The Power of Stories in Selling Art - Part II
Your origin story
Artists often say, “My work speaks for itself.”
But your art doesn’t speak for itself.
People do buy the art, not just the story. But the stories do matter. What you tell people about your work will affect how much of it you sell, and how much people enjoy it. However, artists, and marketers often misunderstand what we mean when we say “the story” and mistakenly assume we mean the story of the artist’s background.
What we actually mean when we say “the story” is an amalgamation of many different kinds of “stories”, both verbal and nonverbal, that define the brand, or the vibe around your art.
This series explores these different kinds of stories.
Here are the topics we plan to cover in this series:
Previous Articles in Series:
2. Your Origin Story
Planned for the next few weeks:
3. Your ongoing public story
4. The specific story between you and each fan
5. The context your art is displayed within
6. The story of each artwork
On to today’s update!
Origin stories are an important starting point. And a good first step, but first, a caveat, while origin stories are important, usually, for most collectors, they are the least important. Many art coaches spend too much time trying to rely only on the origin story, by looking for some deep traumatic event, or some major childhood event that drove an artist into the arms of waiting oil paints. Sometimes those types of origin stories exist, but many artists got into art simply because they “liked to draw as a kid.” And that is fine. The most important stories are the stories that have to do with the context, what’s in the collectors’ heads, and the story of each piece.
Still, there's a reason that Marvel and DC keep churning out superhero origin stories. They can be one of the most interesting parts of a person's journey. It's not that mind-blowing to see Batman catch a bad guy, we already know that Batman's a badass. But it's compelling to watch a young Bruce Wayne struggle to overcome his fears, fumble in early attempts to become a hero, and finally, to reinvent himself into a mythical figure who can protect Gotham.
The best origin stories are told in a way that can become a sort of myth. When that happens, they can almost be reduced to one or two sentences. Batman's might be, "Helpless boy sees parents murdered. Vows never to let that happen to anyone, ever again. So he becomes Batman."