Is it possible to plan for the results you want and actually experience them? Nadine Prada thinks so — in fact she knows so.
She is coming off what she’s calling her “Goldilocks” year. For Nadine, it has been the best year yet for her art business. She participated in more shows, sold more art, and established more collector relationships than any year prior.
Heard of Nadine Prada yet?
Perhaps you’ve seen some of her work. She was one of the brilliant minds behind the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. She has contributed her creativity to many major, global advertising campaigns.
Naturally, her background in art direction flows into her artwork — a real bonus. But stepping away from high-paying corporate clients to pursue an unpredictable path as a solo studio artist is a different animal altogether which is why this year has been such a breakthrough. As an artist, she has experienced struggle but is finally in flow thanks to one thing:
We caught while I was in Toronto teaching a marketing workshop to a group of artists. Here’s what she said of all the art shows, collectors, and sales that have made this year her best year yet.
I hear you’re calling this your “Goldilocks Year?” How did this moniker come about and how’s it going so far?
Nadine: Two years ago, whenever I took on freelance work to pay the bills, it completely took over my life and my art business ground to a halt. No way to run a business! Even though I didn’t know it at the time, what I had on my hands was an expensive hobby. And the energy it took to keep starting up over and over again was exhausting. I had a full bank account, but a stalled art biz.
Last year, I made a serious commitment to really go for it in terms of running an actual art business. I realized I was the CEO of my own art enterprise and I was actually in the business of art – making it, promoting it, selling it and growing my collector base. I went all in. I said “No” to ALL the freelance work, thinking if I made a 100% commitment the money would come in. Unfortunately, art doesn’t always work that way — art sales are unpredictable. Last year was great for my art practice and my portfolio, terrible for my bank account.
So when I was planning for a successful “next year,” I decided it was going to be my “Goldilocks” year. I realized I needed to take on the kind of freelance that would allow me plenty of time and energy to do my “real” job (running my art business). Something that would bring in money and resources to create safety for me (I’m not one of those artists who can create anything when I’m distressed, certainly not when I’m curled up in a ball on the floor terrified that I can’t make the next mortgage payment).
The perfect partnership showed up right on time, and the beautiful thing is that I’ve even met new art collectors and people who love my art through it. New opportunities to work on different types of art projects that pay really well have also arisen.
What shifts needed to happen to make this year better than previous years?
Nadine: I realized I needed to be in many more shows than I had been in recent years, so when I was doing my planning (through the exercises we did at Essential Edge LIVE) I decided I’d like to be in at least 10 or 12 shows this year. You have to apply to them in advance so I chose them based on how well they aligned with my clientele, what the opportunities for exposure and connections might be like, etc.
One large show in February netted 3 invitations to show in 3 different high-end galleries in 3 different regions I hadn’t shown in before. By April, I’d participated in 5 shows and had been accepted into 2 more popular art fairs. By early July, that number reached 7! I’m confident that I’ll hit my goal.
It might seem obvious, but if I hadn’t had that goal in mind, written it down and started to apply for at least a few shows, I would definitely not be experiencing these results.
While participating in fairs, you were able to meet new buyers in person. How have these relationships informed your marketing?
Nadine: I’m realizing that art buying only happens when the buyer is ready. So many factors affect their decision. Sometimes they’re ready to buy immediately. Sometimes it takes a few weeks, months, or even years. What matters is establishing a new relationship and staying open.
Following up is critical. I think of it as staying in touch with new friends that I can help. I’ve also realized there are things you can do to ease someone’s nerves and help them out with their purchase decision if they’re feeling uncertain about it. Things like previewing work in their home, offering to bring a couple of pieces to their home or office to see how they work in situ, and setting up a payment plan for more expensive pieces have all been things I’ve added to my services in the past year.
I also think of my collectors as part of my family and want to treat them as precious. I now make a practice of collecting their physical addresses so I can send them “real” mail, the occasional surprise, special invitations and offers — ways to let them know how much I value them.
Any words of motivation for the artist who wants to set the bar higher and enjoy their own “Goldilocks” year?
Nadine: Keep going! Sometimes when things aren’t going well we think, “Why do I even bother?” I am here to tell you that the world needs art more than ever. It needs YOUR voice, because there’s only one you in all of space and time. It’s not as if the world is topped up on inspiration and doesn’t need any more… People need what you have to bring.
There’s only one you in all of space and time. People need what you have to bring. — Nadine Prada
TWEET IT TO THE WORLD!
About Nadine Prada
Nadine Prada is a Toronto based painter who has exhibited in Italy, Canada and the U.S.. Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, she moved to Toronto as a child and is still strongly influenced by her Island roots.
To learn more, visit www.ThePradaGallery.com.