On Wednesday we talked about that big, always-dreamed-of opportunity dropping into your lap: an invitation to a show, a chance to publish your work, an slot opening up at the last minute for you to get your work Out There. Today I’ll give you some suggestions to get you started in making a Get Prepared Today list. You know: just in case.
—First, the photos. For magazines, visuals are everything. In fact, visuals are always everything: people have to see what you do, whether you’re entering a show or trying to get your work in a gallery. Whatever it is, you need
good great photos. Back when I first started working in mixed media, most artists who wanted to sell and show their work had to pay someone to take photos for them. Now, though, more and more people are doing their own photos shoots and doing them really well. There’s still a steep learning curve about lighting and presentation, but many people find it easier to capture the essence of their work themselves than it is to try to explain what they want to a photographer. Digital photography has made everything a lot easier for them to do that. There are plenty of places to find photography tips and tutorials, so what I’ll say here is simple: get good clear photos of everything you create, with detail shots and shots from every angle, and save them large: it’s easy to make them smaller if requested.
—Next, your bio. No make that more than one bio. While the basic information about your work will be the same, you need to have several versions ready to go. You need a really short blurb you could use for, say, the end of a magazine article. You need something slightly longer for a printed handout for an street fair. Something less formal for, say, your Facebook page, and something more formal for a gallery. Think about every contingency, do a little research, read what other artists have to say about themselves and their work, noting what works and what doesn’t. Then draft half a dozen usable versions and—and this is important—keep them up to date. As information changes (you get published, you have a solo show, you get a new website), make sure you update everything everywhere.
—Write a 500-word essay about what you do. Don’t go for flowery; go for informative. Don’t list your awards; talk about your inspiration, how you began doing what you do. Have a couple other working artists read over it and make suggestions. If someone sends an email saying they’ve seen your work and would like to know more, and they want to know more immediately, like right this minute, you’re ready.
—Have your online presence Ready for Company. If you’ve got a blog, a website, a Facebook page, a LinkedIn profile, make sure they’re accurate and up-to-date. I can’t count the number of times I’ve interviewed someone who’s asked, “Now when is this coming out?” and then says that, between now and then, they really are going to start/update/clean up their website/blog/FB page. They know they need to, and they’ve been meaning to do it, but there’s the matter of time, and there are all those decisions and all that pesky technical stuff. And now there’s a deadline, because if you’re going to be in a magazine or show or gallery, of course you want to provide links where people can see more of your work online. In case, you know, they want to start a collection of it. Having to rush and do it all at once is no fun. Do it now, keep everything updated (put it on your calendar every month or every two weeks or whatever works for what you do). Add new photos, make sure the contact info is accurate: have it ready for company to see, with no dust bunnies peeking out from under the furniture.
If you schedule time to do these things now and then block out regular times for updates, you’ll be ready to go any time an opportunity presents itself. No panicking, no having to let something slip by because you just don’t have time to deal with it right then, no feeling way-less-than-prepared. Whatever happy surprise comes your way, you’ll be ready.
For more advice about preparing your promotional material for any and all opportunities that may arise, check out the 2014 Artist’s and Graphic Designer’s Market.
MORE RESOURCES FOR MIXED MEDIA ARTISTS