Need to hear about creative self-promotions

I continue to collect stories from artists who are thinking outside of the box to promote their art.

Have you created an event that generated lots of buzz?

Have you gone far beyond sending press releases, postcards, and newsletters?

Have you heard a story about another artist pushing the self-promotions envelope?

I want to hear about them all!

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15 thoughts on “Need to hear about creative self-promotions”

  1. One thing I have done is to print a reproduction of some of my paintings on bristol cards (slightly larger than a business card) and to put the cards inside art books at the library. At the back of the card, I write the address of my blog or my website (with something like “Remember to check”). It is handy to have a bookmark when you borrow a book, so people are likely to keep the card. If you pick their interest, they may visit your website. If you use Google Analitics and travel to a town outside your area, you should be able to measure the result of this marketing activity by monitoring the number of hits from the town you visited.

  2. I once got on a local tv show by drawing a portrait of the host. I attended a local event the show was hosting in order to snap a reference photo, and after I finished my portrait of the host, I submitted it to the producer and she immediately invited me to be on an episode, where I got to plug my business!

  3. Not my story, but that of a friend here in London. He is a dog portrait artist (and people too) and I spent a few hours with him before an art fair having lunch and coffee – any time he saw a dog he approached the owner (leaving me at a cafe table if need be!) asked if the breed was such-and-such (he’s memorised all the English breeds), chatted, mentioned he was at the fair and doing a raffle for a pet portrait if they wanted to stop in to the fair. His manner was so friendly that many dog owners appeared in the art fair, even I started going up to any I saw and pointing them his direction! His enthusiasm was catching. 🙂 Similarly, I have a jewellery designer friend who randomly compliments women on their jewellery and gets into conversations. As something of a recluse myself I’ve learned a lot from friends like this.

  4. Look up DC artist Tim Tate. A capable glass artist, he’s done more than a couple of things which got him a lot of press. One is that he won an auction to have a film festival of shorts on a subject of his choosing… and he made the subject “Tim Tate, gay glass blower extraordinaire”. The other can’t be directly attributed to him… but one of his works was taken from a local show and then a ransom note was sent to the Washington Post. Hard to say whether it was a stunt, but it continues to garner some press. Certainly has won him some name recognition.

  5. Join the local Chamber of Commerce and go to all the gatherings. No competition and you get known as “the artist” or “the sculptor”…this is a tad expensive, but in addition to meeting the unusual suspects, you find closet artists and help them come out by sharing info – win win. works for me. Gather cards from folks you meet and talk to and write follow-ups to everyone you meet each time using a post card with your work (okay, that’s not out of the box, but it works).

  6. This year, paintings that had been in three different gallery shows & had not sold, go to family members as gifts…Saves me a bundle on buying presents & the word of mouth publicity from people who love my work is amazing!

  7. Hi Alyson, I would say “creative self-promotion” is not the difficult task here but “creative self-promotion that does not empty your purse” is the relevant question. If you have enough financial resources there is no limit to your ideas… but then you would probably not need any kind of promotion either >:)

  8. I’ve started doing short video podcasts through iTunes, and also uploading videos to YouTube. It captures an entirely different audience than what normally comes to my sites. Since I do digital video editing in creating my DVDs on painting, this isn’t too tough, as I already have the footage on my G5. Having text in story form beside every painting on my sites also helps folks find my work when doing a google search.

  9. This wasn’t intentional, but I helped a friend with the launch of her website which she created to showcase the more “local” side of our mountain culture here at Lake Tahoe ( When she did all of her presentations to the local chambers of commerce, etc. around the lake, my art was featured in a sample “ad”. I am also featured on her home page masthead (as well as in her arts section). I haven’t seen any direct results from this, but it gets my name and my work out there! I also just finished doing a “Virtual Reception”, an idea I admittedly borrowed from somebody else. I took comments on my blog the week before my actual Open Studio, with the offer of being entered into a drawing.

  10. Alyson B. Stanfield

    Thanks to all for the leads. Petra: MY task is finding the creative self-promotions, which I believe are usually done on a shoestring budget. I should have clarified that.

  11. A month ago I was rejected, along with a bunch of other artists, from a juried show at an art center where I also teach. I decided we must not take this sitting down. Now we will have a ‘rejects’ show! Remember Manet and Le Salon des RefusĂ©s in Paris in 1863? Ours is Le Salon des RefusĂ©s II. Already there is great buzz and excitement because of the fun factor. We’re planning to invite the press and make it a big deal, if possible. This is an art center, after all, and an opportunity to celebrate all artists in their various expressions. I showed the rejected paintings in another show a couple of weeks later and received an invitation from Boston’s Art Connection to donate to a worthy place like a homeless shelter. I was thrilled to do so. From that came an invitation to enter Artiade 08, the Olympics of art. And then a few days ago I was hired to design a book cover and was able to use one of the paintings in that. So, my point is—there is much publicity and energy to be created if we keep putting the work out there, no matter what. My new philosophy—say yes to yes. Every invitation, every opportunity, just say yes.

  12. We had an event at the gallery during a town wide promotion known as “moonlight madness.” Instead of offering discounts, we had a terrific musician playing in a quiet corner and offered munchies… cider, veggies, pretzels etc. Nothing fancy or expensive. The jury has declared this a great idea for our entertainment, but not brilliant in terms of sales.

  13. I am not sure how outside of the box this actually is, but around here this is a lot less commonplace. In an attempt to self-promote and create a niche for ourselves locally, a small group of us started a self-representing collective of working artists (13 artists). One of our goals is to present a broad range and eclectic mix of fine art and fine craft to the public. This is our second year and we have put together a number of events including our Annual Christmas Art Show and Sale as well as an outdoor art market downtown. Promotion has involved the use of a blog/website where we feature our artists and photos of their work. This URL goes consistently on all of our promotional material. We also use the usual postcards, flyers, posters, etc. and we try and get our events listed in every calendar locally, regionally and across the state. We have had some success. Now instead of just inviting artists to events, people search us out and approach us.

  14. My friend and I with the support of the local arts council opened a gallery in the local chamber of commerce public restrooms 2 years ago. We called it the chamberpot gallery and the local story attracted the attention of the Associated Press. It got in the papers nationally, from new york times, to la times, and internationally (kuwait times, china daily and a couple of canadian papers). Was mentioned on cnn entertainment news on tv, as well as npr. http://www.chambperpotgallery My painting “got paper” seemed to tickle everyone’s fancy 🙂 It was a lot of fun and astonishing to see how much interest it garnered. Didn’t cost us a penny either 🙂

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Your Artist Mailing List: Rethinking + Assessing

Get a transcript of episode 182 of The Art Biz (Rethinking Mailing Lists for Artists) followed by a 3-page worksheet to evaluate the overall health and usage of the 3 types of artist lists.

Where can we send it? 

To ensure delivery, please triple check your email address.

You’ll also receive my regular news for your art business.

Privacy + Terms