Popped Art: How to Promote an Artist's Work?
November 24, 2009 10:42 AM   Subscribe

Looking for advice for raising an accomplished artist's profile from 'recognized' to 'esteemed' - through promotion, exhibition, and sales. How to find trustworthy/high-end calls for entries to art shows and museums? And more.

I'm helping an accomplished, recognized artist raise his profile to the next level. Any guidance would be appreciated.

Where are there quality listings of call for submissions for artists' works for exhibition? How do you get art into shows? How do curators identify artists for consideration when putting together shows?

What are the best venues/methods for promoting an artist's works?

Specific questions:
1. Are there (not scammy or lame) listings of calls for submissions to upcoming visual arts exhibitions? Willing to pay moderate subscription fees if the list is of a high caliber...

1a. Bonus points for lists and resources geared towards religious art topics, and to Jewish/Israeli artists in particular.

2. In addition to building personal relationships with museum and gallery curators and owners, what are the best practices for getting art pieces into shows?

3. Other advice/best practices for generally promoting the work of an artist? The online side is pretty much in place (facebook, twitter, flickr, tumblr, site).

4. While I'm here, might as well look for advice regarding the sale of aforementioned artworks, especially re: pricing, marketing, distribution of giclees, photographs, and installation/site-specific pieces.

Thanks, AskMeFi!
posted by prophetsearcher to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
4. While I'm here, might as well look for advice regarding the sale of aforementioned artworks, especially re: pricing, marketing, distribution of giclees, photographs, and installation/site-specific pieces.

This is kind of an aside, yet relevant. A friend of mine runs an "under-the-radar" urban gallery. For the past year or so, they've done a number of shows where they've had a color-laser printer on site. If someone likes a piece but can't afford the purchase price, they can just order a print and have it produced right then and there, even as a t-shirt if they so desired.

The point being: be open and aware as to what new-tech is doing to the marketplace, and plan accordingly.
posted by philip-random at 10:59 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Besides question #1, your other questions are way, way too broad to receive an answer.

But in general, when thinking about calls for submissions, remember Groucho Marx: "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member." Almost every 'resource' out there for artists is just another way to separate them from their money.

There is no silver bullet to take an artist to the next level. But you need to start local. Whether it is a local gallery, a local art show, anything to get the work in front of people. Exactly why 'facebook, twitter, flickr, tumblr' is a terrible marketing plan. Who is going to see it? It is like planting a flag in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and expecting people to find it.

Start local and build a community, then take it from there. The relationships, shows, sales, everything will flow naturally out of strong local foundation.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 11:29 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Apologies that I can't do links -- I'm on a phone right now. Nyfa.org has free listings and is reputable. Transartists.nl has listings of a more international bent (plus lots of residencies, which are great places for artists to network). The book "Taking the Leap" is also a really good overview.

With calls for entry, it's best to apply only within your medium -- any show asking for paintings and drawings and sculpture and photo has odds that are too high, and frankly, is usually lame ones. The only multi-media calls to enter in this case would be themed ones (religious, Jewish, etc.). I wouldn't waste money applying to anything that I'd be embarrassed to put on my resume (like a cafe). It's too expensive to frame the work and send postcards to be worth it for a "show" like that.

Getting in front of museums and major city galleries is about gaining a reputation and networking; it doesn't happen through open calls. Galleries sometimes have periods when they'll accept packages from unrepresented artists. Otherwise, you can get them to see your work by applying to small shows at other venues where the gallerist you're after is guest-curating. Or go to a portfolio review that the gallerist is featured at. Befriend represented artists too -- if they like your work, they may recommend it to their own gallery.

FYI, this advice is geared towards the fine art market. There's also the more decorative market -- fairs, etsy, selling online, and that's not something I know too much about.
posted by xo at 11:51 AM on November 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

Visual Arts (on a Museum level) is a really really tough business to break into, statistically almost nil if you are not already part of that level of art system (but there are flukes). You are competing with many many people who are highly talented and highly motivated. If you have the will, nothing is impossible, but you are competing with many other people who also think this way, and many of them are geniuses.

You should probably focus on achieving representation with a Gallery/Dealer who represents other work which you like. Send portfolios (not more than once a year). If accepted, they will take much of the money your work sells for, but they will (probably) promote your work.

In the mean time, try to participate in the (uh) next emerging art-scene by going to small shows of other new artists. Join an arts collective (they pop up all the time in most not-small cities). Show stuff at storefront galleries. Rent a storefront for your own show/party. Of course, study criticism of your work carefully.

Keep an open mind. Not all great art ends up in a museum.
posted by ovvl at 5:35 PM on November 24, 2009

Response by poster: @philip-random - thanks for the point of reference. we're very aware of the fluxes of the marketplace. probably should have saved that question for its own askmefi thread; it's a world unto itself.

@infinitefloatingbrains - actually, 'facebook, twitter, flickr, tumblr' has worked quite well, because we treat it as local. just because it can have an international reach doesn't mean that we rely on it. rather, we are active in local communities that have extensions online, rather than starting from the online and hoping to move off. i guess my question was how to move to that next level, since it doesn't seem so 'natural,' especially as 'local' might be *too* local.

@xo - thanks for the links. exactly what i was looking for. your advice is spot on as well.

@ovvi - the artist I'm working with has had some big wins with museums, so there is definitely a leg up there. I'm actually at an advantage because it's not my work, so i can remain fairly objective about which opportunities are promising, relevant, and realistic.
posted by prophetsearcher at 10:58 PM on November 24, 2009

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