Approaches to promotion

Self-promotion can be considered from two different angles. Project specific promotion for specific events and ongoing or day to day promotion for generally remaining visible in the sector.

Project specific promotion might be about getting people to turn up to an exhibition opening or participants to workshops; and ongoing promotional activity which is about being more broadly visible within the arts sector making people aware that you’re out there, making work. There is some crossover between these two types of promotion. So for example, when you’re inviting people to an exhibition opening (project specific promotion) you are still making them aware that you’re active and participating in a show, which is a form of ongoing promotion.

Every day is an opportunity to build a wider understanding of your work, and doing so a little each day makes it more manageable and coordinated. Working on promotion can be like a piece of string, and take up as much time as you give to it. So here are some tips to help you keep on top of promotional activity.

  • Maintain a list of active contacts within useful subgroups – private view invitations; press releases; invitations to your studio; to keep updated on new work; residencies etc. Mailchimp offer an easy to use, free way of managing this.
  • Research and keep copies of articles by writers you might like to contact in the future, and gain an understanding of what interests each one.
  • Keep clear records of any sales of works. This is useful for your mailing list, insurance, and your ongoing catalogue raisonne / archive.
  • Network in your peer group. Emerging artists will find private views at newer artist-orientated venues more useful than the Serpentine Summer party.
  • Have business cards with you at all times and hand them out in an appropriate manner.
  • Maintain a totally-updated ‘Master CV’, the contents of which you can customise when presenting CVs for particular opportunities.
  • Collect quotes and notes about you and your work, alongside permission from the individual or organisations to use them.
  • Keep copies of all photographic documentation, articles, reviews and catalogue essays.

Avoid doing the following:

  • Don’t send images or emails to strangers: their most likely to end up deleted or with a polite but negative reply, and may damage your future chances of making genuine contact later.
  • Other people’s private views are not your opportunity to land a show at the venue yourself, but an informal ‘hello’ or chat with the curator / director can be followed up later

Listen to artist Laura Eldret talk about her approach to promotion and marketing from a more project specific angle:

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