Self-Promotion for Artists: More Than a Necessary Evil (Part 4)

Promotion need not be a purely functional aspect of one’s creative output; it has dimensions that go far beyond the somewhat mundane activities involved in making promotional materials, getting the word out about exhibitions, etc. In the best of   circumstances, it can also help define and enrich the art and the artist. For example, the artist statement, a fundamental promotional tool, is also a means of exploring biographical elements in an artist’s work and bringing to light influences and    ideas that add texture to the work.

Press interviews and profiles can also help add layers of meaning to the work and life of an artist. While the media is often seen by artists as a promotional vehicle for enhancing their reputation and increasing their audience, it also functions as a forum for ideas   and an effective means of establishing a context for their art. The media, artist statements, and the like have the capacity to serve double duty for artists, promoting the art and defining it — two roles that definitely complement one another. If approached with   the same care and seriousness as the art per se, these tactics may come to be seen by the audience and/or critics as important components of an artist’s entire body of work.

Self-Promotion Is Self-Discovery

Self-promotion is not just about selling your work, it’s also about selling yourself. This requires an artist to delve into some basic questions about him/herself: Who am I? Where am I from? What image of myself do I want to project? The answers to these questions have deep relevance to the work itself and indicate that persona, promotion and aesthetic are intertwined.

Being compelled to promote one’s art requires an artist to communicate to others what his/her work means. It takes discipline and clarity to provide a context for one’s art that will stimulate other people’s interest in it. Such an exercise may provide an artist with a golden opportunity for finding out firsthand what the art means. Self-promotion may thus be a route to artistic discovery.

Promotion is more necessary than ever in a crowded, competitive marketplace. It’s no longer possible for artists to maintain the illusion that creating the best work will automatically gain them an audience and ensure that their careers move forward. No one can doubt that bad work driven by good promotion often thrives; good work driven by good promotion will most likely find itself at the head of the pack.

Copyright © 2009 by Adam Eisenstat

Adam Eisenstat is a professional writer with extensive experience writing for artists (artist statements, bios, grant essays, etc.). To learn more about how Adam can help you create powerful written communications that will advance your work, contact him at: adameisenstat@aol.com or visit his online portfolio at www.mediabistro.com/AdamEisenstat.

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