Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Promoting your Art - Part 1 of 2

Self-promotion is not a bad word! I believe promoting your work is much different than used-car salesman "selling". I do not believe that all marketing is "selling out" or that it belittles the work. Effective promotion helps get your work seen by potential clients and collectors. And, often the reality of pursuing and maintaining a life-long career in art means that you will have to learn how to make your art profitable. $$$

First, you have to believe in your work and be your own biggest fan. No one knows your work better than you! If you're waiting for someone else to jump in and promote your work for you, you could be waiting a long time! Not that this doesn't happen, but until that glorious day, you better learn how to do it yourself!

So, I'm going to post a two part series highlighting a few of my favorite promotional tips, and explaining how these efforts led to my Upcoming Exhibition at the Appleton Museum of Art.

  • Networking - Meet people, talk to them and remember their names! I am a member of a young professionals group here in Ocala, FL. I met a woman that works at the Appleton last year and have stayed in touch. I knew who to send a Press Release to, and maybe my name stood out a bit because we'd met on several occasions. (More on this in Part 2 of this post series.) Recommended reading: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. (I listened to the whole audio book in 1 day.)
    (Network goes for online social networking too. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. Though I admit that I still trying to get the hang of these!)
  • Search for alternative spaces to show your work. This could mean a couple things:

1 – Places that do not typically show art (restaurants, salons, coffee shops, banks, doctor's offices, etc.)

2- Places that typically show art, but art that is not typically your style. I have a show installed now at the Ocala Civic Theater, a venue that I would qualify as the 2nd type.

To illustrate a couple of points on promotion and alternative spaces, I’m going to tell the story of how this show came to be. The Theater has a large wall in their entrance lobby that is often used to display art - aka paintings. When I approached the Theater to ask about their exhibition policy, I was quickly informed that there was no room to exhibit sculpture in the lobby. I continued to pursue the opportunity; explaining a bit about my work and addressing some of their concerns. I was sent to speak with another person. Same response."Sculpture? We can’t show sculpture!" I was sent to speak with another person. Same response. You get the idea.

Understanding that my work is atypical from what they generally exhibit, I finally decided to do the following....

  • Create a PR packet or write an exhibition proposal. In addition to including my artist statement, resume, and bio, I printed a few images and explained how to install my work. I did not send a CD in this situation; adjust your packet to your target audience/jury. I thought printed images would grab their attention quicker than a CD or website address. My purpose was to demonstrate how sculpture would work within the parameters of the Theater lobby. I received a phone call 2 days later and had my choice of dates for the exhibition.

So, how did I go from this exhibit to receiving a phone call from a museum? Find out in Promoting your Art - Part 2... Writing a Press Release!

Happy Marketing!


Earthenware clay - hand built with slabs, bisque fired to cone 06, crawl glazes fired to cone 04.
27" x 25" x 2"


monica said...

thanks for the well written and thought out post meagan.

Anonymous said...

great tips and i'm looking forward to the next post. i've recently been looking into non-traditional venues but have always been intimidated by "exhibition proposals".

How to Sell Art Online said...

Believing in yourself is definitely the most important :) But I am also a huge fan of networking - it really works!

Patricia Griffin said...

Thanks for sharing this Meagan. It's generous of you to pass on the suggestions to other artists. Very helpful!

Meagan Chaney said...

Monica, Jim and Gino - Thanks for reading and commenting on this promotion and marking post. I'm hoping to finish up and post part 2 by Friday.

Jim - most "exhibition proposals" seem to follow a similar format, so the more you write, the easier it gets!

And Paul, Thanks for the link to this post!