Know your Market: The value of Research
Whether researching a fair, retail outlet or exhibition venue, research is very important. Marketing yourself takes time. Applying and approaching venues is very time consuming. Researching gallery programmes is essential to see if your work is in time with the aims of the venue, you also need to be realistic in knowing where you are in your development as an artist.
Sending work to a big gallery showing international artists when you are straight out of college is unrealistic, as you will not have built up an exhibiting history. This is an extreme example, but does happen. Wales has a number of established galleries that welcome applications from emerging artists and the UK has a good range of Craft Fairs for emerging applied artists. Numerous directory publications and yearbooks exist with contact information on UK galleries, Fairs and outlets, while membership of AXIS includes access to an on-going bulletin of opportunities.
Documenting your work
Of the many pieces of equipment you could invest in, the most useful would be a good quality Digital Camera. Digital SLR Style cameras have reduced greatly in price over the past few years and the features now equate to 35mm cameras using film. The higher the mega pixels, the greater the image resolution and currently above 7 mega pixels is recommended. When looking at cameras, research the cost of memory cards, you will need to buy a bigger memory card.
The digital camera has become the artists notebook, for snapshots, noting ideas and work in progress through to documenting and publishing work as digital print or on-line. A tripod is essential for documenting work, reducing the need to use the flash that can bleach out details on work. A photographic lamp is also worth considering. You could pay some one to take professional images of your work, this can be expensive but you have to weigh up the value it will have in enhancing the impact of your work. If you are working with a photographer remember always acknowlege them in future publications. Think about what the images are used for.
Digital images of your work can be taken in various file formats. For sending to anyone through the internet, the standard image file format is the Jpeg. Tiff and Gif. are less common as is the Bitmap format. Unless it is required in a particular format, eg; for printing in publications, default to Jpegs. It is possible to convert them on the computer later.
Image file Sizes
Mail-outs and images with Press Releases: when emailing images for applications, exhibition information and mailing lists etc, the Jpeg file size should be less than 200k. Magazines and Galleries have hundreds of emails and images that take an age to download may get overlooked.
If you are replying to a particular request to view you work, the file can be bigger but try to avoid sending more than 1megabyte in an email. Magazines will require the images at a higher resolution, confirm with the magazine their particular requirements. You may have to mail them a CD of images if the file size is unreasonably large.
When uploading images to website databases or a personal site, the images need to be compressed, ideally to less than 100K. Large files can be uploaded but your images on the page may not display instantly. You may want to add a watermark to your image to prevent others using your images without permission.
Generally slide transparencies, while excellent quality, are rarely requested by galleries as the preferred format for submitting examples of work these days. Applications for competitions and open submissions are likely be requested using the digital formats described above, on a labelled CD. Although if they are going to be viewed as a CD slide show then if the file sizes are too large (+500k) the presentation may skip. Always check the CD runs smoothly. If possible check on a Mac and a PC before sending.
Curriculum Vitae are still an important part of the application process. It is likely you will need several versions, tailored for different purposes. A CV for a gallery will primarily focus on your exhibiting to date. Future exhibitions should be included to emphasise you are in demand. Reference to publications, residences, awards, websites and articles should be there while a minimal reference to your arts education should also feature.
If you are applying for a teaching post, experience in that role should be added, while remember it is your experience and status as a practicing artist they are interested in. A free-lance CV, for an arts related post, should include any experience relative to the post, while it should also indicate your arts practice as related knowledge.
The layout of a CV is very important. While there are no fixed rules, images are generally not included, but can be attached as a separate sheet or CD.
Typefaces can indicate a level of professionalism and your eye for presentation. Do not use fonts such as Comic Sans or other informal typefaces, while Times Roman can appear dated. For readability and clarity on the page, Arial has replaced Times Roman, while Verdana, Gill Sans and Tahoma have been in fashion for sometime. One additional suggestion would be Georgia which sits between Times Roman and Arial in style. These typefaces are clear and easy to read. 12pt is the usual type size. Never use any type below 9pt as this will be difficult to read.
Writing a statement about what you do can be difficult. Picture yourself as new to your work, what are the key themes and values that inform what you make and how it is made? One method is to write down all the questions you would like to ask yourself, as if you were being interviewed. This should clarify the key themes and influences upon your practice. An artist's statement generally refers to your practice and values. It is useful to also create a biography of 300-500 words giving an overview of your exhibiting history, type of work you create and any positions of influence within the arts.
Links on writing statements:
Few venues will have dedicated marketing staff. You should help draft any press release detailing your work and the exhibition.
Keep it simple, no more than 2 pages. Remember to include contact details, sponsors logos and thanks and the opening times of the exhibition. The main text should focus on the work followed by information on the artist. Consider who the release is for, specialist art press or local or national press. Local press may be looking for 'an angle' something to interest the general public, this may simply be the subject matter or if you or the work has a local connection.
Follow these links for more tips and advice.
Promoting You and Your work
Artists Information Packs
Whether a paper version or a CD version, regularly update the information about your practice. Usually this would take the form of a CV, Statement on your work, good quality images and if you are looking to sell your work, a catalogue and a price list. You may not have all these things initially and it will change greatly over time. File any examples of print, reviews of exhibitions and flyers for shows you are in. You may want to include a specific exhibition catalogue, also include a covering letter tailored to the person receiving the pack. Applied artists may want to include a sample of their work if it small although this is not usual practice for visual artists. Remember to include a stamped addressed envelope for the return of any material for use in future applications.
CD's of images and texts should have a printed label. Hand-written titles using CD marker pens look unprofessional. Research cases for the CD's on-line, a number of impressive containers are available that can enhance your application when sitting along side others.
When supplying images for invites confirm with the printer, gallery and designer the file type and resolution you need to provide. Proof read the text yourself along with a colleague and involve yourself in the design process if appropriate and possible. You will pick up tips on creating your own print in future and an understanding about how your work relates to print.
You may want to have a postcard printed of a signature piece that can be used in your artists pack or as a stand-alone visual business card. Again familiarise yourself in what format images are required and what options are available for a piece of text on the reverse. Remember if you are ordering 500 or 1000 that they will last you along time so think about the image you select and ask yourself if it is representative of your future direction. Avoid adding text that may be out of date in 18 months time like your address or a temporary email account. You can always have labels to cover changes but they wont look as good.
A number of websites for postcard and business card printing are available on-line, that can be cheaper than local printers but remember to factor in the postage. If you submit the information on-line it may not be possible to change as the process maybe automated.
Dont forget to include all funding logos on all exhibition print. Those who have supported the production of the work should be credited, whether their support is financial or support in-kind. It enhances your profile as their support can contribute to your status as a practitioner.
Confirm with the printer that the image is the right file type and resolution quality. If you are supported by the Arts Council of Wales refer to the logo and guide on the Arts Council of Wales website.
Maintain an up-to-date list of people interested in your work, potential galleries, customers and previous buyers. These would form the bulk of your postal mailing list who would receive a physical invite to exhibitions/fairs etc. A second mailing list of emails could also include fellow artists and friends. Obviously emails are free while environmentally friendly, although it is still common practice to have a printed exhibition invite. Remember to provide galleries with your mailing list so they can include who you want on mail outs for your exhibition. Keep a number of invites of your shows for your scrapbook and for including in future applications.
Social Networking Sites are good for mailing to connected people. Sites such as My Space and Facebook are free to set up, provide space to promote your work and now many arts organisations have their own facebook sites to which you can subscribe.
Databases and Directories
Join a number of directories that will profile your work on-line. Research the right type of directory for your work. Look at the work of the other members to see if your work sits well along side theirs. While some sites are free to register, sites with paid membership may offer a better platform for your work. Look at sites such as AXIS and A N Publications, while they display artists' work, they offer a wide ranging resource to their members, from career advice to national and international artists' opportunities.
Many artists today will have their own website, once you have a domain name, creating a website is no longer the exclusive realm of web designers. Wordpress and Mr Site are just two examples where a basic design template is created and you add your content through a process akin to simply cutting and pasting information on to the pages. They do not provide the creative flexibility that a designer would bring, support flash animation or an enhanced personal feel. Designed websites will have features such as media players for playing movies and sound files, mailing list and contact pages collation, slide show presentations of your uploaded images and shopping cart options so you can sell work directly through your website..
Some examples of the many websites that can profile your practice.