For independent artists looking to break into creative markets, the process of building a following that leads to profitable sales can be an obscure and arduous one. In an effort to empower the artist in this process, we looked at the pain points and effective practices of marketing an independent creative business. This led us to design an application that streamlined the hazy portions of social media marketing without negotiating the artists’ agency in brand-building.
User Researcher(User Interviews), UX Designer(Interaction Flow, screen design)
Interviewing, Ethnography, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe XD
5 months (Aug 2018 - December 2018)
Identifying the Problem
Initially, our team was interested in learning how local small businesses in creative markets go about building a brand and attracting customers from outside of their local community. To this end, we began our investigation of the problem space by conducting 8 in-person semi-structured interviews with artists and business owners in the Atlanta area regarding their experiences establishing their brand and marketing themselves. In these discussions, we soon learned that there was a larger room for meaningful impact in helping empower independent artists market themselves and their own work. The reasons behind making this shift in our target problem space are as follows:
Flying Solo - Many of these artists are single-handedly running their own business, meaning they are responsible for all tasks from the creation of supply to the point of sale and delivery. Several of the artists that we spoke with mentioned the desire to re-emphasize the creative aspects of their work while spending less time on managerial tasks. We saw this as an opportunity to help artists return to what they love about their work.
Insufficient Resources - Given that these are small businesses that are often run out of the artist’s personal space, they are inherently less equipped to handle large-scale or high-end marketing initiatives. Artists shared with us their strategies in making do with what they had on hand and what kinds of capabilities they wished they had access to without needing to breach obstacles of resource management.
Training - The artists that we spoke with were highly trained in their craft but had little formal education in running a small business. Each artist had their own business practices that they became accustomed to after years of trial and error.
Our team ran through several series of brainstorming exercises, including empathy mapping, affinity diagramming, persona-crafting, and concept sketching. Our ideas were meant to address all of the identified pain points in the artist’s process of marketing their work.
The solution we decided to move forward with is a mobile application called Hashtag Guru. Through a combination of computer vision and data mining, the application assists artists in discovering relevant hashtags to their photos in order to reach their target demographic. The goal of Hashtag Guru is to reduce the time spent managing content for the artist’s multiple social media accounts while also extending the reach of their work to more potential customers.