You need to promote your studio through good publicity. Your best bet is usually the local paper and radio station. You could also contact local community news sheets, parish magazines, schools colleges and library.
Find out the name of the art editor of your local paper and send them a press release. Include anything newsworthy about you or your artwork. Provide them with facts rather than artistic theories and try and include anything of a newsworthy nature about you or your artwork. Have you won any prizes? Have you exhibited abroad? Is your art form particularly unusual? Is there an interesting link to some other field in your work? Does anybody famous own a piece of your work? Don't forget to include details of dates and opening times for your studio! Local papers are very often more interested in artists and in events that are happening locally rather than the art itself. Include a photograph of yourself either at work or with some of your artwork, as well as a photograph of an art work. Use e-mail wherever you can.
Radio and TV
Local radio is usually very receptive to contributions from listeners. Listen to your local radio station and decide which programme would be most likely to be interested in you. Find out the name of the producer and contact them. If you ring them they will be able to assess how well you would do on the radio. Some programme presenters also have a lot of control over programme content, so they may be worth approaching too.
While television coverage ensures great publicity, it is difficult to achieve. Some news programmes may be interested.
Even though it is a World Wide Web, the Internet can be an effective way of advertising a local event. Many towns have 'what's on' sites or you could consider creating your own site to promote your work and advertise any open studios or exhibitions you are doing.
If you are already well known or may become so, it is wise to register your domain name, whether or not you are going to use it immediately, to prevent somebody else buying it and trying to sell it back to you at a vastly inflated price.
Remember the rule with the Internet is that something should start to appear on a page within 8 seconds or visitors will go elsewhere. Images in JPEG format use less memory and download quickly. They also look good on the screen while being unsuitable for reproducing, so you won't find pirated copies of your work proliferating.
Remember too that a web page is only useful if the search engines know about it so that people can find it.
Collective press publicity
One of the great advantages of sharing a studio or taking part in an exhibition is that the organisers will handle the publicity and create much more interest from the media than is usually possible for the individual artist. Some events ask participants to provide publicity materials. At Open Studios West Berkshire and North Hampshire we require artists to give us images of publishable quality of their work. We also ask for an artistic statement. While these materials are used to publicise the event as a whole, it is very much in an artist's interest to provide good materials. These days Open Studios West Berkshire and North Hampshire is too large to allow visitors to get round to every studio so anything you can do to raise your own profile can only help.
Images for publicity
If you are asked for publicity materials it is worth giving generously. The more good images you provide, the greater the chance of their being published. In order to give art editors a choice, press releases may need to be accompanied by as many as four images. These should be of recent work (unless you are specifically advertising a retrospective display).
Regardless of how much the organisers admire your work, they will only use good photographs. When doing publicity for Open Studios, we have encountered flash marks, fingers, bad lighting, out of focus objects, pictures that are not squared up to the camera and the same image at least 3 years running. Even good photographs are more likely to be used if they are clearly labelled with your name, the title of the work, medium and size. Most importantly you should indicate which way up and round a picture should go! It is worth bearing in mind that event organisers may sometimes need pictures of a particular shape, for the Directory cover or a poster for example. If you can do so, it is a good idea to provide images in landscape, portrait and square format or indicate how your images could be cropped if necessary.
Providing the person who will write the press releases with interesting facts about your life and work will not only endear you to them, but may ensure that you will be written about. They need the same sort of newsworthy information as you would give to a paper. Local papers usually cover regional open studios events very thoroughly. They sometimes ask for pictures of artists rather than artwork. By providing a photograph of yourself, either at work or with some of your artwork, you will increase your chances of being singled out for some publicity!
Even if you are participating in a shared studio you can take some responsibility for your own publicity. Explore all publicity opportunities, especially very local ones that may not have been covered by the group publicity effort. However, it is usually wise to send a copy to the organisers of Open Studios
Whether or not you are going it alone or taking part in an exhibition, think about issuing an invitation to your own studio. We have a template for an Open Studios invitation, click here to access it. This is the most effective way there is of targeting your potential audience. If you do not already have a mailing list you can start to create one very easily. Use records of past exhibition visitors, purchasers, and any other contacts you would like to attract. Friends, family and colleagues form the basis of most artists' invitation lists. Add people such as doctors, dentists, vicars, teachers etc. with whom you have had dealings. Give invitations to your friends and colleagues for them to distribute to their contacts. Even if you know that visitors will have access to a Directory, it does no harm to send them an invitation.
Once you have had an open studio it is especially important to send personal invitations to people who put their name and address in the visitors' book, even though you know for a fact that they found you through the Directory or your advertising last time. Visitors who like your work enough to return are often intending to buy and they will appreciate a personal invitation.
It is usually worth spending money to make your invitation as attractive as possible. Most printers who specialise in artists' cards provide an option to delete text on the reverse side of a postcard after a proportion of the print run. Click here for a list of known suppliers. You could thus order 1000 cards and use 250, or 500 of them for invitations. You would still have the remainder available to sell or give out to visitors at your open studio. You could also use an existing postcard - a local printer will overprint the back reasonably cheaply. Some printers offer discounts if you plan long enough in advance and are prepared to wait up to six weeks for your order.
Posters, flyers and postcards
As part of Open Studios West Berkshire and North Hampshire you have valuable resources available here to create top quality items with which to promote yourself as part of Open Studios West Berkshire and North Hampshire. Posters and bookmarks are supplied to all participants. However, if you are doing your own posters and flyers they should be eye catching and look professional or they could be counterproductive. If you are opening your studio make sure you put up a poster and include the Open Studios logo. With a computer, it is possible to create something professional looking, but check that the ink won't run if it gets wet. Ensure that you include the Open Studios logo.
With permission, put posters, flyers and guides in as many places as you can think of including: tourist offices, cafes, churches, libraries, doctors' and dentists' surgeries, post offices and shops, garages, schools and colleges. Do you belong to any clubs or societies, either locally or nationally? Do you work in a hospital or large company?
Do you, your friends or family members, have work colleagues who would be interested? Hand out guides and tell people about open studios at every opportunity. Never assume that distribution is somebody else's responsibility. It is not a good idea to simply stuff anonymous letterboxes with guides and flyers. Untargeted promotion is usually wasteful and risks offending people.
Some local councils have a distribution service to regional tourist boards, libraries, businesses, hotels, poster sites etc. which you may be able to use. They may want payment or they may give an 'in kind' grant enabling you to use the service in return for an acknowledgement on publicity materials.
Displays of work
Most exhibition venues will put on promotional displays in the run up to and during the event. Try to include shop windows, libraries and galleries. Somebody who has seen and liked a piece of work will often make an extra effort to visit that artist's studio. Such visitors tend to be well motivated and often buy. It is not unusual for artists to be rung up by potential customers who have seen a piece of work in an exhibition or other display and want to buy that actual piece.
- The benefits
- Open alone or with others?
- Suitable premises
- Your entry in the Directory
- When to open
- Advanced planning
- Opening day
- The future
Click on the link to access the chapter.