1. How do I get my work shown?
The mechanisms: Install and publicize your work. Take 50/60% of your sales income.
The reality: Galleries have a huge amount of experience, contacts, and influence. A good gallerist will
- show your work
- nurture your development as an artist
- introduce you to collectors, curators and critics
- stump for the opening
- place advertising
- take examples of your work to art fairs
- produce show catalogues
- keep the lights on and staff the gallery space.
Most importantly, by giving you a show they give you the benefit of their reputation. A good gallery’s imprimatur will get you seriously noticed.
The mechanisms: You submit images of your work. The online gallery handles the sales for a percentage of the sales price.
The reality: The most successful online sites are offshoots from bricks and mortar galleries. Doubt persists about the quality of work sold on online sites, but here are three reputable sources.
Galleries for hire
The mechanisms: You pay the money, you get the space.
The reality: You are hiring the space but enjoying none of the benefits of a gallery’s kudos. They tend to be expensive.
The mechanisms: Admission to societies is decided upon by the members themselves. You will pay an annual membership subscription and help with the running of the space. You will be exhibited in a group show.
In reality: Artist societies give you the opportunity to feel fellowship with other artists, to share information and expertise and to have your work critiqued by people who understand what it takes to make work themselves.
The mechanisms: If you have an interesting concept for your show that involves more than just your own work. Send a proposal document to spaces that specialize in working with under recognized artists
The reality: Competition is fierce
The mechanisms: Art consultants are approached by collectors and corporations to advise on collection management, and by artists for career advice and sales representation outside the gallery system.
The reality: art consultants can help you get a feel for the places your work will sell and they can often place work in offices, medical buildings, and hotels where they will be seem by a lot of people. Their prices vary.
The mechanisms: You send images of your works, plus a submission fee. The successful submissions are selected by named judges and exhibited by the awards governing body.
The reality: Some prizes and awards are prestigious, however the less specific the submissions guidelines, the more submission fees the organizers receive. Find details from the arts press and choose wisely.
Pop Up Shows
The mechanisms: You assemble a group of friends and put on your own show. Look out for empty stores, contact the city departments of culture for details of any empty spaces available.
The reality: You will be doing all the work yourselves and will have to cover the cost of all overheads, including insurance for your event.
2. Creating "Brand You"
Next to your portfolio, your most valuable asset is your website. It should contain:
- artist’s statement
- gallery of work - low resolution images at 72 ppi
- contact details
- press coverage, recommendations etc
- blog/webcam (optional)
Keep it simple. Free website design from
Host it from your domain name provider, or a company such as www.Bluehost.com
For help with all things website subscribe to www.lynda.com
Example of an artist’s website: Jennifer Vanderpool
Search Engine Optimization
The Google algorithm
- Frequent updating of content
- Free content
- Links to other sites
Facebook - professional page
Who uses them?
Example of an artist’s facebook page: Suzan Woodruff
Example of an artist’s Twitter feed: @Powhida also posting at William Powhida
Chattiest art critic on Twitter: @TylerGreenDC also blogging as Modern Art Notes
Handling your networks- hootsuite.com
3. Getting the word out
Know Your Galleries
Where do you find curators and art collectors?- Near art.
Visit as many galleries as you can, get a feel for their different tastes.
- search out and chat to the artists showing
- attend artists talks if offered
- talk to the gallerists about what they look for in work
- clusters of galleries co-ordinate their openings, do them all
- attend artwalks
Visual Art Source lists practically every art show in the area worth visiting. Listings are paid for by the galleries. Culture Monster is the LA Times online arts guide. Plan For Your Art, LAWeekly and flavorpill sort through mountains of listings to give you their picks.
Know your Press
Which reviews do you read? Which critics do you agree with? Have you told them?
One of the major factors in getting your work reviewed is in knowing who to send your press release to. Many journalists now have twitter feeds that make it easy for you to get to know them.
Quiz: How well do you know your press?
1. What is Patch?
2. Who is the senior art critic for the Los Angeles Times?
3. Who handles arts coverage at the Random Lengths News?
4. Who or what is Coagula?
5. What is the arts supplement of the Daily Breeze?
6. Who hosts DnA: Design and Architecture on KCRW?
4. Writing Your Press Release
One of the mantras of the contemporary media world is “Content Is King.” If you have something to say, there is a market ready to hear it, and the most effective way to get your message out is by a well-written, concise press release.
The Rule of Five
The rule of five is a way to check that you have the key points covered in your release. They are:
- How (or Why if more appropriate)
It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised what you forget to include when you get involved in writing the body of the release.
The Top of Your Page
Before you even start writing the copy, the top of the page should include two vital pieces of information - the release date and the press contact information.
For 99% of your releases, you will head your copy For Immediate Release, which tells the journalist that they can use anything in the release at any time.
The only exception is if you have time-sensitive information. For example, you are holding an awards ceremony during which the winners will be revealed with much excitement. You want as much coverage for the event as you can muster, but you also don’t want the press to run the details of the winners until after the awards ceremony. In this case you use an embargo. You give the press enough time to layout their pages, write their pieces, and meet their deadlines by giving them advance notice but marking the top of your release Embargoed Until After 10:00pm, Saturday, February 24, 2020. (or whatever your date actually is.)
There is a tacit understanding that, in return for making their lives easier, the press will respect your embargo and keep your surprises a surprise.
Think of this as your headline. It should convey the essence of the release and if possible pique the curiosity so that the editor wants to know more. Channel the spirit of some of the classic headlines - e.g. The New York Times: Headless Body in Topless Bar - and always back it up with a picture.
Your First Paragraph
Editors are busy people. The first paragraph should give them the first three of the Ws - date and time, location and what the event is.
This is also the place you put your most newsworthy information - the thing that makes your event unique, intriguing, or interesting to their readers. This may be a What - such as a marathon, or it maybe a Who - such as a celebrity speaking in support of your cause. It may be that it is first time such an event has occurred, or the fiftieth.
Writing in the Active Voice
Technically your press release is about an event that is yet to happen. However, if you use the future tense, saying “the exhibition will open” or even worse “the exhibition will be opening”, you distance yourself from the reader and lose immediacy. For that reason, all press releases are written in the active voice - “the exhibition opens.”
The active voice is also used in most features and listings, so your copy will fit right in when it comes to editing time.
Your Second Paragraph
Now you’ve mastered the active voice, and given the basic details of your event, you can add some texture. The second paragraph is the favorite place to put a quote from someone involved in the event - the Director, CEO, or a recognized authority in the subject. A couple of lively sentences, written by you and sanctioned by the ‘speaker’, should express pleasure at being connected with the event and endorse the whole venture.
Your Third Paragraph
Time to catch up on any of the five you haven’t got round to yet, but don’t go too long. If your journalist is still reading by now, you have whetted the appetite. Keep some nuggets of information back that you can expand upon when they call you. The copy section of your press release ends here. Draw a small line underneath or write the word “Ends” to show that what follows is for the convenience of the journalist alone.
Checklist for Journalists
- Reiterate your basic information of what, when and where.
- Add any further information that you think will help, such as gallery opening hours, special event parking instructions, venue website and contact numbers, admission charges etc.
- Attach an assortment of images if you have them, no more than three, published at 72dpi (low resolution). Be sure to include the captions for the images, including any credits and copyright information.
- If you are sending to a printed magazine or newspaper, let them know that you have high resolution images available, and have them prepared as jpgs at 6 inches by 4 inches at 300dpi.
- Finish with your press contact information (again).
I can’t emphasize enough how important this is, especially if you have auto correct, you need to go through and check that everything is as it should be. Get a friend to read it too, they may spot something you have missed.
Some editors prefer to edit from hard copy, so attach a beautifully laid out PDF of your release.
In sending out your press release be aware that it will be one among many in the inbox. Be professional by using the subject line to flag the content, including the relevant date
So now you have completed your press release. Send it into the word and wait for your call from a journalist or editor requesting further information. If you have written it well you may find that your entire release has been copied and pasted into the editorial page. You have, in effect, written your own article. Hurray!
Exercise: Writing a Press Release
Using a real or imaginary event, write the top, title and first paragraph of a press release.
5. Getting Coverage
Timing is everything. Even the best show in the world will not get covered if the press release is sent out after the issue has gone to print.
The International Art Press
Artforum (the 800lb gorilla) Frieze, The Art Newspaper etc. Editors plan features nine to six months in advance. If you are big enough to be included in these, you are no longer handling your own presswork.
US Art Press
Other Monthly Magazines
Art Ltd. Surface, CMYK Magazine and any glossies such as Angeleno, California Home + Design Allow four month’s planning. Content decisions are taken three months before publication date. Direct correspondence to the Editor and journalist by name.
Weeklies and Online magazines
Allow four weeks. Direct correspondence to the Section Head, Listings Editor and individual named writers
Allow two weeks. Direct correspondence to the Section Head, Listings Editor and individual named writers
Broadcast and Bloggers
All radio and TV allow one week, unless it’s breaking news in which case phone the Editor and email individual named journalists. Give bloggers five days.
Sample coverage The release and how it appeared in print.
What Happens if they Don’t Call Me?
It’s fine to phone “to check whether they received your
release”. You will usually go to
voicemail but just leave a message. You can also send an email asking the same
question. If you don’t get a response DO NOT PESTER.
What Happens when they Call Me?
Be friendly and relaxed. They have a job to do which involves deadlines, so be prompt in returning phone calls, or sending images. Make sure you have their personal contact information before hanging up and keep up the occasional contact by dropping and email when you’ve particularly enjoyed an article, or sending an invitation to view your work at your next show.