Marketing Yourself
Category - Arts Resource
Written by Richard Garriott-Stejskal
Editor: Kellie Hanna

A number of artists have asked how to market their work. Galleries are often overwhelmed by artists seeking representation. Several galleries tell me that they are approached by 10 to 15 artists a week. If they are looking for artists they will look for those who have a show record and the desire to participate in their own marketing. One gallery owner told me, "I am looking for someone who is serious, knows what it means to show in a gallery and will produce work consistently. I am not interested in emerging artists that I have to train."
What can you do?

The most important thing an artist can do is to have really good slides of their work. If an artist is not a skilled photographer then he or she should work with a professional. Having good images of work is vital for any promotion. Magazines and newspapers want images, but rarely will they have the resources or interest in going out and getting them. A gallery will use them to approach collectors. When you approach a photographer, it helps to have a clear idea of how you want your work photographed. This is particularly important with three dimensional works where lighting can establish mood and render volume. Sometimes you have to go through several photographers before you find one that works for you. I keep a file of images from magazines that have caught my attention; I found it helpful to bring samples of what I think would work with my pieces to the first shoot. One of your most important relationships will be with your photographer.

Galleries want a well-crafted resume. This should reflect shows and exhibitions, education, awards, collections, and any publications that featured the artists work. There are several standard formats. Go into a gallery and take a look at the ones they have on file (or take a look at mine at Resumes should be constantly updated. Galleries use these to interest collectors and to generate publicity. A reviewer will often ask for a copy of a resume to help with an article.

Additionally, galleries like to have an artist's statement. They use this to educate their staff, write press releases and talk to the customer about the artist's intentions. A statement should be clearly written. It is not the time to be cute with obscure references or with lines such as "my work is my statement." The trick with a good statement is to talk about the issues you are exploring in way that makes them accessible. It is worth taking time with and having others it look over. Listen carefully to feedback and try to incorporate it into any revisions.

Entering shows and generating your own publicity also helps. I frequently send out press releases about my work, where I am showing, or about awards I have gotten. It is surprising how many get published. I had an artist friend who sent out so many press releases that I accused him of notifying the press when he woke up. Yet every bit of publicity you can gather shows a gallery that you are serious. It also means that they are working with someone who has already established some presence in the community. Keep copies of everything. The gallery may want to develop a "book" of your publicity to make available to collectors. A relationship with a gallery is a bit like a marriage: you will be expected to carry some of the load. A gallery will want to see willingness of that in the beginning. Richard Garriott-Stejskal May 1999

Mr. Garriott-Stejskal's work is currently featured in the Artwell gallery.

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