10 Tips to Finding New Mural Clients (For Practising Muralists)
This blog post is for mid-career muralists. It assumes you already have a decent portfolio of work and a solid online presence. There is a You Tube video I have recorded on the same subject that prefer to look at my face than reading a blog. Video at the base of the page or link through to You Tube here.
It's a constant cycle. Find new work, do the work, invoice the work, find new work, do the work... and so on. The 'doing of the work' and the 'invoicing the work' are the easy parts. Finding the new work and new clients is the hard part. Let's look at a couple of different ways I have found clients in the past, particularly with mural projects.
Sign your work
I know. Sounds simple. But if you want people to see your mural work and think 'this is amazing, I need it in my life'. Then you need to make it as easy as possible for them to find you. So sign your work. Put your instagram handle and/or your website clearly on your mural. Simple.
Clear signage on a job site
If you have a public mural to paint, set yourself up an a-frame with your contact details on it. Every time I paint a mural in a public place, I always pick up at least one project with a new client. They are just strolling down the street, see the magic I am creating and know that they need it on their pool area wall. Bam!
If you are looking for new clients but don't want to bother with all this fluff, think about working with an agency. There are a number of agencies around nowadays who are looking for muralists to work with their clients. Some agencies include Apparition and Chulo. They do take a commission, but they negotiate this with the client. You simply get a phone call saying 'can you do this job on this date for this amount of money?' I do find a lot of this work is for large corporations, so if logos or changing your style to suit their needs are your jam - this might be the best option for you.
Online Booking Platform
There are online agencies that host your portfolio and bring new clients into their website for enquiries. One site that I use is Book An Artist. They take a pretty big cut from the jobs (which you need to factor into the project cost). And there are a lot of tyre kickers - like, a lot. You are also competing with loads of other mural artists. So unless you have a fairly unique style or a specific niche, it might be tough to get work through this platform. It does consistently bring in new clients though without me having to do too much.
Facebook Pages Without being all 'salesy', think about posting on Facebook pages. Maybe you post in a business facebook page asking about the tax side of business and pop some photos of your mural work up for attention. Or maybe your target market are school murals. Then you could post on a School Art Teachers Facebook Page and show them your latest project for your local school.
Or maybe you could be all 'buy this type salesy' and throw up all your work onto community pages and say 'hire me!' I've seen that work too. Just get ready to potentially be kicked off a few pages.
Yes. I know. Cringe. But, it doesn't have to be horrific. You don't have to go to Chamber of Commerce Business Meet ups (although this is a good starting point), but you could go to the races with one of your friends from volleyball. Be ready and open to chat to as many people as possible and just drop that you're a muralist here and there. No sales. just chit chat. When you do talk to people, ask them about themselves, about their work, about what their day to day entails. Be interested and see if you can add any value to their lives with your talent.
One of my nights out 'Networking' in Shanghai with business partners Nicky (centre) an amazing New Zealand/South African Fine Artist and Jutta (left) a talented furniture designer from Germany.
When I lived in Shanghai I started my own design business and had no clients, minimal friends, no mandarin skills and no money. So I decided my target market was westerners in Shanghai starting their own businesses. I would go to the clubs and pubs most nights (it helped that I knew a lot of DJs) and chat with foreigners. I'd hand out my business cards, I'd have a drink and then mingle with some other people. I ended up with a huge group of friends and a successful business, most of which came from networking (in bars).
Social Media I'm putting social media here, not because I get any work from posting about my projects. I do know if you have a decent following it can become a good source of new clients and projects. I'm currently running a Insta-experiment to see if I can figure out how to increase followers to therefore increase sales and projects.
Yes. I know we're not like Amazon or anything BUT there are opportunities for you to find new work through your current network of supporters. You could offer your community 10% of any mural projects they bring in. Let your community know via newsletter or social media that you have a referral program whereby each new project your friends bring in, they get 10% profit from the project. You will likely have to draw up a contract and figure out how to police it - but it's something I've always considered doing.
When I decided that I didn't want to go back to my full time office job, I sent out so many emails to all the mural artists in Brisbane. I asked if any of them had over flow work, if they could send it my way. One of the few artists that got back to me was Drapl. He was running Graffiti Art Murals at the time. He would flick me canvas jobs and the occasional mural project when he didn't have time. Not only that, he answered all my newbie mural questions and supported me through the bumpy part of my career. I strongly suggest you build a group of mural artists you can share the work with. I owe a lot to Drapl - I think a lot of Brisbane street artist do.
Pro bono I'm not a huge advocate for doing free murals. If you have invested time and money into developing your talents, then people need to pay you to create amazing murals. But, sometimes it really pays to select a project to donate your time for.
For example, as the pandemic was about to hit in early 2020 I saw a news article about a local football teams club house being vandalised. My husband new the president, so I got in contact and offered my services to paint a mural on the outside of the club to prevent further tagging. The club supplied the paint and I provided my time and expertise. My assistant and I painted the mural on one of the days before lockdown. The president had arranged for the local news to come out and film. The mural (and my name) were all over the news that week (and then the pandemic). Even now, three years later people still send me photos of themselves in front of the mural and as far as I know it hasn't been tagged. Then project certainly increased my credibility in the community and get me a load of publicity. New clients? Yes! One pool mural just down the road.
I hope some of these ideas generate new clients for you. Any other ideas we could try to find new projects?