Promotional activities are an ongoing part of any career as an artist. Like most artists, you are undoubtedly no stranger to self-promotion. In the context of touring (i.e. performing or exhibiting work outside of your territory) the bulk of the responsibility for local promotion of a specific event typically falls on the presenter. However, it is generally assumed that an artist will support the presenter’s promotional activities by getting the word out through his/her networks and having the necessary tools on hand to facilitate the process.
Creating a Press Kit
The artist bio and press kit are essential tools for any practicing artist to have on hand when approaching potential presenters, as well as for promotional and funding purposes. It is useful to have an electronic (PDF) and a hard-copy (paper) version.
Choose a folder which best represents your artistic identity (e.g. you may choose to include a logo or picture on the front cover). Inside the folder, you will include:
Artist BioIncludes: a brief statement about your artistic work (i.e. what media you use, professional titles in artistic organizations), the venues at which you have performed and/or galleries exhibited, where you have trained, renowned artists with whom you have worked, awards you have won and where people can find your work
If you are multiple artists that are part of a band, art collective, dance or theatre company, etc., you would include a company info section which includes: a statement about the company (i.e. "About Us"), your aims & objectives outlined in point form, as well as your company contact details.
Include: date, heading, body of the text including catchy editorial headline about the current work you are touring/presenting, reviews, contact information. For more info, see this sample press release.
Samples of your work
Musicians: A demo cd (with 1-3 of your your best tracks), try not to have tracks that are longer than 5 minutes, or make excerpts of your tracks.
Theatre & multimedia artists: A dvd with a show-reel or some short samples of your best work (5 min max) and/or a page laid out with promotional photos of the show.
Visual artists: Sample sheet(s) of work - one or two pages laid out with photos of your best work. You can also make this available in digital form on a data CD, but in this case make sure to have your works listed and described on a separate paper to go with the CD. As best as you can, try to format all your digital images so that they are the same size, file format, and resolution.
Photo(s) of yourself
1-3 pictures, including one headshot and one in-action of you practicing your art.
Arranging the Press Kit
For more information on how to assemble your press kit, watch this video.
Writing an Artist Statement
An artist statement is one of the keys to a good portfolio. It is will be useful when responding to a call for submissions and essential when exhibiting in a gallery, or performing in a festival. Being able to articulate the ideas, inspiration and processes involved in the creation of your work, is an important part of both communicating with your audience, and gaining new perspectives/insight into your own creative process.
- Writing Your Artist Statement, By Ariane Goodwin, Ed. D.
Photos, Videos, Logos & Templates
In the aim of making it as easy as possible for a presenter/ promoter working with you to put together promotional materials for an upcoming event, it is useful to have a folder on your computer containing design elements, ready for use. Since some community based organizations may have little or no graphic design experience (nor a budget to hire one) it is worth having a flyer & poster template on hand, to which they can simply add the relevant event information. Likewise, if you have a logo, photos and/or videos readily available for use in their mail-outs or on their website, this will make their job a lot easier.
Websites & Blogs
Unlike social media platforms, a personal website or blog allows you more control over the way you tell your story. As an artist, your website is your online portfolio: a space to post examples of your work, your bio, resume, and press content. Make sure you keep it fresh with samples of new work and current with the latest event information. A blog is a more personal way to communicate with your followers about what interests you because it is interactive.
As in real life social networking, there is a certain investment of time and energy required in order to build long-lasting relationships with the people in your community. Sharing updates about your latest projects and career developments on a consistent basis, as well as posting related items off interest is an effective strategy for increasing your subscriber base. Beware of trying to sell yourself too hard as this may put people off.
If you haven't already jumped on the social media bandwagon, are a few sites to get you started:
- Facebook, Twitter, Google+
These social media platforms allow you to drive traffic to your website and/or blog by posting the relevant link in your status updates. They are also useful as one avenue for promoting events, but should not be relied upon as the sole promotion engine.
- Myspace, Deviant Art, Vimeo
These sites allow you to post your music, art and video content online, as well as build your network within a community of artists. As with any social media site, in posting your work online, beware that it may not be protected by copyright laws as content may be considered public domain. Many artists that are concerned with this will opt to post visual works in low resolution format or with a water mark.
An up-and-coming content sharing service that allows members to "pin" images, videos and other objects to their virtual pinboard.
Further reading: Social Media For Artists
Direct mail is still one of the most powerful ways to reach your audience. If you are considering publishing a newsletter, you may opt to subscribe to email marketing service such as iContact, Mailchimp, Constant Contact or Aweber. These sites allow you to manage your mailing list, customise the design of email newsletters, share them on social networks and track your results.
When working with a presenter in the lead up to an event you are involved in, it is important to be ready with the various elements they may need from you along the way. In order to assist you in maintaining an awareness of what this entails from the presenter’s end, here is a link to a basic.
Featured articles from the National Arts Marketing Project
30+ Places to Promote Your Art
10 Ways Artists Can Use YouTube to Promote Their Work from the Global Centre for Cultural Entrepreneurship.