If you think your local community doesn’t have much to offer for an artist, you may be missing out on great opportunities to build a following. Your neighbours need artwork to hang on their walls and the local doctor’s office could always be brightened up with a sculpture or two.
The catch is, they can’t come to you if they don’t know you exist. . . so getting friendly with the local media is a great—and free—way to expose your artwork to people in your community.
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Here are several ways to get the word out about your art:
1. Exhibit locally
It may not be the Tate Modern, but your local art galleries enjoy steady and loyal patronage. Exhibiting your work either by yourself or as part of a group will help you improve your visibility as a local artist and get to know the “art” folk in your town, not to mention maybe make a bit of money from sales.
And don’t stop at galleries as a venue for your work. Depending on the style of your artwork, local cafes, gift shops, libraries, banks, theatres and other businesses might be interested in hanging your work for sale. Your art could grace the walls of office foyers and doctors’ waiting rooms.
Having your work appear locally is a crucial step to gaining press coverage, since exhibiting is considered that divider between hobbyists and serious artists. An exhibit by a local artist is considered a noteworthy event, so it’s also a great reason to approach media outlets for coverage.
2. Start a “press” file and send out press releases
Either on your computer or in a file on your desk, keep a list of the names and contact details of any media outlet in your town or city. Constantly update your list as your find new magazines, papers, newsletters, mailing lists, radio shows and bloggers.
When you’ve landed your exhibition or have news of a contest win or an interesting project, send along a press release to the local paper. Remember that your local rag always wants to hear about neighbourhood personalities and their projects. Don’t ever think you’re not important or famous enough to be featured!
Include the who, what, where, when and why, as well as your contact details, and either call or email the paper later that week to see if they received your note.
Don’t know how to write a press release for your artwork? Don’t worry—I’ll be covering that next week!
3. Find (and join) your local arts directory
Most cities or counties have an arts board or council that organizes, administers and promotes that arts in your area. In my community, the Arts Council runs an active web portal featuring interviews, jobs and opportunities, videos and an events calendar.
If you make use of it, this can be an invaluable tool for finding new galleries, shows and funding bodies to submit to. It will also offer opportunities for exposure in local media events.
4. Team up with a local charity
Charities are always busy hosting gala dinners, raffles, silent auctions and sponsored events. And that means they’re also on the lookout for new ideas for events or exciting prizes. Find a charity whose work you admire and offer to give them a painting for their auction or help them organize an event at the local gallery. Now you’ve got a wonderful angle to spin into a great news story.
Not only that, but most local charities already have a great relationship with media outlets. A few quick phone calls from them and you may find yourself featured in the paper or a radio spot.
With the media doing your promotional work for you, and a community that’s willing to back local artists, who knows. . . you might not even have to venture out of town to support your art career!