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How To Tell Your Story...

In continuing the conversation about marketing online, it is important to learn how to tell your story…recently we discussed improving profile page…here are some tips on how to tell your story to keep viewers and buyers intrigued and to keep them coming back again and again

The post below is by Luann Udell, regular contributing author for FineArtViews…FAV allows subscribers to share information with others….

Artists are creative people. That’s pretty redundant, right? After all, the whole point of being an artist is—we create. Whether we work in oils, pastels or watercolor, fiber, clay or bronze, we take ordinary materials and transform them into something wonderful.

In order for our art to be ‘out in the world’, there are three critical things we have to do.

  • The first is to do good work. Artists are very good at figuring out how to do that. We educate and train ourselves, formally or informally. We practice what we’ve learned. We seek out good criticism and feedback. We challenge ourselves, we push ourselves, we grow.
  • The second is to create great images of that work. We need those images to enter shows, enrich press releases, to create enticing ads and to market to our customers. We do what it takes to photograph our art in its best light, or we hire skilled people to do that for us.
  • The last is to tell the story about the work, and us, in ways that engage an audience. We tell that story in our artist bio, in our artist statement, in press releases, when we’re interviewed for articles, and when we make brochures, books or websites about our art and create our profile pages…(read Redbubble here).

Sometimes artists aren’t so good at that part….they let themselves off the hook too easily.

  • We take shortcuts. We don’t challenge ourselves. We do it the same old way because ‘that’s how it’s done.’ Or ‘that’s what everybody else does.’ Or tell ourselves, “I’m not a writer. It’s too hard.”

Why do we often struggle to find the right words? Why do we insist on sticking to rote lists of our education, our awards and achievements, and long involved discourses on our techniques?

Why is it so hard to tell the story behind our work?

And why is it so easy for us to overlook this crucial aspect of marketing our art?

I believe it’s because traditionally, we saw art treated and discussed in formal ways.

In art history, we learn about art through the ages. We hear about schools of style and technique.

In art school, we study line and form, light and shadow. Our work is constantly critiqued, sometimes harshly, for originality, for intention, for skill and technique.
When we read reviews of current artists and shows, the language gets so dense and convoluted, I can’t even visualize what the work looks like unless a photo accompanies the article.
I consider myself a reasonably well-educated person with a wide range of skills and interests. But I rarely get through an art review in a newspaper or magazine without doubting my sanity and intelligence. (I usually hand it to my husband and sputter, “I have no understanding of what I just read. What does it say???” He simply refuses to read them at all
.)

When we look at other artists and how they do it, we usually only see formal and restricted ways of talking about the work: Fact-driven lists of shows, exhibits, honors, awards, who they studied with, who they emulate style-wise. Long descriptions of technical aspects of the work and technique.

Many of us have been taught there is only one ‘right way’ to write and talk about our art. I’ve attended exhibitions where it looked like every single artist used the same basic artist statement:
“I have been an artist for ____ years. I use ____ media because I love color. I studied under Mr./Ms. Famous Artist for ____ years. I have won ___ awards in ____ shows. I live in (pick a state/pick a country
).

Someone told me this years ago "You cannot fill in the blanks with passion"

None of it tells me who you are, as a person. None of it tells me why you feel compelled to use these materials, this technique, at this time in your life. Nothing tells me what drives you, what you yearn for, what you want and why this vision is the one you need to express.

None of it tells me what is in your heart.

And none of it compels me to connect with it. To look at it in wonder. To yearn to own it for myself.

If, at the end, you still believe you can’t do the writing yourself, find someone who can do that for you. But remember you need to be able to tell them that powerful story, so that they can do it for you…L.U.

Can you tell your story? Do share your thoughts about this post…let me know if you found the info helpful..Janis

Comments

  • Cindy Schnackel
    Cindy Schnackelabout 2 years ago

    Great topic. This discussion has been going on in a couple of threads on Linked In, too. Besides connecting with viewers and buyers, and possibly being beneficial self discovery for the artist him/herself, I just read tonight that it can help with Search Engine Optmization (SEO), too.

    Maybe we can all think of ‘fill in the blank’ type questions that would bring artists closer to discovering the words that really get at the heart of what their work is about.

    I wrote pages and pages of practice wording, before I could pick out the right few sentences or thoughts, and refine them. And in a year or ten years it will probably have continued to evolve. It gets easier.

  • I know…I found it best to write a lot, then hone it down to a few lines…for a profile page you don’t need much, but it has to be telling…then it has to change as we change and the works change…

    – ©Janis Zroback

  • And yes it will definitely help with SEO…

    – ©Janis Zroback

  • Guendalyn
    Guendalynabout 2 years ago

    WONDERFUL WORDS !!!!

  • Thank you so much ..glad you found it helpful…

    – ©Janis Zroback

  • Mark Wade
    Mark Wadeabout 2 years ago

    Heavens yes, we must be willing to intimate those vulnerabilities that drive us…so much more meaningful than technique or ability explanations. I must admit though…not every one of my pieces provide this to the viewer.

  • It can be difficult to describe how one arrives at something so personal as a piece of art..I am not one who thinks art should speak for itself…on the contrary the artist owes it to the viewers to tell his or her story ….thanks for your comment Mark…

    – ©Janis Zroback

  • Kevin Skinner
    Kevin Skinnerabout 2 years ago

    Strange that this says what it says. I have always been compelled to tell a wee story or two about my images. I have written a couple of books with my images to tell anyone who cares to view about the land, the passion and the atmosphere of Scotland.
    Even on my own website, I like to write a wee narrative about the images that I take and let folk know how I feel, how I took the image and even where I stood to press the button.
    It’s all about letting folk know about the moment. It’s only fair after all :-)
    Great article as usual!

  • See my comment to Mark…you are doing exactly what every artist should do..tell their story and tell it well..as you say “it’s only fair” for viewers to know what moves the artist, why he or she chose that subject matter and what inspired it…thank you so much for your comment Kevin..

    – ©Janis Zroback

  • roza50
    roza50about 2 years ago

    This may sound strange, but sometimes I am not sure why I have chosen the images I use until many years later. It’s hard for me to pinpoint the exact meaning of my art, let alone write about it. Your article is wonderful. It makes me realize how much thought and direction I need to put into my projects. Thank you for the advice, it is very helpful.

  • You’re very welcome Roza…I am sure if you probed your subconscious you would probably discover why you created certain things and that there is a pattern to your creations…

    – ©Janis Zroback

  • Jim Phillips
    Jim Phillipsabout 2 years ago

    Ouch! I know it was my toes sticking out there to be stepped all over with this article…mmmmm, I may need to go back to the drawing board.

  • It’s always worth going back…I tweak all the time…thanks so much for adding a comment Jim…

    – ©Janis Zroback

  • Cindy Schnackel
    Cindy Schnackelabout 2 years ago

    A bit late in the game to share this link here, but I just wrote a journal on the artists statement, after getting permission from the artist and writer to share it. Great Artists Statement Hopefully that’ll help clear up what they are supposed to be about. The statement was for a show but could easily be for a particular body of work, a series, a website page with that particular work on it, etc. The spirit of it is what got me…even though I know the artist and his work well, the statement really had an impact on me, so you can imagine how it enhanced viewers’ experience who did not know him that well.

  • Thanks so much Cindy…will check it out right now…

    – ©Janis Zroback

  • wolftinz
    wolftinzabout 2 years ago

    With an Engineers mind fed by an Artists heart, you post has set of many conflicts in my mind.
    Few reads Bios or descriptions, heck your lucky if the read the title, yet is that a reason not to share your thought and feelings about an image for those treasured few who do? I love photography because it’s a technical craft, expressed with an artists eye, or is it that magic moment some 50+ years ago when in a dim safelite lit room, an image first magically appeared from a blank piece of paper?
    All I know is I really need to look at rewriting my Bio.
    Thanks, Wolf

  • You’re very welcome…I think that many do as it is reflected in the comments on my artwork even though they have to click an extra button, so continue writing your stories…I am sure your fans love them..

    – ©Janis Zroback

  • Alga Washington
    Alga Washingtonabout 2 years ago

    Thank you Janis for all the wonderful information you share . . . self-promotion is something I need a lot of help with.

  • You’re very welcome Alga…

    – ©Janis Zroback