In this article, we will run through some tips, tricks, and things you need to be aware of to become a successful multiple-audience artist. This article is part of a series and I recommend you read the [LINK]previous article before continuing on this one as it holds some very important information. If you’re an artist that’s starting out, this information is even more important for you.
Are you catering to a business or a person?
There are so many kinds of jobs you can do. They all require different skills and knowledge. You are either catering to a business or a person. These are two groups I recommend you start dealing with at the same time at some point in your career. For example: When the corona crisis started, many businesses had no longer any money to hire artists for whatever they needed. Many other people were at home, had a lot of time on their hands, and instead started playing games a lot. Dungeons and Dragons are one example. This resulted in many people needing art of their characters.
It works that way with many other things too. and that’s the idea behind spreading your focus among several groups and businesses to ensure an income at all times. Who wants merch when money is low? There won’t be many people. But when you’re locked up in your own house, you may want to keep yourself sane with games like Dungeons and Dragons.
Also, the gaming industry did really well during the Corona crisis. Many new Indy game builders popped up, needing cheap assets like art packs. While at the same time many other businesses just seized to exist. Imagine that you specialized in restaurant businesses only, you’d have no food on the table somewhere halfway in the Corona crisis in most counties.
But, to get to my point: Think in boxes when you pick your target audience. Picking both personal commissions and a business-oriented specialization is a very good approach. Just make sure you know how you have to deal with both of them. They require you to act quite differently. Personal commissions come with a lot of passion, while business-orientated commissions come with a more professional approach. There is always a bit of overlap, especially in Indie-games and with writers. Just make sure you know what you’re dealing with and deal with it accordingly. Make sure you’re well-prepared. When you are, you will feel more confident, even when you need help at some point.
Finding your audience
A big mistake many artists are making is roaming in groups with other artists. They may be helpful, and you probably will get a lot of responses to your art, but they ain’t going to buy it from you, because they can do what you do already, be it in their own style. Your target audience is somewhere else, and it’s up to you to find it.
There are many places to go to find your target audience. Think of Facebook groups, Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram, and websites specialized in selling art, or matching up an artist with someone in need of art. The last thing happens a lot for book covers. You show your portfolio to a related agency and you go from there.
Another approach is to just apply to your company of choice. This could be a company like Blizzard, or Disney. Maybe it’s Marvel, or an Indie game you really love. Or you broaden your scope and actively start posting your art on Artstation. This is THE place where big companies find the majority of their artists. Join the challenges maybe you’re picked from the crowd. And just like that: Fiverr, Upwork, and Linkedin are great places to offer your services as well.
The key to finding your target audience is by trying to walk in their shoes. Imagine you’re someone in need of the very art you make. Where would you look first? It may sound logical to you to go to a group where artists are. But that’s not how consumers think. A platform really needs to be built that way, or a group really needs to be constructed in such a way that it can cater to both consumers and producers. Find these places, be interactive, have your portfolio ready, and you’re good!
Keeping your audiences separated
If you want to come across as a professional artist, it’s important to keep different target groups separated. Especially when you’re catering to both people and businesses. When you’re in a D&D group, for example, it’s really helpful if you’re just enthusiastic about the game as your audience is. It will make them relate to you and likely pick you over other artists that just drop their portfolios or react really professionally.
However, when you’re catering to businesses, it’s best to approach them in a professional way. This doesn’t mean you need to present yourself as a business. I don’t and it works just fine. I like to approach businesses in a professional way, but at the same time also in a slightly personal way. For example, I don’t use expensive words, and although I’m informative, I’m making sure that my company feels like a person because that’s what they will be working with. A person that works from a home office. Not a big beast with multiple artists, mashing through art. I’m not selling art that’s made by several artists. I provide a service that’s built from start to finish by me, and my clients will only be in contact with me. And problems, finished products, éverything goes through me, and I want my clients to know that.
In a world like that of today, many companies prefer to see the person behind the business. This need grows as the world grows smaller and more people spend time alone behind their screens. This doesn’t mean though that you won’t make it if you decide to go for the full-on professional approach. You will! But this approach is not for everybody. Probably not for most artists. So don’t fear applying to companies! Many out there, if not the majority, will prefer a professional, but slightly personal approach.
The online shop
There’s even another kind of business you could cater to: Online shops. This can be anything really. It can be selling your art through Deviantart or Artstation. You could be selling gaming assets like art packs, gaming UI, 3D assets etc. Most of the time they’re non-exclusive and can be sold more than once. Another characteristic is that, in most cases, you don’t have to deal with people. You don’t need to apply or create interesting gigs. Instead, you make what you like, based on rules that usually are properly laid out for you already on the corresponding websites. If you did your job well, your work will be approved and you’re good to go.
There are plenty of companies that work like this. Technically you are a freelancer. You decide to do whatever you feel like doing. Hopefully, with the knowledge, you need to have. Like basic requirements to be approved, and having your art fundamentals down for example. If you’re still a bit shy, are unsure of your skills, don’t know where to go, or are already swamped with work that requires a lot of interaction, this option may be your solution (or your breather).
- Displate (Selling metal prints)
- Redbubble (Selling merch)
- GameDevMarket (Selling game assets for mostly Indy gamers)
- Society6 (Selling merch)
- Etsy (Start your own business)
- Game creator store (Selling game assets for mostly Indy gamers)
- Artstation (Selling prints, tutorials, and game assets)
- Deviantart (Selling prints and more)
- Skillshare (Tutorials)
NDA’s. something that doesn’t really seem to fit in this specific article. It is however something that you will come across sooner or later (probably sooner than later). Because many mistakes are made with NDA’s and because they seem to be very scary, I decided to drop it in here too.
Any artist is required to have a portfolio. There’s no question about that. You can have as many diplomas as you like, but that won’t land you a job, it’s just the icing on the cake. The cake is your portfolio. But many larger companies, but also many writers for example have something that’s called ‘NDA’ or Non Disclosure agreement. You will have to sign this, stating that you won’t share any of the art you make for that company for a specific time, or maybe even forever.
A very important thing to take note of though is the following: Although an NDA is a completely normal thing to sign, and something you really should do if it’s required to be employed by that company: Make sure it doesn’t imply that ANY art you make while working for them (or even during your whole lifetime) is under the NDA license.
More often than not it’s just a sloppy way of making a contract. But no matter if it is or not: Make sure you don’t sign a contract like that or have it re-written. You won’t be able to build a portfolio while working for a company under such a contract. Or worse: You might not be able to ever make money again from your art. Make sure the NDA is specified solely for the art that’s made for that specific company and project, or don’t sign it. And live by the rules of that company.
More about target audiences
Want to learn more about target audiences? Check out the links below!
There are many approaches to becoming a successful artist. Diving into several markets without spreading yourself thin is a very good business practice and will allow you to be a productive artist for a long period of time. Next up, how to make effective planning to make all you learned in this article and the [LINK]previous one work out!