What to Include in a Catalog of Your Art

A catalog can be a snapshot of your career at a moment in time or a retrospective documenting your entire life’s work.

With the advent of on-demand, inexpensive publishing, every artist should be using catalogs to promote their art.

And, yes, I recommend print catalogs above electronic versions.

A printed catalog is tactile. It can be placed in a gallery setting and held in one’s hands. It can be sent through the mail with a handwritten note as a gift to a VIP.

I also recommend a physical catalog because there’s nothing like seeing your art in print.

Printed catalogs can also be sold. However, catalogs are rarely money-making ventures. Incourage you to think of them as marketing pieces and documentation rather than products you might sell for profit.

Use this checklist to ensure that your catalog has all of the components to make it a lasting document of your art – one that you are proud of.

Pre-Project Checklist

Focus

Before you begin, you must determine the focus of your catalog. Just as you curate an exhibition of your art, you curate the content of your catalog.

Unless your catalog is

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Checklist for Crediting Your Art

It’s not unusual for artists to be concerned about protecting their copyright, but what I can’t seem to reconcile is when artists aren’t taking precautionary steps to claim copyright in the first place.

I’m not talking about officially registering for copyright. Whether or not you choose to do this is up to you.

I’m talking about giving yourself credit whenever and wherever you show your art.

Whenever. Wherever.

You may be thinking, Of course I do this. I would never show my art without credit.

Oh yeah?

Here’s a little challenge: If you think you have all of your bases covered, I invite you to use the checklist below to do a quick review.

First, Tell Us Who The Heck You Are

If I came across this once, I’d only be amused, but I run into it several times a month.

I visit a website, social media page, or open an email where the artist’s full name is nowhere to be found! I can’t make this up.

I can see how this happens. After all, you know who you are. Your brain is filling in the blanks because you’re too close to see what isn’t there.

If you want to be known in the history books, pick a single format for your name and use it consistently. For example:

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Presentation Tips for Your Art Talk

I recently helped Rob, my husband, with a presentation he was preparing on the topic of virtual reality.

Now, he’s a smart guy. He has a Ph.D. in mathematical physics, so he wasn’t asking me what I thought about his virtual reality angle. He had that covered.

He was seeking tips on how to take what he knew and massage it into a better presentation.

Here’s some advice I gave him, which might serve you.

Make It Visual

Bullet points are okay when your audience needs to write something down and remember it later. Otherwise, opt for visuals.

I use images as much as possible, but sometimes I make fun graphics out of words – sticking to my branding, of course.

You’re lucky! You so have this because your topic is inherently visual.

Most artists need only

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Using Invitations To Elevate The Cachet of Your Exhibition

Every contact you have with someone is an opportunity to wow them with your art and your professionalism, so you don’t want to miss the chance to wow from the beginning.

Robert Mapplethorpe knew this. For his first solo exhibition in 1973 at New York’s Light Gallery – a show of Polaroids – Mapplethorpe’s invitation was a hand-printed image from a Polaroid original.

He embossed his name on the outer edge, included the protective Polaroid cover, and inserted everything into hand-addressed, cream-colored Tiffany envelopes.

His invitation was a work of art in itself because, he believed, an exhibition doesn’t begin when you go to the opening, but when you receive the invitation.

An art exhibition begins when your guests receive the invitation.

The moment people hear about the show, they start judging. Will it be any good? Who else will show up? Is it worth my time? Is there something better I could do that night?

What experience do people have when they get an invitation from you?

Here are 7 ways to use your invitation to elevate the cachet of your exhibition.

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Your Artist Newsletter Delivers Trust

©Darlene Olivia McElroy, Sweet & Juicy. Mixed media on panel, 24 x 24 inches. Used with permission.

I sent my first email newsletter on March 25, 2002.

When I started, there was one other email newsletter that I was aware of that was published to help artists build their businesses.

If you had told me that I’d still be writing it in 2016, I would have questioned your sanity. And then I would have questioned my own for starting.

I’ve been delivering this content every week for 14 years. Every. Single. Week. I’ve never missed an issue. (Knock on wood.)

I’ve come close. Some editions are down to the wire, as I feel pressure to publish high-quality content in an increasingly noisy environment.

What’s The Big Deal?

If I skipped a week here and there, you probably wouldn’t miss it, but you might wonder if I am serious about nurturing a relationship with you.

You might question whether or not I’m “the real thing” or just another fly-by-night person thinking she has the chops to coach artists about their careers and businesses.

Here’s the thing:

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8 (Other) Occasions To Send Postcards That Promote Your Art

Ann Cunningham printed six postcards at once with the intent to distribute them within the next year. That’s dedication!

Today we take time out to honor the humble, under-utilized, centuries-old, low-tech postcard.

Why spend virtual ink on such an old-fashioned method of communication? Because postcards can do what email cannot do.

Postcards can’t be targeted as spam by an aggressive filter.

Postcards can’t be accidentally (or purposefully) deleted by recipients.

Postcards are likely to be tacked to a refrigerator or kept as a memento.

Postcards are tactile. We can hold them in our hands and ponder them. They have the potential to delight, which is something we rarely say about email these days.

You, like the private clients I advise, would benefit from sending three or four postcards a year.

Postcards are most often used to invite people to an upcoming exhibition or open studio.

Some artists design a single postcard with a schedule of all upcoming shows they’re participating in.

But if you don’t have an upcoming exhibition, you might wonder what you’d say on a postcard or why you’d send one in the first place.

Here are 8 other occasions for using postcards to promote your art and build relationships with your list.

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Eureka! The Purpose Of Your Newsletter

Eureka! The purpose of your artist newsletter.

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article about why artists should publish newsletters. I’m delighted that people read it and remembered its basic premise: that artist newsletters aren’t for making sales.

However, I’m troubled that some of that article has been misunderstood, or perhaps I left too much room for misinterpretation.

It’s time to set the record straight on artist newsletters.

First, a definition. A newsletter is an email sent on a regular schedule, which probably has regular features. Mine has a personal note at the top, a client testimonial, a featured article, and a featured product.

Every time I sit down to write my newsletter, I know that I have to fill in these areas before it can be sent.

My newsletter is sent weekly. You don’t have to do this. Monthly might work better for you.

But a newsletter has a regular schedule. It’s reliable. It’s a promise you make to yourself and your art. It’s also a promise you made to people when you asked them to sign up for your list.

When you ask people to sign up for your newsletter, they know they’re going to get it when you promise it.

Purpose of a Newsletter

The primary purpose of your newsletter is …

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Rx for Sloppy Newsletter Syndrome

Rx for Artist Newsletters

There’s an epidemic going around.

Don’t panic. If it strikes, you won’t need to rush to the ER or be quarantined. But you will need to take immediate action.

Your physical health isn’t in peril, but the health of your art business is at stake.

The epidemic is SENS – Sloppy Email and Newsletter Syndrome. Let me explain the symptoms so you can self-diagnose.

Symptom 1: Missing Name

This is the most destructive of all the SENS symptoms.

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5 Steps to a Magazine Feature of You and Your Art

photo of Patricia Griffin

The November 2014 / January 2015 edition of Professional Artist magazine features an article by me titled “Think Before You Leap: Beware of People Who Tell You to Follow Your Passion.”

The editor suggested photos of artists at work to accompany the article and I knew exactly who to contact: ceramic artist Patricia Griffin.

Patricia Griffin in her studio. Photo by Debbie Markham.

Patricia is a member of my Art Biz Incubator and I receive her newsletter.

Months ago she sent an email with gorgeous photos of her in the studio. I complimented her on the images and she told me that she had hired a professional photographer to take photos of her in the studio. It showed.

Patricia’s photos were so engaging

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I Love Email (But I Love Real Mail More)

Envelopes and Labels

You know I love email, right?

I don’t necessarily love all of the spam that hits my inbox or the countless hours I spend reading and replying to email, but I can’t imagine running my business without it.

How would I ever be able to help as many people as I do for such a bargain rate?

And as much as I love email, I love real mail even more.

The supplies arrive.

Why You Should Rave About Real Mail, Too

Here are three reasons why I’m raving about real mail to my students, members, and private clients, and why you should, too.

1. Real mail is tactile.

Envelopes and postcards are things you can touch. You can cut, tear, and unpack a package (sometimes you

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