Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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06/22/2004: "Writing a Press Release for an Art Exhibit!"


I just finished writing a couple of press releases for the local daily and weekly papers. Just like my original artist statement, it was WAY WAY WAY too long. I don't know why I get so wordy. Anyway, I went ahead and sent them with a note to "feel free to edit at will" and letting them know that it could all be boiled down to the first and last paragraph...which would go as follows:
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Imagine a colorful female figure nestled among giant skunk cabbage leaves or peering out from a field of towering fiddlehead ferns. Juneau artist Elise Tomlinsonís latest series of oil paintings are a combination of the female form, rainforest plants and wildflowers of exaggerated size, and local settings such as Sandy Beach, the Wetlands Trail, the Brotherhood Bridge and Eagle Beach.

Tomlinsonís newest oil paintings will be on display down town at the Friendly Planetís Loft gallery for the month of July with an opening reception for First Friday, on July 2nd from 4:30 PM - 7:30 PM and live music from 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM. The opening is free to the public and everyone is invited to attend.
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I left out the middle three paragraphs out of sheer embarrassment at my own blatant self-promotion. I also included a couple photos just in case. I also sent the info to our university's public relations guy who does a campus wide publication called "Soundings". I wasn't able to find any good information on how to write an effective press release. Of the *four* books I have on being a professional artist, only one of them listed it in the index, and only showed one example press release. artbusiness.com which has excellent articles for artists didn't have anything on the topic. Doing a Google search didn't pull up anything that great either.

So, since the newspapers I submitted to didn't have any submission guidelines posted, I just sent them an email. I'm sure I'm doing it all wrong. And, let me explain why this opening might make it seem as though I have no experience at this...in the past, the galleries have taken care of a lot of this. They would do the press releases; they had the mailing list and all of that. This place I'm exhibiting at is a new gallery in a store that's been around for awhile, but didn't have room for a gallery until it moved into its new location. I'm probably only the 6th artist to show in this space and they don't have as much of a production line approach as other places I've shown. So I'm getting to do a lot of this on my own, which would have been a lot more fun if my computer hadn't crashed.

Does anyone know of a good resource that explains how to write a great press release specifically for art openings? If so, please let me know (even though it's too late for this time around).


Replies: 4 Comments

on Tuesday, June 22nd, John said

"The Practical Handbook for the Emerging Artist" second edition by Margaret R. Lazzari ISBN: 0-15-506202-6 has all of four pages on writing press releases and dealing with the press, but it does have a bunch of other useful stuff in it. I like what you wrote above if that's any help.

on Tuesday, June 22nd, support@elisetomlinson.com">Elise said

Hey, I've never heard of that book but maybe I'll have to check it out. One of my favorite on the topic is called "Taking the Leap: Building a Career as a Visual Artist" by Cay Lang. I forgot all about it until you mentioned the emerging artist book. Just found it on the shelf and it has a very specific set of instructions for the press release, (such as writing it on official letterhead with the words "For Immediate Release" written at the top and including that there is a "photo opportunity". I wish I would have remembered this book sooner. Still, Juneau is not a big city and I know first hand that there isn't a huge ammount of competition for getting your show mentioned in the papers. However, I do wish I had taken the time to be a bit more professional about it, rather than sending off an email.

Chalk one more up the the learning curve.

on Wednesday, June 23rd, sans_serif@yahoo.com">Steve B. said

Hey there, glad to see you're back blogging again after being offline for awhile, though I understand since you had family in town. But I really enjoy your blog and I'm happy to see you back at it.

As for the Press Release, meeting the standard guidelines is more important if you're sending it out nationally, or to monthly or quarterly art magazines. If you're only sending it to local media, it will probably be early enough. Good luck and be sure to post a link to the article if it gets published.

By the way, is your computer fixed yet?

on Thursday, June 24th, Elise said

Hi Steve,
no, my computer is still dead. A friend from the university's IT department was going to try and fix it for me, but then we got slammed yesterday and today by a really nasty worm and he hasn't had the time. If he can't get to it tomorrow I'm going to have to bite the bullet and take it to a repair shop that will charge 69 bucks an hour just to check to see if it's the power supply (which would take all of 5 minutes). still, I NEED my computer back.