Promo Mojo for Artists

By Alison Zavos

“Dictionary” from Parsley Steinweiss’ “Stacks” series.

$0Very few fine-art photographers enjoy the process of selling themselves. Yet finding a balance between the two contradictory worlds of creating art and marketing the final product is an important step toward success. Self-promotion is not commonly taught in art school, leaving many to wonder how to approach what may seem like an intimidating task. We spoke with three fine-art photographers who’ve found smart ways to spread the word about their work without spreading themselves too thin.$0 $0 Last year, New York–based photographer Parsley Steinweiss submitted her “Stacks” series—featuring images of tightly cropped documents, like books, papers and magazines, which reveal patterns—to Jen Bekman’s Hey Hot Shot! competition. And she won. It proved to be the tipping point in her career. “This definitely put me on the virtual photo-world map,” she says. $0 $0 In fact, Steinweiss has discovered a number of opportunities to show her work via Web research, including a Slideluck Potshow XIII event in New York City and a group show at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado. Nevertheless, she admits that the actual amount of hours she spends on self-promotion fluctuates. $0 $0 “Promoting yourself as an artist is a sensitive thing because your work is so connected to you as a person,” she says. “The key is to keep the business and promotion side of the work somewhat distanced from the creative side.” $0 $0 Steinweiss has been in numerous group exhibitions since graduating in 2007 from SUNY Purchase College with an MFA, and those experiences gave her the chance to meet other artists as well as to get immediate reactions viewers. Her advice to recent graduates with a strong body of work is to “apply, apply, apply.” $0 $0 She also recommends starting or joining a critique group, which she has found to be a valuable way to get feedback. In 2009, she formed one with a friend from grad school. It currently has 10 members and meets once a month. $0 $0 While Steinweiss has a full-time job, she says she feels strongly about “keeping her head in the art” and consistently producing work. $0 $0 “It’s not so much the idea of ‘making it’ that is important for me now but how I feel about my work. I think every artist wants the dream gallery, but in reality the thing that makes me happy is when I am making work that I feel good about.” $0 $0 “Ham Eye” from Mary Parisi’s “Food” series. $0© MARY PARISI $0 “Ham Eye” from Mary Parisi’s “Food” series. $0 $0 $0 $0© NICK ALBERTSON $0 Photo from Nick Albertson’s “Living Spaces” series. $0 $0 $0



© Karine Laval/Courtesy of the artist and Benrubi Gallery
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