts a career services page that allows members to post their resumes, sign up for job alerts and conduct nationwide job searches for careers in the arts.

Artistic job seekers can conduct keyword searches or review all classified ads at Fine Art Jobs.

One option for many budding artists is to obtain a government grant. At Grants.gov, artists can browse grants by topic or search by keyword for federal grants. Regional organizations, like the Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA) and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation provide financial support to artists, as well.

The National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture post media arts related professional positions.

At the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), artists search for jobs and internships by title, position type and location.

Building a sustainable career in the arts can be difficult. Of the brave souls who attempt it, the most successful tend to be good entrepreneurs as well as talented artists. By leveraging the tools of our digital age, successful artists build their own careers by promoting their best work. Make your presence known to the art world by taking advantage of online resources.