I spend most of my professional life working with lawyers, CPAs and the like. You might imagine that there are some differences between a typical convention of service professionals and the visit I made to the annual conference of the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG).
The SNAG conference features a crowd of creative individuals who see the world from a different perspective and express that viewpoint tangibly through their art. Ironically, despite the name, very few of them work in gold. The conference includes a lot of student work and a juried student exhibit. There are similarities to a service conference, too: A gathering of lawyers will feature panel discussions and networking lunches and SNAG was filled with demonstrations by makers to share knowledge and skills in the creation of complex pieces of art.
The artists share another trait with many service professionals: They want to concentrate on their jobs and ignore the need to market themselves, network with people who might buy their product or participate in what some consider the mundane task of business development.
There are a couple of things the SNAG conference did that I approve of as a marketer, as well as from a personal perspective. First, they organize what they call gallery crawls – tours of museums, galleries and studios throughout the city, some with leaders to make sure you don’t get lost and others that are self-guided with a map.
And on the last day the artists sell their wares from tables set up throughout the conference. Buyers who pay $50 for an early entrance fee have the first hour to visit everything and select their favorite pieces. It attracts the avid collectors and creates some pressure to buy before the general public walks through the door.
The artists probably don’t think of the demonstrations, the crawls and the $50 day as marketing, but they are — marketing of not just the jewelry but of themselves as professionals. And it doesn’t require too much of a leap for an artist to take the next steps: make sure your website, with excellent photographs of your work, is up to date; provide a clipboard with paper and pen so that everyone who visits your conference booth may leave an email address; and then send them short monthly updates of your latest work, the places you will be showing next, and how they can purchase from you.
You can market yourself and still be true to your art.