Do you have a bunch of paintings you have done just leaning up against your wall in your studio or spare room? Are you walls completely covered entirely in your own art? Have you run out of space to have all your new pieces?? If so, then you have a problem! Either you are too wicked awesome and crazy productive for your own good. Or you just aren't putting your art out in the public eye. Even if you only have a dozen or so pieces kicking around your house that are not doing anything, it's time to get them out in the public eye... "but how do I do that?" you ask...here's how.
One of the easiest places to start to hang your art is in public places that you have personal connections with. It could be that friends own the joint, or perhaps friends work there. You want to be somewhat strategic with where you decide to hang it though. If your art is on the wall of an insurance brokers office, or on the walls of a cleaning supply store it probably won't get you the exposure that you are looking for! You want to think of places that get lots of customers through the doors everyday and also lots of returning customers. So places like coffee shops and restaraunts are a fantabulous place to start. Unless your art is so damn rad that it makes people want to buy it the first time they see it, in which case you should be in a gallery or just killing it online, you want to have it in front of the same peoples eyes over and over again so they begin to build a bit of a relationship with it. Then eventually they just have to have it because everytime they go in the place they find themselves staring at it. Another good thing to do is to frequent the place yourself... a lot. If it is a coffee shop, then make a habit of going there often and bring a book or your computer. That way if people come in and comment on the art to the staff, they can say "oh, that's the artist over there!" and you begin to build personal relationships... and that is a win!
Another really good way to get your art out there is at a local Farmers Market or at Art/Craft fairs. If you can make the time to show up on a regular basis at a place or event then people will get used to seeing you and your art and it keeps your art in their mind. The other great thing about these events is that you have a lot of one on one time with people to share your story and talk about your art. One thing I have learned is that it is way easier to sell your art to someone who has a chance to meet you and hear a little bit about you and your art. This leads back to a point from a few blogs ago... DON"T BE AN ASSHOLE!! If you are kind of socially inept and don't like people, then this approach definitely will do you more harm than good. So either clean up your act and learn some social skills, the world definitely needs less assholes!. Or avoid talking to clients all together because you will probably do more harm than good. As I said before, most people don't like to buy art from total dicks even if the art is really good.
When I first started out on my artistic journey I began by hanging my art at Sushi Village Restaraunt in Whistler, which was where I worked for 5 years, and selling my art in the Farmer's Market. I also was a regular at a number of other local group art events and craft fairs like Bizarre Bazzaar (worth checking out if you are in Whistler in November). This really gave me the chance to sell people on my art as well as myself and this really started the buzz about my art. One thing to keep in mind is that unless you are a speed painter it would be really hard for you to paint enough new pieces to keep your booth stocked up for the season so having things like prints and art cards is a great way to solve that problem. I will talk about prints etc. next time around.
Participating in shows is of huge importance. Whether it is a locally produced show, and underground arts show, private show, gallery show or massive internationally aclaimed art show. All of these will help to get you into the arts community and until you are a part of a community you will just be an individual struggling for attention in the art world. If you just allow things to unfold at random it will take you longer to succeed. By joining groups like your local Arts Council, the Federation of Canadian Artists, Artists for Conservation and many many more (online search will pop up tonnes of options for you) you will be informed of any shows coming up and any opportunities to hang your work. It's a good practice to show up to these openings on the regular even if you aren't hanging, because you will have a chance to talk with other successful artists and open up dialogues about how be more successful with people in the know. One important thing to remember though is to make sure you choose shows or opportunities to hang your work in appropriate events. If you paint flowers and still lifes then hanging your art in a Low Brow show would do you more harm than good. And vice versa if your art is more cutting edge or graphical, then hanging it in a flowery landscapes show would be pointless. After a while of going to a number of events and paying attention to the audiences when you are there you will begin to learn which ones would be more appropriate for you.
The final place to hang your work that is very effective for carving out a name for yourself in the art world is in a gallery. If you are just starting out or are early in your career then using the network that galleries have created with art buyers is a great way to get your foot in the door. It can be quite hard to get your art hung in galleries though and there is a bit of a protocol to do so. You don't just want to walk up to a gallery and cold call them with an armload of your paintings and put them on the spot. Before you dive into that world you want to make sure you have a number of other things in place before you even try. Having a website is a VERY important thing to have in place!!! I can't stress that enough. If a gallery is ging to carry your work they will want to be able to send clients to your website so they can learn a bit more about you and have a look at your body of work. Having your social media networks on lockdown is another good thing to have. If there is a gallery or an arts group that you like and wish to get involved with, check and see if they have newsletters or a Facebook page. If they do, sign up or 'LIKE' it so that you can be informed of what's going on with them. The more you know, the more you grow!! If they do have a Facebook page be sure to comment on lots of posts that you see that talk about things that you like. If people begin to see your name and profile pic come up a lot in the feed, and you have good comments that it will spark their interest in who you are and this can lead to more likes on your page and more people knowing about your art. Being a part of a community is the best way to expand your reach as well as get the help and advice from people within your community.
Once you begin to get your art out of your studio and onto the walls of shops, galleries and markets you will begin to notice a rapid growth in your success. You need to remember that in order to be successful as an artist you have to be a successful business person as well. You could be the greatest painter in the world and have a million paintings kicking around your house, but until you learn how to get your art out there and become involved in the Arts community you might as well not quit your day job and keep being a "waiter who paints"!