Blog / 2013 / How to Write a Press Release for Your Art

May 30, 2013

Cultivating press is essential to the well-being of all artists. By that I mean the success of their career, of course, but also the health of their artistic practice. We all need feedback in order to grow!

Getting your work talked about doesn’t require any dark magic, backroom connections, or special talents. In fact, there are just five things to remember as you pursue coverage for your art.

  1. Make art in series.
  2. This is really more of a prerequisite to writing a press release than part of the process itself, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth mentioning. It you’re trying to get people talking about a group of unrelated art or an individual piece, you’re probably going to have a much harder time. For a fuller explanation about why making art in series is so good for you, check out this video.

  3. Your press release should be a short and friendly invitation to explore deeper.
  4. Your release isn’t just your artist’s statement for a particular body of work. It should be both pithier and more enticing since, unlike the statement, it’s not usually seen juxtaposed with the work itself.

    To illustrate, you can read my statement for Crime Against Nature and compare it to one of the press releases I’ve been using to promote the series and the book:

    Subject: The REAL crime against nature

    Hi,

    I’m a French-American artist living and working in Portland, Oregon.

    I was hoping that you might be interested in my project, Crime Against Nature, which is all about the misinformation we’ve been fed about what’s natural and what’s not when it comes to gender roles and sexuality among animals of all kinds. Crime Against Nature is a children’s book for the kid in all of us, and one that shows us all the ways that girls and boys can be naturally.

    You can read the full book here:
    https://gwennseemel.com/naturebook

    Or you can get a flavor for it from these memes:
    https://gwennseemel.com/whatsnatural

    Merci!
    Gwenn

    As you can see, the release is very simple—much more so than the statement. I also keep it as direct as possible, both in the wording and in the formatting. The URLs are bare instead of hidden with HTML because I tend to think people like to see what sort of site they’re going to before they click through.

  5. Tailor your press release based on the sort of publication that you are approaching.
  6. Different media outlets have different audiences, so it’s important to highlight the aspects of your work that fit with a particular publication’s program.

    The following is an example of the sort of release that I might send to an art-focused blog:

    Subject: Pretty paintings that do more than decorate

    Hi,

    I’m a French-American artist living and working in Portland, Oregon.

    I was hoping you might be interested in my new project, Crime Against Nature, which is all about the misinformation we’ve been fed about what’s natural and what’s not in terms of gender in the natural world. The work takes the form of 50+ paintings of animals, and it’s meant to be visually delicious in order to draw viewers in. Once they’re hooked, it reveals a world they might never have imagined, one that upends traditional ideas about what’s natural or normal.

    The paintings are gathered in a book—a quick read that uses the vernacular of the children’s book to get across the facts about the animals. You can read it in its entirety here:
    https://gwennseemel.com/naturebook

    Or you can get a flavor for it from these memes:
    https://gwennseemel.com/whatsnatural

    Merci!
    Gwenn

    When I approach free culture publications or blogs that talk about infertility or feminism, I use still other permutations of the same press release.

  7. Personalize your press release when possible.
  8. Can you refer to an article by the writer you’re sending your release to?  Or can you make a connection another way?  Maybe you’ve lived in the city that the writer lives in?

    Remember, writers are creatives too. They’re not machines that crank out content without emotion. When they choose to write about your work, they are responding not only to your art but also to you.

  9. If at first you don’t succeed—and even if you do!—keep honing your press release and sending it out to new publications.
  10. We’re in the midst of a changeover in how media works. Just five years ago, I was still regularly sending out releases through the post office. At the time, there were fewer and fewer of us doing so, making our releases more visible. That may still be the case, but, these days, I am finding that email is just as effective for me.

    As part of the brave new media world, the shining pillars of journalism—those grand old papers that used to hog all the attention and have the final say on what was noteworthy—are failing a bit. Their authority is being siphoned off by niche publications that have proliferated with the internet.

    And I, for one, am loving it! Sure, it means more work for me, researching all the different sorts of blogs that might take a liking to my work, but it also translates into more opportunity. Because let’s face it, those big names in reporting have never been good at picking up every last one of the really good stories. In other words, nowadays, as with most things in an art career, getting some kind of press is largely a matter of persistence.

Symbiartic blog on Scientific American
screenshot of Scientific American

This article on the Scientific American blog dedicated to the intersection of art and science is one of the more recent articles about Crime Against Nature and one that makes me particularly happy. The research phase for for this book was intense, so it’s especially rewarding to see it celebrated by the community whose work I drew from!

For more about how to market your art, check out my book about art marketing. If you want more personalized help, you can hire me as an art guide.

UPDATE

May 12, 2014

Learn more about writing an artist statement in this video!

INBOX IT!

Receive an email every six weeks with announcements about books, talks, and events.

SOMETIMES

Receive an email whenever I publish a new artwork or article.

ALL THE TIME

SUPPORT MY ART!

Microdonations are the fuel powering this art machine. You can give once through Ko-fi.

ONE TIME

Or you can give on an ongoing basis automatically through Patreon.

MONTHLY