Todays tip for emerging artists:
Getting the word out for your solo exhibits:
The reason I am focusing on solo exhibits, is because most group shows are covered by a gallery or organization, but the rules hold the same.
A good showing at an exhibit is very important for an artist, it tells the gallery that you are worth investing in, but it also lets you the artist know that your work is worth something to people.
Believe it or not the biggest mistake people make when putting together a solo show is the name of the exhibit. This can make or break your exhibit. While it may seem easy the name of the exhibit should not only talk about the work you are doing and the theme, but should make a statement of its own. Take my last show “Deconstructing POP” the title not only talks about the kind of work I am doing, but the statement I want to make with my work. It is strong and makes people think about what the work can be.
After a strong name, the image or images you are going to use for the exhibit. It is important to pick one or two pieces of work to show people a sample of the work in the show. It does not have to be a photo of a whole piece it can be a section, but it should speak to the work in the exhibit.
The next part is the press release, some galleries will offer to do it, others will insist, but you should have a good understanding of how they work. The press release should be short, about 1-2 paragraphs the most. It should include what kind of work will be in the exhibit, what inspired the artist to do the work, and a little background of the work you do. It should also include the gallery or spaces information, date and time of the opening, how long the show is running for, location, and contact information for the gallery.
Now that you have all this it is time to start spreading the word. While many artists today are heavy into internet for spreading the word, exhibit cards say a lot about the artist. A good card can catch someones eye and make them think about attending the show more than an email. While I have an email list, I also have a mailing list, and am sure to send out invites to important friends, artists and collectors of my works, as well as galleries I am interested in getting to show my work in. Some places that I am involved in will also let me leave exhibit cards for visitors to check out.
It is also good to build a good internet following. a good Facebook, twitter, linkedin and wordpress page can allow people to follow your work and make it easier to spread the word of your exhibits. It also allows people to see what is going on with your work. It is also useful for spreading the word by inviting them to events on these sites, allowing you to save some money on printing invites (but it is not a replacement for paper invites to those strong supporters of your work).
So the next part is how to get your info to media outlets. This part is a little more difficult. While most media outlets will let you post events on the on-line media for their publications, the printed media is a little harder to get into. It has more to do with the interest in your work, but also your strong press release. When you send your information to the media outlets make sure you submit it the proper way. If you try to email it to them and the site says to submit online they may not put the word out because you did not follow the process. If there is a space for it attach your photo and be sure to thank them for their time if there is a space for remarks. Like I said this is were a strong press release comes in. If you have an interesting story behind your work, and a good title it will have a better chance of drawing their attention to your show. You can also invite them out to the exhibit, but don’t be upset if they don’t show. They get hundreds of request for covering exhibits week, and can’t make them all. Don’t just stick to paper media, it is also good to send out to tv and radio. The more coverage for a exhibit the better. Also the more you send out the better chance to get at least 4-5 media groups to cover your exhibit.
If media outlets do come to your event it is important to send them a thank you note, to let them know you appreciate their support.
So now you will be asking okay how do I build a good mailing list and get a good showing at my exhibits. As it goes without saying you hope that family and friends will come out, but it will take more than your uncle Bob showing up to make your exhibit a success.
Here are some ways to build the kind of support you need..
1. Go to other artists shows, and show your support to them. While they may not always come out to your show and you can’t always go to theirs, it is important for artists to support each other. The more artists you support the more likely some of them will come to your exhibits. They will also introduce you to other artists and their friends who may also come out to your exhibits.
2. Build an email/mailing list. When you have an exhibit put out a sign-in book, let people have a place to be put on a mailing or emailing list to be informed of up-coming exhibits. If they like what they see at your exhibit they will likely sign up to hear about more, and come to future exhibits of yours.
3. Build a good on-line following. It is important to keep your on-line pages professional and about your work. One way to get your page out there is to be active on it. The more you post the more likely others will see your page. Leave your professional page open to all to see, and let others have the ability to post comments. Another way to build a list is to make small advertisements from time to time. About every 2 months I advertise my Facebook page, focusing on areas I would like to draw interest.
4. Being involved in the local community, and local art associations also helps build a stronger turn out. Many local art groups will post info about your exhibits on their pages, and around their locations. Also being active in local events helps you meet more people.
5. Have business cards on hand, and carry your samples of your work, either on a smart phone, iPad or other media device so that when you meet people and they ask you about your work you can show them samples, and give them your contact info. It shows people that you are a serious artist, well organized and gives them a chance to see what you do.
The hardest thing for an artist to do is to do is introduce themselves without sounding like they are boasting, and be able to talk well describe their work while be humble. It is important to believe in your work, and love what you do, always look people in the eye and be prepared to answer questions. First impressions are very important in the art world. If people think you are a snob, full of yourself and only looking to make a buck it will turn them off.