A recent discussion online brought up the lack of enough media coverage of visual art. It is true that the number of features written about art have gone down over the past several years and it doesn’t help that some publications suffered from the economic downturn. Some suggested that art may be too “complicated” for people to understand (bah!) while others thought bias may be given to other art forms such as music or literature. There may be some truth to this, but I think the real reasons are much bigger. To start, art is a luxury item and is marketed as such. There are some smaller works that are more affordable for a wide range of budgets, but for the most part, art is a luxury item which means it is expensive due to scarcity, quality, technique, and materials, thus the price reflects this. Part of the appeal of luxury items is that they are exclusive. This shrinks the number of people that not only own such items, but also those that may feel comfortable enough to ask for the price. Now, I don’t believe that art has to be completely out of reach and there are ways that it can be an easier purchase without sacrificing the artist’s own time and expense but that is another topic. For the moment, let’s just stick with high-end luxury items.
Adding to this exclusivity are many galleries that like to orchestrate exactly which hands their works go in. There are many blue-chip galleries which only want to see their artists in the “right” collection, thus adding to the gallery’s status. And I have to admit that there are those galleries with the infamous “gallerina” giving the cold shoulder to visitors. Most galleries don’t operate this way but unfortunately this is the common perception. The “white box” psychology has taken over and makes many people uncomfortable with the art world.
To top it all off, I find that many artists and even galleries do not send out press releases to the media or when they do, it’s the same drivel that many writers receive over and over again. It’s a boring presentation of facts- who, what, where, when, and if you include an artist statement, why. Sure, it’s a big deal to the artist and to the gallery that they’re having a show, but why should it be a big deal to the public? The public wants a story. I’m an artist and even I find press releases about shows to be a snore. I want to know the artist’s life story- why they created this work and I don’t mean some nonsensical philosophy using every vocabulary word you had to learn for the SAT’s. What brought you to this point in your life? What did you overcome to make this work? What in your travels inspired this series? It doesn’t have to be dramatic like a soap opera- although that sort of thing always interests the media- but it should be informative enough that a writer can weave this into a great story.
Even if you are lucky enough to get the elusive great review in an art magazine, these publications are for a specific niche and are not read by the general public. If you want your art to be seen in mainstream media, as was expressed in this conversation, then you’re going to have to broaden your reach, be proactive, send press releases (good ones!!), and ask for interviews. Be your own PR team. Let the public get to know you as a person.
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