My latest post for the Smithsonian Studio Arts Blog…Self-Promotion

You have work in a show that’s coming up, and would like to see some familiar faces at the opening. How do you get the word out? There are many ways to promote yourself and encourage your friends and family, coworkers, your neighbors, and even people you don’t even know to visit the show. It might be a little uncomfortable at first, but taking a few steps in advance will help simplify the process whenever you need to let people know what’s going on with you and your artwork, and it will help build excitement for the reception. Besides, if you don’t tell anyone, how will they know?

First, create an email list. Email is one of the easiest ways send out quick updates, press releases, reminders, invites, and other news to the people you communicate with on a regular basis. Don’t forget to include fellow artists and students, instructors, and anyone who has purchased your artwork in the past. When you send out these notices, it is a courtesy to send the email to yourself, while blind copying (Bcc) your contacts, to help keep their email addresses private. Doing this will also eliminate the “reply all” feature if one of them replies with congratulations or questions about your show. Next, use your new email list to send the gallery’s press release and even forward any announcement emails you receive from the gallery.

As a rule, I try not to send more then three emails, total, so I’m not overloading anyone’s inbox. Start with an initial “Hey, I got into a show” email several weeks before the opening with all of the information about the dates, reception details, the other artists, gallery address and website, nearby Metro stations, and anything else your visitors will need to have a great time at the reception. About a week before the opening, I usually send a short reminder, and include any new details that I may have received. If the gallery sent an email invite, I will generally forward that with a short introduction, with a final, “Hope to see you there!” email a day or so before the opening.

But, don’t stop there! It’s time to put your social networking sites to use. If you don’t already have a Twitter account, get one. It’s free, and with just 140 characters, you’ll let all of your contacts, and the rest of the Twitterverse, know where they can see your artwork. Post a link to your personal website, the gallery’s website, and give the who, what, when, and where in just a few clicks. And, don’t forget about Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, and others. Oftentimes the gallery will have their own account and post show invites that you can also use.

Finally, grab a handful of pre-printed postcards or flyers many galleries provide and personally hand them out or drop them in the mail. Ask some local stores or restaurants to post a flyer or put some postcards on the counter, and leave a small stack in your building’s lobby and workplace breakroom.

These are just a few suggestions to help spread the word about your next show. Once you get started, you’ll start to see other ways to keep all of your contacts up-to-date on your artwork, and make your opening receptions successful.


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