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
Part 1 - SOCIAL MEDIA AND ON-LINE PROMOTION
Focus on two or three social media platforms. It’s very difficult to manage more than 5 effectively if you are doing it all yourself and finding the time to create work.
The best ones for art are, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. (YouTube for multi-media artists)
Facebook - Is great for building up the story around your work and what it is you are expressing. Images of your work, articles, and any video clips such as an interview or a behind the scenes work very well. You can also pay to advertise affordably to amplify your promotion.
Twitter – Is similar now that it is more visual. You are limited to 140 characters which means you have to be a bit more creative and concise about what you write. If your posting a an image with a link in the copy directing people your online gallery then use a bit.ly link to shorten it. Use a mixture handles (@’s) and hashtags # to communicate directly with people and popular trends that are relevant to your work. For example, @SaatchiGallery, New Exhibition “The Great Unknown”, October 2015, #painting #artexhibition
Instagram – although owned by Facebook the platform is more similar to Twitter. Follow other artists, galleries and general people you find interesting and engage with their work by leaving comments and liking and hashtags. Find profiles with large following which share content and @ and # them.
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t hear back from them, just keep trying and people will start to engage more and more with your profile.
ORGANICALLY GENERATED PROMOTION
This is promotion generated without paying for advertisement.
• Increase followers – So that your content gets seen by more people. The best way to start getting new followers is by inviting all of your friends to Like your page on Facebook or Twitter/Insta profile – remember to re-do this again after a while when you ave acquired more friends. You can even send some personal inbox messages asking them to show their support.
• Increase engagement with your posts - Put out content consistently but not too often – between 3 and 7 times a week on average is good. Think about timings – usually evenings when most users are active at about 7:30pm is going to increase your chances of being seen. Catch on to upcoming trends and special days in the year and use them like brands to your advantage, just think M&S Christmas. Asking questions to your audience can encourage interaction; what do they prefer? Do they know where the location it is.
• Vary types of posts – Images of your work, either finished or if it’s a larger piece you can post stages. It makes people feel involved in what you are doing as they see it develop. Don’t push out the same artwork more than 5 times in a month it looks spammy and Facebook will start to lower it’s impressions – (an impression is every time your image appears on the newsfeed on someone’s screen- desktop or mobile).
• Interact with other professionals - When you are not posting your own work interact with other artists, galleries or people you admire, share their work, comment on it and support each other. The facebook algorithm works by pushing up content which has more engagements to the top of the newsfeed, so if you and someone else are sharing each others work it is more likely to get seen by a wider audience. It costs nothing but a fraction of your time.
• Keep the copy short - More than three lines and people start to scroll straight past. Be informative, and use a call to action when necessary. E.g. Vincent Van Gough, “Self-Portrait” now on show at The Saatchi Gallery. Come and have a look”
• Putting in the price can work very well to encourage sales - Some artists may feel a bit embarrassed to do this but people can feel more embarrassed to ask you directly so tell them and if they like it they will buy it. Regularly upload your artworks. Sometimes adding a call to action can also encourage a viewer to click through to your website like “Check out my new piece, now available from my website - www.... - for £200
PAID ADVERTISING (AVAILABLE FOR FACEBOOK AND TWITTER)
- Try and work with building organically first.
- Start by considering paid advertisement to build your follower/fan base – this will mean your posts get seen by more people. You will be charged per 'like' achieved but you can set a top budget. A greater number of followers can add provenance but remember they also need to be engaging with your posts.
- You can also pay to promote individual posts, this can mean you engage a more specific audience, they like and share it with their own audiences spreading your post further.
- More visually engaging posts are more cost effective as Facebook will charge less. Visually interesting posts are easier for viewers to engage with and therefore more successful.
- Handling Negative Comment: Even if you get negative comments you can use these as a potent force to put across who you are and acquire new fans and followers, by politely turning them around. Respond politely addressing it, perhaps provide further explanation or offer to answer any further questions over email. Anything not productive - swearing etc - just delete or block the person leaving it.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and self promote – it’s never been so easy ( it can be hard to put something you’ve created out to the public and for it to be rejected, but it is harder for your career if don’t – remember all established artists have their critics, from Dali to Tracey Emin and Banksy
Work at it regularly, this does take time and effort but the rewards can definitely be worth it if you get it right. During those times when you are not actually creating anything or waiting around do a few posts, interact with others socially, it only takes a few seconds and you can schedule posts in advance for ease.
The important thing is that they feel connected to you and your work and that they are involved in what you are doing. It is a great way to reach out without having to leave the comfort of your own home.
Alexis Jourrou - Social Media Consultant. Works with Saatchi Gallery Magazine, MTV, Warner Brothers, Canon and various London galleries and artists.
Continued Next Week: How to Promote Yourself: Part 2 - IN PERSON/VERBAL PROMOTION
Winning an art prize is a great trophy to add to your CV along with the awareness the whole process can bring. But, it is easy to think that you will win something just by entering as many as possible and hoping for the best. In practice, it is very difficult to get any success and the competition is very hard to beat. Entering and not getting any feedback apart from a one sentence rejection can be demoralising.... but it is important to realise that its often because of the quality of the applications rather than the art itself. Importantly, you don't always have to win to benefit greatly from entering.
Caitlin Smyth gives her tips and advice on getting the best out of entering art prizes, vital for artists that want to increase their chances of winning and, in any case, to benefit from the great exposure that the most interesting prizes can provide. Study the below and remember to use these when entering the Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize 2015...
If you would like to attend future talks, subscribe to our newsletter here.
WHY ENTER AN ART PRIZE
Entering art prizes can significantly add to your CV and provenance as an artist. Researching the correct prizes for you and the application process can be time consuming but the potential return is much greater. Benefits of entering prizes:
- Exposure to a dedicated art audience – your work is guaranteed to be seen by the judges, even if not successful you may stay in their mind in the future increasing your chances of future opportunities
- Building your network – engaging with the prize, other entrants, events that complement the prize will help boost your reach and exposure.
- Build your CV – if you are short-listed or do win then you can add this to your CV and build your profile. You’ll also get a great amount of exposure where you don’t have to do the work – the prize will do that for you which takes a lot of pressure off you keeping up the exposure.
THE FOUR STAGES TO CONSIDER IF OPTIMISING YOUR ENTRY
- Establish what your USPs are; are you a recent graduate? Under or over 40, a photographer or a painter, perhaps from a certain part of the world – use this criteria to start building a list of what prizes will suit you.
- Look beyond just google: what have artists who are further on in their careers got on their CV? You can often find their CV’s on their website or on the gallery’s site that represents them.
- Certain useful websites: isendyouthis.com, ideastap.com, photocontestinsider.com, artcompetitions.co.uk, artshub.com.
- Document all of the prizes you find in a spreadsheet (if possible), track them for the current year and the next year.
Once you’ve selected your prizes:
- Look at the judging panel - what have they done and where are they from? Look at what their career path has been and what they’ve done but don’t be perturbed if your work doesn’t suit their focus. That doesn’t mean it’s not of interest! It will give you more confidence to know a little about them and have a face to a name – look at their social media presence, you can sometimes gauge personality more through feeds…
- Look at past winners - go beyond just looking at their work. What point in their career are they at? How do they talk about their work? Again don’t be perturbed if someone with a similar style won the year before, etc. Look at this research helping you gauge the ‘personality’ of the prize.
- Edit your text - artwork info - for each prize to optimise entry. Highlight things that suit their prize.
- Check what size and quality jpegs you need and how the prize wants them named – it will vary for each prize.
- Take good, well lit photos of work – texture in works needs good lighting! There are professionals who can help you with this.
- Look at whether the prize wants a strong and stylised image selection, not too many styles or if they judge each piece individually. It should affect what you submit.
- Do you need extra information? CV, biography, artwork background and technical information, artist statement? Check this – send what is needed not extra.
YOU'VE SUBMITTED - NOW WHAT?:
- Leave it a week or so then follow up - did you receive my entry? Do you need anything else?
- Connect with the people behind the prize, stay in their mind - even if you don't win it may mean your work stays in their mind or you can connect with them again at a quieter time and see if they’d give feedback on your work.
- If you hear from them: thank them for their reply - have the last email, be attentive.
- If you don't, don’t worry – it will be a busy time for them, perhaps email them at a quieter time in the prize schedule to connect instead.
- Get on their social network profiles and mailing lists, stay up to date, share, engage with the organiser, attend the events offered – meet people!
- Win or lose. Keep building the relationship, promote the shortlist.
- Attend their all events, talk to other artists, make a point of talking to the people you emailed if you see them at the events
- Stay positive, keep trying.
- Prizes add weight to your CV - don't be selective based on prizes offered, cover every base!
- Put together a schedule - what opens/closes when. Stay on top of this – update weekly. Plan your year roll out of prizes to enter where possible and budget for it
- Try and get feedback on any entries made – email the organisers. Learn what works.
- Apply to a range of different prizes. Go for the big ones and the small. You never know what year your work will fit.
- Look wider afield to other strong art markets EXAMPLE: US; NYC, CALIFORNIA. ASIA; HONG KONG, JAPAN. EUROPE; PARIS, BERLIN. Of course – think about your budget and affording to ship piece if you are successful.
Oaktree & Tiger Team
Art experts giving advice to emerging artists to build their careers and find success. Organisers of the Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize 2018, artist agent and art consultants.