So without further ado, here's my list!
1.) The usual suspects. Read any advice on promoting your work, and you'll hear the words Facebook and Twitter. A lot. Rather than tell you what you already know, I'll cover them briefly to give me more room to talk about other ways to share your work.
Twitter. I always thought I wouldn't enjoy Twitter. As it turns out, it's a great way to support, and be supported by, other artists. I like to share excellent articles and blog posts that come my way, draw attention to artists on Flickr and Etsy who knock my Halloween socks off, and mention my favorite suppliers of sparkly things whenever I link to pictures of my work. And in turn, several wonderful people have helped me in similar ways. It's always so flattering.
(May I also mention that I follow Neil Gaiman and John Cleese? That's reason enough to be on Twitter.)
Facebook. I haven't enjoyed Facebook quite as much, but it did give me a chance to enter Blue Buddha Boutique's Featured Product of the Month Contest for October, and a few terrific friends have linked to some of my blog posts there. If you'd like to share your Facebook experiences, feel free to do so in the comments -- I'm still feeling my way around, and I'd love your input!
(This is my entry, by the way. I call it Cotton Candy, and it's made with aluminum rings and sequins. It's one of my favorite pieces!)
2.) Blogging. I know. It seems pretty obvious, given that you're reading my blog, but if you enjoy writing, blogging can be one of the most rewarding ways to display yourself, and your work, for the world to enjoy. It can also help people see a side of you that they might not see in an Etsy or Twitter profile, which is a great way to make friends with other artists and potential customers and to explore who you are as an artist.
You might make some interesting discoveries about yourself. For instance, I've learned that I love helping people. I love giving them advice that inspires them or guides them through a rough patch, and I love introducing cool people to other cool people -- and I know a lot of them! It's wonderful and thrilling to get compliments on my jewelry and my writing, but it's equally rewarding when someone can relate to what I'm saying or learns something new from one of my posts.
3.) Teaching. Whether you're posting tutorials online, or teaching in person, teaching gives you a chance to share your work and your skill, make some income (unless you're teaching for free, which is commendable) and, most importantly, help budding jewelry artists get started. There's something electric about sharing something you love with other people and seeing their faces brighten when they have that "aha!" moment. That moment that lets you know... they get it. And they're going to keep doing it after the lesson is done.
I've had a lot of wonderful teachers in recent years, and I have to say, I promote them with as much love and enthusiasm as I would my own favorite jewelry pieces (in fact, I'll have to devote a separate blog post to all of them). A good teacher changes you for the better, in both small and significant ways. Who wouldn't want a chance to be that person? Those who can, teach.
4.) Contests. So far, I've entered two contests in my life. It's only taken me that long to see how valuable contests can be to an artist. Following a set of criteria for submitting to a contest can challenge you to create pieces you might not consider otherwise, and that kind of boundary pushing is always good for creative growth. You also have a chance to show your work -- or photos of it -- to a jury of professionals, and if that isn't a message to yourself that you take your craft seriously, I don't know what is!
And if you win? There's the exposure. People will see just how awesome you are. Lots of people, all at once! Sometimes there are also prizes, such as gift certificates, products, or even cash, and I count these as income earned for hard work -- as legitimate as sales.
My experience is in jewelry making, so I can't offer much in the way of advice to other artists, but jewelry designers have several options. There is the Bead Dreams competition, Fire Mountain Gems holds contests in several categories, there's the Blue Buddha contest, as I already mentioned, and this year, Jewel School hosted a contest -- and while I didn't enter, I'm excited for everyone who did. There was also a contest hosted by the Soft Flex company. Those are just the tip of the iceberg, I'm sure! It's just a matter of looking around.
5.) Be your own mannequin. One of the best ways to get your creations in front of people is to wear them. To parties, at bead/craft/art shows. Even to the post office! People love to admire beautiful work, and once they learn you made it, they love to ask questions, including... do you have a store? How much would you charge for a piece like that? Which is why you should always carry business cards and have your work priced.
When you become your own mannequin, you'll develop an important skill, which is the ability to tell when people are really interested, and when they're just being polite. If they're genuinely excited, fetch that business card. And if they're not? Be polite, and stay open to people who are.
A word of caution. This applies more to people who create wearable art than, say, writers or sculptors -- I don't want anyone getting paper cuts in odd places or breaking bones! This could work for painters, though. If you can paint a canvas, you can paint a t-shirt, your sneakers, or a reusable canvas grocery bag. Or even frame a small painting in one of those plexiglass keychains they sell at craft stores.
Whew! I realize I'm only halfway through my list. For the sake of my hands, and your eyes, I'm going to stop here and continue another day -- shall we say, a Miscellaneous Monday? Until then, what are your favorite ways of getting noticed and becoming a part of the artistic community?
Thanks, and have a sequintastic day!
Edit: Here's the second part!