Essential Elements Of An Artist's Press Kit
What is a press kit and why is it useful?
Press kits have traditionally been physical objects handed out to interested parties. However, with the advent of electronic media there has been a gradual shift towards kits being entirely digital.
This both saves you money, as you no longer have to have them professionally printed, and makes it easier for recipients to access or make use of the information provided within it, as this is as simple as copying and pasting the relevant information. The easier it is for the press to get hold of important information about you, then the easier it is for them to write about you and get you more publicity!
It may seem like making a press kit is a difficult task, but most of what is included in it are things that you should already have to hand. Just remember to keep it up to date as your career progresses, and to include it somewhere on your website so that anyone interested in writing about you or learning about your work can easily access this information without having to request it from you. Again, the easier they can get hold of information, the more likely they are to take an interest in you.
If you're new to writing a press kit, it might be useful to look at the press kits of contemporary artists who inspire you, or create similar work to yours. Here, though, I will take you through the essential elements which your press kit should contain, and by following these you should easily be able to create a kit which makes you attractive to potential interested parties by showing off what makes you worth talking about.
Elements of a Press Kit
1. Artist Statement
The artist statement is exactly what it sounds like: a place for you to explain what your work is, what you aim to achieve with it, and what makes you unique as an artist. This is the only part of the press kit which should be written in the first person, as it is your chance to demonstrate what you as an individual can offer with your artwork, and what makes your work uniquely yours. This section should focus mostly on your work itself- the next section is where you will include more personal information.
The biography section is where you lay out your career as an artist; but don't make the mistake of simply putting your CV into your press kit. The point of this section is to show how you have achieved all that you set out in your artist statement in a practical way. Try to treat this section the way that you would write an essay- make a point about your artistic career, and then explain how it fits into your career as a whole. Your aim should be to have the whole biography lead towards where your career is now, to show that you are an experienced, developed artist who has something significant to offer. Although this section is in the third person, you should also still include personal information within it. Remember, your press kit is designed to sell you as an artist. Relating your personal life and development to your work makes you stand out as an individual, and will hopefully make you stick out in your reader's mind. If your reader is a member of the press, though, then they will likely have many press kits to go through, and thus only have a short amount of time to look over yours- the snappier and more attention grabbing you can make your biography, the better
3. Previous and Upcoming Shows
These should be listed chronologically from most recent backwards. This section is typically formatted the same way that previous employment is on a CV, and has the same purpose as that: showing that you are an experienced artist whose work has already been deemed worthy of exhibition by others. Including upcoming work is especially useful in giving the press reason to write about you, as they will be able to feature it as something current, and it shows that you are active as an artist and moving forward with your career. Be selective though: as with the biography section, your reader will only have a limited amount of time, so you should prioritise your most significant exhibition work and include these here.
4. Press Releases
Press releases are typically sent out to publicize an exhibition, and do the same job as a press kit but in a much more specific way. Any press releases which have accompanied previous exhibitions of yours will have already been designed to sell your work, and including them here will further convince your reader of the worth of your art, as well as showing them the professionalism of these previous exhibitions.
5. Previous Press
If you have previously been featured in any newspapers or magazines or on any art websites, then include these pieces within your press kit. They will show that your work has been recognized as being something worth talking about, as well as showing what others think are the defining and interesting aspects of your art.
6. Contact Information
Putting this at the beginning or end of the press kit makes it easier for any interested parties to get hold of you, without having to search through the whole kit. Aim to be comprehensive with this, including your name and the name of your management if you have any, a phone number and email address through which you and your management can be contacted, and your website address. Essentially, this section should include all the information you would put on a business card. Only include things which are professional, though- there's no need to put your twitter or Instagram unless you use them for professional purposes.