Promoting Your Work: A Creative Capital Recap

The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition recently hosted the Creative Capital Core Weekend Workshop, an intensive weekend retreat for 24 artists focused on business training.

A good amount of time was spent discussing key elements for promoting your work. Two of the most important tools you can have for promotion are images and words.

Much of the world will never have the chance to see your work in person. Think about this: how many people would recognize the Mona Lisa? Now, how many have seen that work in person? Most haven’t, but they are familiar with it because of the images they have seen.

Not only do your artwork images help with promotion, they also serve as an archive for you.

The quality of the image matters, too. Which of these images looks better to you? 

Stuart Asprey, Dog Can, Ceramic

Stuart Asprey, Nutz 3 Ways, Ceramic

Hopefully you agree that the 2nd image looks better. It is cropped well, the work is evenly lit with shadows that accentuate rather than distract, and it has a clean and unobtrusive background.

Check this previous blog post for more examples of good vs. bad images.

This means anything you say or write about your work. Words are important for artist statements, press releases, artist talks, cocktail parties, openings… the list goes on. When communicating about your work in words, think about these things:

  • What do you want people to know about your work?
  • What are people curious about? Listen to your viewers. What are they asking you?

These questions are a good starting place for determining what’s most important to express.

Need more help?

If you need more help with the images and words related to your work, I encourage you to attend our upcoming Portfolio & Proposal Boot Camp workshops, offered in OKC on September 8 and Tulsa on October 13. The workshops will cover photographing your art, writing an artist statement and resume, and successful proposal writing tips.

On both dates, we also offer appointments to have your work photographed for just $10 per piece.

Visit for details.

Piecing it Together: Romy Owens

Guest Author: Cayla Lewis
Professional Basics Grant: the keanues
Romy Owens, Rob (Pretty Day Blue Sky), 
photographs and thread, 37×31″, 2012
Oklahoma City artist, Romy Owens has been selected as one of five photographers for To and From Oklahoma, an exhibition opening September 7, 2012 at JRB Art at the Elms. During this same time, the Paseo Arts District’s Photofest will also be taking place. OVAC’s Professional Basics Grant will help Owens professionally frame the majority her new body of work for this exhibition.
Owen’s combines multiple parts or multiple photographs to create entirely new compositions, her main inspirations being change and control. Inspired by man-made structures that are neglected or abandoned, Owens documents the change of these structures through the line, color, and textures, as though these elements tell the story of the life of the building. 

She then, with “obsessively controlled hand stitches,” pieces the composition together, to create something new – asking herself, “What am I really hoping to change and what am I really trying to control?”

The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition invests in artists’ project through grants for growing careers, creative projects and exceptional continuing education. Find grant guidelines and application here. Free workshops about how to apply will be held September 8 & October 13. 

Encouraging Creativity & Voice: Amena Butler

Guest Author: Cayla Lewis
Professional Grant: Spring Elements

Amena Butler, Ball Day, collage on canvas, 2012
“…Those soft lively colors of nature, the smell of the rain coming, and the idea of skipping work to play outside.”
This is what inspires Oklahoma City-based artist, Amena Butler. Let’s just pause for a moment and think about these things. It is these simple joys and pleasures that have led to Butler’s recent project, Spring Series, which she started in January of 2012. 

Butler enjoys the printmaking processes of monotype, chine colle, and collagraph because of the freedom it allows her to have and how it takes her away from the usual structured lifestyle.
Amena Butler,  Lake Arcadia, collage on canvas, 8×10, 2012
Exhibiting her Spring Series at Langston University, Butler will display along with three other African-American artists. Langston currently does not have an arts department. So Butler and the other artists are hoping to encourage and inspire the students and administration to “seek out creativity and their voice in art.”

Butler is also involved in helping with free art exhibitions, demonstrations, and classes as a way to keep African-American artists pursuing an interest in the arts. OVAC’s Professional Basics Grant will prepare the work for display in the exhibition that runs through September at Langston’s OKC campus.
The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition invests in artists’ project through grants for growing careers, creative projects and exceptional continuing education. Find grant guidelines and application here. Free workshops about how to apply will be held September 8 & October 13. 

Momentum Tulsa Emerging Curator: Laura Reese

Momentum Tulsa Emerging Curator Laura Reese printing 

As Emerging Curator, Laura Reese will assist and be embedded alongside Momentum Tulsa guest curator Raechell Smith. Together they work with the Momentum Spotlight artists on their projects and will select work for the exhibition opening October 13, 2012. 

Reese is a BFA student at the University of Oklahoma with an emphasis on Printmaking. She expects to graduate in December this year.
To gain understanding of the arts community, Reese interned with the Femina Potens Art Gallery and FP Edge Artist Network in San Francisco, CA. She has interned locally with artist Marilyn Artus on the Girlie Show and Dr. Sketchy’s OKC as well as the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition. She serves as President of the OU Print Club.  
Momentum Tulsa Emerging Curator Laura Reese (l) tours
Living Arts with Guest Curator Raechell Smith (r)

Exploring national organizations, she participated in the Southern Graphics Council International conference in New Orleans and exchanged work with young artists all over the country last spring.  She has exhibited in the student art exhibition, at Dreamer Concepts, and several other juried venues in the state.  

With a keen interest in helping promising artists, she said, “If art truly does not stand still at Momentum, then the work chosen must be work that can hold power in the community while being evocative of the shifting tides within the art world.”
Artists may enter artwork into the Momentum Tulsa survey exhibition until September 5, 2012. Learn about the show and submit online: Also, the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition seeks an Emerging Curator for Momentum OKC 2013. Learn about the role and apply online

Raechell Smith: Guest Curator

Raechell Smith (c) with Spotlight artist Libby Williams (l)
& Emerging Curator Laura Reese (r)

Serving as guest curator for Momentum Tulsa, Raechell Smith has begun working with the Momentum Spotlight artists on their projects and will select work for the exhibition opening October 13, 2012. 

Smith is the chief curator and founding director of the H&R Block Artspace at the Kansas City Art Institute. A dynamic contemporary art venue with a strong teaching mission, the Artspace has been recognized for excellence in architectural design and visual art programming within the region, since it opened in 1999.

Smith has organized exhibitions and public art projects presenting work by regional, national, and international artists including David Shrigley, Ghada Amer, Shirin Neshat, Wenda Gu, Lee Boroson, Alexis Rockman, Jenny Holzer, and Vik Muniz. She has also organized numerous thematic exhibitions.

Smith is an advocate for artists and the visual arts, serving as a consultant for numerous national and regional organizations. She is a founding board member of The Charlotte Street Foundation, a Kansas-City based non-profit organization, which recognizes outstanding artists in Kansas City and provides them with artistic, material, and financial support.

Artists may enter artwork into the Momentum Tulsa survey exhibition until September 5, 2012. Learn about and submit online:

Getting Seen: Website Essentials

Author: Kerry Azzarello
Operations Manager, Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition 

You make great art, now give others the opportunity to see it. At the recent Creative Capital Core Weekend Workshop we hosted in Oklahoma, facilitator Jackie Battenfield emphasized the importance of artist websites as a key component to a successful art practice. What follows are five essential website rules that will help you get and stay on the art world radar.  

Creative Capital Facilitator Aaron Landsman presenting at workshop

Rule #1 – Have one. 

Let’s face it, we all want to wait until we have the ‘perfect’ site built before making that leap. Alas, facilitators stressed that artists have more to fear from obscurity than by not achieving perfection with their web presence. Remember that your website is a stand-in for you and your work. Make sure you are present.

Rule #2 – Keep it simple.
HTML, Java, C++, YMCA. Tech-speak and acronyms can be intimating. Have no fear. Numerous companies including Weebly,  WordPress, and  FolioSnap offer easy to use, pre-designed templates that make getting your work on-line relatively painless. Custom-made websites can be costly. A little research could save you time and money, without sacrificing content and professionalism.

Creative Capital Core Weekend Workshop Participants & Facilitators

Rule #3 – Cover the basics.

As a visual artist, you know better than anyone the power of images. It is imperative to include samples of your work (complete with title, medium, and dimensions of course). However, it is just as important to include a moderate amount of explanatory text. Not only does it help provide valuable information to viewers (and potential buyers), it also helps Google bots boost your site in its search ranking.  Images + Text = Success!   

Rule #4 – Encourage a conversation.

Be it a gallery, a PO box, or your studio address ALWAYS include your contact information. Make this easy to find and large enough to read. Point 5 font hidden away at the bottom of the page won’t help spur a dialogue and may result in missed opportunities. Including links to any professional social media sites you may have can also keep a dialogue going.  

Creative Capital Core Workshop Participants Milissa Burkhart & Benita Brewer

Rule 5 – Update, update, update.
Once you have the website, be diligent in your updates. Adding new content, advertising your upcoming exhibitions, and posting current work are all great ways to keep collectors and the public up to date. Some artists choose to include work both for sale and previous sold. Others opt to only include works currently available. Pick what feels right for you and set aside time every month to update your site.

Ready to learn more? If you are tweaking a current site or making the leap to create your first one, I highly encourage you to visit Creative Capital’s Internet for Artists.

What do you think? Please comment and share your tips, successes, horror stories, and advice for creating amazing artist websites.

Report from National Arts Leadership Institute

Guest Author: Sam Wargin

During the week of July 16th I participated in a leadership institute in San Antonio, TX put on by the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture(NALAC). As a Latino artist and arts advocate from Oklahoma, the chance to be part of this year’s selection to attend was an exciting opportunity and turned out to be an incredibly humbling yet inspiring experience.
National Association of Latino Arts and Culture  Leadership Institute participants,
including Oklahoma artist & educator Sam Wargin (rear amid address numbers) 
NALAC is a nonprofit organization focused on promoting, developing, and cultivating the Latino arts field on a national level. Their efforts remind me a lot of what OVAC does by offering workshops, grants and other forms of support to artists and organizations, except it’s on a larger scale and with an emphasis on Latino artists and arts organizations.
The leadership institute itself consisted of 6 days of intensive training in the form of lectures, group activities, and conversations. Along with the 21 other participants, who represented organizations and communities from all across the country, I was being trained to be a leader within my community.
I think one of the most important things we could have taken away from that week is that, while we may have been learning and discussing what Latino art is and can be on a national level, we all have the responsibility–and now the capability–to bring those ideas and actions back to our own communities.
Sam Wargin (3rd from left) taking part in Artist Summit as part of the
Cultural Development Corporation ‘s Artist Support Study
It has been my dream for a while now to see Latinos in Oklahoma have more visibility and more access to the creative outlets offered by the arts whether it is through education or exposure. I applaud the efforts of the local art community to reach out and recognize what already exists in that regard, but I want more.
Being surrounded by the many established and up-and-coming artists, performers, directors, and organizers made me hungry to see our growing Latino community more engaged in the national conversation on Latino experiences in the arts and more involved in the growth that Oklahoma City, and the state as a whole is going through right now. The skills I learned through the leadership institute taught me how to go about turning my dream into a tangible reality, but it was the experience of a week surrounded by such inspiring individuals, faculty included, that gave me the motivation to continue investing the time and effort into creating the kind of future I’d like to see.