Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


Tuesday’s Business: Be Prepared

Last week members of the Bolton Artisans Guild were offered the opportunity to submit a picture of their work along with a brief description for inclusion in the local newspaper’s holiday gift buying guide.  Three categories were offered under which we could include our work.  This was a great opportunity to have individual member’s work featured in the paper.  It was also very likely that our work would be featured on the front page of the paper…IN COLOR.

Wanting to take advantage of this opportunity I pulled up the Finder on my Mac and went about searching for the best photos to submit.  And there was the problem.  I was searching through various folders and files looking for the desired pictures.  I sensed another a-ha moment coming on.

More than a year ago a friend found herself in a similar situation; searching for some pictures of her work to submit to a publication.  Deb commented at the time that she needed to create a folder specifically for publication photos.  Brilliant idea, I thought, especially because I didn’t have anything of the sort myself.

And apparently I still don’t!

Well, it wasn’t quite that bad.  Sometime after Deb shared her idea, I did start a folder for publication photos…but I haven’t kept it current.

Here is what I’ve learned from this experience:

  1. Start a folder for publication photos if you haven’t already.  If you have one, keep it current; consider having sub-folders for each year too.
  2. Choose your best images; the ones that really capture the essence of your work.
  3. Give each photo a name that makes sense.  Make it descriptive.  Pick a naming scheme and stick with it.
  4. Start a folder (or sub-folders) for various publications.  This will help you to remember what photos you’ve sent in the past so you don’t repeat yourself, especially if you submit photos to a variety of publications.  It also helps you keep your work looking fresh.  If you need to put your name on the file for submission purposes, do it to these images, not the original files.
  5. If you’re unsure of the required image size and you haven’t time to ask (or specs aren’t provided), err on the side of “bigger is better.”  The image should be a minimum 300 dpi.
  6. If you want to be doubly prepared, save two versions of the image; one at 72 dpi for web and one at 300 dpi or larger for print.
  7. Get into the habit of putting pictures into your publication photos folder on a regular basis.  When you need to submit an image, you’ll be ready to go.
  8. If you haven’t written an artist statement, a bio, or some other descriptive text about you and your work, now is a good time to do so as you’ll most likely need to include something with the photo(s) you submit.  Much has been written about statements.  Some places you can check include Alyson Stanfield’s blog, and Ariane Goodwin’s site.

In the end, I submitted four images; individual pictures of four specific items I sell.  One was chosen for the gift guide (the editor contacted me and asked if a particular picture could be used as she could only use one.)  Had I been even more prepared, I would have had one picture that contained several of the pieces in one shot.  I was pleased, however, that the editor chose the picture below to be featured in the gift buying guide.

Fortune Pyramid Box

Fortune Pyramid Box

The gift guide for the first week focused on Unique Handmade Gifts and Home Accessories.  You can read the text of the ad, without pictures, here

Over the next two weeks, more Guild artists and their work will be featured in the following categories: Jewelry and Other Wearable Art, and Gifts That Keep On Giving.

And the ads did appear in color on the front page of the newpaper!


Tuesday’s Business: Promoting Yourself

Now that you’ve put together some of the components of your business plan, you have to think about how you’re going to promote yourself if you are not doing so already. How else will you reach your target market? Yes, promoting yourself can be scary, especially for us artists who tend to be introverted. But I can assure you that once you’ve promoted yourself, each successive one gets easier.

So acknowledge the butterflies in your stomach, don’t run and hide, and give it a try.

The Portfolio

In terms of promoting yourself, the portfolio refers to all those items you currently use to promote yourself. This might include letterhead, business cards, an artist statement, a resume, a biography, images of your work, brochures or spec sheets, a web site, blog, or Flickr site, and a cohesive body of work.

Considering the above list, what items do you currently use to promote yourself? Are there items in this list that you haven’t considered? For those items that you do use, how do you use them?

Do you carry business cards with you at all times? Do you take pictures of new work as soon as it is completed and upload it to your web site or blog or Flickr site? Do you send announcements to your mailing list on your new work?

One of the big considerations when promoting yourself is consistency in design and information. This includes developing a logo, if desired, and using the same font across all your promotional materials. Consistency gives you a cohesive look.

Choose a font that is legible and not too funky. Keep in mind that what might look groovy in print may not translate well when viewed on screen (and vice versa.) Keep in mind too who your target market is; radical or grungy or cutting edge promotional materials may go over well with urban customers/collectors but not suburban or rural customers/collectors. Think about your body of work. Is there a font that captures or compliments the essence of the body of work.

Once you’ve decided upon a consistent look for your promotional materials, remember to update them on a regular basis. You want to be prepared for those dream opportunities.

Name Recognition

Another aspect to promoting yourself is building name recognition. The idea here is that the more people relate to you, the more they will be interested in your art. So how does one build name recognition?

The simplest way is that customer mailing list. Start one if you haven’t already and if you do have one remember to update it regularly. Now I admit this is one of my weak areas. I have a customer mailing list, but I typically use it only to promote shows. And with the fluctuating economy, I’m doing fewer and fewer shows. So where does that leave my customer mailing list…other than collecting virtual dust?

Recently I put together a new product announcement in Word, converted it into a PDF, and emailed it to several gallery customers. To my pleasant surprise it garnered one new order. Mailing lists can work for you because it keeps your name and work in front of the customer/collector. Again the key here is consistency and finding an acceptable frequency. This could range from monthly to quarterly, depending on how prolific you are in creating your art.

Think about how you can use your mailing list other than show or open studio announcements. Do you have upcoming exhibit? Perhaps you recently received recognition or an award? Has a trip or book influenced your work? These are all bits of information you can share with people on your mailing list via email announcements or postcards.

Other ways to build name recognition is to join community art groups, teach, provide demonstrations, blog, write articles and put together short videos. And don’t forget press releases.

Promotional Goals

In our Art Salon, Alyson Stanfield provided the following list of promotional goals for artists to consider. Choose the ones that are most applicable to you.

Creating a mailing list
Send out mailings
Develop a newsletter
Meeting influential people
Writing articles about your work
Exhibition entries
Grant applications
Teaching and/or demonstrations
Public talks
Open studios
Gallery representation
Web site

And I’ll add:

Squidoo lens
Informative videos
Local cable access program

As artists in the 21st century, we have many exciting and challenging options when it comes to promoting ourselves. You may have to try a few before finding one that works well. And keep in mind that multiple formats of promotion are better than one. Think out of the box and get creative.