Where to Distribute Catalogs of Your Art

A few weeks ago I wrote about what should go into a catalog of your art.  (Be sure to read the comments for catalog tips from readers.)
Now I want to talk about what to do with a catalog you've created.

The Reality of Printing a Catalog

Sarah Atlee, Normal, OK
Sarah Atlee's catalog Normal, OK.

Printing one catalog at a time isn’t cheap, so I would never encourage you to print more than you need.
The cost of printing a 20-page 7×7-inch catalog at Blurb is $11. If you gave away just 10 copies, it would cost you $110 + shipping.
That's pricey! But put in perspective, artists of yore (you know who you are) used to send out sets of slide sheets to promote their art. With 20 slides to a sheet at a cost of about $1.50 (minimum) per slide, each slide sheet cost at least $35 to produce!
Catalogs aren't looking so bad anymore, huh? So don't be too stingy with their distribution.

Who Might Get a Copy

Everyone who helped you with the catalog should receive a copy. This might include your photographer, designer, writer, and editor. Yes, you should have an editor!
Your best friends, supporters, and family would be thrilled to receive copies, although many of these people would probably be delighted to help you out by purchasing their copies.
Your collectors! I can't think of a nicer gift to give your VIP collectors than a catalog of your art.
Your top prospects for gallery representation – those who already know your name or are well vetted through other means – might be impressed seeing your art in print. As we established above, this is more cost effective than our old method of sending slide sets. It's also more effective in general since there's no need to plug in a projector and fill up a slide tray to see the work.
You might also share copies with the follow people – depending on your relationship with each:

  • Arts writers and critics
  • Anyone who sponsored your exhibit or event
  • Any funding agencies from whom you received grants
  • Top art bloggers or bloggers/writers within your niche
  • Curators

Exhibition Spaces

Wherever your work is shown, place a catalog on view with a sticker on it that says “Not For Sale, Gallery Copy.”
Provide a handout or business card that explains how viewers can purchase their own copy of your catalog.
What have I forgotten?

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10 thoughts on “Where to Distribute Catalogs of Your Art”

  1. Can this work for jewelry artists? I am one and I never know whether the normal rules of marketing art apply to me. Also in India art galleries rarely represent jewelry artists so its a little different I guess.

  2. Catalogs could also be used as part of exhibit proposals for art centers, museums, and university galleries.

  3. Why not give them the choice?Would you prefer a catalogue, a sheet of slides or how about I just give you $11-35 dollars directly in your pocket, cash or credit card or debit card?

  4. Over the years I’ve ordered dozens of catalogs that were printed with less than expected quality, some being downright scrappy. A couple months ago my company in Hobe Sound FL, printed some catalogs with PCA Delta and they were great. I’ve been printing with them ever since. They show care for the environment by using soy based inks, plus recycled papers are available upon request. If you need catalogs printed go to http://www.pcadeltaprinting.com/ I strongly recommend them.

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