Pocket-Sized Promotion: Perfectly Portable Solutions, by Maggie Price

Since 1975, Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market has been a must-have reference guide for  emerging artists who want to establish a successful career in fine art, illustration, cartooning or graphic design. Beyond up-to-date contact and submission information for more than 1,700 art markets, AGDM includes informative articles and interviews with successful artists and art buyers. Read on for a 2012 AGDM article by Maggie Price, president of IAPS and a co-founder of The Pastel Journal. Also, be sure to check out ArtistsMarketOnline.com, the new online version of AGDM—you can try it for free with the 7-day risk-free trial.

If you’re like many artists, you have a portfolio and other resources such as a website at the  ready for the promotion of your work. But what do you do when someone says, “I’d like to see your work,” and you don’t have your bulky portfolio or a computer handy? The answer could be tucked neatly inside your pocket or purse. Learn how some artists are capitalizing on low-cost, portable solutions that make sharing your work a breeze.

Liz Haywood-Sullivan homemade portable portfolios

Artist Liz Haywood-Sullivan shares samples of her homemade portable portfolios, which she carries with her to shows.

Practical solutions on paper
About seven years ago, artist Liz Haywood-Sullivan was getting ready for the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) convention and considering ways of making samples of her work accessible to people who might be interested. “I knew that carrying a slide sheet and asking people to look at the slides wasn’t practical,” she says. “I didn’t want to carry a big portfolio because I might not even have an opportunity or need to show it. I wanted something I could carry in my purse or pocket that was easy to pull out, something beyond just a business card.”
Her solution came in the form of a 9×6½-inch sketchbook made by Holbein. “I wanted the look of a handmade book as opposed to a photo album,” says Haywood-Sullivan. She printed images of her paintings on glossy photo paper with her inkjet printer and affixed them to the pages of her sketchbook with double-stick tape.
Then, to create a handcrafted effect, she hand-lettered titles and dimensions on each page, sometimes drawing a black line around the painting and sometimes forgoing the frame. “The book was very easy to put together,” she says. “I decided to include somewhere between twelve and twenty images because I felt that if there were less than twelve, the viewer wouldn’t get a true sense of my work, but that more than twenty would be too many. I knew people wouldn’t necessarily have a lot of time to look at them.”
The book came in handy at IAPS, she says, and led to the purchase of a painting and invitations to teach workshops. Since then, Haywood-Sullivan has updated and created new books as needed. Her most recent production is smaller than the original version at about 7×5 inches. “I carry it whenever I go to show openings, meetings and conferences,” she says. “Other artists may have business cards, and of course I have those too, but I carry my books as well. If an appropriate occasion arises, I pull one out of my bag and share.”
Mary Ann Pals uses a variation on Haywood-Sullivan’s books with pocket-sized portfolios that are little works of art themselves. She starts with a journal from India, a Lokta pocket journal available in gift stores and online, which contains handmade papers.
She then prints images of her paintings on high-quality matte finish photo paper to size, and glues them into the journal with a glue stick. “I’ve always collected quotes from famous artists,” says Pals. “I coordinate a quote with every piece of art and write the title, medium and dimensions of the painting under each image.” The artist, who’s currently carrying her third promotional creation, says the journals have opened many doors for her. “I always have them with me in my purse inside a plastic sandwich bag to protect the covers,” she says.

Mary Ann Pals digital photo frame portfolio

Mary Ann Pals carries both a pocket journal and a digital photo frame to shows and exhibitions to showcase her work.

Going digital
Pals also uses a small digital device made for displaying photos to showcase her work. “About a year ago, I started looking at digital photo frames advertised as gifts, and wondered how I could use them to promote my art,” she says. “I was planning to go to IAPS in May, and thought about what I’d do if I ran into people who wanted to see samples of my work. I had pocket journals but thought the digital approach might appeal more to business people.”
After some initial research, Pals settled on a reasonably priced Hewlett-Packard device with a 3½-inch screen. “It doesn’t have internal memory, but uses a SD card, which is what my camera uses. I can put the card in the frame and navigate from one image to another, or set it to run a slide show,” she says. “It also comes in handy when I’m doing an outdoor (or even indoor) art fair because it doesn’t require electricity. I can put as many photos on it as the card can hold—I generally use a 1-gigabyte card, which holds a lot of images, but the 2-gigabyte card also works—and the picture quality is excellent.”
Pals looked online for guidance in learning how to move her paintings from her computer to the digital display. She downloads the images from her computer to her camera with the connection configured to treat the SD card in her camera as a disk drive. Once the images are loaded onto the card, she simply takes it out of the camera and puts it in the digital frame.

Hiking the La Luz Trail by Maggie Price on iPhone

Hiking the La Luz Trail (11×14) by Maggie Price is shown here as displayed on Price’s iPhone. The image of the painting isn’t cropped or distorted; although the screen is 3×2 inches, the image is shown proportionately at 2¾ inches wide.

I found the solution to my own portable portfolio problem right in my pocket: my iPhone. As a device with which I’m already familiar, it proved easy to use and I always have it with me, which means I always have my portfolio on hand. In my iPhoto program on my computer, I made a folder for my recent paintings. I sized the images to 400 pixels wide at 72 dpi, and put them in the folder. Then I connected my iPhone to my computer, and simply copied the folder onto it.
When I want to change images it’s as simple as adding or deleting them on my computer, and reloading them on my iPhone the next time I sync my data. The images are amazingly sharp, and people seem to enjoy scrolling through them. If I’m talking to a prospective buyer, I can actually e-mail the image while we’re talking—and save that e-mail address and other contact information at the same time. It’s quick, easy and always available.
No matter which system you choose, think about keeping a version of your promotional material in your pocket. Developing a pocket-sized system to show your work will enable you to answer professionally whenever opportunity comes knocking.

Maggie Price (www.maggiepriceart.com) is the president of IAPS and a co-founder of The Pastel Journal.

Excerpted from the June 2010 issue of The Pastel Journal. Used with the kind permission of The Pastel Journal, a publication of F+W Media, Inc. You can purchase a copy of The Pastel Journal June 2010 issue here. Visit www.artistsnetwork.com/magazines to subscribe.

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