Stop that line of thought right now! It is a BIG deal, your art is about to meet the public, and you want to draw as many people out of their homes and away from the TV/Internet as you can. Unless art exhibits grow on trees for you, you need to maximize this opportunity you have been given. So, here is how.
First, make a list of all the local magazines, papers, and radio stations in your area that you have seen or heard art announcements on before, don't be afraid to think out of the box here. Second, call them up and ask who is in charge of posting their art events, or entertainment calendar, or you can just tell them that you would like to submit a press release, and ask for the email address of the person in charge of that. Also, another way of handling it is to gather up copies of all those papers and look for the contact info that is printed in the paper- if you don't want to call and have some time to kill. Keep in mind that press contacts change all the time, and by calling you are assured the most up to date information.
Third, start making a list of those emails. Your list might include email addresses of your local paper, your free entertainment papers, the paper for the community close to you but not in your town. If you are lucky enough to have a college radio station, they can be a great resource and very supportive of visual arts just as they are of music. Get them and your local NPR station to announce your show. Also don't overlook online bulletin boards for your city, or arts groups in your town, and then of course there is myspace.
Now that you have compiled this list, keep it handy because it is like a golden ticket to your future success. Even, if your press release doesn't get folks out of their homes, it has done something almost as valuable, it has gotten your name out there in print, and stating that you are an artist. This alone is building up your credibility. So, it really is a win-win situation, and aren't those nice!
So, about the press release, these are important but not nearly as scary to write as you think, and they are a piece of cake compared to the artist statement. A press release needs to have the basics (who, what, when, where, and maybe a touch of why) but be advised they will edit it, and perhaps reduce it to one sentence, so make sure all the information is there. It is important to include ways for them to get a hold of you, just in case they want to do a feature on you, or have questions about your work. Also, if you can include an image, do - you might be published! Make sure your digital image is sized to look good in print and not just on the web.
Here is sample of a press release I have sent out:
Contact person: Megan Chapman
my phone number
my website ( if available)
Included is an image of the painting "Quiet Facade" Mixed Media on Canvas 40x30" 2007
Fayetteville Painter Megan Chapman to exhibit at Mullins Library- University of Arkansas
"The Path that Light Takes" an exhibit of abstract mixed media paintings by Megan Chapman will be featured May 1 – June 29 in the Mullins Library, at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. This exhibit includes nineteen new paintings never before exhibited locally. Megan's work has most recently been featured in a solo exhibit at Gallery Fraga in Bainbridge Island, Washington this past March. Her mixed media abstracts have been well received. This exhibit is free and open to the public.
Megan Chapman was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She received her B.F.A. in painting from the University of Oregon. Megan has shown her work over the past ten years in Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Washington, as well as in various publications, and in private and corporate collections. Megan is currently represented by the DDP Gallery in Fayetteville, Blue Moon Gallery in Hot Springs, and by the M2 gallery in Little Rock, Arkansas. Megan is also represented by Gallery Fraga in Bainbridge Island, Washington.Visit the artist's website at www.meganchapman.com for more information about her work.
Chapman says, "This body of work is about my love of color, the subtle changes that occur when colors overlap, react, and create something new. I also love textures and how layers of color and texture come together. I enjoy space and balance. I have been exploring different motifs that I find natural and comforting. These shapes are repetitive at times, and often peek out from a hidden space in the painting or brazenly take the foreground. These shapes reflect my love of mark making and how I enjoy the imperfect smudge of charcoal or the gritty pencil line as it floats along the painted surface. Intuitively, I bring these elements together to create an otherworldly atmosphere."
Okay- that is it, this is longer than most I send out, and some people published the whole thing, and some people reduced it to "The Path that Light Takes" an exhibit of abstract mixed media paintings by Megan Chapman will be featured May 1 – June 29 in the Mullins Library, at the University of Arkansas.
It is nice to have options. I did include an image, so if they have space they can run it in the paper along side my press release. I have been fortunate to have had this happen many times, and that is such a bonus! My advice when you are starting out - keep the press release short, and to the point, but easy to understand, and some sort of description of your work to entice them to come.
So, the next time you have a show at a coffee house, a public space, a warehouse, a library, or a gallery make sure you get the word out there. Papers and other media outlets want your information, and will almost always publish it. People that you don't even know really would like to come to your events if they just knew about them. So, start preparing your golden ticket.
PS. Don't forget to save all your press clippings!! You're a star!