Marcel Katz a.k.a The Art Plug is basically the art King of South Beach Miami. He’s the all-round dealer, fixer, maker, and shaker on the contemporary art scene and you may have seen him on social as he has racked up nearly a million followers across his Insta platforms.
As background info, at only 30 years old he was the youngest art dealer to trade a Dali. And since then, his appetite for art has strengthened. With a lot of fingers in a lot of pies, he works with a range of contemporary artists from CB Hoyo to Ketnipz, Kourosh Keynejad, and Fauves (plus many more), helping them raise their profile and sell their art. But the modern way, the Instagram way.
He’s fresh from Art Palm Beach Fair, where Katz not only presented his artists but also lead a panel, talking about the opportunities that lie in social media. We asked him how to get spotted on Insta…
First and foremost, be talented
Before any of these tips are relevant, you must be a talented artist. There’s nothing to leverage without any skills. Develop your abilities and work towards mastering your craft. Once you’ve reached a certain level of talent, follow these tips.
Use your mobile and utilise social networks
Every one of us has a powerful tool in our pockets. Use it! Reach out to people often, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Approach people in a proper manner, be simple, genuine, and direct. Don’t be overwhelming. Show the demand for your art! Be desirable.
Utilise social networks. Instagram is one of the easiest and best ways for anyone, especially creatives, to show their work and gain an audience. Be active, follow people, comment on photos, do whatever you have to do to get people’s attention. People have short attention spans. Find art dealers, art critics, other artists, or anyone else you want to work with and engage with them. It’s easier than you think.
Hang out with the right people in the right places
Surround yourself with people who you aspire to be, who are in a place you want to be, or who will be able to bring you up. As the saying goes, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Be on the scene. Go to fairs, gallery and exhibition openings. Collaborate with other artists, meet people involved in the community. Meet gallery owners, build alliances with them. Build networks and relationships with different people.
I highly encourage all artists to test out different mediums and exhibit your skills across the genre. If your preferred medium tanked in popularity tomorrow, what would you do?
A good example of versatility is @rhymezlikedimez, a super talented animator/illustrator from Belgium. When I went to Europe to meet him last year, I suggested his work would look good on people’s walls. His popularity had been exploding and I wanted to test it out. We created a series of prints that all sold out within an hour. I saw how he used his digital notepad and wanted to see if he could paint. He created four original canvas paintings that have been very popular at recent fairs. We also recreated his animations into installations at fairs that people could interact with, emerge themselves into, and fully experience.
Another good example is @tiagomagro, an amazing Brazilian painter based in South Florida. At our Art Basel show, “The Art Plug Powerhouse”, we needed an extra source of entertainment for our VIP guests, so Tiago created a performance painting empty Stoli bottles. At Art Palm Beach, we needed a live performance due to one of the artists scheduled becoming ill, once again, Tiago’s performance on the fly drew huge crowds into our booths.
What does someone see when they search for you? When gallerists or collectors or buyers are looking to buy a piece, they’re going to research the artists, you need to make sure they find what you want them to see. Make sure you have a central location, preferably a website, to find all the information about you, update it regularly with new work and other relevant info. Seek out press coverage for events or accomplishments that’ll boost your online presence. Engage with bloggers and writers at shows, grab their contact info and follow up; these relationships can go far in the future.
As an artist, can you relate to your collectors or fans? Do people want to learn more about you? People need to feel connected with you through your work.
A relatable artist is @ketnipz, a young viral illustrator, whose entire collection of comic strips and drawings of his “Bean” character is focused on being relatable. His drawings have now become some of the most used “stickers” on Instagram.
You need to know how to carry yourself. You need to have basic social skills and you need to be lovable by your audience.
Be involved, engaged, and consistent
I don’t always want to go out to events or parties, however, when I do, I know how important it is to meet people and network. You can’t rely on people coming to you, you need to go to them. You must put yourself in social settings that will help you meet the right people. Connect with the community, find something you care about. Take some steps to make a difference.
You need to have a strategy for growth. Have a plan both short term and long term. What are you doing right now that’s furthering your career? How many shows are you involved with over the next year or two? You need to build and maintain expectations with the quality and frequency of your work. Have a consistent plan.