Marketing an Art Event on a Budget

The term “starving artist” doesn’t have to apply to you. In today’s society, the Internet has taken much of the costly print advertising and made it digital… and FREE.

Most artists are never rich. Many may make just enough to get by. But one thing artists are is happy. In this article, I wanted to share some of my own strategies I used when planning my own one-day art exhibition to benefit a local animal shelter.

Facebook & Twitter- This is a given. As an artist, hopefully you have your own Facebook and Twitter business accounts. On my Facebook business page, I marketed my event using a .jpeg of my marketing postcard, making sure to tag the organization I was benefiting and the venue that I was holding the event at. I also kept my fans up-to-date to my progress, writing statuses about anything interesting that happened, and any troubles I ran into. I also enjoyed engaging my Facebook fans with questions and accepted any advice or criticisms they had.

Marketing Postcards- In order to generate an audience at my one-day gallery, I needed to market the event to local businesses in the town I was holding the event. I ordered postcards from Vistaprint. It was about $28 for a pack of 100, colored on the front and black and white on the back. I was very happy with the quality and received a lot of compliments on the design.

Visiting Local Businesses- I’m friendly and somewhat outgoing, but to be honest, I’m still an artist. I’m not a fan of walking into a business to market my event. What made it easier was that it was for charity and the community already supported the animal shelter I was helping. However, I still received some attitudes, which made the effort a little more difficult. Regardless, visiting local businesses and speaking with employees and managers is a very cost-effective to market your event. This is also a very good way to create relationships with local businesses for the future.

Press Releases- Writing a good, clear press release and sending it to local newspapers, radio stations and magazines is a very cheap way of marketing your event. Local media is always looking for local artists to share their work in an effort to “perk up” viewers or readers from seeing bad news.

Word-of-Mouth- Hopefully you have some really good friends who aren’t afraid to talk you up to their friends. Word-of-mouth marketing is so important to a business. So important, that some businesses don’t advertise- they rely solely on word-of-mouth for their business. Talk up your event- carry your phone or tablet with you with photos of your work on it to have ready if someone asks you to see your work. I’ve struck up conversations about my art at the bank, the post office and even the hardware store.

Business Cards- While I suggest professionally printing the marketing cards, you can easily print your own business cards at home. Always carry your business cards with you in your purse or wallet because you never know when you’re going to need one. I’ve noticed that when I eat at local diners, they have corkboards that anyone can post business cards, posters and ads on. Give a few to your friends and family too. I always tell my friends and family that while I don’t expect them to market for me, if they happen to run into the situation, I’d greatly appreciate them taking the opportunity.

Invitations- For a one-day art event, invitations can be helpful. I printed my own invitations, which saved money using a professional printer. My invitations were also postcards, and I mailed them to not only friends, family and associates that I really wanted to come, but also local businesses that I didn’t get to visit, or that I wanted to remind of the event.