How to define an audience for your art

Finding your audience comes down to knowing how to organize your work, parallel interests, and subject matter into a cohesive theme.

Most of the artists I talk to inside the Art Launch Blueprint workshop hit their first bit of friction when they dive into the defining your audience lesson. Making just two easily correctable mistakes.

The first mistake…

Using only the medium you work in to define your art business

You’re human and there are other interesting things about you that probably inform your work. It’s okay to let these things bleed into your art business. Using your parallel interests as part of the defining factors of your art business is essential to creating a theme you’re happy with.

Which brings me to the second mistake…

Refusing to evolve your theme

Yes, as an artist you’ll probably experiment with new subject matters and mediums as you grow. But you don’t need to set up a new website along the way to put, say, your photography work , a separate website for your paintings, and a separate website for your sculptures.

Instead, to avoid spreading yourself too thin with multiple art websites – spend more time honing your theme to creatively merge ALL of your interests, mediums, and subject matters you work into one. This will keep everything fresh in the eyes of your audience and give you ways to continually grow your audience as well.

So stay open to evolving and unapologetically incorporating other interests into your theme along the way.

Use slashes to define your theme

Are you into yoga/meditation/painting. Or tattooing/motorcycles/deserts. Or cityscapes/watercolor/travel.

Slashes make it easier to construct your a theme for your art business.

Once you are clear on your theme using slashes, you can confidently seek out where your audience hangs out online, gauge the type of products you should be offering, and have a clear understanding of where you can generate publicity about you and your art online.

It’s not about being different, it’s about creating a theme your happy with, while making sure there’s a viable market for you to pursue as well.

TIP: As you’re solidifying a theme, it helps to see if there are other artists who have a similar theme. It’s a good sign if there are other artists successfully working in your theme. They’ve proven a market for you and carved a path you can use to inform your marketing research.

Your goal with figuring out your theme is so people have an immediate understanding of your art and how it applies to them.

Other people are the most important part of the equation in your art business.

Your theme should help you immediately understand which blogs, influencers, and other online publications to reach out to.

Helping you garner more publicity and traffic to your art website in the long run.

From experimenting and flourishing in different mediums (drawing, digital photography, oil painting, sculpture, etc…). To exploring different topics and genres with just one or many different mediums.

Traditional advice tells us to pick one, do it really well, and never sway your focus. In other words, putting yourself into a box. Otherwise your audience will get confused and the world will end.

Our creative curiosity should be encouraged, not boxed up.

Back in the day, it was an sign of intelligence if you did many things – being defined as a renaissance person.

But now we’re stuck in a world where you have to go to college and pick what you want to do for the rest of your life. Once you choose a major, the rest of your life is set…

B-O-R-I-N-G.

Not only is it okay to pursue other interests. It’s okay to merge these random interests into your art practice.

It’ll help you establish a stronger foundation when it comes to growing a more engaged audience and selling your art online.

Remember, the goal of building an audience isn’t to appeal to the general public. It’s to appeal to a small and focused audience who have the same interests, experiences, and perspectives as you.

An easy way to represent the different things we do is with slashes.

Such as:

Finding your overarching theme

I hear from a lot of artists who ask:

“I make work in style A and style B. Should I have two sites?”

My answer is always no.

Instead, I send them a link to this TED Talk about finding your overarching theme.

This is something I’ve struggled with a lot over the past few years.

My career started off working as an illustrator in a variety of contexts in the film world. Storyboarding, concept art, animation, editing, graphic design, etc.

For the longest time I thought you had to pick one.

But you don’t have to.

You just need an overarching theme to tie everything together.

This can be straight forward for a lot of people’s work or it can be something that lives in the overall atmosphere of your work. It really depends on your work and who you are.

For some it can be as easy as merging an interest in animals with your skillset of drawing and just draw animals.

For others, your overarching theme is something you can communicate in the style and vibe of your work. Such as making moody drawings of quirky characters and also writing novels that are moody and about quirky characters.

And yes, it’s okay if your overarching theme changes over time too.

What’s your overarching theme?