You have an art exhibition coming up. Great! Depending on the venue, the staff might take care of the press release for you. Excellent! But, if you find yourself in an exhibition with no promotional machine at work already, you need to make sure that your show gets the attention it deserves. Here is detailed information on how to write a press release for your art exhibition.
What makes a press release different from other materials?
Different from an invitation, a press release contains background information about the artist, the work, and the show. Sometimes, it almost exactly mirrors the text you will see at a gallery that accompanies a show. A press release though is targeted to members of the press who may want to check out, write about, or even review your show. Because of this, it can include a few more details. That having said, you can also send your press release to clients, gallerists, curators, or anyone you think might be interested in knowing more about your work.
What should the press release for your art exhibition include?
Details about the exhibition
All the pertinent and logistical information, including:
- Your (the artist’s) name
- The title of the exhibition
- The name of the venue
- The location of the venue
- The duration of the exhibition
- The contact information for you and / or the venue
A writeup about the exhibition
This should be 1-2 paragraphs about the work. This is, traditionally, the most difficult part! This portion of your press release should essentially be an artist statement for the show. You can utilize any style you feel suits your show. It could be clear, concise, and informative. It could be more poetic and evocative. Either way, you want this part to be readable and engaging. Typically and historically, write-ups for press are written in third person point of view. If you want to experiment with a different style, get creative.
For tips on writing this portion of your press release, check out how to write an artist’s statement here.
A short paragraph about you (the artist), stating where you are from, where you received your art education (if relevant), and listing a few of your more prominent exhibitions or achievements. This portion of the information should be written in third-person point of view. If you don’t have formal training or previous exhibitions, this portion can be more about your work. For example:
Janet Riley was born in Vancouver, BC and currently works from her studio in downtown Toronto, ON.
Your press release should feature one image from your show. There are no rules for choosing an image, but it is usually good to choose a piece which is representative of the entire show either visually or thematically. If an installation photo of your exhibition is more relevant than one single work, use that. The image with your press release should be large enough to view easily, don’t use a thumbnail image. It is all about the art after all, right?
If you have more images available, it’s good to provide them in an easily accessible link format. This way, they are viewable but won’t clog up your recipient’s inbox. Two options are to create a shared folder are Google Drive or Dropbox. Once you’ve set it up, you can include a link to further images with your press release.
If you’re sending images this way, it’s generally assumed that they are in a publishable format. So, be sure to use your highest resolution images if you’re sending them out to press. Along with your images, you’ll want to include an accompanying document which includes crediting information in case the images are published. Include this document (a PDF format works well) in your shared folder.
Artwork credit information
The credit information for your artwork images is essentially a list of captions that would accompany your images. It should include the artist’s name; the work’s title, and year. Some people choose to include medium and size, which you can if you feel it is relevant. If you have an agreement with a gallery, further credit may be included depending on your relationship. If you hired a photographer to photograph the work, you may also need to include their information. Here is an example of an artwork credit:
Vija Clemins, Untitled (Big Sea #1), 1969. Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery. Photo credit: McKee Gallery, New York.
“For further information…”
Even if you’re included your contact details, you can also include this text at the bottom of your press release. “Further information” could include a link to your online portfolio or website. If you don’t want to prepare images in advance, it could be a note saying that more images are available upon request. Some examples:
For further information, please see the artist’s website here.
For further information and images for press, please contact the artist here.
Make sure to provide your email and phone number to accommodate these requests.
Who should I send a press release to?
Regardless of the amount of time you spend perfecting your press release, it won’t be doing much if you blindly send out mass copies or emails. You can target your press release to:
- Individuals or organizations who either already have an interest in your work
- Individuals or organizations who have an interest in work that is similar to yours,
- People who write about the type of work that you create
- People who write about galleries in your area
- If you have a goal of obtaining gallery representation, you could also send the press release to galleries who show work similar to yours.
Tip: include a personal note
Your press release will receive more attention if you include a personal note, regardless of whether you know the recipient or not. The more you are familiar with the work of your recipient, the more likely your work is to receive attention from them. For example, if you are sending your press release to a blog you regularly read, you could begin: “Dear ____, I am an avid reader of your blog. I particularly enjoyed your post about ____ because ____. I am sending you a press release of my upcoming show as based on your work I think it might be of interest to you. Sincerely, _____.”
I am a firm believer in targeting key recipients and including personal notes with your press release. If you decide to go another route and send out as many copies as you can, make sure that you are abiding by the anti-spam rules in your country.
Examples of press releases for art exhibitions
Seeing examples of existing press releases is always helpful:
Here is a press release for Daniel Langevin’s exhibition at blouin | division
Here is one for Molly JF Caldwell’s exhibition at the Esker Foundation
Here is another example, for a Felix Gonzalez-Torres exhibition at MOCA