My daughter and son-in-law bought one of those new video games and I've become addicted. Not to the games - they're fun, but what I really like is building the avatars. Okay, perhaps I've taken too much pleasure in grasping the head of my husband's avatar, dragging him off, kicking and screaming to the avatar workroom, where I turn him into something resembling a large pumpkin with feet. But I get to decide what the avatar looks like, clothes, gender, size - tall or minuscule - and put him or her out into the virtual world. Then, if I want, I can catch my avatar and drag it off again. Great fun, and an effective stress reliever. But also an effective business concept.
Ask any business person what their demographic target is and they will tell you. Ask any novice artist and you might just get a blank stare or a vague description. But the more you know what your art avatar looks, sounds, and acts like, the more effective you will be in operating your art business.
This is my art avatar:
He or she is between the age of early 20's to early 60's, well educated, comfortable purchasing artwork between $500 and $5000, visits galleries, and has contemporary tastes. My avatar likes things that look unique, is willing to take chances and is not afraid of mixing styles. Usually my avatars are couples with enough knowledge of art trends to feel confident in their decisions, and often have home environments that balance natural elements with things of beauty. They like to know as much about the artist as the artwork, are totally engaged in their art purchases, and tell me they still love the artwork even years after the purchase.
My avatar is interested in all aspects of art, and will visit art fairs, but will probably reserve major purchases for paintings they find in a gallery or open studio environment. This means that I must create art for the gallery market. My marketing should reinforce this and be designed to appeal to those venues appealing to my avatars. While art fairs might be a tempting alternative, with my current body of work I can see that my efforts would be better spent approaching my avatars through the gallery/open studio pathway.
My avatar wants to know about me as an artist, so I will make a point of generating local publicity as well as applying to juried national shows, gaining entry into juried national artist associations, and looking for ways to build my list of credentials. While my avatars will not purchase art they don't like just because of the artist's pedigree, they want to know that the art they like was created by someone acknowledged by their artistic peers.
Having a good understanding of my avatars makes the decision-making easier, functioning as a way to check my efforts -- will this help me with my avatars, or am I dragging them off kicking and screaming thinking I need to change them? And if I am thinking about change, which is merely another word for growth, knowing how my new avatars function is simply part of the process. But if I don't really want to change, seeing how a new plan of action might or might not appeal to my avatars will keep me focused and ultimately more successful.
Most artists already have a vague understanding of their target demographic. What does your avatar look like? How does he or she behave? If your avatar seems too vague, pick him or her up by the head -- kicking and screaming -- and take a good look at all the attributes. You might gain a deeper appreciation of the type of customer you want to target. And that knowledge will make it easier to decide your plan of action as you progress in your art career.