At first it might seem counter-intuitive to collaborate with other airbrush artists who are your direct competition for business in the airbrush events industry. But I believe, we are artists first and the great thing about art, it’s a creative process which can be shared.
Artist collaboration throughout history
Van Gogh invited Gaugin to stay with him so they could learn and challenge each other. Photographer Gjon Mili worked with Picasso on his idea of drawing with light.
Michelangelo, a highly-skilled sculptor recruited Francesco Granacci to assist him in the Sistine Chapel commission because he wasn’t skilled in the fresco technique. Would the Sistine Chapel ceiling be so incredible without the fresco knowledge of Granacci or the artistic eye for form of Michelangelo?
I’m not suggesting we are fine artists who should work together to paint a 12000 sq ft ceiling, just that we aren’t selling medical supplies or tacos, where cards are held close to chests. That used to be the case in the airbrush industry too when it was over-saturated with artists but times have changed.
Fewer airbrush artists equals more work for all of us
I’ve been in the airbrush industry for 27 years, working everywhere from mom’s kitchen table to the Ritz Carlton and experienced the highs and lows of the industry.
In the 1980s, there were so many airbrush artists around Panama City Beach that guys were set up in gas stations with nothing more than an airbrush and a fold-away table. With such enormous competition, secrets were closely guarded and a simple question like “which brand of paint do you use” would elicit a reaction like you’d just asked to sacrifice their firstborn child.
That is no longer the case and with fewer airbrush artists on the scene, we are no threat to each other. But we could all have more work if we were to work together to improve the professionalism and reputation of the airbrush events industry.
Leading by example
We can sit on the porch all day complaining about other airbrush artists who due to their unprofessionalism, are dragging the reputation of the industry down but that will not improve the situation. My suggestion is to go make friends with other airbrush artists, even those we see not acting particularly professional. In fact, we should prioritize making friends with these artists.
I’m happy to have made many new friends and share the knowledge I’ve gained over the years. I encourage everyone to reach out to other artists. Hand them your business card if you think they may benefit from some tips on how to run their business more professionally.
Whether you’re just starting out; need to up your game; or already have a successful business, join social media groups for airbrush artists and share your knowledge and experience. In a future post, I’ll list some of the best social media groups for airbrush artists.
Most importantly, remember the moto exemplo ducemus (Latin for ‘by example shall we lead’). Be professional, be a business other artists aspire to be and clients tell their friends about.
So what do I mean when I talk about improving professionalism in the airbrush events industry?
This is often the part of business artists like least but we’ve all got to do it. When a potential client contacts you, how long does it take you to reply?
If someone contacts you on the phone, do you keep a record of the conversation? Are your invoices printed or just a scribble on a scrap of paper when you’re asked for an invoice?
Does your stationery include your company logo? What about your insurance, do you let your clients know what your insurance covers? Do you even have insurance?
Invest in your business if you want to gain more clients. Stationery can be professionally printed or it’s easy to use one of the free online tools to produce letterheads and invoices. Business cards can be created online and printed for just a few bucks. This will make you look like a professional business, not some dude working out of his mom’s garage, even if that is how you’re starting out.
When you attend an event, are you bringing clean equipment? Do you have the right equipment for that particular event? How are you planning to transport your equipment? Have you confirmed all the details with the client as the date of the event nears?
Of course, it looks more professional if you arrive at an event with gleaming chrome airbrushes and clean equipment. It tells the client you look after your equipment and take your business seriously.
Read my post How to build business brand awareness with promotional gifts to find out why using paint pens, rather than airbrushes, was the solution to a problem for a company event.
Whether it’s a company event, birthday or bar mitzvah, no client wants someone who looks like they slept in their clothes or needs a shower, turning up to their event.
We need to look clean and professional while still being comfortably dressed. Shirts with your logo and company name provides you with free publicity and makes your artists look like a team. If you can’t afford shirts with printed or embroidered logos just buy some conference name tags, print names and airbrush your logo.
Follow up and ask for feedback
Do you follow up with clients? Have you asked them to review your business, either by email or on social media? What about asking for personal feedback immediately after an event?
According to Brightlocal, 71% of clients will leave a review if asked. Constructive feedback helps us to improve and good reviews attract new clients.
I’d love to hear the opinions and experiences of other airbrush artists in the comments. Let’s start a discussion and see if we can improve our industry together.