University of Southern Indiana

Is There an Art to Marketing Art?

by John Michael O'Leary

“Business and art have more consistency than people might think,” says Dr. Kevin Celuch, professor of marketing and Blair Chair of Business Science. “Artists, like entrepreneurs, are experimenters. What they do keeps evolving. Their business is a learning platform.”

In mid-September, Celuch shared his thoughts in a panel discussion on how artists can market themselves. He was joined by four artists, each with insights gleaned from the vagaries of their own entrepreneurial paths.

Artists talk with audience 
Dr. Kevin Celuch joined artists Kristina Arwood ’15, Docey Lewis, Laura Foster Nicholson and Tom Wintczak for a discussion on how artists can market themselves. The event took place at New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art on September 14.  

Celuch says when a business co-creates with customers, it creates stakeholders and its value grows. For artists, this means connecting more deeply with people to build close relationships. He cites new research that reveals the importance of “identification.”

When a customer identifies with a business, they are more apt to provide feedback, positive and negative,” says Celuch. “Even dissatisfied customers will tell you why. The relationship with the customer is the conversation.” Celuch is co-author of the study The Role of Active Identification in Driving Retail Customer Feedback. Findings are now under review for publication.

An artist should write her own narrative, starting with an inner conversation. What is your true purpose—your identity? It’s the brand called you. It’s the basis of deeper connections that will enable customers to share their thoughts with you.” 

Celuch’s remarks at the event landed in good ground. Following the panel’s formal presentation, attendees kept the conversation going. Their discussion spawned the idea for a pop-up exhibition at the gallery.

We’re calling the show Praxis, for putting theory into practice,” says Garry Holstein, director, of the New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art. “It will run from October 26th through December 7th and feature artists from the panel as well as seven artists who were among the attendees.” 

Artists came to the panel and now are being invited to co-create the next showing at the gallery,” says Celuch. “I think it’s a good example of how the co-creating process works.”

“If co-creation is the basis of any entity—whether business, art or social innovation—how do we do it?”

-Dr. Kevin Celuch

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