Episode 166 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Managing the Press

Chapter 10

Managing the Press

Every artist wants to receive more press, and why not? It is part of how you get your message out into the world! The first thing you have to know about the press is that they are looking for good stories, not just good art. If you are having a show at a gallery or at a fair or just about anywhere, you can send out a press release to let the press know. There are many resources online to help you write a press release, but it is fairly simple. You must write a text as though it were an article already written about your show, in the third person. So you might start out saying something like, “The exhibit of Barne’s work is an arresting show of portraits that evoke emotions and memories of missing children.” Begin your press release with a strong first line that will draw the reader in. Then continue the writing and explain why the show is a must-see. End it with the information needed to see the show, the date, time, and address of the opening, and the close date. A public relations person once told me that the press are just like you and me, and make decisions about going out based on what seems exciting to them— personally.

The Journalist

Put yourself in the position of the journalist who is reading your press release. You read a lot of press releases every day, why should you go to this show? Something has to stick out; something must be special about this event. One way to make it more appealing is to have more things happening there than just the show. Performers, lectures, food, etc. I get a lot of invitations to shows in which I do not know the artist or the work, and generally, I don’t go to them. However, not long ago, I got an announcement about an opening near me that also featured a poetry reading, jugglers, a band, and free ice cream! That sparked my interest! I grabbed my son and went right down there. I looked at the art, had some ice cream, and learned how to juggle! A journalist reacts the same way; they want to spend their time in the most interesting way possible, just like you and me. So when you are having your exhibit, consider adding something else to the mix to make people notice and want to come. Perhaps all the things I mentioned at the opening I went to, or something edgier, like burlesque dancer(s) or fire eaters or anything else that would make you raise your eyebrows and think, “Wow, that sounds interesting!” If you can get a celebrity there or a popular local band, that will also bring the press in. It doesn’t matter if your show is in a local coffee house or a gallery. But make it worth going to.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 113 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Have a Party and Make a Miracle Happen

Have a Party and Make a Miracle Happen

It was the first miracle that Jesus got tons of PR for; don’t you think it will work for you? In fact, the example of turning water into wine is a great one. All politics and religion aside, it is a fantastic story, making it one of the most memorable parties in history; don’t you think we can learn something from that? Let’s take it apart for a minute. The story is roughly that there is a wedding. At the wedding, everyone is drinking and having a good time. After a full day of nonstop partying, the wine is finished and the guests are disappointed! Luckily, there is a magician there who does an amazing performance; he turns the water that is there into wine. The only witnesses to this event were drunk from a day of drinking of wine; it was just right. The perfect story. Whatever happened from then on is history. The story of that miracle maker continues to attract press, admiration, and controversy: all the things you could use for your art practice. Parties can be events where something truly spectacular happens. You may not be able to turn water into wine, but perhaps you have another trick up your sleeve? I am talking here about a party not where everyone gets drunk, but where some- thing very memorable and interesting happens.

The Party

To have a party, you don’t really need me to give you instructions. However, to do a professional job, where the goal of the party is not to get a date or show off your new place, but to meet collectors and raise money, you need to be more calculated and thoughtful. Of course you can take this idea in any direction, from a very low-key intimate party with three guests to a gala event like Jesus attended with performers wowing the crowd at a place you have rented or borrowed. Let’s begin by talking about a smaller event, with three to six people as guests.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 76 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Banksy


Banksy is also an artist from England who began as a graffiti artist. Because he decided to remain anonymous as the artist, it was a move that got him more and more press because everyone was so curious. He would make his own framed paintings and walk into museums and hang them on the wall with double-stick tape and leave. As an artist who wants to exhibit and show the world his work, he found a way. But he kept pushing the boundaries of what and how he could do it. Like graffiti artists before him, he plastered his images all over cities, and all illegally, of course.

The content of his work was often political, and that also got people’s attention. The press loves new photos, and he gave them plenty of photo opportunities by placing his images everywhere for them to see. He used stencils and spray paint so that he could make images quickly and move on.

His great achievement was to protect his anonymity fiercely. In a terrific marketing ploy, he remained anonymous and created a mystique about himself that way. Everyone saw his images around the city and wondered who he was. The more people asked, the less they found, and this only added to his notoriety. Then in 2005, Banksy had a show in an abandoned warehouse in Los Angeles, which he elaborately staged with the help of a curator he hired. He put a real elephant in the room that he hand-painted with nontoxic paint. This was the show that not only brought in a huge amount of people, but also press as well. Celebrities came to the show, bought work, and that was his big start. Not long after, his work was being sold at auction houses. Does this story sound familiar? In the tradition of Damien Hirst and others, he started by creating a show outside of a gallery, in a warehouse. The content was very different though; his work is antiestablishment, antigovernment, and anticapitalist. However, his ability to market himself to the capitalist system is very effective.

By painting his artwork all over city walls and streets, he is getting tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of advertising—for free! There are lots of books on how to market your work and use social networking platforms, but Banksy is getting tremendous visibility with a very different method. This is not unlike what Keith Haring, another graffiti artist, did in the 1980s, before the Internet boom. He put his work on walls all over the city, gave out buttons and stickers, and relentlessly promoted himself.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 75 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Damien Hirst / Style Marketing

Damien Hirst–Style Marketing

Damien Hirst is another example of high-end marketing, and at the moment, he is one of Britain’s wealthiest artists. He began right out of college to stage shows of his own. Curating ware- house shows in available buildings with his own work, as well as the work of many friends, he began getting collectors to follow and buy his work.

His earliest collector was Charles Saatchi, who helped to propel many careers by buying artwork and getting his collection exhibited.

Hirst is one of the savviest artists in terms of business deals. In September 2008, he took an unprecedented move for a living artist by selling a complete show, Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, at Sotheby’s auction house and bypassing his long- standing gallerist. The auction exceeded all predictions, raising almost $200 million, breaking the record for a one-artist auction as well as Hirst’s own record with $18 million for The Golden Calf, an animal with eighteen-carat gold horns and hooves preserved in formaldehyde. The idea of an artist bypassing his dealer and going straight to auction was unheard of, and totally new. He cut his dealer out of almost $100 million! Everyone doesn’t need or want to be Damien Hirst, but it is important to understand what he has done. Like other artists I will discuss, he is able to change the rules of the game a little bit, and that is something artists can do no matter where they are in their careers.

How do I get my big break


For the Love of God

Damien Hirst also created a now-famous work of a skull covered with diamonds called For the Love of God. He said it would be the most expensive artwork ever sold. He thought it would sell for about $100 million. In fact, it never did sell for $100 million, but he received tremendous worldwide press for saying he would try to sell it for that much. It is an age-old technique of announcing you are going to break a record of some kind. Donald Trump, the developer, has used a similar technique, saying he is about to build the tallest building in the world, and even if he doesn’t build it, he will get press attention for that claim.

Damien Hirst was using the same public relations model by claiming he would sell his diamond-encrusted skull for $100 million. In fact, he didn’t sell the skull for $100 million, but he had a very savvy backup plan. He put together a group of investors, of which he was one, and sold the work for $76 million dollars to the group. Does that give you any idea? He is often criticized as a model of excess, and he may deserve that, but he is also offering new ways for living artists to make much more money off their work than anyone previously thought possible.

He has ushered in a new era where the marketing of the art is part of the art itself. When the diamond-encrusted skull was exhibited in London, the setup for viewing it was an artwork in itself. It was exhibited in a small gallery that had several security guards looking very ominous. The room of the skull was in was almost completely dark, and there was a long line waiting to get in. Once you were in the gallery, you had a very short time to see the skull because you were moved through rather quickly.

The problem was that your eyes didn’t have enough time to adjust to the darkness in the room, so just as you were starting to see the skull on the way out, the angle of the light caused a spectrum of colors to come out of it, and then you were outside. It was an incredible scene. You could barely see it, and once you did, it was all colors and reflection, and you couldn’t make out too much. The end result was like a vision or a dream of some kind. The press loved this and so did the people lining the block to see it. If nothing else, Hirst is an example of how far you can go in being creative and caring for every aspect of your work, including his exhibition and how it is seen and perceived. He has opened the door for artists to be creative in similar ways. It is notable that his work is fetching such high prices that most museums cannot afford it. However, his ideas of being creative in your approach can apply to any artist.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.