Monday, August 1, 2011

Putting on Your First Show Part 3 Publicity

Build a better mouse trap and the world will bet a path to your door……..

…………………………………..not if they don’t know about it.

Which brings us to another painful topic,


Publicity is not a four-letter word! And it is not only necessary for a successful show it is vital!

 Getting the word out

Your artwork is unique but you have to tell people just what it is that makes you unique and why they should care. So you need to get some publicity.

There are a not of way to do this. One of the most effective is still print. People relate to art and artists they see in local newspapers. These are their neighbors. It feels friendly.


Local Papers cover local people
Depending on where you live, it can be easy-difficult to get. If you are in a major market, submit the press release to the big papers, but also, to any local papers. Local papers will bring out local people; just who you want.

But don’t dismiss the big guys. They might surprise you, especially if you are home-grown. People love to read about people in their communities who are doing things. To try and contact the feature-writers and editors of all local papers. If you are not sure how, go to your library and talk to the Liberians. Also, ask other artist for their contacts. They might be able to pass along some information about you and your show, which will mean more to the reporters. Do this enough in advance that they can do a story on you and your show.

And think of it this way, they have to write about something, it might as well be you!

Most of
Us are shy

Yes, most of us tend to be shy. But grit your teeth and do it. I was shocked when the first reporter I tentatively contacted responded. Not only responded, but met me for an interview, came over and photographed me working, and gave me advice on photographing my work! A nice feature article on the show and me really helped to make my first show a success!

It took me a while before I got up enough nerve to contact TV and radio, and I am sorry I waited so long! Most TV stations have news desks, and often need short feel-good stories for the weekend. A nice 2-minute spot on the local guy who makes art out of tin cans, etc is often just what they need. So supply that need!  These contacts can lead to more.

After a few years and meeting a number of reporters, when an art show came to town and a local feature writer was told to do a story on it, she contacted me to find out just who this guy was and why he was important. So I got a nice quote about that artist and mention for me and for my gallery. Let them begin to think of you as their go to guy for art.

Don’t underestimate yourself

You are interesting, or at least your art is. Supply the press with your bio, artist statement and good clear photos of your work. If you have a good camera, and can create a cd with digital files of selected work, this is a good thing. I will include a doc with the bio, statement and high-resolution photos of my work. This can work to your advantage because conditions might not be good to photography the work in the gallery or shop. They will most likely want a photo of you with your work, but clear photos they can use in print help.

Press Release
Press Release

You will need to write a press release. Scary? Yes, but you can do it. A simple letter stating that you will be opening an art show at…… on….. Cover the who, what, when and how. Include contact information, phone number, e-mail, etc. You can include examples of your work, but they should be very good photos! Not snapshot with your cell phone. The advantages of a gallery show is that the gallery generally knows how to do this. A shop, office or coffee house will not.

So Learn. This is not hard, it just takes time and determination. And Humility. For some help, you can see what other artists have done.

Marion, from writes

Press Kit

All those documents you have already worked on can now to put to good use!

Have a handy little Bio
Have the bio and artist statement ready for them. The easier you make their job the more they will like you and the better coverage you will get. You can also have a list of the artwork in this show. Name, theme, etc. Give them something to write about, and maybe help them get a handle on how to interview you. Give them all the help you can to give you good coverage. In the press kit you can include a Bio, Artist Statement, Inventory/catalog of show and even photos of  your artwork. I know several artists who print up small brochures of their shows. These are limited printings and not expensive, but go a long way to making your show look professional and helping the press to give the right slant on your show. They are not mind-readers, help them!

A few words about photos for Press Release and Press Kit

Just some notes that I think you will find helpful when including artwork or graphics with a press release. I have found that newspapers and TV stations are much more likely to pay attention to press releases that include art. This can mean photos of paintings or people doing things.

But they will not print this artwork unless it is identified. If it is a painting, clearly identify the artwork and artist. I usually name the file with the artist last name and a hyphen title.

In the press release, below the -30- I will name the file attached, identify it and anyone in it. Then include the credit, ea. Who took the picture. By including the photo you are giving permission for the media to use this in either print or broadcast. If there are people in the photo, these must be identified also. Standard is left to right back to front. First initial and last name is enough. After all this is done, I will include a line, such as Photo by name of photographer.

Press will by default use their own photos from their morgue if possible. But they are much more likely to even think of it if we include something.

Photos should be a good quality, in focus. It is better to not include a photo than to include a poor one. Always take the photo at the highest resolution settings of your camera. You can always downsize for the Internet, but print does require a larger file than the Internet or a website.

Next: Opening Reception, the meet and greet, a necessary Evil!


  1. Just as a followup, that press releases do work, I sent a press release about one of our artists to the local press, and did a blog about him for the Renaissance Gallery. A local paper sent a reporter and photographer to this artist's house and did a feature story on him, including photos of him and his work.

  2. Nice painting site,.Great art work with useful article,.

  3. Thanks, I hope I can help other artists with my own experiences. Working with an artist co-op gallery, I have put on a lot of show!


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