“Self Promotion: Do it! – Don’t Do it!” – by AO

AO's Night at the

AO’s Night at the “K” Kansas City Royals

[Before I start – let me note that I am not a trained writer in any sense.  My writing style just depends on sleep, caffeine and maybe the help of another more experienced writer (for editing assistance).  My grammar varies and my proofing needs a ton of work – mainly because I was an awesome “C” student all throughout school.  Never the less,  I am going  to post a few honest words out there about – my art, my books, my designs, the process, etc. on this blog.  Why?  For a couple reasons – for promotional reasons, behind the scenes reasons and for younger  artists coming-up reasons.   So if you’re  a critic and hate bad writing, do not read this.  If you can read beyond the mess and want some food for thought – roll the dice.  Thx – ao.]


“Self Promotion: Do it! – Don’t Do it!”

by AO

“Quit bragging!” “Stay humble.”  “A real artist doesn’t bring attention to him/herself.”  These are some phrases people, family, other artists, or even yourself say about self-promoting.  When it comes to “self-promoting” –  I call it,  plain and simple – marketing.

Not everyone has a Flavor-Flav (look him up) – our very own hype man.  So most of us have to promote ourselves.  Some of my friends would call my self-promoting,  “the hustle”.  And it is.  Whatever you call it, as artists who would like to do this “hustle” for a living, a couple of your goals should be to get your name out there and to get a sale or two.  To put it plain and simple – to do business.

Now, I believe most level headed people respect the hard working determined business-artist/designer who doesn’t over-step the boundaries of self-promotion.  And many people believe that the best person to sell your work – is you (until you ca afford an agent you can afford and trust).  So starting out, wouldn’t the best person to promote your work  – be you?

For the independent artist, if you decide to be your own marketeer, I believe one of the first steps would be that you have to see your marketing plan from the outside looking in. What if you were asked by an artist to assist in marketing them?  What would be your first-steps?  What would be your plan of attack?

Another perspective could be, what if you looked at it as if you were paying someone to do the marketing work for you.  What would you want them to do – for you?  Then make a list… and you do it – Plain and simple – do it.

Or don’t.  Don’t do anything.  Maybe you are the artist that doesn’t want anyone to know about your work.  That’s cool too.  Your decision.

Or maybe you are one of those artists/business person that will let word-of-mouth do our promoting.  That is cool too.

But for those of us who would rather create their own business and work on their own freelance projects rather than working a part-time job at a fast-food joint, self-promoting to drum up freelance work is not a bad option.  It is just going to be more work.  So what.

So unless you have a paid staff to hand out all your business cards, postcards, create you press releases, speak to the media (bloggers, radio stations and pod casters included) – YOU have to do it. YOU are your own PR, advertising, branding and marketing department.  Plain and simple – you’re the boss.

Once you come to that understanding – it is up to you to determine how you go about it.

Don’t get me wrong – the art should and always speak for itself.  Many customers know good art and design work when they see it.  And if you have good work, then the self-promoting task becomes easier.  Also, your goal as an artist/business person should possibly be to get as many eyeballs checking out your work – as often as you can.  And when I say as often as you can – I am talking about things like: exhibits, websites, social media, business cards, postcards, free stuff, speaking engagements, interviews, demos, and even charity events.  Not all of those are for everybody, but pick something and give it a shot.  Figure out what promotion avenues that eventually work you.  Take calculated risks.  Say a prayer or cross your fingers (what ever you believe in).  And above all – Plain and simple – work your tail off.

But here is the kicker – if you do an extremely good job of self-promoting and your sales and interests in your goods and services do not increase – maybe it is not a self-promotion problem – it may be a product (your art) problem.  And what that may mean is maybe cut back on the self-promoting (but do not stop).   Cutback a bit on the self-promotion time and get back in the studio. Get back to making something better. Work on your craft. Work on something new.  Work with someone else (I do for my comic book work).  Study, research, observe and then jump back but get to the essence of our work.  Your work and quality of your work, is what I believe increases the chances of your sales and makes your “marketing” easier.

Both self-promoting and studio time work hand-in-hand.  But without a doubt, you should definitely put more time in the studio.

More work in the studio working on your art, your craft, your love, with all the late hours, sweating, screaming, the throwing away sketches, redoing something over and over until its right – that is what its all about.

The self-promoting is something that is an extension of your hard work.  Self-promoting can say, I have put in the hours, I know its good, now let me work a project for you.   I have seen it happen.

Personally, in the past year or so, people haven noticed my work – why?  I only have a handful of theories.  But what I do know, is that the work they like, is the work I put many hours working on (perhaps because I am a slow learner 🙂 ), either way, its work I created after putting hours at the computer, drawing table or the easel.  And from hours of research, reading, studying and most of all – listening.   I took time figuring out things that I could possibly make my work better.  I have started to become a smarter and  harder working artist/business person.  But one part of the process that I know for sure that always works for me is the “get back into the studio and work” part.  For me, I mentally tell myself , plain and simple – “Shut-up and get back into the studio and get to work”.

You can’t self-promote – if people can’t see your best work – plain and simple.

Thanks for reading.

And as always…
Keep drawing – keep painting – keep grinding,



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