Self-promotion 101

Last night was the “Art From the Heart” benefit for the PACE Society in Vancouver. The event was a success thanks to the efforts of its organizer, volunteers, and the participating artists. Since it was also my first public showing of my photography, I was intrigued by the comments I heard as visitors walked through the rooms and examined all of the works present. I’m taking away a number of compliments on my images, and some wonderful comments on the composition of one piece in particular.

I ended the evening thinking: oh, yes, I’ll do this again.

This afternoon, while in a favourite locally-owned coffee shop, I found myself looking around the walls at art works hung, and wondering if my photography would work in the space. They regularly have local artists’ works on display, and I always check out the new displays, sometimes choosing my seat so that I can carefully examine a work.

Today, I wistfully looked about for a long while, then decided to check how they determined who would be displayed. And did it immediately.

The action is simple. Get up, walk over, and ask, “how do I go about getting on your walls? I’m a photographer.” Incredibly simple action. The owner’s response was encouraging, and I’ll be sending her an email later with links to a piece or two. Or six. I’m very glad I asked the question, and very pleased with the results.

I simply asked the question immediately.

I’m working on a fast rule: if I don’t mention my efforts, no one will know about the work I’m doing. If I don’t ask, none can know I’m interested.

I’ve had similar responses for nearly every promotion activity I’ve undertaken for “Art From the Heart.” The people I’ve spoken with receive the information positively. Or at least, neutrally. I’ve spoken in classes, meetings, with friends old and new alike, and mentioned the show in most every conversation I’ve had. For weeks.

The line, “I’m a photographer and am participating in my first show…” rolls easily off the tongue with practice. As little as five weeks ago, I’d have claimed it odd to talk about my images. For me, the anticipation of a self-promoting activity has proven more intimidating than the activity itself. I now plan for the eventualities: carry the business cards, a note pad and pens. And I try to act immediately when a question arises.

This first show has proven a wonderful learning process. Next!

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