Becoming a household name as an artist is perhaps one of the toughest career challenges out there, aside from being an astronaut or a top tier footballer.
It takes a lot of talent, work, discipline, and patience to get to the big leagues, but adopting a well thought out approach can give you an advantage and may even help bring in cash for your creations. If that sounds appealing, we’ve got some advice from Gen Z artist Alaia De Santis on how to make those dreams come true.
She’s a 22-year-old fine arts graduate who has been featured in numerous exhibitions and gallery shows across London and New York for her films, paintings, and collages. Alaia knows her stuff, and we were lucky enough to chat to her recently and hear how she got started.
With a little of her help you’ll be running your own exhibitions in no time. Just don’t forget about us when you’re making the headlines as a big shot artist, eh?
Use social media to your advantage
First up and hardly a surprise, social media is absolutely crucial to finding a receptive audience for art. While traditional outlets like Facebook and Twitter are both good options, the most important ones to be flaunting pieces on these days are TikTok and Instagram.
Alaia says that using apps and websites to market herself plays ‘the biggest role in advancing my career’. Showing off work, creative processes, and even your day-to-day personality helps potential buyers and audiences connect with you, which is important during the early stages. Throwing in a shout-out to any purchasable art is great too.
Alaia explains that ‘people love to see how you progress and be updated on what you do’. So get sharing! It’s the name of the game. For some ideas on how to start, check out Alaia’s Instagram profile here.
Understand how to make your work easy to sell
Online marketplaces can be brutal. Everyone has access to everything, which means you’ll have to be making extremely slick items that are super easy to purchase in order to attract customers.
Sites like Etsy, ArtPal, and RedBubble are good online stores to sell work on, but it’s also just as viable to create a website from scratch using services like Wix or Squarespace. Remember to promote your website or digital storefront everywhere you can and get the word out.
Alaia warns that it can be tough to stand out, as the ‘art market is a super competitive place’, but by the same token notes that there are ‘so many ways of producing prints and making them attractive to buyers’. Consider making limited edition prints, timed exclusives, or seasonal pieces to help give a sense of urgency and exclusivity. Status is important!
Make connections and get networking
Okay, so this one’s a bit of a tough one right now, considering we’re stuck in lockdowns and social restrictions, but networking remains essential – even online.
Join LinkedIn and find likeminded artists, reach out to other profiles on Instagram, and get involved. Setting up exhibitions independently with friends and peers is a great option too, though you’ll obviously have to wait a while until that’s possible again.
Alaia mentions that this is how she got things off the ground when she was first taking off. ‘When you’re a young artist you start by creating your own exhibitions with friends. Sometimes you may have someone that knows someone and they’ll eventually want to show off your work in an exhibition’.
She also mentions that going out and meeting people is ‘part of the job’. It’s so imperative to make those vital connections in the industry. Plus you get to make a ton of new friends, which is a win-win, right? The more the merrier.
Create things you genuinely love and are passionate about
Although it can seem obvious, creating art you actually love is key to finding a fan base. Passion for a craft shines through when it’s genuine, and Alaia’s own pieces are evidence of how this can work to your advantage.
Alaia works with a variety of mediums, including oil paint, clay, collage, and film. Her pieces are often collage-based and look like seventies magazine spreads come to life in an abstract barrage of architecture and fashion. It’s unique and undeniably engaging, which has no doubt helped to attract eyes on social media sites – striking and bold canvases make for a great first impression.
She says that collages always ‘form their own stories, mixing different characters and settings to bring out a whole new narrative’. Her passion for what she makes is instantly recognisable, which makes her work all the more compelling. She examines her relationships with ex boyfriends and past friendships and describes her work as ‘therapeutic’.
So, make pieces you would buy or hang on your wall! Be true to yourself and explore your own imagination thoroughly. Don’t create paintings or pieces just because you feel you have to – keep it fresh and mix things up. If you’re proud of the work it’ll be reflected in the feedback you receive, and will no doubt help find success.
Those are our biggest tips on finding your feet in the art industry, with some sizeable help from Alaia. Any you think we missed out? Let us on our Instagram page, and you can check out Alaia’s full body of work at her official website here.