As agents, we can’t stress enough how important it is for commercial artists and photographers to create personal projects. It’s at the top of the list of most important things you can do to keep your work interesting and evolving.
Creating personal work not only gives an artist an opportunity to create new imagery for his or her portfolios, but should open the door for experimentation – creating for the pure joy of creating, no strings attached! – and feed the soul by creating work that comes from purely personal passion.
In many instances, potential clients are just as interested in this work – if not more interested – as they are commercial pieces. It allows them to see a broader dimension of the artist and helps them understand the artist on a more personal level. We love showing and promoting most personal work!
The goal of marketing your personal work is to intrigue clients and get them interested in working with you. You want them to move you from the giant pool of artists vying for their attention to the much smaller group that already has their attention and is being considered for work.
But there are times when personal work should not be promoted within the commercial area of an artist’s business. An obvious example is not promoting personal work that’s not 100-percent complete, technically or otherwise. That’s a given.
Another good example is if the personal work is too erotic or sexual in nature. Although this work can be very interesting on a fine-art level, it’s not appropriate for most commercial venues. There’s a line where the sensual aspect of nudity crosses over to erotica, and it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Ted Sabarese’s personal direct mail marketing campaign
If a personal project is too controversial, you should also avoid marketing it in a commercial venue. Examples of such work include pieces that make strong political or religious statements. Such work might be more appropriate as an editorial statement or as material for your blog. Think about the old adage that tells you, in social settings, to avoid sex, religion and politics!
Another example of personal work to keep out of your marketing materials is work that’s just so abstract a potential client probably won’t see any application for it. Your personal work should be promoted in a commercial venue to not only showcase your talent and creative thinking, but to inspire potential clients. In the commercial world, it’s great if that inspiration can somehow be applied to our business of advertising. Creatives need to see a connection between your work and what they create … a suggestion of how your vision can enhance theirs. If you’re marketing with an image that’s so artistic that it has no real application, you’re going to confuse people and lose an opportunity to shine.
Creatives have limited time to review what’s in front of them, and they continually look for inspiration. When a wonderful eblast or a direct mail piece with an inspiring or influential image hits their desk and they take notice, you have achieved your goal.
You also have to bear in mind how much competition there is out there, doing the same thing as you. Make sure you’re showing your strengths in a way that encourages targeted clients to use you.
About Simone Friend & Beth Johnson
Friend + Johnson has been connecting creatives creatively for more than 20 years. Simone Friend’s background is in fine art, illustration and fashion. Beth Johnson has a rich history in photography and film production. This magic combination equips them with an inside savvy in matching photographers, illustrators, projection artists and videographers from around the world with clients and projects. The Dallas‐born firm has offices in Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco and New York City. Agents in each region nurture strong relationships with agencies and art directors and excel in pairing F+J artists with clientele to produce memorable, successful outcomes. Friend + Johnson
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