Get Your Stuff Out There, Part II: Put Your Best Work Forward

In my last post, Get Your Stuff Out There, Part I, I talked about taking good photographs. Now I want to talk about what you're going to do with those. I won't go into a lot of detail about online marketing, because that's why we've got our marketing and social media guru, Jen Cushman, whose column, Art Chooses You, appears every month. Follow her blog posts, and you'll be golden. But I do want to mention some of the ways you can get your stuff out there, both online and In Real Life. In fact, let's start with real life--always a good place to begin, don't you think? The first thing step? Business cards. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've been somewhere and have met an artist and eagerly asked for a card so I could go home and look at their blog or website or Flickr group or *something,* only to have them admit, usually sheepishly, that they don't have any. Or they have some, but they've run out. Or they forgot to put them in their bag or pocket. This is baffling to me. While really fancy, glossy business cards can be expensive, there are much easier, simple options--you can even print out your own right from your computer, and there's really no excuse not to have a swack of cards with you everywhere you go. You can't expect people to whip out a notebook and copy down your contact info or, even worse, take that scrap of napkin on which you've so helpfully written it down for them and then try to decipher what you wrote after the napkin snippet accidentally goes through the laundry.

I use Moo cards, both the mini-moo cards and the regular business-card-sized ones. A little pricey, perhaps, but a valuable investment in your work, and the best thing about them is that they allow you to upload and use photographs of your art. Or of you.

Moo Cards

What do you do with business cards? You give them to people who might be interested in what you do. You hand them out at craft fairs and art walks and anywhere you exhibit or sell your work and anywhere you go where you might *want* to exhibit or sell your work. You give them to people you talk to about your work, and you give them to people who ask what you do. You might want to carry quite a few, you know? Showing your work in Real Life? Be creative: think open studio tours, a private home show, the local art crawl. Try starting out with small local shows--check with your community and those nearby to find out more. Once you've gotten started, you can move farther afield--established artists can attend as many shows each year as they can handle. It might turn out this is perfect for you.

If you'd rather show your work virtually, you'll want to go back and read my posts about blogs and websites. If that seems daunting, you might start by joining an online group, maybe a Yahoo group. I've got a couple, for altered artwear, art journals, and The Creative Life and there are hundreds more out there giving you an opportunity to talk to people with similar interests, share information, upload and show photos of your work, and make valuable contacts.

When you're ready, you can submit your work to magazines. Christen Olivarez, Director of Publishing for Stampington and Company and Editor-in-Chief of Somerset Studio, writes Notes by Christen every other week here at CreateMixedMedia, and she'll cover this in upcoming columns, so I'll leave the details to her. Here I just want to remind you that when you're putting your work out there, you want to make sure it's your best work. While it's popular to declare that all work is good work--wonderful work, in fact--and that everything you do is a masterpiece, you know that some of what you've done is better than the rest. You want to show editors and--eventually--gallery owners and the hosts of shows what your very best work looks like. You don't want to overwhelm them with everything you've ever done, the good, the bad, and the frankly ugly. Even if they indicate that they're interested in seeing more, this doesn't mean to inundate them with stuff you dig out from under your desk. You want them to get an idea of a coherent body of work; you do not want them to worry that you may send them a mishmash of half-formed canvasses and carelessly assembled assemblages. Learning to self edit is vital. While you don't want that Self Editor sitting on your shoulder while you're working, you do want to invite her or him to visit when it's time to evaluate what you've done. The ones you're not quite sure about? Hang onto them for a while before you show them to anyone. Think about them, maybe go back in and re-work them. Or just set them aside for a bit while you keep working. Over time, you'll develop your critical eye and will learn to recognize your best work, and that's the work you want to get Out There. If this is the path you want to take--although it's perfectly fine if you don't--we're ready to help. Read the blog posts from our columnists. They've got lots of valuable information, and they're more than happy to share.

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