Public art projects are a pivotal art promotion opportunity artists should seize when they are looking to gain name recognition on a wider scale. In addition to placing work in front of visitors from all walks of life, new doors will be opened at art galleries and museums as a result of the publicity and participatory effects that come par for the course with public art projects. By planning ahead and making sure marketing efforts are integrated with your art project, public art promotion will result in widespread recognition, press and new art sales leads. Take a look at our tried and true advice below to parlay your public art project into an art promotion success.
In the Public Domain: Art Promotion for Public Art
The best part about a public art project? It is ready and able to mean something to everyone who encounters it. Public art is naturally accessible by design, meaning that visitors from all walks of life will interface with it. This can bring along challenges and some opportunities. One such roadblock can be creating adequate signage around an exhibit. Sure, you may have a sign planned for the site, but is it visible from multiple angles? Are social media handles also present on the sign(s) so that passersby can share their encounters with a wider audience? Finally, is the public art placed in a diverse community or area with a high influx of foreign visitors? If so, it’s likely worth an artist’s time to push for relevant translations of the text into other languages on public signage so that viewers can engage with the project in a meaningful, personal way.
Are visitors to your project sharing their encounters across social media? Repost and share these different views! Guests will want to get in on the action and will be flattered to be featured again on your social media channels – and, hopefully, they will stay in touch to see what you are up to next! Independent Curator and Art Critic Tony Huffman has experience working with artists. Contracted to work on projects with the MTA Arts for Transit, Huffman notes that artists can use the environment to their advantage to make the biggest impact – and gain the biggest following. “Public art projects present artists with the opportunity to thoughtfully respond to multi-layered histories embedded in buildings or larger sites, ” notes Huffman. “Through traditional media, performance, or sound, artistic [interventions] democratize art, facilitate community-building and use architecture to critically examine societal values, beliefs and attitudes.” Find a way to capture current affairs and a cultural zeitgeist in your public art projects and you will be sure to gain a wide array of social media mentions, furthering your influence on an international scale.
Americans for the Arts, a non-profit focused on advancing the arts in the United States, points out some avenues artists can capitalize on when publicizing their public art projects. In addition to partnering with other organizations to sponsor the public art project, such as local parks or business improvement district, and relying on their marketing teams to share the news on a global scale, Americans for the Arts offers this go-to, handy guide to marketing your public art. Art promotion is a two-way street, and even artists sharing marketing responsibilities for their public art projects will have expectations placed on them that the artwork is being shared through the artist’s own efforts to seek out reporters, share their project on art blogs and publications and across social media.
Build on Public Art Recognition
Artists can reflect on the impact public art projects have played in their own recognition, sharing insights into how art promotion for public art projects garnered new opportunities. Artist Gabrielle Mertz offers her own insights into how accessible public art projects have led to new opportunities to showcase her artwork. “Placing my artwork in [a building] owned by New York City, many visitors came through [to tour] my artwork: from adults to schoolchildren, neighborhood residents of all ages, tourists, artists, and more. It was wonderful to hear all the reactions… [this exhibit] also provided another opportunity for visitors to see my work in a new context, and curators and collectors alike approached me about my work after both this project and another project I had [during Miami Art Week], both in the same year.” Building your success one project after another, especially by augmenting gallery exhibitions with projects open to a wider public, will attract a more diverse range of art professionals to engage with your artistic practice. Gaining an eco-sytem of curators, collectors, museum staff and art critics all engaged with your work will help you frame your next project for an even larger audience, hopefully with an even larger budget to back up your project!
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your immediate networks and to seek out a wider opportunity to connect with an existing resource-driven arts group. Public Art Network is one such group dedicated solely to promoting and providing resources to assist with public art projects. For artists who have identified locations for public art projects but need funding, or vice-versa, Public Art Network is a key ally in identifying and pursuing next steps for a specific project. By partnering with larger networks or groups, artists can also ask for assistance with promoting their projects, disseminating information and images of the public art project to a wider crowd. At the end of the day the larger the impact of your public art project plays both across social media and in the press, the better chance your art promotion efforts will be realized by the wider arts community.
Have experience working on a public art project? Have specific advice for artists seeking ways to publicize this art project and/or engage a wider range of visitors with their artwork? Share your insights with us in the comments below!