There are lots of articles on the web that focus on ways to promote your work and develop an art marketing plan, but I haven’t come across too many that mention “giving an artist demonstration” as a possibility. So, I thought I’d discuss some of the benefits of this very enjoyable activity (see below).
- Giving a demo at an art society typically provides you with an engaged and enthusiastic audience. Everyone there has chosen to come along to see you work so they are, by definition, interested in what you do and how you do it. The most enjoyable demos that I’ve attended, both as demonstrator and audience member, are the ones where the artist encourages questions and discussion with the audience.
- The audience also provide a great networking opportunity, not only do you get to meet lots of people who are enthusiastic about painting and drawing, but in my experience they are really pro-active about helping out their fellow artists. Art societies often have a newsletter available at their meetings and these typically feature info about future events and other artists, fertile ground for planning your next talk or collaboration. At a recent demo, I painted the Belted Galloway Cow shown above and this led to questions about demos for other animals which in turn provided a natural opportunity to point people towards my videos of horse and sheep paintings.
- There is usually a half-time break at a demo so people can have a drink and snack and get a chance to chat with the artist. It also provides an opportunity to hold a mini-exhibition. I normally bring along an original painting, a couple of prints on canvas and then use my laptop to display a slideshow. It’s a great way to show people the range of work you do in a short time.
- Another benefit of giving a demonstration is that you will almost certainly be challenged by a tricky question or two during the evening! This is a really good thing as there is nothing like have to explain yourself in front of an audience to ensure you’re crystal clear about what you’re doing and why. Equally, there are times when someone will point out something you’ve never noticed before and, good or bad, this is invaluable feedback.
- Finally, you get paid to do something you love! On FineArtAmerica / Pixels.com, the owner Sean wrote an interesting article a few years ago discussing the differences between musicians and visual artists. In particular, he highlights the fact that musicians are often much better at self-promoting than artists. I think part of the reason for this is that musicians are usually paid to gig. In contrast, an art exhibition often requires a significant financial outlay before receiving any income (the level of which is not guaranteed). In contrast, giving an art demo is a fun way to earn a little extra cash with minimal outgoings.