I don’t like marketing, I just want to make art. So how do I get my name out there? How do I find new opportunities and clients to work with?
I think you get what you ask for. You have to go out on a limb, whether that’s creatively or socially. It’s different for everybody, but at some point you’re going to have to do something you maybe don’t feel totally comfortable with.
For me, it was cold calling photo editors and reaching out to athletes I never met before and saying, My name is Adam, I want to shoot photos of you, which for me was really hard and awkward. For some people, that part is easy. Luckily, in Salt Lake, a lot of my friends ended up being professional skiers so it kind of made it easy for me.
But it’s even the same when you’re dealing with some of your first photo sales and you have to ask for a good amount of money. That was hard too.
So those were some of the barriers I have, putting myself out there socially and also believing my photography was worth money.
I still find the best ways are going directly to who you want to work for. I can’t emphasize that enough.
Well, over the years I’ve travelled across the country and lived in 16 different cities across America. Everywhere I went I stepped into the art scene a little bit. So basically I started growing followers in every city — from South Carolina to Florida to San Diego. I guess just all of that moving around got my art out there and now I’m an artist from coast to coast.
Then a lot of people tell me that they show their friends my work, so that’s how it continues to grow. I also realized that as my friends get older they get more successful and a lot of them tell me whenever they can afford my work, they’ll buy it. And over the years a lot of people kept their word on that.
Marketing is a huge part of the art world. There’s a lot of artists who are like, I don’t know how to do [art as a business], I don’t know how to make a living. And I usually say, Just be prepared — it’s not just making art, 50% of the time you’re sitting for two to three hours every day on the computer constantly catching up, talking to people. . . . Business and art definitely have to go together.
A lot of it is just kind of keeping an ear out and reaching out if I hear about an opportunity and really being persistent. If I know some company is in need of a photographer for a certain shoot, I’ll just keep bugging their marketing guy until I get a yes or no answer.
Occasionally I get approached by a certain company, which is really nice, it’s a little bit less work on my end. But mostly just persistence and looking for companies I want to align myself with and think my photography would be a good fit with.
I’m also constantly checking in with old and new clients and seeing if they need anything else and just being persistent.
A lot of [pieces for companies as well as sponsorships] sort of found me in a way, and I think those were through social media because I spend a lot of time marketing myself on there. They see that. And I put on my business cap so I know they’re trying to get into my network and I have a good following — not crazy, but a healthy following. They’re trying to tap into that and get me to post about those projects, so that’s why they come to me for a lot of stuff. There are a lot of dope artists who don’t get the same sort of attention. It’s all about understanding how marketing, social media and the idea of being an influencer plays a part.
The David Letterman project that I did, where I painted David Letterman and Jay-Z for the promotion of Netflix’s show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, was because they found me on Instagram.
And then sometimes it’s also because I’m on social media a lot and the interns or younger generation will see my work or follow me and they’ll be in a brainstorming meeting and they’ll throw my name out there as well. So that happened for the [“Play On”] NBA All-Star gig I got in 2017. I got to go to New Orleans to do the NBA All-Star Week with Mountain Dew because someone threw my name out there.
A lot of times I don’t have to reach the CEO or anyone like that. It’s just reaching someone who is in the room who can throw your name out there. So that’s why I spend a lot of time marketing myself on social media because you just never know sometimes where stuff will go.