Our guest blogger Jill Finsen has realized her dream of being a full-time artist. Painting is her passion! But she also has to pay attention to the business side of her art. Please join us in welcoming Jill and learning how she is using digital tools to manage the business side of her dream. Visit the Tools resource page on this site and be introduced to digital tools that can help you manage your dream business, too.
After a fulfilling career for many years at a non-profit organization, I switched gears five years ago to become a full-time painter. And with my new full-time passion came the opportunities to exhibit and sell my work.
How did I approach this? I started to look at galleries and venues where I liked the approach and thought I might get some exposure. I reached some success with galleries and spaces in which I could exhibit for a specific period of time. It is still a work in progress. Getting the word out directly about my work meant that I needed to educate myself and learn from others how to use the tools of the trade in an increasingly digital world. When I began to exhibit my paintings, I sent postcards to my clients and interested-party base. Converting to a digital approach has yielded many advantages albeit with some disadvantages.
My website www.jillfinsen.com is hosted by Sitewelder for an annual fee which includes tech support when needed. I can choose the design look, update and maintain my site without knowing HTML or programs such as Photoshop. I photograph my work, often with my iPhone camera.
My go-to email-marketing program Mailchimp is fairly easy to use and free for what the company calls “entrepeneurs” – up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails annually. Careful to build my list by adding individuals who choose to sign up, I will not sell or lend my list under any circumstances. I also use Mailchimp to publicize the work of my two favorite art leagues: Washington DC’s Capitol Hill Artists’ League and Maine’s Deer Isle Artists’ Association. Let me know by contacting me below if you would like to be added for notifications for the art leagues or my paintings.
Using social media enables me to reach an audience outside of my base. I use two free Facebook accounts: Jill Finsen Paintings and Jill Finsen to generate exposure to “friends” – some of whom I have not met! Facebook has its drawbacks but it has generated interest and even sales for me.
And finally, I keep track of paintings, exhibits and sales through Arawak-Flick, a management program for artists and galleries. I would be at a loss without this indispensable reasonably priced digital tool.
The downside is not everyone who I might want to reach is digitally connected. Even those who are lament that I no longer send postcards-a physical visual reminder. I sell cards of some of my paintings. Some think this is belittling the work and observe that potential clients will only buy the modestly priced cards. That may be true, but it is another PR tool to whet a potential client’s appetite and get into circulation beyond a base I might reach. It is an ongoing balancing for sure.
And now back to the studio to finish reading one of my favorite artist biographies: David Parks: A Painter’s Life or head to a museum to see an exhibit like Richard Diebenkorn’s Berkeley Years as I did to close out my museum viewing last year. Using modern tools and having representation at four wonderful galleries to enhance interest in my work allows me to do what I truly love to do most of the time.
Our guest blogger Jill Finsen studied at the Corcoran College of Art and Design and Maine Photographic Workshops, among other institutions. Her work has been widely exhibited on Cape Cod, in Maine, and at a number of Washington DC-area venues. She divides her time between Cape Cod, Maine, and Washington, DC. When not painting, she rows early mornings on the Potomac River or around Cotuit Bay. Visit Jill’s web site, or Facebook page. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image: Self portrait by Jill Finsen