It was a very special honor to be a guest on The Potters Cast with my mentor Paul Blais.. talking about mentorship.
Ciro Di Ruocco is an emerging visual artist/curator, splitting his time between studios in Nanaimo, BC, Canada and his hometown of Duxbury, Vermont. Ciro’s work in ceramics is complimented by an affinity for printmaking and surface/ texture design. Ciro combines a utilitarian sensibility with a contemporary street art aesthetic, fusing his own imagery to create works that are inspired by our daily lives. Ciro is currently an MFA candidate at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
In the last year I have made a continual effort to keep my finances in perspective. I make art but I also sell art.
In order to keep producing and doing the tasks I love I have to become proficient in other areas too. Keeping accurate records, accounting, promotion, and marketing. It’s helpful for me to have this artist module in my head to use as a working example.
A lovely lady brought it to my attention that I will never get rich off ceramic art. I replied:
My plan is not to get rich. My aim is to feel fulfilled, challenged, and healthy. My intention is to understand on a personal level what artists struggle with and why.
Putting into action the theories taken from inside the classroom and applying them immediately.
I have recently been working on ideas for packaging and displaying art. Trying to simplify the merchandise setup for nights that I am not available to attend.
It seems that no matter how much I plan every venue has its own challenges. The location of the merchandise table is crucial. The best spot is an entrance or exit. Stage left or right seems to be the Achilles heal. Especially if the crowd is on the older side. It’s better to have half the audience walking by then being visible to everyone but inconveniently located.
As an artist I struggle with the shameless self-promotion aspect of selling my own work. Having Kendall and the band helping with that initial awkwardness has been a blessing. I have no problem promoting Kendall or my artist friends work… Just my own. It’s a weird sensation of insecurity that creeps up on me. With time thankfully it has been easier.
This summer I have been taking a course on social media marketing.
This is a short video I shot as part of a group project:
I hold the highest regard for Professor Thomas. She has a teaching style that is informative, visual, and engaging. “Read, watch, and listen” as she refers to it. I know that I could take e-commerce management or social media marketing again and still learn something new. I guess what I am trying to say is thank you.. I am pushed to my best when a Professor trys her best too.
My mentor Professor Leaf mentioned to me in June that he was going to be very upset if I returned in September burned out from overworking myself this summer. In the days following Rock of the Woods I understood what he meant. I am an optimist and I need people around me to remind me to slow down or to tell me I am being unrealistic with a timeline. I knew that for my career I needed/wanted to be in social media marketing. I learned about Klout scores and how that could influence an interview in the future. For those of you who don’t know what your Klout score is? Look it up.
Basically it is a way to measure your social media reach across multiple social media services. It became a game between my partner Kendall and I. Rock star vs. Artist/Manager.
When I entered the class my score was a low 32. Now it’s a 58. I have almost doubled my social reach as a result of #MARk490.
What does art have to do with marketing? Had you asked me a year ago I would have given you a quick text book response. Speaking from experience I can now tell you.. Trend tracking and consumer buying behaviour.
That is a powerful sword if an artist can wield it. Understanding the target market or audience can make the difference between selling nothing and selling out. I sold out of the tank tops & t-shirts this year at Rock of the Woods Music Festival. In contrast to the year before where I sold one.
How many approvals did the t-shirt design go through? That thought had never crossed my mind till recently. The answer is 7 or 8.
My initial proposal came attached with a t-shirt design. I was using an advanced technique which erased colour from black t-shirts leaving a cosmic sky effect. The problem was the colour varied and on a good test the colours were hues of purple. The Director of the festival David Bain and I worked on this for most of June via Email. Finally we agreed.
The goal was to create a design people wanted to wear. It needed to be different than the existing ROTW merchandise and gender neutral. A piece of original art.
Once I understood the core of what they wanted.. I could relay that information to the graphic artist and visual artist liaison Coby McDougall.
She nailed it in her first attempt. I then needed to screen print test the design and work some handmade magic.
In the end I would say the market research ( trend tracking ) and understanding what the consumer was in search of shaped the design. The art was great but so was the marketing. Being able to communicate to Coby what the client wanted allowed her to do what she does best.. Be creative.
My sincere thanks to David Bain and Coby McDougall. Without them it might have been another one t-shirt year. Also, I would like to thank Mr. Alan Perry for carrying me through the late night printing session.
Seeing all the smiles of strangers wearing something that I printed.. Made my dream complete.
It’s hard to believe that a year ago a few friends and I stumbled through the screen printing process the night before Rock of the Woods music festival 2013. We were making t-shirts for Kendall Patrick and the Headless Bettys. In fact, I didn’t finish the t-shirts til a day into the festival.
A year later, I returned better organized and accompanied by a stellar support cast.
The art was top class. It challenged social norms, sparked interests and lots of conversation! Above all it brought smiles to many faces.
Spending my weekend talking to people.. It was clear that the appreciation was abundant.
Visual artists deserve exposure but usually it’s the musicians that get all the applause! This year Rock of the Woods showcased some of Vancouver Islands emerging visual artists as well as top musical acts. I believe it was a success.
The artists featured were all
Vancouver Island Students and recent graduates. They all worked incredibly hard and I am very proud of that.
I woke up after the spring semester was over feeling lost. My objective was over.. no goals, no drive, and simply just exhausted. I was instructed to lighten up, relax , and for heavens sake get some sleep.
Easier said then done for me. So what did I do? I talked to professors about jobs and future plans. What I learned was the only certainty that university could offer me was if I got an accounting degree. Then I would most likely have a job. That was not music to my ears. Then I heard something that would resonate with me. The kind marketing professor said well there is another school of thought. You could carve your own niche, somewhere between entrepreneurship and digital marketing. He challenged me to spend my summer surrounding myself with people I find interesting and to also not turn a job down, even if it means working for free. The reasoning being that eventually these people will provide lucrative opportunities or introduce you to someone that will.
So I am paying my dues. It’s better than relaxing. I submitted a proposal to Rock of the Woods Music Festival for a Visual Art display. I am now a proud member of the staff. My title: Art Director. This allowed me to also give back to my fellow Art & Design club members.
Providing them with discount tickets and exposure for their work. 11 days til the music festival.