9 Ways to Make Your Art Stand Out! (Online & IRL)
When I walk downtown in Pittsburgh I usually run into the incense-guy. He sells incense, but I think you get that already.
He’s always in front of our Burlington Coat Factory with a mix of shoppers and bus-riders filling the sidewalk.
His setup has everything laid out along the side of the store so you can see what he has.
He gives you the nod as you make your way down the street.
This guy makes sales without being super sales-y. He’s not all up in your face with incense trying to convince you that you need more lavender in your life.
And guess what?
You can be like the incense-guy downtown and get your audience’s attention without being desperate online.
Everyone is moving around you on the interwebs and all you’re trying to do is flag somebody down and say:
“Hey, I’m an artist too! I make things pretty”
If you look like you’re trying too hard you’ll end up giving off energy like this guy instead:
I don’t want you to lookin' like a desperate balloon online.
HOW DO I GET PEOPLE TO NOTICE MY ART?
Instead of looking for people to notice your art, let’s learn how to attract the right people to your art.
To attract them, you have to know who they are and what motivates them! Once you figure that out you can narrow it down to one ideal person.
Not everyone will be attracted to your art and they don't have to be. Narrowing down your audience will save you time and energy instead of trying to please everyone.
WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE AN AUDIENCE AT ALL?
You can still try out these tips even if you think you don’t have an audience.
Chances are you have at least one person in your life that knows about your epicness. Use that as your starting point and grow!
And luckily I also have something that will definitely help you visually and define the kind of person you’re trying to target.
I’M MORE OF AN INTROVERT SO THIS IS HARD FOR ME…
I feel you.
I like to think of myself as a functioning introvert.
I can be a social butterfly when I need to be but I’d much rather stay indoors cocooned with my boyfriend, turtle, and popcorn than attend huge social events.
I promise you, you can still be an introvert and put yourself out there for your art.
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD
You’re just starting to take this whole art thing seriously and really put some work into it. That’s already one step out of the way!
As long as you believe you can stand out with your art, then you will. Don’t stand in your own way to success. Negative thinking isn’t going to do you any favors.
01 | SHARE YOUR EPICNESS
You know you’re amazing right? And don’t give me that awkward look where you don’t agree and look for reasons why you’re not awesome.
There’s a lovely quote, it’s my favorite actually, and it always reminds me to appreciate what I have done:
In spirit of that, start getting super comfortable with sharing what you are hoping to do with your art and that you are looking for interested people.
Tell your friends and family what you’re trying to do. Even if they don’t need what your offering, they’ll find someone that who does!
Make it easier for your circle to share your epicness with others! Make it easy because let’s be real here. Sometimes our friends and family forget to do simple things.
It happens to the best of us.
So instead, write out a short paragraph to your circle explaining what your freelance art is and that you’re looking for referrals.
Add in the best way to reach you, and a sample of your art so that all your mom has to do is forward the message to her co-worker.
02 | GIVE BITE-SIZED SAMPLES
Treat people to snack sized pieces of your art by creating a lookbook! It can be a small 10 paged book full of your artwork or it can be meaty and robust 80 paged collection.
Lookbooks are great because they can give off the feeling that you are serious about what you’re trying to do and you care about your work.
Awesome sites like Blurb and Kablam can print your books for you at an affordable price. And thanks to Instagram there are a few apps that can create your art books from your Instagram feed.
03 | PICK YOUR CORNER OF THE INTERWEBS
For me, my corner of the interwebs is definitely Instagram. I used to be so against Instagram in the past because it was too new. Maybe I’m getting old.
So I finally gave in and I could not be more thankful. This social media changed the game for me and to this day is still where a majority of my clients come from.
So what’s your corner of the interwebs? Are there social media accounts that you have more engagement on than others?
Put your energy into those top notch accounts and focus on engaging with your followers and getting a feel for what they like and don’t like.
What’s the point of putting all of your time into your Facebook Page when you have followers on Twitter that show interest in your artwork?
You can still keep the rest of your accounts but those 1-2 social media accounts will be your corner where you really get to connect with your fans.
04 | MAKE DISCOUNT ART
Remember that snack lookbook you can offer to potential audiences? You can take it a step further and offer snack services.
You can offer limited free and discount services for your audience so that they can get a feel for how you work.
Now, let me be clear (in my best Obama impression).
In no way am I saying that you should work for free if someone asks you in your DM,
Can you draw me plz, i'll give u exposure.
What I’m saying is intentionally offer something for free or discount on your own terms.
I tried this a few times in the past and it usually leads to getting new clients. In the very least it let me experiment with a few drawing styles.
It’s best to do it for a short period of time so that you don’t waste more energy than you need to. You’ll know if something isn’t working and from there it’s best to move on.
05 | FIND A SUPPORT GROUP
It’s hard out here for a pimp, er artist.
That’s why you need a support group AKA join a community of like-minded people.
And it doesn’t have to be specifically an artist group either! The few Facebook groups that I joined are focused on women entrepreneurs and I love the dearly.
It helps keep me motivated and you start to make connections with others in the group! And those connections can open the doors to tons of future collaborations!
06 | GET TO KNOW YOUR COMMUNITY
Do you pay attention to all of the festivals and events your city does? How about your neighborhood?
Find resources so that you can stay up to date about the cool things happening in your hood. Once you find a source start making yourself available to be in the event.
If that’s too big of a step, you can definitely just go as an attendee to see what you’re getting yourself into.
In Pittsburgh, we have a ton of art & music festivals and community events happening literally all of the time. Some event groups host tons of events so once you find that source, stick with them.
07 | RECORD YOUR EPICNESS
You know how you do art and make things from your head?
That blows people’s minds.
You’re a mind blower.
Sometimes the simplest things to us can be the most amazing to other people.
So imagine if you were to share how you create, and the tools you make it with. Or even share what life is like for you as an artist.
People love to see people be honest especially online. If you’re not camera shy, creating Youtube videos will help your audience connect with you not just as an artist, but a person.
It also helps people appreciate the work that you do and your time.
08 | SET UP SHOP IN ARTIST ALLEY
I bet you’ve heard of the San Diego Comicon or at the very least have witnessed someone cosplaying as Spiderman.
But did you ever think about booking a spot in artist alley at one their conventions?
Artist alley is the section of the convention just for artists to show their work and sell art prints! You’ll have access to the traffic the convention pulls plus you can make one-on-one connections with people that love your epic-ness.
Another lovely detail is that the purpose of the convention is to find something to buy. These are people that are ready to take home souvenirs for their trip.
Plus you can totally take pictures with Deadpool and find Dragon Ball replicas. I mean. What more could you ask for?
09 | BECOME THE HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTESS
Hey. Maybe you don’t want to leave the house at all and just want to relax with people that always give you great vibes.
So how about throwing a gallery at your place? You can decorate your space and hang your wall art and create an experience that’s uniquely you.
Especially if you’re on a budget but still want to introduce your art, this is definitely one way to go about it.
And if you think that sounds right up your alley you can check out 5 DIY art galleries you can throw without going broke.
Go at your own pace and in your own order to find what works best for you. Standing out from the crowd doesn’t mean that you should change.
In fact, I think it’s the opposite!
Keep true to yourself and you find that while everyone is moving left you’re moving right into your audience’s attention.
Peace & Love!
Trenita Finney is a Pittsburgh-based creative entrepreneur, artist and the Founder of Trenita Made it! She is most recognized for her vibrant watercolor works of women of color and photo-realistic portraits of inspirational musicians. As the creator of Trenita Made it! she promotes wellness + career development for artists + women of color through her youtube, podcast, Instagram, Pinterest and lifestyle illustrations + products.
Trenita has launched The Syllestial Collection VOL.1, an illustration book showcasing a collection of three years worth of illustrations during college. Trenita and her artwork have been featured in Raw Artist Pittsburgh, Redfish Bowl Art Festival, The Pittsburgh Comicon, Steel City Comicon and Layer Cake Festival. Follow on Instagram for the latest art creations.