Pamela Palma and I had a great conversation about her work and how she has handled promotion and marketing. You can listen to the conversation here.
Here is a well written article about pricing. This is definitely worth the read.
Joanne Soroka shares with us how to write a press release and why you want one. She also shares with us some unusual, out-of-the-box ways artists have gotten attention for their work.
Getting Your Name Into Print
by Joanne Soroka
What’s the point? Why publicize?
To raise the profile of you and/or your product/works of art. To make money.
What you can publicize?
Examples include exhibitions, fashion shows, winning a prize or competition, a new product, getting a prestige client, getting a big contract, expanding your business and artist talks.
Where you can publicize it?
Local and national newspapers, specialist and general magazines, trade papers, the Internet, email, texts, posters, word of mouth, handbills, advertising, mail shots, etc.
Press releases and publicity
- Plan ahead, start on your publicity at least two to three weeks before the launch or equivalent.
- Be aware of deadlines e.g. magazines may need three months.
- Plan on the type(s) of publicity you wish to use.
- Research the publications you want to target e.g. are you looking for reviews or alerting the public? Is there a specialist publication for your discipline?
- Do you have any contacts?
- Do you have a budget?
- Create photos suitable for the purpose or hire a photographer.
- Be realistic about the amount of publicity you can get.
Before you start to write
- Who is your target audience?
- How are you going to interest them in your work or event?
- Do you have an ‘angle’?
- Possibly write more than one press release for different audiences and publications.
Angles and getting attention
TOO much clutter? Not enough space? The British artist Michael Landy has the ultimate solution to all his storage problems. I can’t think of anything I’ve seen in my life that remotely resembles his Break Down, a 14-day artist’s “performance” commissioned by Artangel, which is taking place on Oxford Street in London, in the former C&A department store at Marble Arch.
- What is special about your work or event?
- Think of a way to make it stand out from the other press releases e.g. the first, the biggest, connection with celebrity, arresting photo, etc.
- Use strong, inventive language to create interest.
- Don’t be afraid to use humour.
- You can be controversial, but with the realization of possible consequences.
- But keep it simple and direct.
- Have a press event where something exciting will happen that press photographers can photograph.
- Use photos with extra visual interest.
- But remember – subtlety does not usually work with the press.
Text of the press release
- Have a strong title.
- Who, what, when, where, why – summarize or list.
- The angle – what’s special?
- Quotes are good.
- Give a bit of background.
- Have links to photos, website, etc and where to get further information.
- Maximum one page or 400 words.
Examples of press release writing
- Tonight three students from Edinburgh College of Art are having the opening of an exhibition of their work at the Traverse Theatre Bar. Their work is inspired by nature and includes examples of jewelry, ceramics and glass.
- Rachel, James and Sally are great artist’s! There work is enspired by nature and their show is at the Travarse Theatre Bar starting tonight, October 19th at 6 pm. Come along and meet them.
- Brunel University student’s ‘Square-eyes’ design is set to combat child obesity 17, May, 2005 Gillian Swan, a final year design student from Brunel University in West London, has designed a unique insole for children’s shoes that records the amount of exercise a child does during a day and converts it to television watching time.
Presentation of material
- Proofread and show to someone else before you send it.
- Keep it simple.
- Remember timing e.g. Sunday evening is a good time to send emails, and don’t leave it until the last minute.
- It should be visually attractive and easy to read, i.e. double-spaced and in black ink on white paper.
- Send by post if in doubt.
- Address it to the right person and spell their name correctly.
- Be persistent.
- Make phone calls to editors and journalists.
- Repeat emails or email with new information and photos.
- Create other events.
- Respond quickly to enquiries, requests for photos, etc.
- But do not expect more than 10% response max.
Or do something different
In New York, a group of artists calling themselves Art-Anon have managed to get up the noses of almost every art gallery owner in the city’s fashionable Chelsea district with their RIDER Project – an art gallery in the back of a truck. “Our goal is to provoke the galleries of Chelsea as best we can,” founder Michele Gambetta told the New York Times, after parking her truck directly in front of yet another swanky art shop.
Other ways to get noticed
Doubtless it is a publicity stunt, but is it also art?
The graffiti artist Banksy has managed to smuggle in his latest work, a dead rat in a glass-fronted box, into the Natural History Museum where it was exhibited on a wall for several hours.
Staff did not notice that the rat was out of place amid the museum’s usual fare of dinosaur bones and artefacts from the animal kingdom.
The rat was stuffed and clad in wraparound sunglasses, scaled down to fit the top of its head, a rucksack on its back, and with a microphone in one paw.
A miniature spraycan sits at the departed rodent’s feet, while above it is sprayed in graffiti-style lettering “our time will come”.
- Spend time thinking about how to approach getting publicity.
- Think about audiences and what you want to achieve.
- Start small and local.
- Be as creative as you are in your studio work.
Joanne Soroka, who was born and brought up in Montreal and graduated from McGill University, now lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. Edinburgh is a centre for tapestry weaving, and its Edinburgh College of Art was where she studied in the 1970s, leaving with a post-graduate diploma (with distinction). She went on to be the Artistic Director of the Edinburgh Tapestry Company (Dovecot Studios), before setting up her own studio, Ivory Tapestries, in 1987. She makes tapestries, other textiles and paperworks, with occasional forays into other media such as print and video. Her work hangs in the lobbies and boardrooms of well-known international companies such as the Chase Manhattan Bank and the Glenfiddich Distillery and in hotels in Japan. She has won numerous awards.
Joanne has exhibited around the world and has taught at Edinburgh College of Art and the University of Edinburgh. She is the author of Tapestry Weaving: Design and Technique, which is about to go into its fifth printing.
I asked Marilyn Rea-Menzies to write about her experience with marketing and promoting her tapestries. I think you will find her story a worthwhile read. Barbara Burns
In early 1991 I took a trip from Picton, New Zealand, where I was living at the time, to Christchurch, NZ. I sat outside the Arts Centre of Christchurch with a student of mine and said to her that one day I would have a studio here. It took about seven years for that dream to come to fruition, and in mid 1998 I shifted my looms into a brand new studio in the Artist Quarter of the Arts Centre. The Arts Centre of Christchurch is situated in beautiful Neo-Gothic Buildings which had once housed the University of Canterbury. When the university relocated out into the suburbs in the late 1970’s/80’s a group of interested people canvased the City Council to turn the buildings into an Arts Centre. This was done and from that time on it became a great tourist destination integral to the heart of the city. The Artist’s Quarter consisted of a group of studios for Craft/Artists and featured weavers, quilters, woodworkers and potters, bookmakers and the occasional painter. It became very popular with visitors and I worked in my studio there until the earthquake of February 2011 damaged the buildings so badly that the Arts Centre was closed. It is only just now, in 2018, starting to open once again.
I really enjoyed working in the Arts Centre in my public studio. I worked pretty much every day, though did take some time out now and again. The Arts Centre was open seven days a week and we were expected to keep our studios open for all of that time. That didn’t bother me too much as I am never happier than when I am working in my studio. Tourists and other visitors to Christchurch could come into the studio and see the work, see the processes in action and just chat, maybe buy some art work or commission something for their homes. It was through having a public studio that I was able to attract tapestry commissions, which kept me busy. I earned most of my income throughout those years. I am very much a people person so I did enjoy the contact with people and never minded them watching me work. There were some funny times though, such as the day a woman poked her face through the door, took one look and sniffed “Tedious!!!!!” then disappeared very quickly.
Working in a public studio also gave me opportunities to meet people I would never have met otherwise. I had Chelsea Clinton and her grandmother in my studio one day when her father was visiting Christchurch on a public visit as President of the United States. Chelsea sat at my loom and did a little bit of weaving on the Millennium Tapestry which was being woven at that time. It was a big thrill and I promised her I would never use her photograph for publicity purposes and of course, I never did. Helen Clark the Prime Minister of New Zealand was in my studio twice over that period, once to cut the Millennium Tapestry from the loom and celebrate that event.
When a visitor to my studio expressed interest in commissioning a tapestry, I would spend time with them, explaining the process and techniques of tapestry weaving. I would show them photographs of my past work and what others had commissioned, talk to them about what they liked, what sort of subject matter they would be interested in and ask them to send me photographs that I could work from. I would often request a photograph of the space where they would potentially hang the work and ask also what size they would expect the tapestry to be to fit nicely into their space. Once I had received all the information I needed, I would work on a design concept, often two or three concepts, send them to the client and they would choose the one they liked the best. Along with the concept I would send them a quote for the cost of the work, the time it would take to weave and all details of how it would be woven, the sett, colours, types of yarns, etc. I would also ask them to pay 25% of the cost of the work upfront,
25% half way through, and the 50% balance on completion of the work. The clients were always happy with this process for payment and it worked well. Throughout the weaving process the clients could visit the studio at any time if they lived locally, or if they lived away, I would send the progress photographs from time to time and keep in touch. Occasionally the client would also come and sit down at the loom and do a little bit of the weaving themselves. I felt that when this was possible it would give them a personal investment in the work and they really enjoyed doing this. They would also be invited to cut the tapestry from the loom when the weaving was finished, another way of involving them personally in the work. I did enjoy doing commissioned work and I only once had a client who was not happy with the finished product. Luckily it was only a small work and I actually wove a second one for her in a different colour way. She was happy with that and I was able to sell the first piece to another client, so that turned out okay in the end.
Since my shift to Hamilton I have not sold much of my work, no tapestries, but just the odd painting occasionally. I am a super annuitant (retired) now, at the age of 74, and I am still able to earn some extra income from teaching drawing and tapestry too. I have two flatmates that help me pay the rent.
I do not have a Gallery representing me, but at present I am working on a major body of work for an exhibition in October of this year. This exhibition will include tapestries, drawings and paintings, and will take place at the Wallace Gallery in Morrinsville. Working in a private studio and not taking commissions has given me the opportunity to develop my own themes and hopefully extend my practice in other ways as well. I am hoping that this exhibition will give me a greater profile amongst the Art World in the North Island, as my work is not so well known here as it is in Christchurch.
Pricing my work has always been difficult for me. Here in New Zealand we do not have a history of tapestry weaving, and most people think cross stitch and embroidery is tapestry, so my work is always difficult to sell. I am not very good at trying to sell it either. I do not create my work with selling in mind, as I think that can stop an artist from producing work that is important and has something to say. Most people, I find, want to buy the ‘pretty pictures,’ landscapes and such, and it is often only the collectors and galleries that will purchase more serious work. The Christchurch Art Gallery purchased two of my collaborative tapestries in 2005 and that was great. This happened because the director at the time had a real interest in textiles, hence the sale of my work.
I do have Facebook and Instagram and of course, my website, but I have had no luck in selling from any of these. I have found that they are great for making contact with other artists but as I am not sure how to promote the work well on these sites, I have made no sales. I have been looking for an agent, for someone who has these skills to sell my work for me, but that has not eventuated either. New Zealand is a small market and I have not had the recognition amongst those who can afford to buy expensive tapestries, to enable me to sell them easily. It has been a feast or a famine for me since I decided back in 1985 to become a full-time artist specializing in tapestry. I have had some very good commissions for public art works in the past, and these have enabled me to keep working. I have lived alone since I left my husband in 1985 and made that decision to make tapestry and art my life’s work, and it has been a bit of a struggle at times, but I have no regrets about that choice at all.
My website needs upgrading as I am unable to go into it myself and make any changes and this is not satisfactory. I have started to develop a new website, but it is often put into the ‘too hard basket.’ When I do manage to create a new website, I think that I would not put the prices on the website but have them POA, Price on application, as once a price is stated so publicly then it must remain at that price and cannot really be changed, no matter the circumstances. In conclusion, I have been weaving tapestries now for 38 years with hardly any time without something on my loom, and I feel it is a bit of an obsession, but hopefully a healthy one. Being an artist has helped to keep me well and healthy and I hope to have many more years to produce more good work.
Marilyn Rea-Menzies lives and works in New Zealand. Marilyn says about tapestry: The architectural process of building the tapestry, actually constructing the fabric and image together so that the two are physically and visually inseparable, relates very strongly to the process of constructing and building our lives and our living and working spaces.
Mary Lane and Suzanne Pretty have collaborated on this article about the differences between insurance value, wholesale value and retail price of work. I wish I had this information when I was shipping a tapestry to Serbia. I insured it for the full retail value of the tapestry. I almost fell over when I was told how much it would cost. Having read this article I now know that I could have used the wholesale value.
Retail Price is the dollar amount a gallery, museum or other seller of your tapestries lists as the cost to buy your tapestry. It includes the amount that you, the maker, will receive, plus the amount that the seller and any other party who is going to be paid after the sale, will receive.
Wholesale price is the dollar amount you, the maker, will receive after the sale of your tapestry.
Insurance value is more complex. Before your tapestry is sold, the insurance value is the same as the wholesale value. It is what an insurance company would pay you for your tapestry if it were lost, damaged or stolen during shipping or during an exhibition, BUT ONLY IF you can prove that wholesale value by producing records of sales of comparable work sold for approximately the same price.
After your tapestry is sold, the insurance value becomes the retail value, the price the buyer paid to purchase your work. If the purchaser needs to make a claim with his/her insurance company because of damage or theft, he/she will need the sales invoice to prove the value. Insurance value of a particular artwork can increase, if the value of the artist’s work increases. Again, any claim about the value of an artwork has to be proven with sales records.
If you have gallery representation, or you are trying to obtain gallery representation, it is important to keep the retail price consistent. If you are selling your work for less than the gallery is asking for similar works of yours, the gallery owner will be less likely to keep you on in his/her stable.
Think of it this way. The commission the gallery receives is payment for promoting your work, keeping a gallery open, etc. If you sell your work out of your studio, you are doing the work of promoting your work and paying for the cost of your studio, so you deserve the money the gallery owner would have received because you are doing the work that the gallery owner would have been doing.
In most cases you sign an agreement with a gallery. The agreement often has a clause that governs removing pieces from a show and any sales that you personally might arrange with a buyer who saw your work in the show. You should honor your contractual agreements.
Methods of Pricing
Are you wondering how to determine the value of your tapestry? Barbara Burns conducted a survey of tapestry weavers that focuses on pricing methods. The complied results can be read here.
Professional Practices for Artists
Google “Professional Practices for Artists” for many more discussions, and contract examples, for this topic.
Google “consignment contracts” for many more discussions, and contract examples, for this topic.
Contracts for Commissioned Artworks
Google “contracts for commissioned artworks” for many more discussions, and contract examples, for this topic.
By Mary Lane and Suzanne Pretty
Rebecca A.T. Stevens, Research Associate, Contemporary Textiles at The Textile Museum, was kind enough to be interviewed about her experience as a juror. Rebecca shares her thoughts on being a juror. She explains some of the pitfalls entrants may slip into, and talks about the jurying decision process, giving clarification to why artwork may not be accepted into a show.
As a juror what is the decision process like? Is it different when you are the only juror, as opposed to working with others on a group jury?
Like all jurors I draw heavily on my background in the field, and carefully look at each piece. Thereafter the decision process of jurying is straightforward. It involves a careful assessment of whether each piece meets the criteria of the call for entry and then a determination of which pieces are the best.
When I am the only juror I feel more responsible for making the best choices because I am the sole decider. When I am just one of the jury I engage in conversations with other jurors during the decision making process and the outcome is a collective decision. This enables me to draw on greater looking experience and the opportunity to be reminded of aspects of the works that I might have over looked.
Do you believe there are basic mistakes that artists make when submitting their entries? Could you describe a few that you’ve encountered?
In my recent experience basic mistakes are fewer than in the past. Artists now realize the importance of good photography. Poor photography was the main problem when I first began to jury. Unfortunately, another critical mistake continues to occur. An artist sometimes submits more than one artwork and the works are greatly dissimilar in concept and aesthetic thereby indicating that the artist has not developed his or her own voice.
What kind of guidelines would help you make selections in an international (or regional?) juried show? Does an international show present a different set of challenges for a juror?
Guidelines in the call for entry should be clearly stated. All images should be properly labeled with size, and top and bottom indicated in order for the juror to fairly evaluate the artwork. Remember that all images appear the same size whether they are projected on a screen or viewed on a computer monitor. The challenge for a juror is to take all aspects of a work into consideration in selecting the best artworks for an exhibition. This is the same whether for a local, national, or international show.
Have you juried a show that you felt was exceptional? Can you describe what factors enabled you to accomplish that?
Two exhibitions that stand out in my mind are Karpit I and Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora. These were exceptional exhibitions for quite different reasons, but the common thread was the care and attention the organizers gave to each exhibition.
Karpit I was an international tapestry exhibition hosted by the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, Hungary. It was an exciting opportunity for the artists and the Museum. I was honored to be on the international jury panel. There were a large number of excellent entries because there had not been an international tapestry show at this museum before and because artists were especially keen to exhibit in this prestigious Museum where tapestry was being treated as an art form on the same level as fine paintings and sculptures. Both the Association of Hungarian Tapestry Artists and the Museum staff worked diligently to conceive of this exhibition and to bring it to fruition. The artists were not identified during the selection process to insure that there would be no bias in favor of artists known to the jury. This blind selection process was a relatively new concept in Hungary.
Stories of Migration was exceptional because it was an extremely timely subject presented from a variety of points of view. This exhibition was a successful collaboration between the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum and the Studio Art Quilt Associates, an international organization. The selection was limited to members of the Association and six invited artists. However, it was possible to join the Association in order to qualify for entry if the artist was not already a member. The call for entry was issued one year before the jurying began, thereby allowing artists to create new pieces addressing the migration theme, if they so wished. Entries could be two or three dimensional pieces or even be multi component installation works. This broad scope resulted in a rich and diverse variety of art work.
Have you juried a show where you regret having agreed to the job of making selections? Could you give an example?
I have never regretted jurying an exhibition, although some exhibitions have been more interesting because the quality of the work submitted was especially high. Each exhibition has always been an opportunity to see new work and existing work in a new context.
In some cases there must be pieces that you see as excellent in many ways and you cannot accept into the show being organized. Can you shed any light on what happens behind the scenes? Do you argue for inclusion based on its qualities or do you question the parameters set for the show?
The first task of a juror is to include in the exhibition only the pieces that come within the parameters of the call for entry. It is neither fair nor appropriate to change the terms of the call for entry after the fact to fit in a really good piece that is not responsive to the call. If a juror questions the parameters of the exhibition then that juror should not have agreed to be a juror for that exhibition. This is a threshold decision each prospective juror must make.
Should “outlier” or little known artists be included in a juried exhibition?
Each artwork should be judged on its own merits regardless of who created it. There is no “outlier” if the works are submitted to the jury anonymously.
Are juried shows a good option for emerging artists?
Juried shows are generally a good option for artists who want to establish a career. Acceptance into an exhibition allows the public to see the artist’s work judged on its merits against other art works. Artists should carefully choose the exhibitions to which they submit work. They should look for shows organized by established groups and/or institutions. Prestigious juried shows are always advantageous, e.g., juried shows at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum or the ATA Biennials.
Is the jury process the best way to organize a show?
There are two major types of art exhibitions, juried exhibitions and curated exhibitions. In a juried show the jurors need to follow the parameters of the call for entry and be fully independent of the sponsoring organizations. Even if one of the organizers’ favorite artists is not selected the, jury’s choices should nevertheless be cheerfully accepted. Juried shows allow the jurors to see the work of a broad range of artists, some of whom will probably be unknown to the jury prior to that exhibition. In a curated exhibition the curator has control over the theme and the artworks. The theme can then be focused on one artist , a group of artists, a technique or an historical or timely topic. There is a place for both types of exhibitions. Each has something different to add to the art world conversation.
Rebecca Stevens has an undergraduate degree in art history/studio art (B.A.) and a graduate degree in studio art (M.F.A.). Stevens’ art focus changed from painting and print making in 1969 when she saw a traveling version of the Lausanne Biennial. Rebecca was fascinated by this “new” art form – fiber art – and has devoted her professional life to that subject. She became a juror because she was invited to serve.