Saturday, September 24, 2016

Tips for arts marketing

Sept. 18, 2016
LAS CRUCES – In the olden days, we called it mass media. For some time, the cool kids have been into multiplatform everything: marketing, promotion and communication in general.
I’ve been in the thick of it, one way or another, since the middle of the last century, and however the forms or venues change, it boils down to the same basic concept: get your story out and let people know what you do. This is true whether you’re a visual or performing artist, and if you’re also attempting to make a living with what you do, it can get a lot more complex.
Once you’ve got something to show, showcase it in the best, most professional way you can manage. A portfolio used to be enough for many in the arts. Now you need terrific photos of you and your work, a dynamic non-gibberistic artist’s statement, and maybe (or definitely for performance artists) a boffo video of you at work doing what you do, along with rave reviews from those respected in your field and a biography that’s as impressive as you can make it.
All that may help open some doors. Go through as many as you can. Visit art galleries and museums (many are surprised to discover that all our city and state museums feature art shows and exhibits) and check out private museums and school and municipal buildings which sometimes feature exhibits or would be amenable to trying something new. In our artsy state, hospitals, restaurants, hotels, offices (particularly physician’s offices), airports and even plumbing companies have art collections and exhibits.
And don’t forget special events, holiday celebrations and fiestas.
You may have to donate your services, or risk losing a piece on consignment, and only you can decide if it’s a risk worth taking.
We have lots of organizations for both visual and performing artists. Join as many as you can, especially here, where we have a remarkably supportive community willing to share tips on everything from technique to marketing, and many have their own shows or band together to organize group shows at top venues. ArtForms Artists Association of New Mexico has been especially generous in developing venues during February for the Love of Art Month.
There are lots of contests around, too. Do online searches and enter as many as possible, especially the free or low-entry fee competitions. You may be surprised at some of the contests and the quality of entries. Both the New Mexico State Fair and the Southern New Mexico State Fair have contests for photography and several categories and mediums of art. There are competitions and showcases for dancers, too, and playwrights, singers, poets, songwriters, storytellers and musicians.
Get out there. Especially if you’re a new artist or new in the territory. Sing and play or apply for a booth at the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market. Start a blog and a website and consider strutting your stuff via Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Etsy and whatever other vital forums that have popped up since I started this paragraph. Consider seeking professional help to develop and link your platforms.
While cybershowcases have an important place, I always remember artist and gallery owner Carolyn Bunch’s statement that it’s hard to see the hand of the artist online. I believe close encounters between artists and art lovers can be beneficial to everyone.
And you thought creating great art was the hard part.
We’d like to make it a little easier.
Once you’ve got something to show and a place to show it, help get the word out to the media. You’ll have the best shot if you send us clear concise information about the artist and the event: who, where, what, when, why (if there is a why: a benefit, special fiesta or occasion). Email clear, high-resolution photos (identify everybody, left to right) and links to short videos if available. Do all this as soon as possible and at least two weeks before you’d like the word to get out. If you feel overwhelmed by it all, look for and study the kind of print, online or broadcast stories you’d like to see about yourself or your group or event.
At the Sun-News, we’ve long held the philosophy that art can sometimes be big news in a city like ours with such a vibrant and creative arts community. The place for your story could be in breaking news, features, Pulse and Things to Do (print and online) and even our business section. A good place to start: submit items to or and be sure to include as much contact information as possible: name, organization, email and phone number.

Where to start at the Las Cruces Sun-News
Lucas Peerman, director of content,, 575-541-5446: Assigns online and print coverage of breaking news events, including photo and reporter assignments covering festivals, arts and cultural breaking news, etc.
Brenda Masengill, features editor,, 575-541-5439: Assigns in-depth feature coverage of arts, cultural, social trends, etc. for Friday and Sunday SunLife sections and Healthy U monthly magazine and Wednesday health features.
Lorena Sanchez, Pulse editor,, 575-541-5464: Advance arts & entertainment news and features, A & E profiles, restaurant reviews, etc.
Frances Silva, community editor, 575-541-5456: Print and online events calendars, community briefs, arts briefs
Jason Gibbs, business editor, 575-541-5451: Business news and features. (Galleries, artists, and A & E related programs are sometimes featured in the Sunday business magazine’s profile pieces, plus opening of new businesses in business briefs.

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