What is it that separates certain artists out from the pack? What factors allow a chosen few figures to stand out and gain constant media attention? If it seems as though some artists are continually offered a stream of opportunities while others languish unnoticed, there’s some truth there. Apart from talent, artists require a certain level of “buzz” in order to progress to new levels of recognition in their art careers.
So how can creatives develop an artist branding strategy to reach new audiences outside of the usual methods? Are there other options available to artists who are not represented by commercial galleries when seeking media attention? Apart from striving for well-attended exhibition openings, there are a few other options to securing increased exposure. In many cases, the more creative the approach, the greater the potential recognition. Below we examine some options for artists looking to think outside of the box and implement innovative artist branding and public relations strategies to increase public awareness of their work.
Partner Up with Other Artists
Find a like-minded artist and partner (or partners!) that share your vision to realize new projects with! Not only do great minds think alike in terms of increased awareness, but collaborating opens up the potential for more exposure and increased networking opportunities, and a new platform from which to further develop your visual artist branding strategy. Ventiko, an internationally acclaimed conceptual artist, notes that her collaborations have opened up new possibilities for her practice. She states that “…working with other artists is quintessential to emotional, mental and artistic development” as an artist. More importantly, it’s crucial to work with artists and cultural producers with similar goals so that you can more easily share resources and mutually expand your visibility. Ventiko notes of her partnerships “…rather than search for artists to collaborate with, I prefer to allow organic relationships to develop.” Finding partners who share your values and are equally ambitious will reward you not only in the short-term but also further down the line as your art careers both continue to grow.
Create Artist Branding Platforms
Create a brand new platform for others to share their creativity! Since the opening of the New Women Space in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the space has evolved to host a variety of art careers focused (and often creative) programming. As a result, members at the space have greater exposure through shared marketing resources and name recognition as the space becomes a regular venue for interesting and meaningful programming for entrepreneurs of all backgrounds, presented by women. While this is an example of a very specific platform, platforms need not adhere to strictly defined criteria. Perhaps instead of starting a venue, you can get involved with a team to initiate a festival or event concentrated in your field. By forming a platform for others in your field to shine, your artist branding strategy can become woven into the very fabric of the community in an integral – and noticeable- way.
Try Pop-Up Shows
Not showing regularly with a single gallery? No problem. Plan a pop-up art show! Pop-up exhibitions are a fixture on the scene. Originally taking cues from pop-up shops, or marketing stunts, these pop-up shows can inhabit mixed-use office spaces, art collective sites, and other unique venues to display recent artworks in a new and compelling (and time-sensitive!) setting. Alex Fanning, Principal of Alexandra Fanning Communications, sees a positive effect in taking the initiative to “ take your art into your own hands and organize a pop-up exhibition at one of the many rental/ unconventional spaces, such as Parasol Projects.” By selecting the venue and the parameters of the show, you’ll have greater creative control and can conceive of how you want the look and feel of the overall space to fit with the artwork to align with your artist branding strategy. Pop-up shops are also compelling as they come and go quickly, adding an air of exclusivity and prompting collectors to not miss out on the experience.
Focus on Your Online Presence
Fanning strongly advocates for an online presence, advising artists to consider e-commerce sites for their work if the aesthetic fits with your artist branding strategy. She notes that offering your work through an e-commerce site offers ways of getting new eyeballs on your work, elaborating that “If they are a good e-commerce site, they will promote your work through their channels with editorial write-ups and profiles.” It’s highly likely that more people look at these sites than your personal website on a daily basis, so consider selling this merchandise for free marketing. Choose a few select styles to feature so that production will be quick, and be sure to share any features on these sites with your own audience for an increased sense of legitimacy!
Social media is the big draw – which you can learn more about in our previous article on growing your social media following. There are other ways of staying social, however, and finding added benefits through other websites. For example, if you’re interested in starting a platform or a pop-up show, as outlined above, start a Kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter and other fundraising websites feature profiles of projects that they like, extending your audience. Join artist circles and professional groups on sites such as Facebook, or through legitimized organizations in your chosen field. By extending your social network through a strong web presence along with like-minded individuals and organizations, you’ll have a better chance of getting your name out and getting more recognition for your many accomplishments and activities. When it comes to the buzz surrounding your artist branding strategy, every little bit counts!
What are some of your artist branding strategies?
Audra Lambert is a curator, arts marketing consultant, and editor.