Those who tell the stories rule the world.
— Hopi American Indian proverb
As a visual artist, creating stunning artwork is just one part of the bigger picture. While your works may speak for themselves, it takes more than artistic skills to elevate your brand, expand your audience—and market your art efficiently.
One of the most powerful ways to do these things is through word-of-mouth marketing, which relies heavily on the stories and backstories behind the works. Here is an in-depth look at the impactful role of personal storytelling and backstories in driving word-of-mouth marketing and expanding your reach as a visual artist.
What Is Word-of-Mouth Marketing?
Word-of-mouth marketing, or WOM, is when your customers tell their friends and family about you. It’s more effective than traditional advertising because it has a high conversion rate—people trust the recommendations of people they know over ads they don’t know anything about.
WOM is a great way to increase the reach of your art and grow your business. It’s arguably the most effective way for visual artists to get their work in front of new people.
How Are Personal Stories Different from Backstories?
Personal stories are about your life, and backstories are about your work. Personal stories are about the past; backstories are about the present. Personal stories tell you what an artist has done—their accomplishments and accolades—while backstories give you a sense of what they’re doing now: what projects they’ve got going on and how those projects fit into their broader career trajectory.
Backstories are less about what an artist has done and more about how they do it. Your readers will appreciate the insight into your process, especially if you can show them that you’re still pushing yourself as an artist.
Why Should You Use Your Personal Experience as a Backstory?
Your personal experience is the backbone of your brand. For artists seeking to get seen and sell art, it’s vital to share your story with customers to build trust and prove yourself as an authority in your field. But how do you go about doing this?
The first step is telling them what makes your art unique: what makes it different from other pieces of artwork out there? You can’t just say, “it’s beautiful” — you need something more concrete to create interest in buying your work. So, an excellent way for artists is to tell their backstories. For example, explain how you started making art, why you use certain mediums and not others, and where you find your inspiration.
How to Tell Your Story Through Your Artwork
The best way to tell your story is through the artwork itself.
It’s not enough to say, “I made this thing.” It’s much better to show how it was made, why you made it, and who might enjoy owning or seeing it (and why). You can include details in your description of an artwork that tells a story about its creation process.
If you’re still unsure how to tell your stories about your art, here are some tips: Write about the materials you used to create an artwork. Describe why you chose those materials over others. Research beyond your competition for inspiration. Every artist has a story, and some do things you can creatively borrow.
The Value of Personal Storytelling
Personal stories are a great way to build an audience. People love listening to personal stories, especially if they can relate to them on some level. You don’t have to be famous or well-known for your personal story to be interesting—all you need is a compelling tale that will hold people’s attention.
- Personal stories provide great content for social media posts, blog posts, and email marketing.
- Personal stories are more interesting than dry facts.
- Personal stories can be used to connect with your collectors, audience, and influencers.
- Personal stories help you stand out from the crowd.
Personal Storytelling Exercise
- Start by writing down ten defining moments from your life. Pick the ones that are most interesting or helpful for your business.
- The next step is to pick the ten most exciting or helpful moments. You can tell these in a few sentences; they’ll be more relevant to your business than other stories.
- Make sure they’re genuine and are appropriate to what you do now and why people should care about it–not just personal details from high school or college that aren’t related (unless those things somehow click).
- Once you’ve picked ten stories, write about them in one or two sentences each. These stories will go on your website or social media profiles–they’re what people will read when they first meet you. So don’t overwhelm people with too much information; keep it simple and concise.
- Next, pick out three stories most representative of who you are and what you do. These will be the ones that go on your resume or LinkedIn profile- the ones other people will read when they first meet you.
These three stories should be germane to your work but don’t have to be exactly what you did or where you worked. You can use one of your previous employment stories, for example. Make it appropriate to what you do now, that’s good enough to connect the dots.
Visual Artists Have Stories to Tell
Visual artists can excel at telling stories and find unique ways to tell their personal stories to market their art. You can tell the story behind your work in ways other artists cannot because they see the world and experience life through their senses. For example, an artist may see something as beautiful even though society doesn’t think so, like finding beauty in the ordinary or mundane that most people wouldn’t notice (or care about).
Share the Backstory Behind Your Artwork – The Inspiration, The Struggles, The Process.
Personal storytelling and backstories are potent tools in art marketing, particularly for visual artists. Sharing the inspiration, struggles, and process behind your artwork adds a personal touch and creates an emotional connection between you and your audience. It lets people see the person behind the painting, giving it a deeper meaning and significance.
Your personal connections can lead to word-of-mouth marketing, that’s where people share your story and artwork with others, which helps build your brand and exposure your work.
So don’t be afraid to share your journey as an artist. Instead, tell your story, reveal the struggles and triumphs, and let people see the passion and dedication that went into creating your work. By sharing your backstories with others, you can turn your artwork into something extraordinary and ignite the curiosity and interest of your audience.
What Is a Backstory?
A backstory is a story that explains how you came to create your art. It’s a way for the artist to connect with their audience and show them why they made certain decisions in their work. For example, if you’re selling prints of your favorite comic book character and want people to know what inspired you when drawing them, then using backstories will help build credibility and authenticity with your audience.
You can use backstories for more than just art sales and can also help people connect with their audience and build trust by telling them about the journey that led to their current success.
Backstories, or the story behind each piece of art, can also add value to your work by giving people a reason to remember you and your art. Showcasing your personal storytelling in your marketing efforts can give your audience a glimpse into your creative process, inspiration, and journey as an artist.
Show the Human Side
People are drawn to conflicts, triumphs, and personal growth stories. It’s human interest that compels and propels your story. You don’t need to be too personal but being aloof or nonchalant turns people off. Do what is right for you. People care about others especially those who have their interests.
Share your story, express your passions, and tell people how your art connects you with your inner self. Personal storytelling can make people emotionally invested in your journey. They will be more likely to share your story with their friends and family—this is the essence of word-of-mouth marketing.
Let your personal storytelling lead the way, connect with your audience on a deeper level, and let them see your creative evolution as you grow as a visual artist.
Like any other business, authenticity is the key to word-of-mouth marketing for visual artists. People talk about products, services, and experiences that they believe in. If you can show people your passion for what you do through your story and backstory, they will be more likely to share their stories with others who may also be interested in your offer.
Keep Telling Your Story
Your personal stories are what make your art unique and memorable. Personal storytelling and backstories can be powerful tools for visual artists in art and word-of-mouth marketing.
Keeping your audience engaged and interested means keeping them in touch with your journey as an artist. Personal experiences can provide context to your work, and backstory can help people connect with your art on a personal level.
Sharing the battles and triumphs you’ve faced as a visual artist makes you more relatable and gives people insight into the inspiration and motivation behind your creations. As an artist, it’s important to remember that your story makes your art unique and memorable. Keep telling it, and watch as your work inspires and resonates with even more people.
Personal storytelling and backstories are significant in word-of-mouth marketing for visual artists. By sharing their unique experiences and revealing their personalities through their backstories, artists can connect with their audiences deeper, creating a more engaged and loyal following.
This type of marketing works particularly well for visual artists who convey their message through their art, as it allows their audiences to understand their inspiration, motivations, and the creative process behind their works. By embracing personal storytelling and crafting an original backstory, visual artists can create a solid personal brand that resonates with their target audience, increasing visibility and success in art.
AMXtra wants to empower you to tell your story.
Storytelling is integral to marketing you, your art and brand. It juices the content in the tools you use to gain awareness and drive art sales. We have videos and workbooks on personal storytelling in the archives of the private Facebook group. And it’s a regular topic in the twice-monthly AMXtra premium newsletter.
I invite you to subscribe at AMXtra.com. You’ll discover how to empower yourself to embrace your passion for art and get on a realistic plan for personal and professional growth.
Don’t miss this opportunity to take control of your artistic journey and unlock your full potential. Subscribe to AMXtra today and start living your best life as a visual artist!