Branding for Artists
...The ABCs of an artist’s visibility
What is a brand or better still what is branding?
Nike, Adidas, and Skechers are best known to be the most popular athletic footwear brands. In the same vein, designers like Pnina Tornai and Vera Wang are famous for their iconic wedding dresses. Let’s bring it home and consider the construction industry. When builders source for cement for construction projections in Nigeria, Dangote Cement is in their foreminds. These classic examples are tell-tales about the power of branding.
Marty Neumeier – a famous American author and speaker of brand, design, innovation, and creativity – defines a brand as a customer’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company. Sales will be driven by people who fall in love with your work and make emotional impulsive purchases.
Branding for Artists
Every person under the sun is uniquely identifiable by either or a combination of the following things; a name, an obvious physical feature, a trait, body smell, the way such a person walks, amongst others. The right branding gives Artists a unique identity.
As it relates to art, to be a well branded artist, you must have the ability to sway the collecting community when staring at your pieces to say; “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a piece of art from this artist and I must act now before someone else closes on this.”
As an artist, your personal brand determines your career trajectory and industry reputation. Artists who market their works like commodity goods are often a turnoff to industry stakeholders. The positioning and perception of you as an artist better influences collectors or gallerists to buy into your art when compared to mere purchase urges. The synopsis of your art, your personal connection with your art style and form, how freely you let your vulnerabilities show in your works of art, are part and parcel of things potential collectors want to see and draw from you as an artist.
Traditional motifs are fundamental part of most of our culture, Egypt is enshrined in Hieroglyphics, just as Nsibidi is with the Efik, now Modernity and globalisation is constantly redirecting the narrative, new codes in telecommunication has ushered in something fresh and easily decodable , icons , emojis and so on.
How-to Branding Guide for Artists
This guide is valuable to any artist at whatever stage they are in their journey. What is commonly experienced overtime is that most artists eventually delegate or outsource this branding responsibility as soon as they get representation from a gallerist or advisory firm.
1. Always have an artist statement
Think of this as your mission statement. Behind that beautiful and mind boggling artwork, indulge your audience in their quest to know you better. Beyond public perception, defining what you hope to accomplish in your art career will give you a clearer picture of what you want, how you could go about it, and it will also prevent you from being easily swayed by every pop trend in the industry as you evolve as an artist.
2. Offer a Unique Value Proposition
You certainly have a lot of value to offer, that is why you are an artist. As an artist, your value is placed on how unique your value offered is. A quick example; the commonest painted scene in Lagos is the old Oshodi market. For a long time, it seemed as though this was a fundamental scene for any artist who lives in or lived/passed through Lagos state in Nigeria. Every artist’s interpretation of that scene, as common as it already is, is always an interesting sight. At first I personally felt clustered by this scene until I started to notice how the different artist’s rendition evoked new emotions in me.
A great way to standout from the crowd is to identify a problem and create meaningful art around it. It could be political, social, emotional, or even personal. When commissioned to produce art, stick to your uniqueness but consider adapting your paintings to suit the location they will be displayed in such as; in hospitals, public parks, and offices. It is important to ensure that every art piece’s value is perceived in the art itself. With that in mind, strive to always create state-of-the-art paintings, sculptors, and edifices among other mediums that people will do anything to include in their collection. Evoke emotions of joy, happiness, surprise. Polarising artists evoke sadness, fear, anger. Sometimes, your piece of art may evoke a combination of positive and negative emotions. The fact is, there is always someone out there that will connect with your art, you just have to stand unique to reach them.
3. Carve out a niche for yourself
Yinka Shonibare is known for his signature element which involves the use of Dutch wax printed fabric infused in his installations, paintings or sculptures. Oladimeji Alabi is known for telling stories that refute women from being objectified while celebrating the essences and beauty of the female gender. Nengi Omuku is also known for her therapeutic art which focuses on the state of the mind and uplifts the spirit of people that are not feeling well, whether mentally or physically.
Emmanuel Dudu is popularly known and loved by the industry for his playfulness and fondness in his approach to depicting love, family, landscape, and life in general in his art. What niche are you creating for yourself? Do you want to be known as a portraitist, muralist or art photographer? What kind of stories do you want to tell with your art? What emotions do you want your artworks to unearth in the audience when they behold your works?
If you are an artist reading this digest, I hope these pointers contained herein have been useful to you. Beyond the creative, seeing yourself as a business will greatly impact your brand. The business aspect of your artistry is what convinces collectors to part money for your art. See yourself as a brand specialist and let this guide how you position your brand subconsciously in the minds of your prospective customers – new and returning customers.
Until next digest,
Keep increasing your artist brand visibility.