Today I had a most unique experience. I attended an art workshop. It was held at Siegfried Hall on the campus of Ohio University, where twenty or thirty years ago I managed to jump through the requisite hoops sufficient so that they could see their way clear to grant me a couple degrees. Some things have changed. Some things never do. The elevator is still as slow as I remembered it. But on other hand, the building seemed totally devoid of the rampant graffiti of my undergraduate days. I know I shouldn't say this, but somehow, this made it seem kind of sterile. The workshop was sponsored by S.P.A.H. (The Society for the Preservation of Aging Hippies). I noticed the membership was divided somewhat along the lines of those who still had enough hair for ponytails and those who didn't. Seriously, it was a joint venture of the Ohio Arts Council and the Ohio Designer Craftsmen. And it was NOT a workshop on how to create art. It was about how to SELL art. It was excellent, if somewhat TARDY by about thirty years.
After some thirty years of arts and crafts shows, juried competitions, consignment marketing, and now the Internet, I thought I knew a fair amount about the subject. Well, actually I found I did, but I also found that there were still a few things I DIDN'T know as well. For instance, I found out that photos of art and artists shot using a VERTICAL format are much more likely to be used by publications than those which are horizontal. It's simple. The magazines themselves are in a vertical format. They receive far too many photos shot horizontally because cameras are designed that way. (Photos using a SQUARE format are even better, provided they allow space for cropping into EITHER format.) Never put "Please return photos to:..." on the back of publicity photos. Magazines and newspapers are seldom in a position to return photos AFTER publication so they often do so BEFORE...very often before an editor even SEES them. Magazine editors and art directors are quite lazy. The more of their work you can do FOR them the more likely you are to be published. A speaker suggested sending out one news release a month regarding your work to local news media and every appropriate trade publication in your field. (They're often used verbatim.) Even today, black and white photos are more likely to be used than color, especially if color adds little to their content. And Ideally, each photo should show the artist at work, the artwork itself, and on the back, a caption detailing the old familiar, who, what, when, where, how, and why.
I was a little more at home talking about Internet marketing. When I mentioned I'd had a Web presence since 1996 I was looked upon with something close to awe. Okay, there were a couple of gee-whiz looks. But even here I picked up a few useful tidbits. In choosing a host for your Web site, make sure they have T-3 lines. They're faster than T-1 lines. The all-important list of meta tag keywords may have up to 1,000 characters. Resubmit to search engines every six months. The top 20 search engines generate 99% of all Internet traffic. Yahoo is far and away the most popular (also the most cantankerous to deal with). Search engines use something called "algorithms" in returning data to browsers and no two of them work the same way. Text on the opening page of a Web site will improve your position with most search engines. So-called "shopping carts" are a waste of time and money for artists selling high end, one-of-a-kind art work. The customer usually prefers the phone or e-mail in handling such purchases. Domain names should be short, easily spelled, specify content, and easy to remember, in that order of importance. Oh, and one more thing, the same coffee and donuts that woke you up in the morning will put you to sleep in the afternoon.