I thought it would be interesting to hear from some artists who are already established - to find out how they got their start, how they stay inspired, and ask them to share some advice to help us along.
I contacted Michelle Caplan, an artist with a background in graphic design, who creates beautiful work from found photographs and other ephemera. She was kind enough to answer a few questions via email:
How did you get your start in art?
I have been doing some kind of art ever since I can remember. I was very fortunate to have many creative people around me growing up and they definitely made an impression. I would draw, paint t-shirts, bedazzle, collage, write, make jewelry, and on and on. I always gravitated toward anything creative.
When did you decide that you were ready to put your work out to the world?
I was freelancing from home, doing Graphic Design, and started doing the art as a side thing. I never thought I could be a full time artist. I was getting more and more commission inquiries, and slowly but surely I started exploring ways to sell my work online. I tried ebay for a while and was selling pretty well. Then I discovered blogging and Etsy, and my participation in sharing my work has just grown from there. I never made a conscious decision that I would reveal myself to the world. I have just gradually become more and more involved.
What was your first step in marketing your artwork?
Clear photography!!! The biggest mistake I see artists and crafters make is that they put lo-resolution images on the web. I am always astounded when people do this. We are all very visual and if your images aren't clear and crisp, no one is going to invest any time in delving deeper. You have to put your best foot forward online because losing a potential clients attention is always a click away!
What has been the most successful (in terms of marketing)?
My blogs, by far, have been my best tool. I get to express myself, and share my inspirations.
What hasn’t worked so well (in terms of marketing)?
I have to say that so far nothing has been a dismal failure.
How do you price your work?
Before I started working with galleries, I priced my work based on a few things. I used to sell my work on ebay, and that was a great gauge but I also look at how are other artists pricing their work, and how established they were. Now I have to be more aware of pricing because of gallery representation. My prices have to be uniform across the board so that is a bit harder. As artists we know what we would be happy selling a piece for. I try to make sure that I am supporting myself while still remaining affordable.
Do you create art full time?
Yes. All day, everyday. And twice on Sundays.
What are your current art goals?
To keep pushing forward the best way I know how. Keep my head up and get into a few more galleries. I am also doing a bunch of fairs in the Fall. I need more face to face time with people. Because my work is a bit different, it takes people seeing it in person for the first time a minute or two, to get it. I love the look in their eyes when it clicks, and then the questions that follow are always insightful and great.
What is your advice to emerging artists?
We all encounter rejection along the way. You have to never give up. Never stop pushing forward and never stop believing.
Check out Michelle’s beautiful work here: