Seth Godin has a fantastic ability to take ordinary words and give them new, charged meaning, bringing us a new vocabulary to talk about marketing and business. One such word is “tribe.” Meaning, your group, your people. The people who like what you do and have to say and support you and your work. (Godin wrote a book about it.)

This of course is important for artists, who, lacking the old patron system made up of wealthy kings and church officials as in the Renaissance or the gallery/patron system that flourished up until a few years ago, have had to take marketing into their own hands.

Artists have to pay attention to their tribes. It’s no longer the job of a gallerist or a Pope to champion your work. We artists are in charge of that ourselves.

Now, I’ve noticed that I tend to have a somewhat black-and-white attitude toward my own tribe: I divide it between those who buy my art and those who don’t.

It’s really not fair.

It’s not fair to the people who don’t buy my art.

There are a couple of reasons why they might not buy my art.

  1. They like it, but they can’t afford it. Pretty straightforward. They want it, but they don’t have the money or don’t think they can afford the purchase.
  2. They like it, can afford it, but it doesn’t fit into their collection. There are clothes out there that I like but would never wear simply because they are the wrong color for my complexion.
I need to consider these things carefully, and not ignore the people who aren’t buying my art. I want them to champion me, even if they aren’t buying my stuff. Because even if they aren’t buying my artwork, they can still talk about me, and recommend me to someone else.

For example, I have no need for a huge lawnmower, but I might be able to tell a friend that I know someone who owns a certain model and says it is great and he should check it out, just because my other friend loves his.

It really comes down to listening and helping. This is just a start, but what are other aspects of your tribe to consider, especially as it concerns art?

Photo Credit: Andrea Marutti via Compfight cc