A popular artist selling to a niche market of fashion lovers talks about finding a style, and making connections with your audience.
Painter Mark Schwartz works in watercolor and ink, creating original art which celebrates the high heeled shoe. As a former shoe designer working for Roger Vivier, Hermes, Christian LaCroix and other elite companies, Schwartz has decades of experience in the field. Nowadays, he spends his creative energies on a very focused body of work.
His inspirations come from Jackson Pollack and Andy Warhol (who mentored him at times), and those influences are apparent in his portfolio. Schwartz says that he sells 10-15 pieces of art each month, and ships them all over the world.
ABI: What does it take to become a successful collected artist?
MS: For me, it’s creating that niche, which is the hardest thing for any artist. My niche is shoes, a natural progression going from design to painting.
ABI: How have you make connections with people who wanted to collect your work?
MS: Part of it is through my shoe designs – people who knew me as a designer were exposed to my paintings and the word got out. I was designing shoes for Oprah, and she would send over one of her people to pick up the shoes. They saw my art, and that led to her purchasing three pieces back in 2002.
Online, it has taken a couple of years to get the ball rolling. A lot of people who are fans of shoes found me by Googling “shoe paintings” and visited my website or ended up following me on Twitter and Facebook. In the UK, there are about four or five people per month who are in art college who have been writing about me for their final papers.
ABI: Who are your greatest fans?
MS: My fans are women and men who just adore shoes – that’s the best way I can describe it. They love what I’m doing because I represent the shoe in a way that can last forever in their home. I’ve done commissions for anniversary and other gifts. My male clients sometimes collect the art themselves. They seem fascinated by the high heel, and what it represents, the sexiness of heels.
ABI: What advice do you have for artists who are just finding their style?
MS: You can never give up, you have to believe in what you are doing and keep doing it. Keep up with the times – you need a website. Get out there. People have to be able to find you.
ABI: What do you have coming up next?
First, I have made limited edition prints of my work available, because over the years I have had people who asked for them. They are in a lower price point so they are more affordable. I keep each edition limited to one hundred. That will reach more people without compromising what I do.
I have a licensing deal to use my imagery and my name on different products – shirts, dinnerware, luggage, handbags and other articles. These are coming out in the next six months.
This is my first experience with licensing, so I’m really excited about that and the exposure that will give me.