Artists on the Front Line of Marketing

I frequently commission articles on exceptional artists who sell their original artwork through outdoor shows. I do that for two particular reasons: One is that those artists are, of necessity, well organized and able to deliver requested photographs and documentation without delay; and the other is because the artists are on the front line of marketing art directly to collectors and can offer helpful advice to readers. They spend their weekends talking to people who view their paintings inside a 10’-x-10’ tent; and they must learn what subjects, sizes, styles, and prices will convince someone to acquire one of their creations.

I don’t mean to suggest that these artists pander to the buying public. On the contrary, the only artists I am interested in presenting in the magazine are those who have found a way of satisfying their personal need to express what is important to them while, at the same time, making connections with others who appreciate their work.

For example, in the September 2009 issue of American Artist, Robin Frisella explained why creating still life paintings in pastel allows her to respond to beautiful and cherished vases, pitchers, bowls, and silver-service items that have been passed down in families from one generation to another; and why collectors respond to the subjects with the same emotional intensity the artist brings to her creative process. In the same issue, Scott Coulter offered a step-by-step demonstration of his acrylic-painting technique and told why he avoids identifying the exact location that inspired the pictures because that information might limit sales.

In this difficult economic climate, it is especially important for artists to help one another improve their skills; gain public attention; and successfully market their drawing, prints, and paintings. The articles in our magazines are part of that process of sharing and so too are the blogs and forums on our website that are also available through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other websites. As I’m sure you know, helping a fellow artist is a way of paying back your teachers and mentors, and it is a vital process of building support for the entire community of artists.


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M. Stephen Doherty

About M. Stephen Doherty

I've been interested in art since I was a child,  and I was fortunate to be able to take Saturday art classes at the Cincinnati Art Museum from the time I was 9 years old until I finished high school. I majored in art at Knox College and graduated summa *** laude, Phi Beta Kappa (proving artists can use both sides of their brain!).  I then earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in printmaking from Cornell University; taught art in public schools, a community college, an adult education program, and a college; worked in the marketing department of a company that manufactured screen printing supplies; and was hired to be editor of American Artist in January, 1979.

Thomas S. Buecher introduced me to plein air painting and it immediately became a passion of mine because it got me outdoors and allowed me to continue learning when I traveled to judge art shows, attend conventions, give lectures, and interview artists. Over the years I've exhibited my paintings at Bryant Galleries in New Orleans, Trees Place Gallery on Cape Cod, and in a traveling exhibition titled From Sea to Shining Sea.

I've written 10 books on artists and art techniques and contibuted articles to magazines, websites, and exhibition catalogs. Now as I prepare for semi-retirement, I'm trying to hone my painting skills -- especially those related to painting portraits.

I've been very fortunate to have met thousands of talented artists who have enriched my life with their art, their friendship, and their advice. I am grateful to Jerry Hobbs and Susan Meyer who hired me in 1979, to the talented people who worked with me on the magazines, and to the artists and advertisers who supported American Artist, Watercolor, Workshop, and Drawing  magazines and the related websites.

I've also been blessed with a supportive, talented wife, Sara; a daughter, Clare, who works for an insurance agency; a son, Michael, who is a computer enginner in Austin; a son-in-law, Shawn, who can fix and carry anything; a granddaughter, Amanda, who has me wrapped around her finger; and my mother, Dotty, who has advised and encouraged me from the beginning.

2 thoughts on “Artists on the Front Line of Marketing

  1. Steve, such good points made in this blog.

    While doing outdoor art shows requires time and physical strength to cart and hang paintings, I have found them a great way to learn to market my work by conversing with potential collectors.

    I really enjoyed meeting the people, face to face, who were drawn to the work I loved doing. It’s a huge boost to productivity when you get direct encouragement and feedback.

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