As an artist in the big city, it is very important to exhibit your work to get as much exposure as possible. There are tons of gallery spaces around that artists can hire for exhibitions, from as little as one day, to a weeks or even many months. However, there seems to be little instruction on how to promote these shows, preventing many emerging artists from getting maximum exposure, especially when the exhibition needs to be promoted on a budget. Here are 10 tips to you get you started.
1. Press Release
Any event must have an engaging press release. It's something to inspire people to want to visit your exhibition. Make sure you describe exactly what your guests can expect, how your exhibition is unique, your story as an artist, and make sure you start with strong statement line at the beginning (many people won't read past the first few sentences if they don't find it engaging). Don't forget to outline any information of private views or any other special events you may be hosting within your exhibition.
2. Photographs and Images
Press and listing sites will always prefer events with a good quality photograph. This could either be a image of your work or a photograph of your work in an exhibition. If the photograph is of your work in a previous exhibition make sure this is bright and not blurred. Many publications, such as Time Out, prefer a landscape photograph, others will favour square or portraits so it's worth preparing images in a few different formats. If you choose to use an image of your work, make sure this is one of your most eye-catching pieces.
In our experience many listings sites don’t accept posters, so although posters are necessary for promoting the event, we wouldn’t advise submitting it to the press unless they ask for this specifically.
3. When to Approach the Press
Ideally you need to approach the press about 6 weeks prior to your exhibition opening. If it is a monthly publication you may want to send this earlier. You can upload information to the Press Association via a website called Listoria, where many press and media look to find out about upcoming Arts and Culture events. However, this is very competitive, and some find it more beneficial to email editors of newspapers and magazine directly. Remember to personalise your emails with the recipicent's name. If a writer or editor feels like they are just being spammed they will just ignore the email. If you are having a Private View, make sure you invite them, possibly with a follow up email a few days before the opening night.
Approaching local bloggers is a great way to get exposure for your event. Remember many people love their home town, so if your exhibition is in a slightly more suburban area of London this is a great avenue to go down. Also search for community sites, papers and forums as there is a good chance they'll do a write up on your event.
5. (Good) Listing Websites
It's almost mindboggling how many listing sites there are for events in London. So we've complied a list of some of our favourites. Unfortunately inclusion is not guaranteed with all these websites (even more reason to work on your press release).
- Time Out - possibly London's most popular 'What's On' guide, the dream for event organisers is to be listed in the magazine they release every Tuesday. They receive thousands of events every week, so listing is not guaranteed.
- Londonist - very similar to Time Out, their What's On guide get sent out to most of London every few days, so again, this is brilliant site to get listed on.
- Art Rabbit - A website that focuses purely on art exhibitions and events. You can list your event and they send out weekly newsletters of all upcoming exhibitions for that week.
- Eventbrite - A ticket booking agent that anyone can list events on, the events are listed on the website and app.
- Design My Night - They only allow you to list paid events, but they promote all events listed on their site.
- The List - A quality listing site and it’s free to add your event.
- Arts Week - Another site dedicated primarily to art events. You can upgrade your listing to be included in the newsletter.
6. Social Media
Using Social Media to promote your event depends a lot on your current following. Build your Instagram and Twitter accounts by following others in a similar field, liking, commenting and retweeting other peoples posts. Instagram are very big on people using the 'Stories' part of their app, and often sends out push notifications to your followers when you post a story. So this is a great feature to use for exposure.
For Twitter, you should tweet as often as possible especially during times where people are most likely to be on their phones (popular commuting times, lunch time etc). Make sure you look for Twitter Pages in the area your exhibition will be in and tag them. Much like the local bloggers, they'd love to promote anything in their area.
7. Facebook Advertising
In our experience, Facebook advertising tends to be beneficial only if the Facebook event already has quite a few attendees. So if you make an event for your exhibition work on getting as many friends and followers to say they are attending before you consider promoting. This probably only needs to be promoted two weeks before the opening of your show. Start with a smaller budget to see the response you get before investing a lot of money on this.
8. Posters and Signs
Remember to make it as easy as possible for people to find you. Hopefully the gallery space you've chosen is on a main road, so you'll get natural footfall as well as guests from your promotion. Put up posters and signs in the local area directing them to your exhibition, and try to make these fit the branding of your exhibition (for example, handwritten signs on pieces of paper may not be very enticing to the right people if you are putting on a very upmarket show).
9. Artist Communities
A lot of areas have artist communites or studios so make sure you research this once you've booked your venue. Approaching these groups directly may mean they'll be happy to include information about your show on their mailing list, which will be sent to people who will be definitely interested in checking out emerging talent.
10. Get Creative!
If you are putting on a creative event, why not mirror this with creative and original forms of advertising - this is a sure way to get your exhibition noticed. Just make sure this idea is in keeping with the nature of your show, if your exhibit is a bit edgier you can go wild with this. A friend of ours who runs a festival got the attention of the press by sending actors holding personalised invitations straight to their office. The invited press attended the festival and wrote features on the event. This is obviously a slightly extreme form of advertising but hopefully that will inspire you to think about a truly unique way to give your exhibition that USP.
Here at Drawn Together Art we love to go to art exhibitions, please let us know about any shows going on!