Artists are Best Served Creating LESS for the Public–Here’s Why:

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Here’s a guest post I wrote for an art blog.

Anyone who is in the business of producing products for public consumption should check it out.

Forward it to friends, retweet it on twitter and throw in your .02.

The following was posted here:


Hard work is imperative for excellence in any endeavor, but effort without focus can seriously damage your chances of success.

An extensive portfolio showcases your  talent  but often produces an unintended result.

Allow me to explain:

In 2000, Social Psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper conducted an experiment designed to test how consumers reacted when asked to pick a favorite from an assortment of fruit jams. The researchers discovered that consumers’ willingness and ability to choose a jar of jelly increased tenfold when asked to pick from just six alternatives instead of a larger assortment of twenty four.

Discomfort when presented with many choices seems counter-intuitive. Shouldn’t
we be happier when we have more to choose from?

Nope. That’s not the case.

The anxiety we experience when presented with a wide range of options is understandable. We have to evaluate a group of items based on our preferred criteria, which costs both time and cognitive resources. That task becomes even more daunting with each additional option added to the fray. The chances for “Analysis Paralysis” skyrocket with each added alternative once you exceed a few choices. Buyer’s remorse post-purchase may also set in because of the other options your clients left on the table.

Faced with a multitude of choices, customers may delay purchasing, or worse, leave your gallery or webpage altogether.

How can we apply this information to the aid of your goals in the art and entertainment industries?

Focus on a niche.

Instead of advertising yourself as a general artist, be a specialist. Be the artist known for 19th-century Ethiopian sculpture or artwork made entirely of tin cans. Throw the lion’s share of your time behind the pieces that bring you the most revenue or visibility. Creating a smaller range of pieces may sting at first, but it will increase the chances of your commercial success. Ideally, you relish the creation process as much as viewing your finished product; art, if anything, is a labor of love.

To start, you’ll need to do a little research. An honest accounting of your portfolio and gallery would be helpful here. Is there a central theme behind your best-selling artwork? Which pieces have garnered the most attention from your viewing public? Is there a recurring criticism or praise surrounding the work you’ve created? What style of art best fuses your interests and resources? These kind of questions will help you hone in on your ideal specialization.

Singular focus has the added benefit of facilitating mastery. The more deliberate effort spent on a single pursuit, the quicker you can achieve mastery level.

Certain benefits are conferred upon star performers in a market. When you are regarded as the best in your industry, people seek you out (when was the last time you saw a television ad for Harvard University?). Nobody looks for the “10th best doctor” or the “8th best Italian restaurant” in the city. When we want an essential good or service, we want it from the best. Jacks-of-all-trades are usually masters of none. The general practitioner faces competition from every corner of the earth. Ironically, skilled specialists have an easier time attracting and retaining clients. Resolve to be the best at producing a limited scope of artwork.

Inhabiting a niche has worked nicely for himThese guys, too.

A limited focus also amplifies your marketing efforts. There are billions of products being peddled by countless companies all over the world. That’s a lot of noise obscuring the vital connection between you and your target market. A well-defined niche provides a structure for your marketing campaign and elucidates who you need to talk to. Save money and time; target the folks most likely to be interested in your work.

Marketing and networking your artwork is tough enough already; lighten your load by focusing on what makes you best. The work that best utilizes your talents, interests and experience. Paired with an in-depth knowledge of your stakeholders (hint: it’s not just the people who buy your artwork) , a productive niche can maximize the return on your hard work.

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