What does one do when a self-contained project appears completed? Or at least completed enough that it can stand alone now even if more were added later? This is an important question if one of your goals is to get your work ‘out there’……if you want to get it seen.
Brooks Jensen, the editor of LensWork, has commented on this issue many times in his writings and podcasts. In the current era there are many, many ways to get your work seen by an audience. In fact, any one person might choose to put their project into several different formats in order to have it available to a larger audience. For example, an exhibit is only available to those who live locally. Putting together a folio that one could sell might limit the number of people that can see your work because of the necessary price point. Brooks has advocated having multiple formats/media so that you do the work in order to make it easier for others to view and appreciate what you have put together.
Now that I have finished my black and white flower project entitled “Floral Forms” and written an artist’s statement, I thought it might be worthwhile to enumerate my plans for the project in terms of making it available to an audience. One of the issues, of course, is that (unless you are intimately familiar with all the software involved) it does take a good deal of time to learn the software and, at least for me, a lot of time to get the jobs done. This takes time away from new projects or from working on the large amount of images I have waiting to be edited and processed. Nonetheless, I do think it is time well spent because, in the end, if very few people see the work it might as well just stay on your hard drive!
So without further ado, here are some of my thoughts and plans regarding “Floral Forms”:
Exhibit The Prints:
Yes, but where? When looking for a place to have a show one has to be reasonable in terms of how your project might mesh with the venue. And, oh yes, you must have thick skin and be able to take rejection well. I thought the project would go well at the botanical garden where I took a good many of the photos. But how does one present this possibility, especially when unsolicited?
I am sure there are many ways, but the following is what I typically do. I don’t send digital images when seeking a display that was not solicited. It seems just too easy to me to click through rapidly and be done. Since I am proud of my prints, I send a series of 8×10 prints, and not on proofing paper. I send them on the final fine art paper. That way the recipient has your best work and is able to handle and interact with it. I send a cover letter explaining the project and why I think it would be appropriate to display in their particular venue along with a short artist’s statement. If the project is a large one I might send 10 or 20 prints rather than the whole project, to give a solid taste of what the quality is. Really, it just isn’t that expensive a thing to do, especially if you compare it to the cost of matting and framing if the recipient is actually interested in giving you a show!
In addition to giving an email address to return contact, I also mention in the letter that I hope it is all right to follow up with a phone call in a week or two in order to see if they are interested. You need to make the effort to follow up. The recipient might well be interested but gets bogged down in a million different different things until your prints disappear under a pile of paperwork. Just because you don’t hear back spontaneously doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. Also, if they are not interested, the call still gives you that contact and perhaps an informative explanation of why you are being turned down. There are things one can learn from rejection!
In the case of my project, I found out who the correct contact would be to send the prints to at the botanical garden and they are quite interested in displaying the prints in the gallery they have in their lobby. They are booked until next fall and they would like to consider a show for the spring or summer of 2015. Yes, it is a way off…..but still a great potential opportunity that I am pleased to have received.
If you are not familiar with the folio concept (also created by Brooks Jensen) you can find information about the two prior folios I have put together here. I do plan to make folios from this project as well. Because the folio holder only comfortably holds ten prints with the supporting material, this project will have a volume 1 and 2.
This post has covered what I plan to do with physical prints. In my next post, I will talk about my plans using electronic media. I have one plan that I am particularly excited about that involves a collaboration……but more on that next time!