This is going to be a text dense one, so here’s an image of a plush eggplant (heh) by Billy Kheel to give you a bit of joy.
And now, the dense bit:
I recently went to a solo show (it was fabulous), that I caught a post about on Instagram. If I hadn’t seen the post, I wouldn’t have known there was a show. And this isn’t the first show I’ve missed due to lack of promotion. It got me thinking that I would write a column on getting the word out. I know, it’s the least fun part. I know, you’re busy making, and stretching, and hanging, etc, You’re doing all this work, don’t you want people to come and see it?
It’s not like you’re asking them to go to an improv show with a two drink minimum. It’s a free (usually) art show, often with free booze! People love free booze! So what can be done?
Keep Lists –
- Obviously you have a mailing list – please have a mailing list – use it! Record the emails of everyone who buys your work, requests info about your work. Keep a mailing list pad that you have on you when you’re showing, and get those names! Do an email blast about your show! I know we all get a ton of emails, and you don’t want to bother people, but they wouldn’t have signed up for your mailing list – or bought your work, or made inquiries, etc – if they weren’t interested. Let them know what you’re doing!
- Buyer/collector mailing list – A special list of people who buy your work, or work form prior shows you’ve curated, gallery owners you know, influencers, etc. I always write a personal email inventing them, as well as sending them the email blast. Let them know if they can’t make the opening, you’ll be happy to show them the work while it’s up, when they’re free.
- Press list – When anyone mentions you or your work (or work you admire that’s in the same vein as yours if you haven’t gotten press yet), keep that name. When it’s time to promote your show, email them in advance. Let them know what your show is and that they should come see it. Invite them to a preview. Get that listing! Get that write up!
- Website list – Pretty much the same as your press list. Reach out to websites that feature art, list shows, or have featured shows and art in the same arena. Let them know all the details about your show, theme, artists, sponsors, etc. Try to connect it to something they’re already doing or someone they’ve already featured whom you’re working with.
- Artists’ credit list – if you’re curating a group show, or you’re in a group show, know the artists’ credits and use them. Reach out to publications and sites that have featured the artists, list the big names that you’re showing with; give people multiple reasons to come to the show and/or cover it.
Is your show about the environment? Get a local organic restaurant to donate snacks! About animals? Donate a percentage of the funds to a local shelter! Find an extra hook, a way to reach people who wouldn’t have heard about your show. You never know what animal lover will see a poster for the show at that local shelter and come buy art, because they not only love the piece, but know part of the money is going to a shelter they care about.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are a million ways to promote a show, but the important thing is to do so! Don’t be afraid to ask people to come, to cover your show, to donate booze or food, etc, and if they can’t make the opening, to come down during the run of the show. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Have other ideas? Share your thoughts in the comments!
And speaking of promoting… Don’t forget that submissions are open through December 15th for Stitch Fetish 5!!