A key part of art marketing is centered around press placement: making sure that your artwork is mentioned in publications and on platforms with high visibility and audience engagement. What is the best way for artists to form a press strategy? How can an artist’s studio start to receive the avalanche of press attention marking an artist on the rise? What art marketing gains can come from an artist developing a positive, beneficial relationship with members of the press?
As it turns out, artists can start by befriending great writers! By identifying written work – whether in print or online art publications – that speaks to an artist, preferably on topics related to one’s own practice, the building blocks are in place to begin an outreach campaign to engage writers in conversation with one’s own artistic practice.
Keeping certain etiquette and boundaries in mind, it is very possible to start a casual conversation that can result in greater awareness of one’s work across an expanded audience. Here we outline ways in which cultivating a symbiotic relationship with members of the fourth estate can improve an artist’s visibility – and even their artistic practice as a whole!
Art Marketing and Networking
An artist can do everything within their power to self-promote. This can include sending announcement for their exhibits to everyone across Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms, emailing personal invitations, and sending direct messages to others in the art world – curators and critics alike – to let them know of upcoming exhibits and events. How many emails and messages do you think these art world figures receive a day?
Typically, the volume of emails can range from hundreds all the way up to thousands of emails. What chances do you have of standing out in a crowded inbox like that? And if you do consistently send direct messages to curators and critics on social media platforms, they may begin to want to block you as this can come off as a one-way relationship serving only to benefit the artist in question.
So, step back and take a look: what’s missing in this equation? Artists are busy with studio visits and events of their own, but targeted and thoughtful approaches to curators and critics will take you places a cold blanket email won’t. Set up Google alerts for critics whose written work you admire. Find great art writers who are scholars in a subject matter close to your own practice, so that you know there is common ground. Then make an effort to attend an event of theirs. Show up. Listen. Even better? Come prepared with questions that show you are well-versed in their published work. Have a business card and approach them after the talk or event, introducing yourself and mentioning a specific article or contribution they have made to the field. Briefly speak to how your work is in common with their research, and let them know you look forward to seeing what they publish next.
Finally, stay engaged with these specific scholars, critics and writers through social media or via email. Ask to be placed on their mailing list, and continue to cultivate a relationship at informal and casual events. The worst way to network is to approach a relationship from a one-sided angle, with only art marketing in mind. By building a greater understanding of a writer’s work, they will naturally be curious about the type of work you are creating as an artist. If you are located in another part of the country and far from these events, see if the writer(s) you are interested in are holding remote learning classes online, and join the class.
Remain engaged in conversation and ask for the best way to keep up with their work, whether that is via email or across social media. When possible, if you want to meet an art critic or curator across the country – or across the world – ask for an introduction from an existing connection. Following these simple etiquette rules can take you a long way in cultivating a wider network of arts professionals as advocates for your artwork.
Organic Audience Growth via Articles
Really ready to take your art marketing to the next level? Hire writers yourself!
While building connections with arts writers who are knowledgeable about the type of artwork that you make is a critical piece of the puzzle, the best way to begin building out greater visibility for your work is by hiring a critic you admire for freelance work. This may consist of approaching them to write a catalog essay for an exhibit, asking for an essay on your work that you could use in the future for exhibitions and/or studio visits, or just asking about their availability to review your artist statement and their rates for such work.
It may be surprising how affordable hiring an arts writer with incredible art history knowledge can be, and the impact that can result from having your work framed correctly for the wider contemporary art world is exponential. By placing your work within the serious critical perspective that an arts writer can provide, your work will be taken more seriously – not to mention, your work will be aligned with the serious professional standing afforded the critic who has contributed the essay.
Finally, do your part to continue building relationships with the artist. Keep them posted on your progress, and make efforts to stay updated on their projects in kind. Who knows when a project might align, and they would have the opportunity to feature you in an article on a topic related to their work? By building an appreciation for their work as a writer, and allowing them the opportunity to become familiar with your practice, worlds of potential emerge for the future.
Finally, do your part to share and publicize the work they have done for you. Do you have their work essay but no catalog yet drafted for publication? Share it on your website, across social media (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Pinterest) and on printed marketing collateral (postcards, etc) at exhibitions. Sharing beautifully written essays and meditations on your work can only serve to augment its importance in the larger firmament of the contemporary art world, and sales and future opportunities to show your artwork will likely come as a result of sharing these reflections.
Have an article about your work that published and completely changed your career? Share your stories with us in the comments below!