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. Different from an invitation, a press release contains background information about the artist, the work, and the show. It is targeted to members of the press who may want to check out, write about, or even review your show. 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 include?
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. The image on 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?
The information for your press release should contain four main parts:
- All the pertinent and logistical information: your (the artist’s) name, the title of your show, the name of the venue, the location of the venue, and the contact information of the venue.
- 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, and should be clear, concise, and informative. You want this part to be readable and engaging. For tips on what exactly to write in these two paragraphs, please read my post outlining how to write an artist’s statement here.
- A short paragraph about you (the artist), stating where you are from, where you went to school, and listing a few of your more prominent exhibitions or achievements.
- “For further information” contact details. This could include a link to your online portfolio or website, or a note saying that more images are available upon request. 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 anything for you if you blindly send out mass copies or emails. You should target your press release to individuals or organizations who either already have an interest in your work, have an interest in work that is similar to yours, write about the type of work that you create, or 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.
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.
OK, show me some examples
I agree! Seeing examples of existing press releases is helpful:
Here is a press release for a Nester Kruger show at Art Metropole in Toronto
Here is a press release for a John Storrs show at the Grey Art Gallery. (Is this long press release engaging without an image?)
Here is a press release for a group show at Gallery Nature Morte.
Here is a press release announcing a Kathleen Munn exhibition at the AGO.