Part 3 - WRITTEN PROMOTION
1. CORE TEXTS.
3 key texts you need as a constant which you will adapt and change depending on what they are used for.
CV - very simple, sterile and informative:
- Include: Name, contact info and website, nationality, education, solo and group shows, collections, art prizes - including if you've been shortlisted and add dates to it all.
- Use bullet points, keep it simple and short.
- Consider leaving off your artist statement - keep this document to the quantitative.
ARTIST STATEMENT - qualitative text to talk expressively about your practice and the ideas behind it:
- Personal choice but first person makes it sound more like you're hearing directly from the artist and connecting with them more.
- Talk about the ideas behind your practice; what influences you, why you work the way you do, what are you interested in exploring.
- Keep it to a paragraph or two
- Keep the language simple, writing style concise - the more people that understand it the more they'll engage with your work and you'll reach a bigger audience.
- Be creative and artistic and let your personality come through. A chance to show the person behind the art.
BIOGRAPHY - Possibly the most valuable text it's a combination of the CV and artist statement. It's separated from the artist statement because with applications you can often be asked to submit a CV and an artist statement OR a biography:
- Use prose to outline some CV background then add in artist statement info.
- Again, keep the language simple
- Now is the time to use writing in the third person
If you are collaborating: There is no set formula but if you're whole career and practice is working together then consider using a joint artist statement that explains that and then separate CVs. If it's one project you are collaborating on then keep it all separate and produce exhibition info that describes the project.
HAVE THESE TEXTS TO REFER TO, ADAPT AND SEND ON FOR PROSPECTIVE COLLECTORS, GALLERY DIRECTORS, APPLICATIONS TO ART PRIZES/ EXHIBITIONS
2. TEXT FOR KEY EVENTS, EXHIBITIONS.
- PRESS RELEASE - sent to inform journalists, bloggers etc of new exhibitions, possibly new collections etc.
- Write concisely and to the point avoid being flowery - avoid lots of adjectives 'exciting' 'fascinating' 'stunning' etc. It's the journalists job to 'jazz' it up for readers.
- Try to imbed facts at the top of the release - give the journalist a good idea of what your exhibition/new collection etc is about quickly so they can make the call if they're interested straight away
- EXAMPLE: Blood in My Eyes exhibition with artworks by Ana Maria Velez Wood, Press Release excerpt:
'Blood in My Eyes features previously unseen photographs of Bob Dylan taken during Eurythmics founder Dave Stewarts filming of the music video Blood in My Eyes in 1993'
First sentence gives all the key exhibition info - unseen photographs, Bob Dylan, Exhibition.
A FEW POINTS ON EMAILING JOURNALISTS
- When emailing journalists try and make sure you have a named contact - if sending to an info@ address then research a contact name, doesn't matter if you are not 100% sure you have the right person it shows attention to detail
- Avoid blanket email, be selective, email individually and personally - try to search correct names for info@ addresses.
- Don't simply embed the press release, write a personalised email - shows you've thought about why it's relevant, offer a short explanation and
- Research print deadlines to make sure you send things at the right time - calling publications will get you this.
- Don't be deterred if not successful, timing is everything
EXHIBITION INFO - a more qualitative version of your press release, needs to be understandable to an audience that doesn't know your work or the style - what if they wonder in off the street...
- Now use those adjectives that make your exhibition/ new collection sound exciting.
- Again simple writing style to engage a wider audience.
- EXAMPLE: From Blood in my Eyes Exhibition information sheet:
- 'When photographer Ana María Vélez Wood received an early morning phone call from friend and Eurythmics founder Dave Stewart in 1993, she was not expecting the invitation to photograph the filming of Bob Dylan’s video: Blood In My Eyes. This was an opportunity that Ana María could not turn down and the resulting hundred plus images will now, with the kind permission of Dylan, his Personal Manager and Dave Stewart, finally be revealed in a stunning exhibition this October at Testbed1 gallery and project space in Battersea.'
Creates a story, inspires reader, covers all information; artist's work and background plus exhibition explanation.
MAIL OUT - sending to your unseen database who have engaged with your work at least once before.
- Try to mail out monthly or bimonthly - use software like Mailchimp to organise, design and track the effectiveness of your mail out.
- Keep the content fresh, if you are not producing new artworks every month then can you write a blog and talk about what you have seen or experienced.
- Use images
- Avoid lengthy text - if someone is skimming emails they need to be grabbed quickly by what they see, use formatting (bold text, capitals) to highlight key headers so readers can skim to the bits that interest them.
- If you have an event or exhibition coming up then you may want to increase frequency - eg. Two in the last month before an exhibition but don't bombard!
Always have key texts on hand to mail out quickly before leads go cold. Try to keep your writing style simple and concise to engage a wider audience and look more confident. Don't be disheartened if you're not picked up by press, it's really hard to achieve! But do use listings sites to boost online foot print. Keep your mail out content fresh and mail outs regular.
Caitlin Smyth - Artist Agent and Marketing/PR Consultant. Develops the profiles/careers of artists and galleries across online and offline channels, provides marketing support for ongoing and one-off arts projects.
Part 2 - IN PERSON / VERBAL PROMOTION
Our goal with these interactions is to get your point across effectively, create a great impression and desire to interact further with you and your work from then on.
There are other things like the personality you portray, your social circles and choosing places relevant to where you want your work to be seen to attend private views and events at, but working on a well worded and natural 'pitch' can have you ready for any scenario.
Pitches - try to work on 3 versions; 1 sentence, 3 sentences, long story:
- 1 sentence - quick and summarising what is integral to you work. 'I am a abstract painter who explores texture and colour'
- 3 sentences - possibly add in a bit more background; is where you are from or where you studied important to your practice? Have you had a recent exhibition?
- Long pitch - The longer pitch will be a two-way conversation (a chance to question them, listen and focus on what they like/connect with when looking at art. Do they like form, colour, certain themes... If they sound interested in your work ask to connect with them over email. DON'T force them to see your artwork there and then, hopefully you describe your art in a way that makes them curious enough to ask...
Pitch's might include:
- Summary of your artist statement/bio (describe your artwork briefly)
- Elements that might connect with a listener (commonalities)
- Examples of our past successes/exhibitions
“I’m (your name), I’m Italian-Albanian and was raised in Trieste, that creates abstract artworks through layering things like raw pigment and limestone on canvas.
I quite influenced by the processes used by artists like Rothko/Kandinsky/Pollock/Twombly - I like the elements of control and chaos they use.
I had an exhibition recently with Oaktree & Tiger Gallery it was exciting, I collaborated with a violinist.”
Notice details, in the above, that the listener can find reasons to connect with (countries/cities, renowned artists), be open to further questions, don't go overboard and give too much info; aim to create a desire to see your artworks from what you say, try to exchange contact details as much as possible.
Post meeting in person: build those meetings into relationships by keeping up interactions through newsletters, Facebook, Twitter, direct email... Build trust in your work. Make sure you keep your website and social media up to date so that when people look you up they see you as active in the industry. Keep in touch and follow up with a message soon after meeting, this is vital with important interactions as the enthusiasm that they had at the time usually disappears soon after.
Conrad Carvalho - Gallery Director for Oaktree & Tiger Gallery. Works closely with early emerging artists, using his experience in finance and business to help develop their own careers.
Continued Next Week: How to Promote Yourself: Part 3 - WRITTEN PROMOTION
Oaktree & Tiger Team
Art experts giving advice to emerging artists to build their careers and find success. Organisers of the Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize 2020, artist agent and art consultants.