An Essential Tool for Fine Artists - and I'm Not Talking About Brushes or Paint

When I was starting out as a struggling figurative painter things were so inconvenient.  You had to get slides made for any submissions.  If that wasn't inconvenient I would print out entire pages of sticky paper with titles of paintings, my name with a copyright symbol and any other silly request a competition, a gallery or a slide registry would ask for you to do.  We had the mail and the phone as our means of communication and sending your work only worked for one of them.  Today, you point, click and send to have your art reach the entire world.  Now I keep my portfolio with me in my pocket at all times.  What is this amazing tool?  You guessed it, the iPhone.

The iPhone is simply the best tool I've ever used as an artist.  I do EVERYTHING on it.  I know I'm not the first one to make this recommendation, 8 years after this amazing tool was made, but you'd be surprised by how many people have and iPhone and have no idea how powerful of a business tool it is for an artist.  I think there's a stigma too for baby-boomer-aged artists that haven't seen the need to purchase a smart phone because they see it as a toy rather than a tool.  If that's the way you feel you couldn't be more wrong.  

An iPhone is what you want it to be.  My iPhone isn't filled with stupid games or apps I don't use.  I don't waste my free time and I don't waste the storage space the phone needs for my work.   I have several functions I use my phone for.  First and foremost it is a tool for my art career and something I do business on everyday.  I break down my iPhone needs into 4 parts:

My folder set up to show just my paintings. I have one for drawings too.

My folder set up to show just my paintings. I have one for drawings too.


Think of the iPhone as your portfolio.  I have a folder set up with each of my paintings and drawings in a group and I can access all my work with a few keystrokes.  For inspiration, I use my iPhone to take photos of ideas or combinations of colors I'd like to use in a new painting.   I no longer have to carry a huge portfolio under my arm.  I can even use it to take progression photos that I can assemble into a grid later on, I can send rough ideas I might doodle on a piece of paper to a prospective client via email or text.  I've made deals across the world with the convenience of this awesome tool and you can too.


The greatest invention for artists looking to sell their work - being able to accept credit cards.  Eighteen years ago you had to pay into a costly merchant account to do business online, if you did business or not.  Today it's as simple as sending invoices and now you can even swipe a credit card.  Best of all you can do it with their handy app.  Want to do business around the world without being stuck at your computer?  This is how you do it.


I have all of my art accounts, and Rebekah's on my phone and I check them daily, several times an hour.  My life moves fast so you have to be able to respond when a client wants to buy a painting, commission a painting, ask you for a personal appearance or a student asking for help.  Having email at your fingertips at all times is essential to catch the deals when they come.  Need to send a photo to a prospective client?  It's easy if you have your work organized and ready.  Miss that chance and you lose an opportunity to someone else.  

My social media accounts, in a folder and ready for easy promotion

My social media accounts, in a folder and ready for easy promotion

Social Media

THE BIGGEST advantage of having a phone today is access to social media.  I know I don't have to tell this to many of you because you probably found this article on social media.  The most important part of doing your social media on your phone is that you can save this task for your downtime.  That can be while your waiting for the bus, going for a walk, relaxing, watching TV, on break at work, first thing in the morning with coffee, etc...  Social media can take up a lot of time but if you jam that time into small moments like this you make yourself more efficient, a better marketer and lastly, it doesn't take away from your creative time.  My favorite social media apps are Facebook, Google+, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest among others.  I market myself and network with other figurative painter groups on each hub to get my artwork out.  If you don't think you can sell your work on these hubs or meet important people you're a fool.

If you would have told me years ago that I could apply to be in an art competition while watching my children at the park I would have laughed at you.  Long live Steve Jobs!  I've been a lifelong Apple and Mac user (way before it became cool to say that, like, 1983).  What he did has changed the way we communicate.  It may take another decade for all of the art world to catch up but for the most part there has been a great deal of change.  

My point is that an iPhone is an essential tool for your art career and just as important as your brush or your paints.  It can take you farther than you can possibly imagine.  I've had iPhones since they came out in 2008 and they revolutionized the way I did business.  No one tool can do so much.  It is your window to the world and your way to immortalize your great work.