Should Artists Pay for Publicity or Media Exposure?
Q: I'm emailing you because I've had an offer to have an article written about me in an art magazine. In order to increase the chances of this happening, someone at the magazine has suggested that the issue containing the article should also have a full-color display ad showing my work. This ad can either be purchased by me, an agent who represents me, or a gallery where I show. Should I pursue this?
A: Anytime you have to pay for any type of media exposure, watch out. Regarding your art magazine situation, publications with editorial policies that link article content to paid advertisements are not highly regarded within the art community. For one thing, the artists that magazines like this tend to feature are often chosen on the basis of their abilities to contribute to advertising revenues, and not necessarily for the quality of their art. Go through a couple of back issues of this magazine and you'll see that their pairings of articles with advertisements are a regular occurrence.
Most knowledgeable collectors who read these types of periodicals have little difficulty figuring out when the buy-an-ad/get-an-article arrangement is in effect. When they see that this is the case, they tend to regard the features themselves as forms of paid advertising and, consequently, don't take the artists very seriously. There's an obvious difference between articles about artists who get media coverage because they deserve it and articles about artists who get media coverage because they pay for it.
Best procedure is to go after more genuine forms of publicity for your art. Participate in juried shows, seek gallery representation, apply for commissions and grants, make sure your art is well-represented in communities where you live and work, get to know experienced artists who are advanced in their careers and who can give you tips on how to attract media attention, and do everything else in your power to consistently keep your work in the public eye. The better you get, the more shows you get, the more people will see your art on a regular basis, and the greater the chances that you'll be noticed by the media.
Throughout your career, people will try to extract money from you in exchange for promises of fame, fortune and varying degrees of public exposure. My advice is to walk the other way and let the fame and fortune come as you earn it. There's no quick and easy way to make a name for yourself in the art business.
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