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The 5 Things Every Emerging Artist Should Have

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Whatever your discipline: music, performance, sculpture, etc., about the most important thing for artists (or entrepreneurs) to do to further their own potential is to put themselves in the shoes of the Director (or client) that they'd like to work with. Artists often unknowingly waste the time of the folks who could be guiding them by being ill-prepared.

Let me paint for you a hypothetical but quite familiar scene. You're a budding artist that meets a gallery curator at a party. You say, "I'd like to show you some of my work." "Wonderful‚" the curator says. "I'd really like to see it." You offer to bring some examples to a meeting. But the curator is awfully busy. "Here's my contact information. Just send me the link to your website," the curator offers. Yikes! You don't have a website. Wait, no need for fear. The curator says, "Just mail me your stuff by the end of the week. "The end of the week? You need more time than that! And trust, if you're not organized, time you'll get. A lot of of it in limbo.

My homie, (maybe you've heard of her?) Oprah, and I like to define "luck" as: Readiness meeting opportunity. What's the use of getting a big break if you're not fit to go? Don't be caught snoozing. Here are The Top 5 Essentials for Emerging Artists. And they are all must-haves.

1. Bio
What is special about you, fascinating or notable? Where did you study? Who have you studied under? What informs your work? What accolades, monies, or fellowships have you received?  Essentially, who are you and what is your incredible story? The simple version of your biography can be about 50 words. The longer one about 100. And a yet longer, more complete one can be an entire page, but no more. It's also good to have multiple versions to serve different purposes. To illustrate, the one for the online site can be the full version, the one you submit to the press may be the middle version, and the one that goes in the printed program can be the brief one. In general, write your biography in third-person.

2. Curriculum Vitae
This will contain very similar information to your biography. Yet, it will be formatted like a resume and will include just the facts: Name, Contact Info, Exhibitions (titles, dates, locations), Education, and other applicable information.

3. High Resolution Pictures: Work Samples, Artist Portraits, etc.
When you are booked for a gig, pictures will be necessary to publicize the show. These may be used for magazines, newspapers, posters, fliers, and websites. The usual minimum file resolution for images is 300 dpi, and may be either full-color or black & white. Unless the work to be advertised is itself graphic design, do not incorporate any graphic design into these images: no text, no borders, no layout, no frills. The photos should be effective enough to stand on their own.

4. Artist / Mission Statement
This document should be written in the first-person. Show us what your art is about, what is the story or influence for you to make this work, and give any details that may help your readers further connect to your work or look at your work in a new and interesting way.

5. Website(s)
Create all of the above outlined materials. You may send these documents as conventional, physical artist packets or more likely, as e-media kits (otherwise known as electronic press kits, or EPKs). And since you have all of this impressive content, now would be a suitable time to think about a website to serve as the home base for all of this wonderful information. You may then include other relevant components like video of any cool interviews, live work samples if you're a musician, etc.

You will use these essentials to present yourself to an Artistic Director. And the Artistic Director, when they invest their time in you, will use these same materials to present you to colleagues, to the media, and to general audiences. Which then leads, hopefully, to greater exposure and future prospects for you. Do you see how having these texts and photos are crucial to multiplying your success?

A curator myself, I know that my involvement in supporting any artist diminishes dramatically when the artist does not adhere to these necessary processes. In such cases, I tend to feel taken for granted as a champion for that particular artist and I end up second-guessing my decision to back them in the first place. Because curators tend to re-book artists they've had excellent experiences with and also advise their peers on new talent, these unprepared artists produce a diminishing effect for themselves rather than a multiplying effect. How could I - or anyone in the best interest of their colleagues - confidently recommend any artist that presents themselves as sloppy, of poor quality or hard to work with?  It doesn't matter how amazing their art is.

It is your duty to help the individuals that wish to help you by having these Top 5 Essentials for All Emerging Artists in order, up-to-date, and ready to fly.  Start on these immediately.  They don't have to be flawless - you'll continue refining them over time as your work progresses or as you find new ways to describe your work.  Just launch.



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