First Show (4/4): Promoting the Show

First Show - Promoting Your First Show

This will be the fourth and final part of our series The First Show. In the previous parts we looked at creating an outline and figuring out deadlines for your show. We then wrote an artist statement and edited down the project that you will be showing. And finally produced the physical work and hung it in the gallery. You might think that you can now relax in the weeks leading up to the opening but your work is far from over. In fact, part 4 – Promoting the Work, is the most important of the whole process.

First Show - Promoting Your First Show

Different shows have different goals, however, the key element is the people hear about and see your work. With this in mind, you must craft a media list of everyone you will send information to about the show. Though time consuming, a media list is actually quite simple to produce.

Create a Media List

Start by thinking about the different types of audiences you wish to reach and what type of media they consume. For example, for the general public, newsletters are a good approach, if your looking for a more specific type of person perhaps a certain magazine or blog is good. I segment my lists by media type as well as a section for personal contacts. All you really need is a person’s name, the publication, and their email. Be as thorough as possible, the more eyes you get your work in front of the higher the chance that it will be published somewhere or passed on to someone else.

Craft a Press Release

Once you have a hefty media list it’s time to craft your email and put together a press release of sorts. The release should include a sentence on yourself, one on the project your showing, why it would be a good fit for the publication, and all of the details about the show / opening. If you have the work online make sure to link to it and if not create a strip of a few key images to in the email. Whenever possible, make the email as personal as you can, this is especially important for your own contacts. Now that you’ve got a list and a draft email it’s time to start sending it out.

Send the Promo & Follow Up

Timing the release is important but there is no magic number of days in advance. Generally a range of 3-1 weeks before your opening is best. Send out a release too soon and people may forget about it, too late and they’ll have already made plans for that date. Pick a couple days, find a nice coffee shop, and send away. Remember to send individual emails rather than huge bulk ones, the response will be much better. I also like to included a status column in my media spreadsheet and mark if I’ve sent an email, recieved a response, and if it led to anything. I then follow up in a few weeks if I haven’t heard back, but I would only do this once as multiple emails within a short period of time can be quite annoying.

Now you’re on your way to a great first show, remember to post about it on your various social networks and tell your friends and family. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get very many responses as this is quite natural when starting out. However as your work is feature more often and you have more show, people will begin to recognize yor name and become more responsive to future work.

See the rest of the First Show series here:

Part 1 (Outline)
Part 2 (Editing)
Part 3 (Production)
Part 4 (Promotion)