Artist Interview Series: Caitlin Alexander
Let's hear it for artists! Each week, CAN invites one of our social action artists to share their unique journey from creating art to sharing it with the world. Please join us here weekly for interesting perspectives on self-promotion, helpful strategies and the creative process our artists use to market and sell their work. To kick off our interview series we asked CAN artist Caitlin Alexander to share her experience.
Q: What marketing approaches have worked best for you and why?
A: Honestly, I feel like I'm always exploring new possibilities, and that flexibility is what has worked best for me lately. I don't think I've mastered any specific tool yet, although I have been enjoying Instagram a lot, since it has such a large community of artists and creatives. The key is finding what makes you stand out within that sea of talented people. I still have a long way to go with that avenue, but I do believe it's a very important aspect of marketing these days. Besides Instagram, I do my best to reach out to organizations I connect with, whether that's online or locally. Working with folks like Creative Action Network, or Austin's Chula League cause a really wonderful domino effect that has brought me more and more opportunities. It's so true that finding 'your people' makes a world of a difference, as a freelancer.
Q: Does marketing yourself and your work make you feel uncomfortable?
A: Online marketing doesn't make me feel very uncomfortable, because of the perceived anonymity being behind a computer screen. Being of the generation where social media bloomed, I always had a sort-of fascination with the concept of creating a perfected profile. I probably still am approaching it with less of a personal outlook, and instead one of crafting a story or character. It makes me think back to my childhood sketchbooks, where I would create very detailed characters with thorough backgrounds, and then not want to do anything with them after that because the creation was the most interesting part. Now what I'm doing with that creation is making a career!
Q: How do you get past that discomfort (if you do)?
A: I get much more nervous talking to people in person. Growing up and in school, I was always incredibly shy and public speaking classes made me ill with fear. Luckily, over the years somehow I've been able to flip a switch with professional activities. Again, it's almost like playing a character, but the character is just a better, more respectable version of yourself!
Q: How do you make money from your art (full-time job, freelance work, selling things online, and in what balance, etc)?
A: All of the above! I juggle a lot of different avenues in my career, which would drive some people crazy, but I really enjoy it. I never get too bored with anything when I work this way. My most stable income is earned from contract jobs for t-shirt design companies, since the work is ongoing, and paid at an hourly rate. Lately, though, I've been doing much more freelance work locally, which has been great, because I really like connecting with my community. And sometimes I'm lucky and get to do work for larger, national publications and companies. Both of these types of freelance jobs are usually just one-off, but much more involved. Because the client is choosing me for my specific style of illustration, I get to indulge more in the type of art that makes me happiest. I also sell prints and products, both online and at local pop-up shops. Here in Austin, my two biggest events are the East Austin Studio Tour, and the Cherrywood Art Fair, which happen in November and December, respectively. During that time of year, I'm completely focused on my little 'shop'. All in all, the work has been balancing itself out nicely, and I'll be doing different things, depending on what comes in, or what season we're in.
Q: How important is making money from your art?
A: Making money from my art is everything. That's how I eat, how I pay my rent, and how I live! If I wasn't making money from my art, I have no clue what I would be doing right now. It's my career and my life.
Q: How often do you share your work and on what channels?
A: Usually I post my work on my blog or Instagram multiple times per week. I don't post every day, but maybe three times per week on average.
Q: Do you share in process/finished work vs more salesy promotional content?
A: I share both, as much as I can! Sometimes the process isn't easy to explain because of context, but I try to have a mix of finished work, in-progress paintings, products, my studio space and life as a freelancer.
Learn more about Creative Action Network artist Caitlin Alexander and checkout all of her CAN work. See more of her work on her blog and Instagram.
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