How to make it in the art world | Women's Agenda

How to make it in the art world

Miranda Lloyd knew from a young age that she would follow a creative path. As a child I was constantly drawing, painting and doing craft; it has always been a part of my life and my passion,” she says. ’ However, she didn’t initially see being an artist as a career choice. I looked into careers that involved art, which is why I studied at University to become a graphic designer as you still use the skills, ideas, formulas and concepts that you learn in visual art. It was only later in life when she bought her first home that she saw an opportunity. It all started when I wanted to cover my walls with artworks so I did my own. As friends and family became interested in my art, I realised there was also a career in it.’ 

In a relatively short space of time Miranda has become a successful artist in her own right whilst her graphic design business continues to go from strength to strength. ‘These days most of my artworks are commissioned due to demand. I also get larger orders to fill board rooms and the latest was a commissioned piece by Surf Life Saving SA, which is being used for their materials including merchandise, clothing and reproduced prints.’ Her business has recently won a finalist award at Brand South Australia’s Regional Business Awards 2014 for Outstanding Achievements and Significant Contributions Demonstrating Excellence in South Australia.

The best piece of advice Miranda ever received was in an article she was reading about business icon Richard Branson. He mentioned that you can have the best product or service in the world but you need to make people believe in it for it to become successful. This helped Miranda see that she was the product as much as her art. Since this eureka moment and coming from a marketing background, Miranda has become an expert in self-promotion. These are her top tips for making it in art.  

1. Research and study like you would for any other business.

Treat your art like a business if you wish to make a career of it. A few business courses will help and do lots of research. I started by researching into opportunities about how to get my name and art out there as I was new to the scene and had no contacts in the art world. Keep up to date with the industry and its movements but stay true to your style and who you are. Today many people buy art as an extension of their modern homes so research the latest home trends and think how your art will look in these homes. I love design and lifestyle magazines that feature beautiful homes and get inspiration from them too regarding colours and moods. I do have my own style that stands out but it still relates to the current trends of home interiors. 

2. Keep at it and keep humble.

Like anything in life, there is a fear of failing and the risk of it not working out. Stay confident, self promote, work hard and it does pay off. Keep humble and remember where you started. I still have doubts and have my moments of wanting to change paths but everyone has these feelings in whatever industry. Everyone will experience bumps in life but when you break through it’s all worth it. Have another career or job for extra income to help start out your art business as this will take the pressure and stress off needing to sell lots of art to pay your bills.

3. You are the brand.

My art and name are my brand. People are buying a piece of YOU as an artist. Never forget this when promoting your work. The art doesn’t always speak for itself. The story and personality of the artist can be just as important as the art.

4. Embrace the digital revolution.

Times are certainly changing and I have seen a big shift in the art industry over the past 5 or so years. Moving from traditional art galleries to online art galleries has been a big movement. Social media opens you up to a national and international platform and connects you with potential art buyers and other artists. People now live on their phones, iPads and computers and this is where a lot of my sales now come from. Initially Facebook was my starting point and generated a lot of sales and interest, though they have changed their rules this year making it a bit harder to self-promote. I also use LinkedIn (most of my graphic design clients come from here), Instagram and Twitter. Being with Bluethumb, an online art gallery, has opened a whole new level of exposure to art buyers nationally.

5. Think outside the square.

Many small opportunities turn into something bigger. When I exhibited at the National Wine Centre I then got picked up by a Barossa Winery, God’s Hill Wines, and they produced an art wine series that featured my painting Wine & Vine, which distributed nationally and internationally. Every sale can lead to opportunities you don’t plan for so targeting buyers that may use your art commercially can generate extra income. Another example is I’ve just become a sponsor of an upcoming TV show, Life Changing Adventures (hosted by singer and media personality Ricki-Lee). This came about around Christmas when I was running a competition to win one of my paintings. The woman who won has been following my art on Facebook and just so happens to be a person on this show. She then approached me about donating a painting so I donated two to the value of the sponsorship and they were auctioned off. My business logo will be on the contestants t-shirts, in the credits and on their social media and website. 

6. No exposure is too small.

I display through many local art galleries, council art spaces, libraries, cafes, wineries and other group exhibitions. Basically anywhere there is good foot traffic and attracts a good target market I display. With all the exhibitions I’m involved in, I market through local newspapers (I write my own press releases and editorials and submit), social media, my website, other art websites and even mailbox drop invites around the areas. Networking (online and the old-fashioned way) is another great way to open new opportunities. I also donate a lot of art to charities that raise funds for good causes. I am always looking and working towards the next exciting adventure.

7. Don’t price yourself out of the market

Today people are a bit tighter with their money so making your art more affordable helps if you’re looking at higher turnover. Probably the worst piece of advice I was given was to raise my prices by heaps because I’m now an established artist. It is not the right economic climate to do so yet as Australia is still hurting financially. In the 1980s it may have been different when there was a lot of disposable income. Plus there is a lot of competition now too.

8. Enjoy the moment and embrace what life throws at you.

Work hard; stick at it and it all pays off. But at the same time enjoy the moment and embrace the opportunities that come your way. I find art opens many doors and it’s not just selling a painting. A painting can turn into a wine label, a front cover for a magazine, album covers, books, merchandise and reproduced prints. Being an artist is an amazing gift as you are creating something positive for others to enjoy, especially in today’s world where we hear a lot of sad and scary news.

 Miranda’s art is available to buy online here.

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